Taming the Cloud: Cisco & BMC Software?

The recent strategic partnership between Cisco Systems and BMC Software has led to a lot of speculation. Here is my take on why this partnership makes sense from a technology and business perspective:

Any time someone serious about service delivery offers up their objections to the potential success of cloud computing, it goes something like this: “the cloud is interesting for development and test, but you would not trust mission critical IT service delivery to a compute cloud.”

Cloud Computing is truly utility computing – 120 volts (ok 220-240 volts in some countries) of IT service at every Internet outlet. For it to be successful, cloud computing needs to be completely transparent to the end user, a user should have the implicit belief that it will always be available; always be scalable and always be secure. The customer experience needs to be pleasant yet uneventful. Said differently, a customer should never be reminded that they are on a remote system.


Prior to Feb 18, 2008, it appeared that the Amazon EC2/ S3 combination was going to deliver just that. Developers who had developed their applications on this combo were now running their production environment in Amazon Web Services. However, the outage experienced by Amazon changed all that. Start ups using Amazon Web Services realized their vulnerabilities and enterprises considering a move to Amazon started rethinking. Amazon did not respond effectively and reminded many of its customers that just being big did not make Amazon a “trusted provider.”

While it was still a great option for application development, its viability for hosting mission critical applications was questionable.

So what happened? IT service whether being delivered locally or remotely hinges upon successful convergence of processing, storage, networking and management. Amazon obviously had the first three in place, but they were found lacking in management.

As Cisco makes rapid strides into the Cloud Computing world, they’re intent on not making the same mistake. They wanted to make sure that they had ample support in the systems management arena.

So what makes BMC Software the obvious ally?

For starters, the core competencies of BMC Software and Cisco are complementary. Cisco manages the network and BMC brings expertise in the management of the data center. To its credit BMC has continued to be relevant and highly competent in a very formidable marketplace that includes the likes of HP and IBM.

BMC has managed to keep its edge in part because of its ability to successfully identify and assimilate startups that have been on the forefront in innovation. Strengthening its case as the partner of choice is BMC’s expertise in ITIL, the de-facto framework for IT Service Management. In BMC, Cisco has a very strong partner as it moves into the Cloud Computing space.

Whether it goes beyond just a partnership remains to be seen.

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