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BMC update aims to nip downtime in the bud

Batch scheduler revamp promises to fend off application failures and boosts BMC's service management push.

BMC Software is pushing forward with products to alleviate a problem that tech workers in the trenches have grappled with for years: system downtime.

On Tuesday, the software maker plans to introduce an update to its Control-M program for organizing computing jobs. The revamp, Batch Impact Manager, helps businesses head off glitches and prioritize problem reports, BMC said.

The release is part of the Houston, Texas-based company's push in "business service management" products. Over the past year, BMC has assembled a portfolio of such products meant to improve problem resolution and reduce system downtime. BMC purchased Remedy nearly two years ago and Marimba earlier this year to complement its existing systems monitoring software.

"What BMC is proposing is a better way to manage applications, by creating models of how the application depends on the infrastructure," said Jean-Pierre Garbani, an analyst at Forrester Research. "With a model, IT people can see that one component is not behaving normally...It's a way to speed up and make problem management more intelligent," Garbani said.

Application failures are very costly to corporations, as they can prevent employees from doing their jobs or take revenue-generating applications, such as e-commerce Web sites, offline. The cost of downtime is difficult to measure precisely, but in the financial industry, it costs roughly $1,100 per employee per hour when an application goes out of commission, Garbani said.

BMC's software is used by information technology professionals, such as systems administrators, to perform the nuts-and-bolts tasks needed to keep a corporate network running. Business service management products help operators spot more quickly the source of problems that affect application performance, such as problems with servers, networking hardware and other underlying components.

The addition next week of the Batch Impact Manager to the Control-M software will enable system operators to get a consolidated view of scheduled batches of jobs, BMC said. If there is a failure in one of them, the software can send an alert and highlight possible problems with other applications. BMC estimates that about 50 percent of corporate data center operations are typically scheduled as batch processes and many jobs are dependent on the completion of others. For example, the failure of a mainframe job to update customer transactions scheduled for the middle of the night could prevent a financial trading application from being available the following morning.

Other companies that are working on business service management initiatives include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Computer Associates and Mercury Interactive, Garbani noted.

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