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Quick Notes on the IT Management Vendor-scape

GroundWork’s Harper Mann saves me the trouble of blogging an email I sent in responseto a question of posed by Denise Dubie, via frequent AR IM buddy Ray George, which essentially boiled down to: what’s it look like for non-Big 4 companies getting into Big 4 IT management space? Here’s my off-the-cuff-y response, re-blogged for your pleasure, dear readers, with some added comments and links:

Microsoft is definitely a contender, though 1-3 years out. They’re in year 4 of their 10 year plan. That said, their plan seems good. Once they ship a hyper-visor with all their OSes AND get that widely spread, things could get very interesting and in their favor. [MS Softricity and rPath style virtualization/appliancing are of interest here as well.]

I don’t know enough about Oracle to comment. I know they ‘do stuff’ in this area, but they’re rarely at the top of my mind except in the ambitious area. The problem with application companies doing IT management is that they favor their stack instead being truly heterogeneous. Microsoft wrestles with this problem as you can imagine. IBM is an interesting exception, but they’re such a mega-company that you have to look at their different software brands (DB2, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli) as being part of a holding company. While Oracle and SAP are huge, they tend to try and stick all their software under one tent/architecture (i.e., Fusion and NetWeaver) rather than take the more loosely coupled approach that IBM does.

Obviously, I think the open source folks, such as GroundWork, Zenoss, and Hyperic, have a chance to be one of these ’emerging management challengers’ as well. I suspect that if/when one of them becomes successful, there’ll be a lot more sniffing around for acquisition by one of the Big 4. [See yesterday’s note on open source revenue jitters.]

EMC, by way of VMWare, is another interesting one. Whoever controls the majority of virtualization technology in the future will have a huge chance for doing a lot of IT management tooling. We’ll see what happens post-IPO.

Symantec is interesting, but I think they’d need to partner acquire, or be acquired by someone to fully built up their presence. They have mega-brand value in the mid-market with their Anti-Virus and Norton brands. That brand value could be extended if there was a good mid-market technology and execution. [Who doesn’t find comfort in those crossed arms?]

The major potential threat to IT management is a mass move to SaaS based applications. While it’s sort of pie-in-the-sky, to my mind, the only ‘real’ thing holding back large enterprises from going SaaS is a culture change. If the collective pool of enterprise thinking suddenly thought that SaaS was OK, I could see lots of people switching over email, ERP, and other things. [Listen to Monkcast #4 for more.]

This is the sort of dream we have every 5 years or so (we called it ‘ASP’ and ‘managed service’ last), so we’ll see how this go at it goes. The keys this time are (a.) getting companies to accept simple solutions rather than feature-ful ones, and, (b.) a possible generational shift in what ‘IT means’ once all the MySpace/FaceBook/WhizBang 2.0 people enter middle-management or, at least, start more heavily influencing IT spend. [Just don’t fall into the “those crazy kids and their gadgets” trap.]

Disclaimer: GroundWork is a client. As are Microsoft, IBM, and Zenoss.

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Categories: Enterprise Software, Systems Management.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] 07/26/2007 – Symantec partner or M&A with someone to capitalize on their mid-market brand power. Also, provide IT management as a SaaS […]