BMC'S Surprise Exit

Vendor leaves storage resource management space

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When the top brass at BMC Software told employees during a short phone call that it was halting development on the next version of its Patrol Storage Manager (PSM), it caught employees as well as competitors off guard. In essence, it means the Austin, Texas-based company is phasing out its flagship product for storage management in open systems. A source, who requested anonymity, says the company stopped all work on the 3.1 version, although company officials publicly stated it would continue to support the current 2.2 version.

"Why in the hell would you exit so early from such a promising young market?" asks Steven Murphy, President and CEO of Fujitsu Software Technology Corp., a competitor to BMC Software in the storage management space. "I believe the chief financial officer got control of the business. They have made a very short-sighted decision," he says.

Patrol Storage Manager is a Storage Resource Management (SRM) product, a tool that many view as a central piece to developing broader storage management software in the distributed market. And in the past year, the industry has seen a flood of companies jump into the SRM market. Some are pure-play SRM companies; others like EMC, Computer Associates and Veritas Software include it as part their software portfolios. Computer Associates acquired a SRM piece when it purchased Sterling Software more than two years ago.

BMC executives, however, say idea to drop Patrol Storage Manager was a business decision the company made because they "concluded that the investment made in distributed SRM was not justified, meaning the decision was about allocating BMC resources," says Dan Hoffmann, BMC's director of Enterprise Storage Management division. "It's an investment decision. The SRM market is full of competitors. And we believe very few are profitable."

BMC's announcement comes within weeks of the start of its first fiscal quarter, which begins April 1. The company, which has its history in the mainframe, will continue to invest in its Mainview Storage Resource Manager, which provides capacity planning, performance optimization and other features for OS/390 environments. Moreover, it will continue to invest in developing Patrol Knowledge Modules (KMs) for storage devices that will be used in the company's enterprise management tools, mostly concentrated in the database, network and systems management. But what BMC won't have is an application-centric product in open systems that enables IT managers to get a view of storage resources from the application level.

"What made us unique," says a source within the company, "was that we have a top-view of the storage network. If a customer has a HP application, you could visualize and see the data path through the switch and routers. You could see all the components that supported that application. You could drill down to the exact spot on a disk and see where an application was residing. Everybody is buying a solution to get where we are."

In 2001, BMC has 4.2 percent share of the storage software market (not counting array-based software), according to a Gartner/Dataquest report. It had been in the distributed space for about seven years.

Fujitsu's Murphy concedes that his company is making a bulk of its revenue from the mainframe space. But Fujitu sees its SRM product as an investment for its future. "(BMC) killed their baby," he says. "This is the platform of the future. It's wrong to think you are going to make money on your open systems product in its first release cycle. You are in pure investment mode."

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