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Novell Grabs BSM Player Managed Objects

Novell is adding new elements to its enterprise portfolio -- and finding new ways to compete with other big names in the industry -- by striding into the hot market for business service management (BSM) products, courtesy of its purchase today of Managed Objects.

Financial terms of the deal, which is slated to close during the quarter beginning Nov. 1, were not disclosed.

The move comes amid a high level of interest in BSM software and services, which essentially show how changes to an enterprise's IT infrastructure can impact its business and help companies align IT with business objectives.

Novell's (NASDAQ: NOVL) buy gives it an early mover in the space. According to Forrester Research, Managed Objects focuses heavily on "providing a business orientation to IT service management" and was "the first to bring fully fledged BSM systems to market."

The acquisition also is in line with Novell's plans to make strategic acquisitions to flesh out its offerings, having worked for years to expand from its origins in networking into enterprise infrastructure software and services. More recently, the news follows on the heels of a string of acquisitions. In February, Novell spent $205 million in cash to buy PlateSpin, a vendor of datacenter virtualization management products, in an effort what it considered to be a missing piece in its virtualization offerings.

"We acquired PlateSpin about eight months ago and this is a continuation of our management blueprint," Richard Whitehead, Novell's director of marketing for datacenter solutions, told InternetNews.com. "We have a plan in place to make strategic acquisitions, and look at technologies pretty intensely to see whether it makes sense to build them, buy them or partner with other vendors."

Once the deal is closed, the companies will publish a joint roadmap for both Novell's and Managed Objects' customers and begin marketing solutions together. They have already worked together on several joint customers, Whitehead said.

The promise of BSM

The Managed Objects purchase will be a "win-win for both companies and for their clients," Forrester analyst Evelyn Hubbert told InternetNews.com. "Managed Objects creates a match between the infrastructure device and its impact on the business service and lets users know what needs to be done to keep the business going."

She added that Novell clients, "who have typically purchased more of the lower-level solutions like virtualization around the datacenter, orchestration around devices and a bit of asset management, will get with Managed Objects an umbrella solution, which lets users see how well they are supporting their business and how healthy the services which they're supposed to administer are."

The move also supports what Novell describes as a vision to provide "the ability to make IT work as one, with Managed Objects providing that unified view into what's happening in your infrastructure," Whitehead said. Once that's available, organizations can deal with problems reactively, proactively, or automate the entire process of dealing with problems as they crop up.

Automation is "where we feel most organizations are leaning toward, the agile environment that fixes itself and reacts to user demands without IT having to rip out and replace the infrastructure," Whitehead added.

Novell is aiming that its approach will position it against other major players in BSM, like Hewlett-Packard, CA, IBM and BMC Software, the latter of which recently beefed up its presence in the space courtesy of a recent acquisition of its own.

Despite the heavyweight competition, Novell said it still sees plenty of opportunity to grab share.

"We look at it as not being a head-to-head situation, but one of being complementary," Whitehead said. "We're not looking to replace existing vendors, but to help leverage the value of existing investments."

"We're the salt, so to speak, in the IT recipe; we make it taste better."