By Joe Clabby, Clabby Analytics
On September 2, 2014, the New York Times reported on the buyout of Compuware by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. For years Compuware had been under pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management (a 9.5% stakeholder in the company) to go private in order to reorganize and restructure – but Compuware resisted. In 2013 Compuware announced the IPO of its wholly owned subsidiary Covisint B2B cloud platform provider. By 2014, even with aggressive cost cutting, the divestures of its Changepoint, Professional Services and Uniface businesses, and the replacement of half of its board, Compuware continued to struggle. Compuware recruited Chris O’Malley (most recently the President and CEO of VelociData, and, formerly, the EVP of CA Technologies’ mainframe business unit) to become the company’s new president of mainframe operations.
After Compuware accepted Thoma Bravo’s bid to take the company private, the mainframe and application performance management businesses (APM) were split (APM business is now Dynatrace),and Chris O’Malley was promoted to president and CEO of the mainframe business (Compuware). Under his management, Compuware has a new mission: it is now positioned as a software company exclusively devoted to optimizing mainframe environments.
I’ve written several articles on O’Malley in the past, including an article on his Mainframe 2.0 program at CA Technologies for Mainframe Executive Magazine. Clabby Analytics has also reported on Chris’ highly efforts to grow CA Technologies’ monitoring business with Nimsoft. And we also reported on his previous move to VelociData – an innovative server platform that accelerates the extract/transform/load process to enable mainframe data to be quickly read and analyzed by distributed servers. So when we learned that O’Malley had accepted the position at Compuware, our interest was immediately piqued. We know from past observations that he is creative, very energetic, highly innovative – and a very good leader. Accordingly, we are now watching with great interest to see his plan for reinvigorating Compuware.
So far, with O’Malley at the helm, Compuware mainframe products have become better integrated with one another under the company’s recently released Topaz (open source-based) product, which includes a single intuitive interface that whose first release enables users to easily manage data across the enterprise, visualize complex data relationships and copy data across logical partitions (LPARs). Further, the company has streamlined its products by using more agile development practices – greatly reducing the time it takes to bring Compuware products to market. And we note that company executives now meet with the entire engineering organization every two weeks in a town hall meeting format to exchange ideas and share information.
What O’Malley is doing is igniting a startup culture inside a 40-year-old mainframe company. He has moved innovation and agility to the forefront. And, under his leadership, the company has made two important decisions: 1) it has decided to place a stronger emphasis on solving its customer’s mainframe management problems (instead of just pumping out application development tools and monitoring utilities); and, 2) it has decided to take a neutral position when it comes to working with its traditional competitors.
As an example of both of these strategic decisions, consider Compuware’s new relationship with traditional competitor BMC. Chris and his management team identified a big challenge: a need to more efficiently and effectively manage resource usage within mainframe environments in order to better control monthly licensing costs (MLCs). Compuware had one piece of the puzzle needed to determine application behavior and costs on the mainframe – the company’s Strobe product which delivers deep, granular and highly actionable insight into the behavior of application code in the IBM z Systems environments. With Strobe, Compuware customers can perform detailed analysis on specific application components during peak MLC times. Customers can then tune their applications for better performance.
But Compuware needed two additional programs in order to provide a complete MLC and performance management solution: 1) a program that could identify wasteful MSU (mainframe service unit) consumption in real-time; and, 2) a cost analyzer that could forecast future MLC and provide workload management. O’Malley knew from experience that working with partners to solve multidimensional problems represents a way to reduce development costs, bring products to market more quickly – and thus solve real world problems for customers quickly and efficiently. So O’Malley and his team did something unusual: they partnered with a former competitor to create an integrated mainframe solution.
O’Malley’s strong suit has always been innovation – and the relationship he has now structured with BMC shows that he is willing to think “outside the box” when it comes to bringing new solutions to market. Overall, this MLC solution is just one of several that the two partners plan to bring to market.
A Closer Look at the Deliverables
The three products that Compuware and BMC have integrated to form their MLC tuning/management solution include BMC’s Cost Analyzer for zEnterprise; BMC MainView; and Compuware Strobe:
BMC Cost Analyzer for zEnterprise is a intelligent workload management solution that can identify MLC cost drivers – and then provide managers and administrators with options for reducing LPAR utilization costs (such as moving workloads to non-peak periods, running IBM subsystems on fewer LPARs, and capping LPAR utilization).
BMC MainView monitors application behavior and can provide real-time identification of application performance issues. With MainView, managers and administrators can easily find ways to eliminate wasteful MSU consumption.
Compuware’s Strobe is, essentially, an application performance management solution for mainframe application analysis. Using this offering, managers and administrators can conduct deep, granular analysis of mainframe applications, locate inefficient sub-routines, and make those subroutines run more efficiently.
Combining these products allows customers to identify use patterns, fix poorly performing applications, identify applications that could be run more cost-effectively at other times – and, more generally, help reduce mainframe monthly licensing costs.
Now that Compuware is private, the company can operate more efficiently because it no longer has a wealth of shareholders to serve. Plus, being wholly dedicated to mainframe customers, it no longer has conflicting priorities in serving non-mainframe clients. The company can now focus more clearly on innovation, efficiency, productivity, and on building a strategy that will help it grow marketshare. This is a good move for Compuware – it will help the company recover and grow marketshare.
Hiring Chris O’Malley was a brilliant move. O’Malley has a proven track record in mainframe software marketing; he’s creative – and he’s innovative. His new focus on fixing problems related to mainframe cost control will enable Compuware to please existing customers and find new ones – building “customer delight” by consistently reducing mainframe operating expenses.
Compuware’s new “neutral” position will also help it work more closely with other mainframe software vendors, as well as, open system and cloud vendors. It will be very interesting to see even more software combinations come to market aimed at solving real-world mainframe pricing and management issues. This focus on new solutions should prove to be a real winner for Compuware – and for its customers and future partners.