• 01/19/2007
    5:00 AM
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CMDBs: An IT Goldmine?

Configuration management databases promise to transform IT with the next generation of automation and analytics. But complex proprietary designs could turn real rewards into fools' gold.

CA is new to the CMDB market, launching the CA CMDB r11 in September 2006. It's a standalone product but has tight integration with CA's Unicenter Service Desk. Since CA uses a common data repository across its product line, the CMDB r11 can be federated with other CA apps with less effort than third-party data stores. CA also has a mechanism to import XML data from non-CA products.

The Cendura acquisition gives CA a respectable application-mapping capability with a strong focus on detailed configuration information, which may attract green-field accounts. That said, we expect CA's initial success with its CMDB offering to come largely from existing customers.

EMC is another newcomer. It launched the EMC Smarts ADM (Application Discovery Manager) product in April 2006. The product was built around an OEM agreement with nLayers, a leading application-dependency mapping company that EMC bought outright two months later. In addition to providing EMC with agentless, real-time application discovery, nLayers also included a CMDB to store and manage CIs. The Smarts ADM, which is also available as a standalone offering, includes native integration with other Smarts products and uses XML to pull data from third-party sources.

EMC has been moving outside its storage-centric roots with Smarts to offer a more comprehensive IT management portfolio, along the lines of those from BMC, CA, HP and IBM Tivoli. A CMDB is now an essential component for any vendor that wants to compete in this realm, so the nLayers acquisition was key to putting EMC on fairly equal footing with rivals. However, unlike the aforementioned vendors, EMC isn't yet synonymous with IT management, nor was nLayers established enough to get EMC in the front door on the strength of that name alone. It will have to trade on its strong position in the storage and data center arenas to appear on customer shortlists.

HP includes a CMDB in its OpenView ServiceDesk and ServiceCenter products, which came from its Peregrine acquisition in 2005. However, the CMDB lacked application-dependency mapping. The Mercury Interactive acquisition in September 2006 filled that gap--but it also left HP with two CMDBs. The company says it's working to integrate the Peregrine and Mercury CMDBs, but no additional information was available at press time. Once integrated, the Mercury technology will let HP provide improved modeling and analysis of the potential risk associated with changes to an IT environment. Assuming HP can successfully integrate its CMDB technologies, it's well-positioned to lead, thanks in part to the strong presence of OpenView in large enterprises.

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