Mercury looks to lighten compliance load

Von Doug Dineley

Promising to lighten IT?s heavy and ongoing burden to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations, Mercury Interactive on Monday issued IT Governance Center 6.0, which automates the process of managing IT changes driven by compliance mandates.

Governance Center, also available as a managed service, combines portfolio management, workflow, project tracking, and dashboards to give CIOs a top-down view into IT operations and their costs and risks, and to allow them to prioritize requests and steer IT initiatives toward business goals.

Mercury?s governance capabilities also leverage the company?s application testing, delivery management, and performance management products, which have been embedded with best practices.

?As you move a change through its life cycle, we pull the information from Mercury Application Mapping to do impact analysis,? said Alex Lobba, Mercury?s vice president of products for IT governance. ?Then we pull in information from the testing side to show that this business process we have changed is really imposing the controls the compliance requires. The testing gives you the full auditing, documentation, and validation of that.?

Mercury is not the only vendor to stress governance in recent months. Compuware, IBM Rational, Niku, Primavera, and SAP have also been working to weave best-practices and governance controls into their solutions. Nor is Mercury alone in tapping other OSes to automate processes.

Ultimately the goal goes beyond helping IT shops with compliance. All the vendors aim to provide nothing less than an entire IT management system. To that end, they are integrating with ERP and financial applications, and with other systems such as trouble-ticketing, requirements management, and change management applications. Some are partnering with BI vendors to improve their analytics and reporting capabilities.

The big idea, according to Mark Strauch, COO of Business Engine, is to achieve business-level integration of all the components -- operational, financial, and strategic -- CIOs need to run their IT shop as a business. It is a tall order he expects will take years to fulfill.

In the meantime, customers seem willing to settle for just a little more visibility and flexibility. Rob Cribben, IT manager with the methods and measurements group at Nielsen Media Research, has been using Mercury?s IT Governance Center since November. ?Our primary focus,? he said, ?was to have one system of record for what?s in the funnel, what?s on our plate.? His group is beginning to incorporate Mercury?s demand management capabilities to automate IT services.

?We were supposed to do our first-quarter portfolio review in the third quarter, and that got bumped up to the first quarter because we were able to react so quickly with the tool,? Cribben explained. ?So we?re already seeing ROI.?