As I’ve written about previously, there are many tools in the market for building clouds – whether private or public. There are too many, in fact, and it will be hard to see most of them still around after the next five years. BMC is in a very strong position with both enterprises and large managed service providers – and I would expect them to be one of the survivors based on scale and reach, if for no other reason.
BMC has been hard at work on their Cloud Lifecycle Management (CLM) offering and recently announced their 1.5 release. CLM is a solution built on top of a good chunk of the BMC tools suite – including BladeLogic, Atrium CMDB, Atrium Orchestrator, and more. It’s an approach similar to most of the large IT automation vendors – IBM, CA and HP included – and we have used this model at Unisys as well.
I got a chance to catch up with one of BMC’s cloud product marketers, Lilac Shoenbeck. According to Lilac, CLM 1.5 is a substantial upgrade, with the primary focus on making it easier for cloud administrators to configure and manage their cloud – including the service catalog and rules. They are also focused on providing out-of-the-box functionality for key cloud use-cases: dev/test, big data analytics, Web hosting, etc.
One of the core principals is around the service catalog management. Rather than specifying a fixed and inflexible catalog, BMC likened this to an ice cream parlor where you have a set of base (cone), middle (ice cream) and top (toppings) components and allow the user a fair bit of latitude in creating their environment.
CLM is not a pure play cloud environment like Eucalyptus or Cloud.com, which means it comes with a set of tradeoffs to support the legacy BMC tool set. This gives them a lot of powerful technology underneath, but anytime you need to integrate a bunch of stuff under the covers – especially stuff that came through acquisition – it makes for a fair bit of complexity. The pure-play guys have more maneuvering room for innovation – which is how they like it. However, these tools don’t run in a vacuum and there can be substantial work to integrate it into existing automation environments.
CLM does provide a high level of automation for both physical and virtual environments has the advantage of a large enterprise sales force to bring it to market. Tight integration with Cisco switches and UCS, deep integration with a leading CMDB, and an extensive hardware support matrix are all positives for CLM. I believe they also ship today with support for multiple hypervisors (VMware, Xen, Hyper-V, KVM).
Another area they tote is around business service management and workload placement. Once a workload is placed into the cloud, rules can be used to move it, scale it, etc. based on business transactions performance and other factors. There’s a fair bit of work to get this right, so time will tell if they have gotten it working well.
It is missing some key elements right now – most notably a public cloud API out of the box (you can write your own against the internal APIs of CLM). It’s also not open source – which I have also written about – and is going to be fairly complex to set up initially. The user portal is also fairly basic and targeted at enterprise users, not the Web/SMB market, though you can use their internal APIs to create your own portal if desired.
Pricing was not disclosed, but they do have both usage-based and perpetual license-based models. The usage-based pricing is particularly key to the service provider space, though apparently some enterprises are also using this model. You’d expect BMC to be priced quite a bit higher than the pure-play market, though I am led to believe that they can be very aggressive to win deals.
BMC CLM is a credible and reasonably well positioned offering from a traditional ITA tools vendor. If you are already a big BladeLogic user, or you want a cloud solution from a mainstream data center automation tools vendor, CLM is a strong offering. If you tend towards open source tools in your data center and are focused on leveraging new innovations, this might not be the best fit.