Volume 12, Number 13 -- May 8, 2012

ASG Has One Foot on Premise, One Foot in the Cloud

Published: May 8, 2012

by Alex Woodie

Over the past three decades, ASG Software Solutions has built a solid reputation as a provider of infrastructure automation software, primarily for IBM mainframe environments, which constitutes 90 percent of its customer base. Thanks to several recent acquisitions, the software company is now providing solutions to help customers automate their cloud environments, too.

The roots of ASG trace back to 1981, the year that former Marine and General Motors system analyst Arthur Allen retired to Naples, Florida, after a 25-year career that culminated in selling his first company, Allen Services Corporation, for $18 million. But instead of playing tennis all day in sunny south Florida, Allen used his mainframe programming knowledge to create ShopMon, a mainframe monitoring tool that would form the basis for Allen Systems Group, which he founded in 1986.

Thus started a second 25-year career for Allen, who still found enough time to play a little tennis. (He recently had a local tennis center named after him.) After acquiring dozens of software companies, ASG has become a global force, with more than 90 offices, 8,500 customers, and $300 million in annual revenue. It may not have the name recognition of the big four systems management vendors, but it frequently goes head-to-head against BMC Software, CA Technologies, and IBM Tivoli (but not Hewlett-Packard, which doesn't do much on the mainframe).

ASG today owns and maintains more than 200 products, which are grouped into three main categories. The bulk of the products are in the infrastructure automation area, and include monitoring and management tools for various servers, storage devices, OSes, mainframe subsystems, databases, networks, messaging systems, and application servers. The company also makes job schedulers, security, and performance management tools.

While the company started out with a focus on the mainframe, it broadened its horizons several years back and started supporting other OSes with its infrastructure automation tools, including IBM i, Unix, Linux, and Windows. This was just practicality on the part of ASG, explains Ed Hallock, ASG's senior director of solutions management.

"Take a look at any enterprise today, and regardless of what they're doing, they've got distributed systems somewhere in their enterprise that are supporting applications and business services," Hallock tells IT Jungle. "So we have, through both development and acquisition, added the technologies to monitor those IT components and applications, irrespective of the platforms they might be running on."

The second main product area is focused on data and information management, and includes backup and recovery (it recently acquired Atempo and its Time Navigator product), content management systems, data warehousing, OLAP and reporting, metadata management, and data governance.

The third main product revolves around cloud computing. While it has made several acquisitions in the cloud management area and offers solutions ranging from infrastructure and software as a service (IaaS, SaaS) to desktop as a service, its biggest acquisition to date was the May 2011 purchase of visionapp AG. The German company's flagship product was CloudFactory, a cloud orchestration tool that works with multiple hypervisors to provision computing resources for private and hybrid (private-onsite) cloud environments.

"We're playing right now in a lot of different spaces from a cloud perspective," Hallock says. "We have SaaS initiatives under development, and we're also putting together SaaS offerings for SMBs [small and midsize businesses], which is a different market for us. We've gone into a number of areas looking to leverage the cloud technology we acquired from visionapp beyond our traditional mainframe base."

While the hype surrounding the cloud market is almost unbearable at times, enterprises are adopting the cloud slowly. "The first logical step is helping customers run private clouds, to orchestrate, manage, and deliver services in private cloud environments," Hallock says. "Organizations are looking to do it privately before they embark on any kind of hybrid or public cloud. They're not sure if the market is truly ready yet."


ASG Updates Job Scheduler

ASG Revs Job Scheduler, Which Supports IBM i

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