My colleague David Johnson wrote a good blog earlier in the week on ‘Your Best Chance for Long-Term Employability as an I&O Professional’in which he discussed the key areas that I&O Professionals should focus on for employability. This and the recent wash of articles, especially in the UK, in regards to the IT skills gap got me thinking about the IT market from an employment perspective. With the various pressures facing I&O Professionals it is more important than ever to have a personal career plan which focusses on your career aspirations or at the very least a personal career vision.
I think one of the important aspects of this personal career vision is to have a clear understanding of the type of I&O organization that you would like to work for. Why? Well, in the same way in which a business selects the right candidate, it is important that that I&O Professionals select the right company which will help in their long term career vision. With this, I would like put forward the idea that, as I&O Professionals, we should be looking for certain organizational ‘career accelerating qualities’ during the recruitment process. My initial list is below and you may not find an organization which meets all these qualities but some will be more important to your personal career plan than others.
A strong I&O vision linked to the overall business mission – I would look to assess this by asking the interviewer(s) for both the overall business mission with a view to clarifying whether the I&O vision is in harmony with this. Put simply this will help you get a feel for how integrated and thus how important I&O is to the business.
It’s been a long time coming; I’ve been having conversations around ServiceNow’s IPO or their acquisition by another vendor for as long as I have been an IT analyst (and that’s late 2008). Last night its initial public offering price was set at $18 (above the previously expected $15-17 range – yes, even after what happened to Facebook) and I assume trading will have commenced by the time you are reading this blog.
But I’m not a market analyst, I’m an IT industry analyst … so bar there being a major hiccup with the valuation post-trading the real meat for me is what it all means for ServiceNow, its customers, and the IT service management tool market. And let’s not forget other software markets that it no doubt has its eyes set on. Build a platform and then exploit it – why not?
So let’s get you up to speed with ServiceNow
ServiceNow was started by Fred Luddy, the ex-CTO of Peregrine Sytems, in 2004 with the intention of making a better IT service management (ITSM) tool: "The IT industry deserves a tool that just works. We're going to give it to them." So much has happened since then: rapid growth in customer numbers and revenues (and market share), in employee numbers, and in the solution’s capabilities. In capability terms, today’s offering is a radically different beast to the initial offering – SaaS (or more specifically its PaaS) has allowed ServiceNow to grow the offering at a spectacular pace.
Where is ServiceNow now? Some quick facts and opinions
Without boring you with a ten page overview of the current ITSM tool market and ServiceNow’s capabilities, ServiceNow sits with the two previous heavyweights of the ITSM tool space (BMC and HP). BUT ServiceNow is more than just a SaaS ITSM tool:
Following the recent announcement of Forrester’s Voice of the Customer winners and while we wait for the release of a new Forrester book on Outside-In thinking, it seemed an opportune moment to look at the IT service desk from the perspective of its customers (or end users if you are still that way inclined). So the main body of this blog has been written by such a customer – they don’t work in IT they are just heavily dependent upon IT to do their job. This is how they feel …
Pre-service desk - old skool IT support seemed to work
It feels as though life was much easier before the service desk was introduced into my life. One “IT guy” supported circa 100 staff and was accessible via phone, email, IM, and by simply walking across the office floor. Times change, businesses grow, and technology becomes more complex and so we have to move on. The local (and friendly) “IT guy” gets replaced by a faceless IT team, usually locked-up in the basement floor, and suddenly we have to jump through a series of hoops to get our IT queries answered. There are incidents, requests, catalogs, and tickets, and all my colleagues and I want to know is “Why can’t I log into my email?” and “Can you fix it quickly, please?”
Thinking bigger picture
That said in reality does it really matter to a customer whether:
Their IT support is run by one “IT guy” or via a service desk?
It was Sunday morning and I got up around 6:00 as I do most mornings, and picked up the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition over a cup of coffee. I was moved by a story about middle-aged professionals struggling to find work for 3 years or more, and it got me thinking about how the role of I&O professionals is changing right now, who is at risk, and what skills will offer the best chances of staying employed (and hopefully happy) for years to come. Many of us are approaching or well into our 40s and beyond, and the older we get, the more difficult it can be to find new jobs.
How you are perceived by others matters most
I'm a strong believer that our employability (true for everyone - analysts included) is directly proportional to the perceived value that we provide to the people around us and those in the hierarchy that we are directly accountable to. Customer value that we create is a factor as are formal metrics, but let's face it, peer feedback often matters more than anything else in many organizations, and there is inevitably an invisible org chart in addition to the one drawn by HR. Few of us are lucky enough to work for companies where the measures of performance are clear and include a strong customer-focus component (I work for such a company, but it's not common) - let alone what behaviors and skills will give us the best shot at job security and growth. There are just so many variables.
Perception is a function of your mindset and daily conduct
Watching the Mobile Device Management market is a bit like watching a sneeze. My colleagues Christian Kane and Benjamin Gray are tracking nearly 75 vendors in the space, many of them just a few years old. We've also seen a fresh round of acquisitions as established endpoint management vendors look to shore up their flanks and freshen their portfolios.
Differentiation amongst vendors is hard to come by, as is long-term enterprise MDM experience. And that's what makes LANDesk's acquisition of Wavelink interesting. Mobile Device Management in an industrial or field setting is more than just enforcing passcode restrictions, enabling remote wipe in case of loss, or rolling out software. Companies like Wal-Mart and FedEx have significant portions of their businesses that depend on handheld devices for package delivery, inventory and point of sale. MDM in these settings involves a range of capabilities from diagnosing connectivity and printing issues over the air, to interfacing modern mobile apps to mainframe-based warehouse inventory systems.
