Mercury hones in on change management

Company looks to help enterprises deal with alterations to systems

Recognizing that IT system changes can have ripple effects throughout an enterprise, Mercury Interactive is introducing Mercury Change Control Management, providing a big-picture view of changes and gauging impacts.

The software package is being unveiled on Monday. With it, Mercury hopes to help users address challenges such as the collisions caused by changes and issues associated with teams independently altering a system without knowing what the other is doing.

"A Global 2000 company can have as many as 30,000 changes a day to their environment," said Christopher Lochhead, Mercury's chief marketing officer.

These changes include those that are planned, such as moving to Web services or consolidating datacenters, as well as unplanned, such as altering a user configuration on a router or a user downloading a new version of Flash Player, Lochhead said. IT needs to gauge impacts and assess what changes have prevented an application from doing what it is supposed to do, he added.

"It turns out that that's like an intergalactically hard problem," Lochhead said.

Underlying the product is Mercury's CMDB (Configuration Management Database), which provides service dependency mapping and the capability to identify the business risk of every request for change, according to Mercury. Analyses are performed to determine which configuration items would be affected, and identify applications and business services affected by the change. CMDB is based on technology gained when Mercury acquired Appilog in 2004. 

"First and foremost, you now have a single dashboard view of all changes from all the different silos," said Simon Berman, senior director of products in Mercury's application management group.

“[The product is] mitigating the risk prior to the release of the changes," Berman said.

Mercury's product provides fine-grained detail on changes, akin to how an MRI exam provides more detail than an X-ray, Lochhead said.

"I think the application itself is somewhat unique in terms of prioritizing changes specific to the application stack," said analyst Stephen Elliot, research manager and director of enterprise system management at IDC.

Mercury is providing a good foundational offering for prioritizing changes in business services, Elliot said. "More and more IT organizations are organizing around service delivery models. You have to control change before you can deliver the service successfully," he said.

"When you centralize application changes and you can prioritize those changes, you've got better levels of control," Elliot said.

Mercury Change Control Management is geared to meet the needs of a user site's change advisory board, Berman said. Shipping now, Mercury Change Control Management is priced at about $100,000 for an initial deployment.