It is ironic that I was at the first Tivoli user conference called Planet Tivoli back in the early 1990s. Now, I am sitting at Tivoli’s first full blown user conference called Pulse. Pulse is very much like Tivoli itself, it is a combination of the Netcool, Maximo, and Tivoli user conferences. Over the past several years, IBM has had the challenge of taking its portfolio of individual products, rationalize them and create a management platform. One of the most fortunate events that helped Tivoli is the growing importance of service management. Service Management, the ability to manage a highly distributed computing environment in a consistent and predictable manner. Therefore, all of Tivoli’s offerings can be defined from this perspective. IBM’s Al Zolar, who runs the Tivoli organization said in his opening remarks that Tivoli common goal across its portfolio is to assure the effective delivery of services.
One of the interesting aspects of IBM’s management strategy is that the company intends to apply the idea of service management beyond IT operations. “Everything needs to be managed,” says Steve Mills, the senior vice president and GM of the software business. He points to many industries that are increasingly enabling intelligence into everything from trucks to assembly lines. Therefore, everything is becoming a manageable system. Companies are increasingly using RDIF tags to track products and equipment, for example. As everything becomes a “virtual system” — everything becomes a service to be managed. What an interesting opportunity and makes it clear by IBM would have bought a company like Maximo — a company that manages physical assets.
So, it is becoming clear that Tivoli is reinventing itself by focusing on service management in the broader corporate perspective. At the foundational level, Tivoli is looking at what the foundational services that are required to make this a viable strategy. I liked the fact that Zolar focused on Identity Management as one of the foundational services. Without managing the identity of the user or the device in a highly distributed environment, service management might work but it couldn’t be trusted.
Another major focal point for IBM’s emerging service management strategy is process automation. Now, this isn’t a surprise since process is the foundation of traditional operations management. However, it has a broader persona as well that transcends operations management. As we move to a more service oriented architecture, service management takes on a broader and more strategic role in the organization. You aren’t just managing the physical servers running applications but you are looking at managing an environment that requires the integration of business services, middleware, transactions, and a variety physical assets. Some of these pieces will be located at the client site while others might live in the cloud and yet others will live in a partner’s environment. These sets of virtual services have to be managed as though they are a physical system. Therefore, they are responsible for managing a meaningful process flow that is in compliance with corporate and IT governance rules. And all of this has to be done in a way that doesn’t require so many people that it is not economically feasible.
From my discussions at Pulse, I came away with the understanding that this is, in fact, IBM’s vision for service management. What is impressive is that IBM has taken begun to create a set of foundational services that are becoming the underpinnings of the Tivoli offerings. This metadata based framework was designed from some innovative (and very early technology) that came to IBM from the Candle acquisition. In fact, I had looked at this integration technology many years ago and always thought it was one of Candle’s crown jewels. I had wondered what happened to it — now I know.
IBM’s challenge will be to capitalize on this rationalization of its management assets. IBM has managed services it is offerings. IBM needs to be able to create an ecosystem based on its offerings so that it can compete with the emerging breed of cloud and service providers like Amazon.com and Google. It is becoming clear to me that customers and software vendors alike are looking for the emerging utility infrastructure providers. I think that with the right type of packaging, IBM could become a major player.
So, my take away from my first day at Pulse is this:
- Tivoli is working to create a set of foundational meta data level services that link its various managed service offerings.
- Because of the foundational services, Tivoli can now package its offerings in a much more effective way. It should make its offerings more competitive.
- Tivoli’s goal is to leverage its operational management expertise in software to move up the food chain and manage both the IT and the business process infrastructures
- Cloud computing is very important to IBM. It is still early but the investment is intense and being designed as the next generation of virtualization, SOA, and utility computing.
- Green IT and energy efficiency is a key driver of Tivoli’s emerging services as a growth engine.
One of the primary themes that I heard is the industrialization of computing as the foundation for IBM’s management services. Indeed, I have often said that we are at the beginning of a new era where we computing moves from being an art based on experimentation and hope. The next generation focused on software and infrastructure as a service are becoming a reality and the last mile will be the management of all of those resources and more. This management focus is an imperative as we move towards the industrialization of software and computing