What’s in a name?

Changing your name is in vogue at the moment. Norwich Union is now Aviva, British Petroleum is BP, Puff Daddy became P Diddy, and then simply Diddy before recently changing to Diddy Dirty Money.  IBM is no different.  Alongside the release of any “bluewashed” product comes the inevitable change of name and true to form IBM has wasted little time in changing its recent acquisition from BigFix to Tivoli Endpoint Manager (TEM).

The IBM policy is to change the name of an existing well known product to something less well known (but more complex) that describes the product’s function. And usually because the new name is now too long to remember the product will then be referred to by its acronym. For example the name of the Collation discovery software was changed to the catchy Tivoli Application Dependency Discovery Manager (or TADDM) and Candle’s Omegamon product was renamed to IBM Tivoli Monitoring (or ITM 6).  And yes the 6 is important.

So does this matter? My view is that the answer depends on whether you are an existing customer or whether you are approaching the product for the first time. For example IBM Tivoli Monitoring 5 which was written by IBM is a completely different product to Candle’s IBM Tivoli Monitoring 6. It has a different architecture, different functions and a different user interface.  For new users there is no problem at all but to poor downtrodden IT staff trying to explain why an upgrade of version 5 to version 6 requires new hardware, an extended upgrade project and 2 weeks of training there is an issue.

TBSM is another interesting case. When IBM bought Micromuse a few years ago they inherited Netcool Realtime Active Dashboards. This was as a significantly better product than IBM’s existing Service View application and consequently they wisely decided to replace their product with the new purchase. The question was what to call it? IBM’s existing product was called IBM Tivoli Business Systems Manager (TBSM 3.1) and therefore so as not to confuse any existing customers IBM decided to change the name to IBM Tivoli Business Service Manager (TBSM 4.1). Clever.

So let’s get back to the recent name change of BigFix to TEM. IBM can’t have made a mistake with this one surely. Unfortunately yes.  BigFix has a good name in the market whereas the Tivoli Endpoint Manger was known as the product that was canned when IBM bought BigFix. In addition the Tivoli Endpoint Manager is an existing component of the (very) old Tivoli Framework and the acronym (TEM) is used by IBM Tivoli Monitoring for the Tivoli Enterprise Monitoring Server.  Try searching Google for TEM or Tivoli Endpoint Manager and see what you get. You’ll begin to see the problem.

Ok. So you are probably saying that if the IBM policy is descriptive names with acronyms then there is no alternative to these name changes. Well no, this is not always true either. Along with the Netcool/Realtime Active Dashboards purchase IBM acquired Micromuse’s Netcool/OMNIbus. So what is the new name? IBM Tivoli Monitoring Console?  IBM Tivoli Correlation and Display Engine? No. The name was kept as Netcool/OMNIbus.

So my message to IBM for all consultants and customers alike is that we really can understand what a product does without the need for a name change. You kept the name for Netcool/OMNIbus and we managed. The BigFix name has now been pushed to the background and with it the association that the market had for a neat, elegant, patching and security configuration management solution. Let’s hope that TEM soon has the same associations but I think it will take time.

Anyway I’m off to put on the Hot Water Boiling and Dispensing Device (HWBADD) or the kettle as it used to be known.

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