Mercury Initiative Aims to Hone IT Budgets

By Tom Steinert-Threlkeld  |  Posted 2002-10-03 Print this article Print

Online exclusive: In a pitch to carve the fat from technology budgets, Mercury Interactive unveils its Business Technology Optimization initiative and talks up its Optane suite.

In the latest extension of Mercury Interactive's evolving strategy to provide large enterprises with tools for improving their technology-infrastructure operations, the company announced a new initiative Thursday.

The initiative, to be called Business Technology Optimization (BTO), draws upon the quality-management philosophy and techniques of W. Edwards Deming, whose teachings about how persistently to improve quality in manufacturing were the foundation of Japan's industrial rehabilitation after World War II.

Deming's methodology, though complex, can be simply encapsulated: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Mercury is now trying to apply that manufacturing principle to technology. Its BTO suite, called Optane, is organized into three buckets to let businesses "measure, maximize and manage" their information-technology operations.

In the "testing" bucket are its TestDirector, LoadRunner, and WinRunner products; its "deployment" bucket, intended to tweak the performance of applications, includes ProTune and ActiveTune; and the "operations" bucket, to test systems from an end-user perspective, includes its flagship Topaz line of performance-measurement programs, which will now also include a tool called Business Availability.

The launch of Optane comes as Mercury and other performance-benchmarking companies try to find a way to grow in the face of stagnant corporate spending on information technology. Even though an estimated $1.5 trillion gets spent annually on information technology in the United States, most budgets are flat or in decline, said Mercury Interactive chief executive Amnon Landan.

The benefit of "optimizing" technology is to free up dollars that are already being spent on existing operations, so that that money can be spent on other needs—or dropped to the bottom line.

Landan cited a Gartner Inc. research claim that 20 percent of corporate spending on information technology is wasted.

"I have a different claim," he said in his keynote speech Thursday at the company's annual users conference in Kissimmee, Fla. "I say it's 50 percent. We just don't know where it is. We are here now to do the cleanup job.''

The Optane suite, though, will not be a panacea to the needs of developers testing applications before they are deployed or to the needs of operations managers monitoring performance as applications are used on a daily basis.

"You're not going to find one tool vendor or one organization to focus on everything,'' said Gartner research director Theresa Lanowitz.

The challenge will be for benchmarking- and performance-software suppliers to build tools that are "open and extensible,'' she said. That way, makers of tools designed to manage requirements, track defects, monitor networks, or otherwise gauge hardware and software performance, can work together easily.

Hopefully, Lanowitz added, application developers and operations managers will be able to mix and match tools into unified "dashboards'' on their monitoring screens.

Tom was editor-in-chief of Interactive Week, from 1995 to 2000, leading a team that created the Internet industry's first newspaper and won numerous awards for the publication. He also has been an award-winning technology journalist for the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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