Interview With BMC's Tom Bishop

The CTO of BMC Software talks about open-source management, CMDBs and making it possible to federate information from across different management repositories.

June 6, 2007

3 Min Read
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Tom Bishop

Is a configuration management database a linchpin around which to own a customer's management infrastructure?

That's probably the cynical view. To get a set of systems management or IT service management process disciplines to work in a collaborative way, there's a set of information that must be shared. The ITIL spec calls out the CMDB as a necessary component to deliver effective IT service management processes, but in a way that reduces the overall complexity.

But it's difficult to get third-party products to interoperate and federate with another vendor's CMDB.

That may be true today, but certainly it's the goal of the CMDB Federation Working Group to try to make that statement not true. We recognize that in most cases, IT organizations are going to have management solutions from a variety of vendors. We're working to make it possible to federate information from across different management repositories. If this is done correctly and if organizations implement the specification correctly, you'll see CMDBs federating with other CMDBs.When will the working group have a final specification?

[The group's] goal is to have one available externally for review by the end of the summer. BMC has been prototyping the various aspects of the specification. We want to make sure the spec can be implemented.

Watch as Andrew Conry Murray interviews BMC Software CTO Tom Bishop at Interop.NWC Interview Podcasts

Once the specification is ready, it will be turned over to a standards body. Is there any consensus on which it will be?

[Laughs] That's a political question. Obviously there are a lot of people who have a stake in this. The expectation has been that as the spec grew, it would make more sense to have a relationship with a formal standards group that has the infrastructure, membership structure, and review and versioning mechanisms. We've looked at a number of organizations--the DMTF, OASIS, ITSMF, OMG, OpenGroup and others--and have narrowed it down to two.

Can you share the top two?No.

BMC recently appointed a chief architect to drive an open-source strategy. What's the appeal of open source for BMC, and can we expect any concrete announcements on that front?

At its root, open source isn't about free or not free, or which license you use, but rather about changing the relationship between the developers of a piece of software and the users of a piece of software.

One of the areas we're looking at is in the development of various adapter technologies--being able to take certain kinds of information out of different data repositories and integrate that data through a CMDB. We think there's a role for a developer's kit that we could make available in an open-source way. Organizations can build some of that adapter technology and make it available back to the industry in an open-source way.

Can you talk about other platforms or elements that might become open source?This is speculation because these are all in discussion, but another area I think might be appropriate is agents or instrumentation. One of the problems is that the developer or owner of a piece of technology, like an OS platform, Web server or application server, will go and develop that software, but then to manage that component, IT relies on a management solution that develops the instrumentation needed to manage that component. In some respects that's a little broken. It would be a lot more stable for the industry if the people who built components delivered components with manageability built in.

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