BMC Rebrands, Revamps Systems Management Tools

BMC’s new Performance Manager combines elements of Patrol classic and Patrol Express and features a single license.

Last week, BMC Software Inc. announced a significant reshuffling of its Patrol line of systems management tools.

Gone are discrete product versions—e.g., Patrol for Windows, Patrol for Linux—and the lightweight Patrol Express.

Gone, too, is BMC’s Patrol-everywhere branding: The company says its new systems and network management solution stack, called BMC Performance Manager, combines the best of both Patrol classic and Patrol Express—and gives customers more to chew on.

Given the tumult at BMC over the last few months (some attributed to slumping Patrol sales(, it’s hard not to view the Patrol rebranding effort as a reactionary move. After all, the last time BMC made headlines, it announced a series of job cuts that affected an estimated 10 to 12 percent of its global work force. The causes, BMC officials said, were disappointing third-quarter results, as well as weaker-than-expected projected fourth-quarter results.

There’s nothing reactionary about the Patrol rebranding, however, says Dave Samia, director of product management and development with BMC.

“This has been in the works, I would say, for nine months,” he asserts. “We’ve been talking to our customers for awhile about this, and they’ve been coming to us with all of these drivers. Compliance is one—they’re doing Sarbanes-Oxley audits, and they’re not getting additional staffing for these audits, and they’re saying, ‘What can you give us so that we can take care of all of this extra stuff?’”

Enter Performance Manager

BMC’s Patrol rebranding effort will occur in phases. The first deliverable, BMC Performance Manager Portal, was announced last week. It’s a unified management console that includes BMC’s Impact Portal. According to Samia, it provides a single, consistent view between and among Patrol, Patrol Express, and Service Impact Manager, a business-service-management tool.

By the end of the year, BMC plans to discontinue its classic Patrol products and shift to BMC Performance Manager, a hybrid offering that incorporates elements of Patrol and BMC’s agent-less Patrol Express offering.

The idea, says BMC product manager Dave Hardy, is to make BMC’s systems and network management solutions a more intuitive proposition for new and existing customers alike. “It’s about simplification: simplifying for our customers the complexity they have to deal with every day, simplifying their interactions with BMC, and making it easier for them to buy the BMC software they need.”

According to Hardy, BMC’s Patrol Express product has had demonstrable appeal beyond its expected bread-and-butter markets. That, of course, got BMC thinking—why not take the best features of Patrol, the lightweight features of Patrol Express, and combine them (along with other capabilities, such as Service Impact Manager) into a unified product?

“Patrol Express has given us the capability to segment our product and go after some markets that maybe the traditional Patrol product couldn’t reach, but we’ve also found that other customers are interested in Patrol Express to sort of broaden their reach,” he says. “So by leveraging the strength of solutions, we’ve built with our classic Patrol products and uniting that with some of the remote-monitoring capabilities we’ve developed with Patrol Express, we’re able to bring to market a product that offers very low TCO without sacrificing any of the value that customers might have to sacrifice if they went with a lightweight solution.”

Central to BMC’s new Performance Manager vision is the idea of a “lightweight local presence,” which, Hardy insists, isn’t simply Newspeak for “agent.” The idea, he says, is to leverage agent-less remote monitoring capabilities wherever and whenever possible. In those cases where remote monitoring isn’t feasible, or where more detailed information is needed, BMC Performance Manager will prompt users to install a “lightweight local presence” on the destination system.

“An agent has a scheduler, an agent has event management, an agent has a local database, an agent is a very smart, very robust piece of technology—that’s not what this is,” he explains. “The idea with a lightweight local presence is that it’s very slim, not very smart. It will be [exposed] via Web services, but it will not be receiving requests from our collection point, because we want to make sure it can’t be high-jacked, so it’s only going to be sending data.”

Licensing Tweaks

Next month, says Hardy, BMC will replace its separate Patrol and Patrol Express licenses with a single, unified license. Similarly, BMC is doing away with its product-specific versions of Patrol (such as Patrol for Windows and Patrol for Oracle) in favor of simplified packaging (“Performance Manager for Servers,” “Performance Manager for Databases”). He stresses, however, that existing users—including users of both products—won’t be shortchanged in the deal.

“It will be the same [price]. We will make sure there are no adverse impacts on any agreements we have with our customers. We are not going to our customers and saying, ‘We’re changing our architecture, you have to take less functionality as a result.’ We’re going to our customers and saying, ‘Our next release of the solution on BMC Performance Manager is going to have additional features over and above the last release [you] received on the Patrol products.’”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.