Perhaps the best way to describe what Wavelink does is "Industrial MDM". They boast 15,000 customers in 85 countries, and have been in the business for several years. The flagship product is called Avalanche and its historical strengths have been in Windows Mobile environments. They added iOS and Android a couple of years ago and are about to release their 2nd generation release of the same.
Why it makes sense for LANDesk:
Competitive: It gives LANDesk the opportunity to own the IP for MDM technology and positions them differently than other MDM solutions on the market given Wavelink's industrial focus.
A recent Forrester report helps IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders understand the business and IT impact of service management and automation (SMA). While both IT service management (ITSM) and automation can be used effectively in isolation, I&O organizations should be seeking to use them in tandem for an "amplified" business impact.
The General Benefits Of Service Management And Automation
The general benefits of SMA can be divided between the I&O organization and the business, though these benefits often overlap:
While SMA is much more than the adoption of IT infrastructure library (ITIL), the ITSM best practice framework, thinking and processes — ITIL's benefits are quite reflective of the general benefits of broader SMA. In a survey of 491 members of the USA chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), Forrester found that organizations which adopted ITIL experience the following benefits:
Improved staff productivity that allows the business to become more competitive (85%).
Heightened quality of service that improves business uptime and customer experience (83%).
Reduced operational costs to reinvest in new and innovative initiatives (41%).
This week, sandwiched between the annual Structure Big Data conference and the International Supercomputing show in Hamburg, Germany, ARM startup and HP partner Calxeda also found time to release the first well-documented x86 versus ARM benchmarks. The results, shown below, are very positive — while there are some caveats that we need to note, the first generation ARM SOCs seem to deliver on their basic promise of much better performance per Watt.
The benchmark, which compares anew ARM SOC from Calxeda to a Sandy Bridge (not Ivy Bridge) low-end Xeon server with the same number of cores, shows that the Xeon CPU, while delivering more performance, has a very large deficit in workload per Watt, which is one of the key value propositions of the ARM community. Benchmark details*:
Interpreting The Benchmark
First of all, this is a single benchmark, and its relevance is limited to its domain — lightweight web serving on a small web server with 1 Gb network. We cannot interpolate results based on a faster network configuration (although my guess is that this configuration is bottlenecked by the network, and a faster Xeon would not make much difference), nor can we extend the interpretation to other workloads. But within the benchmark domain, this early comparison tells us some important things:
Even with the current V7 32-bit architecture, the ARM CPU does indeed deliver impressive power efficiency.
Absolute performance, especially considering the huge difference in clock speed, is higher than most of us expected.
As a basic proof point, this benchmark succeeds as a proof of concept — AMR servers are indeed in the ballpark versus their initial promises.
Only a few months since I authored Forrester’s "Market Overview: Data Center Infrastructure Management Solutions," significant changes merit some additional commentary.
The major vendor drama of the “season” is the continued evolution of Schneider and Emerson’s DCIM product rollout. Since Schneider’s worldwide analyst conference in Paris last week, we now have pretty good visibility into both major vendors' strategy and products. In a nutshell, we have two very large players, both with large installed bases of data center customers, and both selling a vision of an integrated modular DCIM framework. More importantly it appears that both vendors can deliver on this promise. That is the good news. The bad news is that their offerings are highly overlapped, and for most potential customers the choice will be a difficult one. My working theory is that whoever has the largest footprint of equipment will have an advantage, and that a lot depends on the relative execution of their field marketing and sales organizations as both companies rush to turn 1000s of salespeople and partners loose on the world with these products. This will be a classic market share play, with the smart strategy being to sacrifice margin for market share, since DCIM solutions have a high probability of pulling through services, and usually involve some annuity revenue stream from support and update fees.
In a recent Forrester report — Develop Your Service Management And Automation Balanced Scorecard — I highlight some of the common mistakes made when designing and implementing infrastructure & operations (I&O) metrics. This metric “inappropriateness” is a common issue, but there are still many I&O organizations that don’t realize that they potentially have the wrong set of metrics. So, consider the following:
When it comes to metrics, I&O is not always entirely sure what it’s doing or why. We often create metrics because we feel that we “should” rather than because we have definite reasons to capture and analyze data and consider performance against targets. Ask yourself: “Why do we want or need metrics?” Do your metrics deliver against this? You won’t be alone if they don’t.
Metrics are commonly viewed as an output in their own right. Far too many I&O organizations see metrics as the final output rather than as an input into something else, such as business conversations about services or improvement activity. The metrics become a “corporate game” where all that matters is that you’ve met or exceeded your targets. Metrics reporting should see the bigger picture and drive improvement.
I was in Singapore two weeks ago and had the chance to meet Malcolm Rodrigues and Greg Mittman from an emerging broadband service provider called MyRepublic. MyRepublic is a new service-based operator (SBO) licensed in Singapore in 2011, purpose-built for Singapore’s national broadband network (NBN). Since the launch of the NBN service in Singapore, it has created new opportunities for SBOs to lease the network from OpenNet, the company that operates the NBN in Singapore and sell high-speed fiber broadband services to consumers and businesses in the island country. And MyRepublic is one of the most interesting companies I have seen, with an innovative business/go-to-market model that:
Has an operational model based on light assets. Leveraging the NBN network and a neutral operation company, MyRepublic is able to get access to the nationwide fiber broadband network at the same price as other established telecom operators in Singapore, including the incumbent SingTel. It only needs to put its own gateways and other limited network assets at OpenNet for service provisioning, network monitoring, billing, etc.