In my February 2014 report: Left–Shift Technology Monitoring For Success In The Age Of The Customer I explore what the near future will bring for technology monitoring approaches and solutions. Today, for the typical I&O organization, successful technology or service delivery monitoring focuses on two main areas. Firstly, availability, so ensuring the technology underpinning business services is up and available when needed and secondly, performance, so making sure that technology utilized (applications and associated workloads) is fast enough for the business service it supports.
There is a major problem with this approach though. As the famous author Harper Lee stated “We know all men are not created equal” and the same can be said about your customers and employees – they are not all equal and the rapid pace of consumer technology innovation in areas such as mobile means that they will utilize technology in different ways to support productivity or to engage with your enterprise as a customer. Our relationship with technology is changing rapidly. It is becoming more intimate and personal, meaning that datacenter centric monitoring approaches that focus on availability and performance alone, while still essential, are only the beginning of what is required for a holistic technology monitoring strategy.
I’m sitting on my sofa at home (Yes! Home!) on Sunday morning just before Christmas. I’m “shut down” for the holidays now, but of course, I’m watching Twitter and now listening to my brilliant friends Chris Dancy and Troy DuMoulin discussing CMDB (configuration management database) on the Practitioner Radio podcast. It’s a marvelous episode, covering the topic of CMDB in with impressive clarity! I highly recommend you listen to their conversation. It’s full of beautiful gems of wisdom from two people who have a lot of experience here – and it's pretty entertaining too!
I agree with everything these guys discussed. In particular, I love the part where they cover systems thinking and context as the key to linking everything conceptually. I only have one nit about this podcast, and the greater community discussion about CMDB, though. Let’s stop calling this “thing” a CMDB!
I coauthored a book with the great Carlos Casanova (his real name!) called The CMDB Imperative, but we both hate this CMDB term. This isn’t hypocritical. In fact, we make this point clear in the book. Like the vendors, we used CMDB to hit a nerve. We actually struggled with this decision, but we realized we needed to hit those exposed nerves if we were going to sell any books. Our goal is not to fund a new Aston Martin with book proceeds. If so, we failed miserably! We just wanted to get the word out to as many as possible. I hope we've been able to make even a small difference!
Engaging All Service Engineering Folks: Help Forrester Define “Service Engineering” As A New Role Within Infrastructure & Operations (Or Beyond)! A variety of technology trends such as mobility and clouds are empowering consumers and connects employees who all are interacting and collaborating through apps and devices which are changing the way business is conducted. In response, organizations are forced to accelerate business changes which require the need for agility innovating new technology choices, implementation options, and delivery approaches. In this new pace of change the business demands more of IT to help deliver services which enable and support the age of the customer. Some Infrastructure & Operations teams have made the transformation to manage and support BT services which consist of technology, systems, and processes to win, serve and retain customers. Other organizations still manage and support components which range from operating systems, middleware, general purpose components, applications and custom components built all for specific purposes. I&O teams have become good at building components, but it often lacks the engineering discipline to assemble these components into services that meet specific business needs and are relevant in the age of the customer. To stay relevant and transform Infrastructure & Operations in the age of the customer, I&O needs a new role – service engineering. Service engineers mainly “do” three things:
1. Think and act from the outside-in – this means establishing, managing and continually improving services which are critical and essential for business enablement and business success.
2. Participate and support the DevOps journey – business agility in large parts depends on technology today. The DevOps team plays a large role in the quality and speed of technology delivery.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the rising number of ‘computer glitch’ articles during 2013 and discussed that our approach to technology monitoring is not good enough for today’s digital economy. Equally I have also seen an increasing number of inquiries in relation to monitoring and management strategies as businesses start to realize the importance of business technology monitoring. This has been good to see but in order to achieve ROI from any monitoring or management solution investment you have to firstly understand the business importance of the IT or digital services that you provide before making any purchasing decisions. While working on Forrester’s TechRadar on Business Technology Monitoring it became evident that the monitoring solution market is evolving at quite a fast pace with a number of developments in infrastructure, application and end user monitoring resulting in new features and new solution approaches.
So if you are responsible for, or are involved in, your company’s technology monitoring or management strategy then here are the major, high level market developments that you need to be aware of:
If not I would be very surprised! Personally I have been shocked by the number of media articles referring to how ‘computer glitches’ have crippled enterprises during 2013. It seems that every week there is a press article on how IT problems have brought an organization to its knees. The latest being reported this morning in the UK by the BBC, where hundreds of outpatient appointments and a number of operations had to be postponed after computer systems failed at Scotland’s largest health board, the NHS in Glasgow. Unfortunately you don’t have to look far to see other countless examples – just type ‘computer glitch’ into a search engine – how many media articles did you find? I found around 25 separate examples during September 2013 alone! Examples ranging from financial trading markets with Nasdaq to the airline industry with JetBlue Airways.
