What do customers want? Working within product management, every release brings that question to the forefront. For BMC’s Data Center Automation 8.2 release, we faced that challenge head-on. Do we go for dazzling new features designed to catch the attention of the analysts and the press? Or do we go back deep into the product, focus on the existing feature set and work to improve them to provide more flexibility and better customer experience for our customers? For 8.2, it was an easy decision. If you want to craft a solution that serves our technical users now and into the future, at times, you need to enhance the foundation. Just as the most amazing house won’t stand up to an earthquake without a good foundation, neither will a product line if the fundamentals aren’t revisited and enhanced.
With DCA, the structure was really great. So we looked at how we could improve what we already had. One area that was key was to simplify the work for our users – do things better instead of just doing more things. One way of doing this was focusing our attention on what our customers had told us and asked for around our existing features, RFEs, defects, issues, etc. – This release is chalk full of new improvements that are in directed response to enhancements requests and fixes for customer issues. Many DCA customers, especially on the BSA side, have went through an upgrade from our 7.x to 8.x versions over the past few years, and many remember that given some of the large new features (the new eclipse UI, native patching for Unix, integration of the provisioning UI, etc.) there was a learning curve for many of the new customers; DCA 8.2 minimizes that problem. The focus on improving existing features minimized radical changes in the product allowing for a very logical and intuitive transition from older versions to DCA 8.2, and as a result you can get Day 1 value from the improvements.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are major and exciting new things in this release. With DCA 8.2 we have started the move to a consolidated reporting strategy (using Business Objects), in DCA 8.2 this has started with consolidated database and network solutions (BDA didn’t have a reporting solution until this release). BSA reporting has not yet made the transition to the consolidated framework, but it has underwent and overhaul allowing for huge performance and reliability improvements as well as great strides around ease of use. BDA customers are going to be very happy to see a much more flexible and simply way to create user defined actions, and I think customers will also like BSA’s unified agent installer, which automates the deployment of agents natively in the product. But talking with a lot of customers about the release, I think the thing that people have been the most excited about is that we have eliminated license enforcement of agents for BSA, removing the need for customers to need to register and deregister agents with the licensing portal, a huge improvement around simplifying the usage of the product.
Along with this focus on the foundation, DCA 8.2 does continue down other paths the products have been going down over the past few releases, especially continuing to focus around simplifying virtual management and enabling cloud computing. BSA has added support for several new hypervisors, including Microsoft Hyper-V, while BNA continues to add support for additional virtual switches and improving their support for Network Pods and containers.
When planning a new release, it can be fun to code up a dazzling new bells and whistles, and you will see a couple of these in 8.2, but today, we opted to build a world class foundation instead. If you’re an existing automation customer, I would highly recommend getting more information on DCA 8.2, and if you’re not I would recommend understanding some of the capabilities the suite has. Please check us out on www.bmc.com/data-center-automation/dca.html