BMC and Numara: What it Means

Disclaimer: I contracted at Numara Software as an Implementation Consultant in Professional Services from July 2007 to June 2010.

Chris Dancy said it best: this is about as close to J-Lo and Marc Anthony as we get in the IT industry. On January 30, 2012 BMC Software announced the acquisition of Numara Software.

My initial reaction was shock—both have been stable, mainstays of the industry. Shock gave way to disappointment. Disappointment soon gave way to cautious optimism about the future of the combined company.

Stephen Mann and David Johnson of Forrester fame have written some initial reactions. Here are mine.

Track-It

The Track-It family of products is the core of the original Blue Ocean Software, which was acquired by Quicken then spun-off again as Numara Software.

The initial indicators are that BMC intends to allow Numara to operate as an independent unit and to continue to operate Track-It as a standalone product. Track-It forms the low-end of the product line but generates high margin maintenance fees.

Track-It is profitable on its own and does not undercut sales of FootPrints Service Core or BMC Remedy. BMC may choose to scale back feature development, but it cannot make significant reductions in commitment or support without jeopardizing the highly repeatable and stable revenue stream of maintenance and support.

FootPrints Service Core

I joined Numara Software as a contractor shortly after the acquisition of FootPrints from Unipress and watched them struggle to make the transition from high volume transactions to high touch solutions. They did make this transition successfully, though it has become apparent in the last couple releases that the code-base is brittle. Version 12 to be released in 2012 will be a major refactoring of the code base to a new programming language.  I expect development to continue along its current path and schedule unless the refactoring seriously jeopardizes backward compatibility–in which case product management should revisit the product line.

FootPrints Service Core is more directly competitive with BMC Remedy, and I have been engaged at several customers where FootPrints replaced Remedy or beat Remedy in a competitive comparison. FootPrints provides easy configuration and rapid ROI, but is flexible enough to support several business processes. Although there are workspace templates built-in, they aren’t very useful, and customers usually start from scratch. As such what are customizations in Remedy are web-based configurations in FootPrints.

Nevertheless, while there is competitive overlap, FootPrints usually sells at a lower point in smaller environments. The question is whether BMC’s sales force is up for the transition to lower customer service and reduced professional service requirements of FootPrints customers. It depends on whether BMC sales staff consider this a threat of reduced revenues or an opportunity to retain valid sales leads where Remedy isn’t competitive. I suspect Remedy has been squeezed by competition (primarily Service-Now and Hornbill) and will welcome a competitive solution that can be sold on-premise or SaaS.

FootPrints Asset Core

FootPrints Asset Core (formerly Numara Asset Management Platform, or NAMP) has always been an enterprise product designed for stability and scaleability.  It is a product based on client agents that provide hardware and software inventory, software deployment, patching, and policy deployment of Windows, Mac, and Linux devices.

Asset Core competes more directly with BMC’s BladeLogic Client Automation. BMC will need to pay more attention to how they position these product lines. Asset Core is poor at automated discovery and agentless inventory and is very complementary to Atrium Discovery & Dependency Mapping (ADDM) in its mid-market. I anticipate BMC will strip some functionality and complexity out of Asset Core and keep it focused on the mid-market, leaving BladeLogic in the enterprise.

Mobile Device Manager

Numara Cloud is a repackaging of FootPrints Service Core, FootPrints Asset Core, and a new product called Mobile Device Manager (MDM) they acquired in 2011. The strategic positioning was brilliant and the growth potential is huge. BMC does not offer much in this area, and this addition should be welcomed in their product line.

Conclusions

Numara has traditionally been weak in several areas.

  • Mobile computing: no solution here, nor even a hint of future product development. BMC could capitalize on this with mobile solutions that integrate across the spectrum of IT Service Management and asset management products.
  • Social networking and chat integration: While FootPrints provides web-based messaging capability, the functionality is slow and dismal and it provides no workflow or issue integration. FootPrints provides no integration or API for social networks.
  • Configuration Management and Service Catalog: the initial release of the CMDB functionality was promising but they have failed to improve on it. Reporting, data federation, and data reconciliation functions are very poor. Product management has mostly focused on integration with Asset Core.

 

I would look for changes and improvements in these areas. BMC would be wise to focus product management in these areas in order to capitalize the relative strengths of both organizations.

For existing or prospective customers of both organizations, I don’t expect much to change in 2012. For many organizations I don’t expect much to change through 2015 beyond “normal” product feature evolution that would have occurred anyway.

The reactions of my current and former inside Numara have been very positive. If BMC is planning on major force reductions (RIFs) they have been very quiet about it. I don’t expect many RIFs beyond back office staff, where Numara has already been very efficient. I don’t expect many reductions in development, product management, or sales because the products are either high-margin and non-strategic (Track-It) or strategic and complementary (MDM).

I am rushing this response in order to get out some initial reactions. Overall I believe they provide complementary product coverage that, if utilized and coordinated, could provide a lot of future growth for customers and BMC. I will keep an eye on things and let you know what transpires, but please feel free to provide feedback and updates.