What is BSM, Anyway?

August 24, 2005

What is BSM, Anyway?

What is BSM, Anyway?

By Fern Halper and Marcia Kaufman, Partners

There is a fundamental shift occurring in the way businesses view, comprehend, and map their IT resources to their business goals. Many IT executives are beginning to reorient the way they monitor and optimize their IT resources in a way that speaks directly to the company?s business needs. This is being accomplished by focusing on how business processes provided by IT, such as order processing, are meeting business objectives rather than focusing solely on the availability and performance of the servers, routers, and applications that make up the IT infrastructure.

The more that IT and business management share a common language, the greater the potential for the business to reap the benefits of increased competitive advantage and increased revenue.

BSM Software

Business Service Management (BSM) software supports this alignment of IT with business processes. BSM is the level above IT Service Management (ITSM) software which many organizations use to monitor infrastructure and services from an IT perspective. For example, a BSM (business-focused) metric might look at the dollar impact of server downtime as opposed to an ITSM (IT-focused) metric that identifies the percent uptime for the same server. In principal, BSM helps IT and business begin to understand what is happening with their business processes from a business perspective.

There are common threads running between the various BSM offerings. Most BSM vendors emphasize the same benefits – the ability to deliver business services faster and more consistently, while lowering overall IT costs, decreasing business risk and increasing revenue to the business. Commonalities in the offerings include:

  • Emphasis on utilizing best practices such as following ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) standards.
  • Importance of a Configuration Management Database (CMDB), where information about IT assets such as servers, routers, and desktops is stored. The concept of the CMDB emerged from ITIL, and it contains the history and interrelationships between system components.  According to ITIL, it is central to service management.  The CMDB can be an important underpinning to a BSM offering.
  • Providing a means to map IT resources to business processes.
  • Tying into competitors products ? BSM products should be able to bring in information/events from other vendor?s service management products to provide a complete analysis from a business perspective.
  • Providing a dashboard for visualization of the higher-level business-focused metrics.

Variations In Appraoch

BSM offerings can vary in approach and philosophy.   Let?s take a brief look at two major vendors in this space – HP and BMC and how they position their solution. 

HP Open View Business Service Management – HP stresses the significance of getting IT and business managers to speak the same language.  The HP BSM solution is aimed at providing IT with answers to questions of the type ?Is my business running and performing?? rather than ?Is my infrastructure running and performing??  The Business Process Insight software sits above the ITSM and infrastructure management software. One of the main goals is to provide for bi-directional communication between IT and business managers. Their solution consists of:

  • Business Process Insight. This software models business processes and includes a business impact calculation engine that translates the impact of what happens at the infrastructure level into business terms and metrics.
  • A Dashboard with business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This provides both business and IT views. The dashboard includes thresholds and alarms on business metrics. 
  • HP OpenView Internet Services. HP can pull customer experience data into the business process insight engine, if Java based applications are involved in the process.
  • Integration to Operational Events and Business Events. This includes connectors to HP?s infrastructure management tooling (like service desk) that provides ITIL processes, change and configuration management, SLA management, and application management. 

BMC Business Service Management – BMC?s BSM philosophy is that companies need to monitor, measure, and manage quality service levels across all of their critical systems. BMC places a heavy emphasis on the Configuration Management Database (CMDB).  Their solution is structured around eight routes to value, that are based on ITIL processes. Each of the eight routes is characterized by certain milestones and companies may begin their journey on any one of the routes. They are summarized below: 

  • Service Level Management. This provides monitoring and measurement of expected Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Milestones include moving from technical SLAs to integrated and predictive SLAs.
  • Incident Problem Resolution. For tracking incidents and problems and performing root cause analysis.  Milestones include moving from incident handling to pre-incident resolution.
  • Infrastructure and Application Management. Monitors component availability and automates scheduling.  Milestones include moving from basic component and scheduling availability to bi-directional connection with business priorities.
  • Service Impact and Event Management. Includes software to help map technology components and services to business processes. This area includes traditional event monitoring capabilities.  Also Milestones here move from event monitoring to linkage of IT service delivery to business objectives.
  • Asset Management and Discovery. Helps to identify and manage IT assets for lifecycle, contractual and cost controls.  Milestones move from inventory discovery and identification to complete asset lifecycle management.
  • Change and Configuration Management. Helps to automate the entire change lifecycle and identifies infrastructure interdependencies.   Milestones move from change process execution to complete business change-awareness
  • Capacity Management and Provisioning.  Matches capacity to business requirements in order to meet SLAs. Milestones move from historical trending and usage reporting to prediction and automated provisioning.
  • Identity Management. Manages identities and access privileges to assure that access to systems complies with regulations and policies. Milestones move from standardized administration and monitoring to measuring access against policies for regulatory compliance.

Comparing Approaches

While adhering to ITIL processes, HP?s approach is clearly targeted to an IT manager responsible for business process. The HP OpenView BSM solution will provide the IT manager with business-centric thresholds and alarms on business KPI?s. This information gives the IT manager the ability to respond to business management on their terms and to demonstrate how IT is providing value to the business. The BSM and ITSM solutions can be used in combination through HP OpenView. The BSM product provides the notification when business metrics are not being met and the ITSM product is used to identify what is wrong and fix it.

BMC?s Atrium foundation architecture is the underlying architecture to BMC?s “eight routes to value.” This core architecture enables information sharing and centralized management across BMC Software and 3rd-party solutions. BMC Atrium provides a shared data repository, unified service model, and common user and reporting interfaces. BMC?s approach is driven by technology based on ITIL standards and the resulting routes to value methodology. This methodology is used to segment the BSM offerings and provide a way for companies to see where they fit.

Companies will need to evaluate vendor?s products closely to determine which meets their goals and objectives for their BSM initiatives.  Of course, companies should not lose sight of the fact that BSM technology is only a piece of a broader initiative that helps align IT with business goals.  True IT and business alignment involves both strategic and tactical planning, solid execution, and a corporate culture that embraces this practice.


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About Fern Halper

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