Remember when IT could go into a finance meeting, spew impressive-sounding CPU-cycle measurements and come away with a fat budget? They're on to us now. Smart business leaders understand that IT services can be quantified and expressed in terms that have meaning to those who don't know a baud from a banana. Track availability and response times, the percentage of failed product queries, mean time to execute a shopping-cart transaction during peak hours, maximum number of down terminals during a given week--then we'll talk funding.
These measurements are the substance of SLAs (service-level agreements), to which IT can manage and the business can assign value. Service-management products bridge this synapse, translating raw performance numbers into business metrics. These products go by many names--business-service management, IT-service management, service-level management, service-level reporting, end-to-end service management, IT service-portfolio management ... the list goes on. To help readers match their companies' management processes and needs to product offerings, and determine how to strategically plan for and execute service management, we developed a questionnaire that would let us build an overview of vendors' often-overlapping and conflicting strategies. We asked nine questions, broken down along the lines of IT services mapping to business services, detailed infrastructure performance management, viability and SLA reporting.
We sent our survey to 14 service-management vendors; BMC, CA, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Integrien, Managed Objects, Mercury, Oblicore, OpTier, ProactiveNet and Proxima Technology responded. Their product sets represent a comprehensive range of features, functions, markets and technology. IBM declined to participate without giving a reason, as did NewScale. Digital Fuel did not respond to our invitation. We also talked off-the-record with reference customers using service-management products.