Big Blue buys tools for Tivoli

IBM last month shared its plans to put down US$865 million for network management software maker Micromuse, which industry watchers say is nothing but good news for Big Blue as the network becomes a more critical focus for the big management software vendors.

The deal will equip IBM with the technology to manage converged voice, video and data networks, Al Zollar, general manager of Tivoli, said during an IBM press conference.

“With the integration of voice, video and data traffic…networks are no longer just pipelines of data,” Zollar said. “The greater reliance on networks requires a much more real-time approach to network management.”

Zollar explained that Tivoli, better known for its systems management capabilities, and Micromuse, historically more focused on the network, complement each other. With no specific product roadmap plans to share, IBM said Micromuse’s Netcool product suite will augment IBM’s Tivoli tools, most notably Tivoli Enterprise Console (TEC), which is a legacy mainframe systems management console. Netcool, designed from the start for distributed network management, will most likely become IBM’s network management platform going forward, industry watchers say.

“TEC is a legacy mainframe tool. Netcool is now IBM’s distributed management platform,” says George Hamilton, director of enterprise computing and networking at the Yankee Group. “Micromuse has much better capability in distributed environments than IBM Tivoli. IBM Tivoli is not well-suited for the demands of next-generation networks and advanced IP services such as VoIP and video. IBM now gets those key management capabilities and access to the carrier market space.”

IBM indirectly will also gain from security and performance management tools Micromuse added to its company last year, namely GuardedNet, which provides security information software, and could be integrated into IBM’s security software portfolio.

Micromuse also acquired Quallaby last year, which at the time pumped up Micromuse’s performance management software portfolio and service provider customer list. Micromuse boasts some 1,800 customers overall. Micromuse makes out as well, according to Lloyd Carney, Micromuse chairman and CEO, considering the challenge companies of its size face against management behemoths such as IBM, HP, CA and BMC.

And Carney said he expects the majority of Micromuse’s 650 employees to join IBM.

“The industry is consolidating on a couple of plains,” Carney said.

Getting customers to a single pane of glass managing voice, video, data, security and application performance is a challenge no one vendor can tackle on its own.”

In fact, Micromuse follows former direct competitor, Concord Communications, which earlier last year was acquired by one of the big four management vendors, CA, as well. Another midsize management software maker, SMARTS, was acquired in late 2004 by storage vendor EMC.

Industry watchers speculate that HP might make a similar move and initiate a network management buy this year, perhaps InfoVista, a frequent Concord and Micromuse competitor. Hamilton expects to see more similar acquisitions in 2006, with BMC, CA HP, IBM and Mercury Interactive as key players — some as buyers, other as acquisition targets.

“[The major IT management vendors] are positioning themselves to manage the service-oriented architectures and advanced IP applications of the future.

Frameworks such as Unicenter, OpenView and Tivoli are not designed for the new demand of enterprise and service provider customers,” Hamilton says. “The major IT management players will continue to acquire necessary management capabilities.”

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