BMC has updated its configuration management database technology to help customers collect data from back-end systems and more easily pull data from distributed sources.

BMC Atrium CMDB 2.0 software works with other BMC applications to collect and store configuration data from IT assets such as web and application servers, routers, switches and end-user machines in a configuration management database (CMDB), a repository for data on IT assets, their dependencies and their inter-relationships.

"Many vendors are offering tools that can map the dependencies of online applications, but it's not long before customers realise it's not a complete picture," says Jean-Pierre Garbani, a research director at Forrester Research. "Application dependencies are not online only. Most applications must delve into back-end databases and other systems. With this release BMC can show the relation of the online applications to those on the distributed network to those on the mainframe."

In addition to its expanded reach into mainframe systems, Atrium CMDB 2.0 now also supports a federated database model. Such support lets the software collect data from multiple sources, but not necessarily store all the data in one monolithic database. A federated CDMB would involve a centralised database with hooks into other data sources and not require IT manager abandon their existing databases and move configuration data to another server. This support would make it possible for data to reside in multiple sources, with the centralised source having knowledge of where the data lies throughout the enterprise.

BMC competes with HP, IBM with its Collation acquisition and Symantec, after its Relicore acquisition. The technologies are seen as a must-have in corporations looking to automate resource allocation and better understand application performance issues.

"If you want to automate the distribution of IT resources on demand, you need tools that can tell you what you have and what it's talking to at this moment," says Jasmine Noel, a principal analyst with Ptak, Noel & Associates. "Going forward, management vendors cannot survive without application dependency mapping and configuration management technologies."

Atrium CMDB 2.0 is not a standalone product, and if a customer buys more than one product including the database, the software will prompt the network administrator to choose which instance to turn on. Atrium CMDB 2.0 starts with Service Desk at an initial entry price of roughly US$30,000, before user licences.