BMC filling out SMB strategy

BMC's suite brings together systems management, service management and identity management

Management software vendor BMC Software is due to release a suite of products aimed at small to midsize businesses (SMBs) this week. The move follows a recent similar announcement by rival IBM.

Known as IT Systems Management Express, BMC's suite brings together systems management, service management and identity management through the integration of the company's BMC Performance Manager Express, BMC Identity Management for .Net and BMC Service Desk Express.

IBM announced its SMB management software suite -- Tivoli Express -- last month, though the official unveiling is scheduled for its PartnerWorld 2006 show next week in Las Vegas.

Where the IBM and BMC suites differ is that BMC's software includes a service desk, according to Stephen Elliot, research manager, enterprise systems management software with analyst IDC.

BMC acquired the service desk software when it purchased the assets of Magic Solutions from Network Associates in February 2004. The deal netted BMC 4,000 SMB customers and brand recognition with the Magic product brand.

Elliot questions BMC's recent decision to rebrand its Magic Service Desk software as BMC Service Desk as potentially damaging to its position in the SMB space. The company lacks the brand recognition of IBM as well as that company's channel reach, he added.

BMC is in the progress of rebranding its software under a single company brand, according to Warren Cook, senior manager, product management at BMC. "Magic is one of the early adopters," he said in a recent phone interview, with the company's Remedy products, which are the fruits of another acquisition, to follow in the future.

When it comes to competition, both IBM and BMC are up against "freeware, cheapware and custom [management] software," according to IDC's Elliot. Then, there's the larger issue of whether SMBs see systems, services and identity management as priorities on which to spend limited IT budgets, he said.

Both IBM and BMC are looking at the SMB market for two main reasons -- to acquire new customers and to try to create an on-ramp for future sales of their more expensive enterprise offerings, Elliot said. It's the second time enterprise players have targeted the SMB space, after a largely unsuccessful attempt in the late 1990s, he added

This time around, both IBM and BMC are being smarter in their approach particularly around pricing, sales channels and customer relationship management. "It's a very different sale [to SMBs]," Elliot said. "Vendors think [in terms of] volume and they need to think value."

BMC's IT Systems Management Express bundles are priced from between US$50,000 and $95,000.

BMC is due to announce a major new release of its service desk software aimed at SMBs on March 20, Cook said.