IBM Buys CIMS Lab for Chargeback Capabilities
January 30, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IBM has paid an undisclosed sum to acquire a little-known software company called CIMS Lab to bolster its On Demand product offerings.
CIMS Lab has been around in one form or another for over 30 years, and it is a specialist in creating software that allows IT managers to figure out who is using what computing resources and create a chargeback mechanism for users, departments, and divisions to pay for the resources that they use. Chargeback is not a new idea, of course. The original IBM mainframes were based on the idea of timesharing of a single host computer and charging accordingly. In many ways, the idea of tying a server to a server that is not shared is a more radical idea, and certainly a less efficient way to do computing. IBM and CIMS Lab have been partners since 2003, and have 150 shared customers already, which use agents called data collectors on Unix, Linux, Windows, and mainframe platforms to watch what applications use what resources.
The original company that eventually became CIMS Lab was called BMS Computer, which was founded in 1974 and which created resource accounting and chargeback software for MVS and VSE operating systems on mainframes. In the 1980s, the company added chargeback functions for DB2 and CICS and, as the decade ended, expanded into Unix systems. In the early 1990s, the company announced a desktop resource accounting and chargeback program called CIMS Desktop, and in 1996, Platinum Technology (which was later eaten by Computer Associates) acquired CIMS Lab, but divested itself of the company in 1999. The dot-com crash and slowdown in the IT business actually helped make CIMS Lab’s products more relevant, as has the ideas of grid and utility computing. In 2002, the company rolled out a Web-based version of its tools called CIMS Server and delivered support for Microsoft‘s Windows platform; in 2004 the company delivered an extended product line that modularized the offering into agents and various modules for measuring, analyzing, reporting, and billing for IT usage.
The CIMS products do not support i5/OS, but now that IBM owns it, they clearly will. CIMS Lab has 21 employees, and they will be merged into IBM’s Tivoli systems management unit within Software Group. CIMS Lab will be integrated into IBM Director, the cross-platform server management program that runs on all of Big Blue’s eServers, starting first on its xSeries and pSeries machines. CIMS will be integrated into other Tivoli products as part of an overall IT resource accounting and chargeback offering, too. IBM will sell the resulting solutions directly as well as through its business partner channel.
Significantly, such resource accounting and chargeback mechanisms will turn out to be a key means of charging for software in an SOA world, where software is a service, not a collection of discrete bits on a specific box.