Business service management, or BSM, is systems management with 20/20 vision. The approach enables companies to gain a unified, high-level view of how their underlying technology infrastructure – their computing platforms, networks and applications – is directly impacting their top-line business. And it is catching fire: analysts at the Gartner Group believe that by 2004, 60% of organisations will manage technology from the BSM perspective.
At this point, however, only a handful of true BSM products have hit the market. Formula from Virginia-based start-up Managed Objects stands out – not least of all because it has quickly built a roll-call of blue-chip clients including Bank of America, BellSouth and Reuters.
Formula sits above commonly used applications and system management tools, consolidating the performance, availability and other related data they generate to provide a clear view of operational characteristics of the organisation's systems, according to business unit or process. It integrates with the products of most major system management software vendors, including BMC Software, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Tivoli, Micromuse and NetIQ.
Taking constant feeds from such tools, Formula presents the information in a highly graphical interface that resembles "a high-resolution computer game," says Sean Larner, general manager of European operations at Managed Objects.
The aim is that organisations get a much clearer overall picture of how system performance impacts business processes, without having to delve through pages of arcane reports from routers, applications, intelligent agents, operating systems, and so on.
Investment bank Merrill Lynch, for example, uses Formula to oversee the running of all its management tools and to check that its brokers are always able to trade effectively. The bank reckons that it saved $1.7 million in the first six months after implementing the software.