This wide coverage of these IT problems highlights three areas:
In August this year I am heading down to our nation’s capital to take part in the annual itSMF Australia event – LEADit. I have taken part in this event to a greater or lesser extent over the past few years across Australia – Sydney, Perth, the Gold Coast and now Canberra. As an analyst who broadly covers the Service Management space (as well as a previously ITIL qualified practitioner), this event is the mecca for those interested in service management in Australia.
Year after year at this event, I see a fair amount of change in the content and focus, but little change in the thinking, and little real movement in the implementation or improvement of the processes – a recent survey between itSMF-USA and Forrester displays the current maturity levels of processes in organisations:
Here we are – years (decades?) after the first ITIL books were written, and demand management is STILL immature. Even financial management has barely shifted in maturity over the past few years. Why is this the case?
On the 7th August I will be taking part in a webinar that looks at how to ‘Boost Your IT Maturity With ITSM’ and I have a confession to make – I love IT Maturity Assessments. You may also love them but my love comes from the fact that I used to be an enterprise system and service management consultant and today I want to confess my sins.
As you may know, maturity models and assessments are a cornerstone of many System Integrator service offerings. During my time as a consultant on a number of ‘IT transformation’ projects in the UK, the companies that I worked for would use maturity assessments as part of their standard go-to-market offerings. In terms of my role, I would use ITIL and systems management maturity models and my promise to the customer was that working with me would get them to that next level of maturity. While I believed I was truly helping the customer, I knew, deep down, that maturity models were a way of cementing continued business and that unfortunately within a year I would be on another project meaning I would not be there to see the improvement roadmap move forward.
But today I want to start my rehabilitation. I still believe that IT maturity assessments hold a lot of value for Enterprise IT but I&O professionals needs to be aware of the following 5 deadly sins:
One of the best TV comedies in the UK over the last couple of years has been The IT Crowd. It is about a fictional IT department and plays to all the possible IT stereotypes. One of my favorite scenes is from the very first episode in which a ‘user’ is left waiting for their call to be answered for an excruciating amount of time and then another ‘IT professional’ is shown speaking to a ‘user’ in complete technology gobbledygook. Yes, this clip is funny but surely these are all extreme cases and only slim comparisons can be made to Enterprise IT today?
I have to be honest here and say that during my time as an enterprise management consultant I saw all that happened on this clip, but surely modern day IT organizations don’t suffer from these problems? Well, maybe not to the same extent but how often have you heard, or even whispered, these famous words when working with the IT service desk or help desk:
As I write this, I am in seat 1A of United flight 1607 from Philly to Houston. playing on the screen in front of me is CNBC. I make no secret of my disdain for much of the so called "news media" so I won't launch into my usual rant there (there are some superb journalists out there, but Murrow and Cronkite must be rolling in their graves!). I am bristling over the coverage right now that is focused on the 787's latest woes. As usual, the talking heads are clueless and painting a doomsday scenario for Boeing! It's a bunch of finance people who don't understand the engineering realities. They're smart bean counters, but not engineers. I am an old engineer, so let me shed light on what the Wall Street mouths don't know. There is an important lesson here for I&O leaders!
I was part of a Forrester Team that recently completed a multi-country rollout tour with Emerson Network Power as they formally released their Trellis DCIM product, a comprehensive DCIM environment many years in the building. One of the key takeaways was both an affirmation of our fundamental assertions about DCIM, plus hints about its popularity and attraction for potential customers that in some ways expand on the original value proposition we envisioned. Our audiences were in total approximately 500 selected data center users, most current Emerson customers of some sort, plus various partners.
The audiences uniformly supported the fundamental thesis around DCIM – there exists a strong underlying demand for integrated DCIM products, with a strong proximal emphasis on optimizing power and cooling to save opex and avoid the major disruption and capex of new data center capacity. Additionally, the composition of the audiences supported our contention that these tools would have multiple stakeholders in the enterprise. As expected, the groups were heavy with core Infrastructure & Operations types – the people who have to plan, provision and operate the data center infrastructure to deliver the services needed for their company’s operations. What was heartening was the strong minority presence of facilities people, ranging from 10% to 30% of the attendees, along with a sprinkling of corporate finance and real-estate executives. Informal conversations with a number of these people gave us consistent input that they understood the need, and in some cases were formerly tasked by their executives, to work more closely with the I&O group. All expressed the desire for an integrated tool to help with this.