A guest post from Rhett Glauser, Service-now.com director of communications. Rhett has spent a decade talking and writing about the IT management industry from the perspective of companies like Service-now.com, Symantec, Altiris and Lineo. These days he spends most of his time communicating the benefits of modern IT service management applications, software-as-a-service, and IT best practices like the IT Infrastructure Library. For more info, Google “Rhett Glauser”. We invited him to post his thoughts about the recently announced BMC help desk offering.
Yesterday BMC announced they decided to try and build their very first IT service desk application. Since they purchased their first two service desk apps, we consider Service Desk Express on Force.com to be the first ITSM app they will build all on their very own. Wait a tick, BMC is building this app on Force.com and it seems Salesforce.com is doing all the heavy lifting. So they have a little help from a friend.
In a major coup for Salesforce.com, and cloud computing / SaaS generally, the old guard ISVs are FINALLY acknowledging there is a better way. Force.com has become the platform of choice for at least BMC and CA. We’d make the argument that the platform is the core secret sauce of any business application. BMC just outsourced their secret sauce to another software vendor, not that there’s anything wrong with that assuming they don’t have any other options. Again, this is great news for Salesforce.com and SaaS momentum.
But for BMC does this spell the end of an almost two-decade run for Action Request System (ARS), their own development platform? So much for eating their own dog food. We always assumed customers pay an application vendor for their expertise in building software. So far, BMC has taken customer investments and purchased a couple of technologies and outsourced the development of another to Salesforce.com.
It is no secret that these are desperate times for many legacy enterprise application vendors. Service-now.com has been taking significant business from BMC, HP, CA and IBM by providing a powerfully simple, customer-friendly enterprise ITSM app. The big four have not had an answer for modern SaaS and even after yesterday’s announcement, BMC will still be looking for an answer in the enterprise market.
To understand the present situation we have to understand the history. BMC has spent the last few years dancing around a dual go-to-market strategy for their Magic (Service Desk Express) technology and Remedy acquisitions. Publically, Service Desk Express was to be the SMB offering while Remedy was to be the enterprise play. Privately, Service Desk Express got the short end of the R&D investment stick and is at best a BMC afterthought. Its revenues have declined since being acquired because BMC has incented Magic customers to switch to Remedy.
Enter BMC IT service desk application number three. Given what we know about the current version of Service Desk Express, why not rebuild it in the cloud and see what happens? This move probably won’t threaten the Remedy cash cow.
BMC doesn’t have anything to lose…or do they? They need to be ready for the onslaught of questions about the focus of BMC development resources and about their even more complex go-to-market strategy. These questions will come from both Remedy and Service Desk Express customers and channel partners.
Yesterday BMC was giddy at the thought of being able to tell customers and prospects, "Now we’re like Service-now.com!" We welcome them to the SaaS party but let’s be very clear about which party they’ll attend.
For many reasons, BMC can’t rebuild Remedy in the cloud and they would be crazy to position Service Desk Express on Force.com against Remedy. So by default, Service Desk Express won’t compete against Service-now.com in the enterprise ITSM market.
As far as we’re concerned, BMC just squandered an opportunity to truly compete with Service-now.com by not going all in. Does BMC have another SaaS trick up their sleeve? We doubt it. For legacy software vendors, SaaS is not an easy nut to crack for business, organizational, technology and cultural reasons. We will continue to take significant market share from BMC Remedy by simply providing IT organizations an option that makes their lives easier.
Either variety of BMC Service Desk Express is clearly not a threat to Service-now.com. BMC will become familiar with Zendesk and Beetil as two examples of extremely innovative IT service desk SaaS vendors who target the SMB. These vendors understand customer service and support, have a culture that fits the model, and have legit, modern SaaS applications for SMB IT service management. As far as we can tell, the real Service Desk Express on Force.com competition already has many passionate and satisfied customers, and for good reason.
Cross posted on the Service-now blog.