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.
My new report went live this week for Forrester clients - Predictions For 2014: Technology Monitoring. Normally I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to predictions, especially in regards to technology, because while they are interesting to read they can cause confusion and unnecessary deliberation for a buyer/strategist if they are not in context. So my aim for this report was to provide some concrete advice for I&O professionals in 2014 in regards to their technology monitoring (user experience, applications and infrastructure) strategy or approach.
So my top level advice is that during 2014, I&O has to concentrate on monitoring business technology which serves external customers. In fact this is not just a call for I&O professionals but also the rest of the business including marketing and eBusiness professionals. Why? Well just take a look at the near weekly media reports on “computer glitches” during 2013. These glitches meant lost revenue but more seriously impacted the brand image. Technology fuels business and this means that monitoring has to be a strategic business concern. So to avoid your company being the next computer glitch headline you should:
Make sure that your monitoring solutions cover mobile and web fueled business services. From a mobile perspective, your monitoring solutions should provide holistic insight in regards to mobile devices and applications in terms of availability and performance down to the network/carrier level. From a web perspective, in depth web application monitoring down to the code level is a must.
Firstly, I hope all my American colleagues and friends are enjoying Thanksgiving. Happy holidays everyone!
I especially hope that all the IT professionals who work in the consumer retail markets get some rest because this coming Monday is Cyber Monday, one of the biggest days for online shopping transactions in the business year. Cyber Monday is part of the holiday season, which Forrester defines as November through December, and as our recent retail forecast report for 2013 points out, we expect online sales to top $78 billion in the US alone. Cyber Monday is not just a US event though; even in the UK, spending is forecast by Sage Pay to be more than £500m for this one day alone.
These figures highlight how digital our world has become. There is no need to go out in the cold or the rain as purchases can be made via mobile devices at any time or anywhere. This move to the digital world means that for many consumer retail companies, their websites and increasingly their mobile apps are now key to their success as they are becoming a major revenue and brand image contributor.
Last week I attended the excellent FutureStack conference. This was the first customer conference by New Relic, the Application Performance Management (APM) and Monitoring company. It was great to see how passionate their customers are and how they realize the strategic importance of monitoring. Well done New Relic! The keynotes and track sessions at this event were great because they did not just focus on technology but addressed the future skills and competencies required for today’s business technology professional.
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:
Have you ever done an audit of the number of monitoring solutions that you have in your environment? If you haven’t you are probably thinking - Why should I? I suppose if you draw an analogy to checking your car engine then not many people do this anymore. We are comforted by the thought that modern technology means our cars just work, but the reality is that with moving parts, technology will still fail and so we should at least be checking the important components before a long journey. Similarly the IT monitoring solutions that we have in our environment are important to the overall health of IT and so should therefore be audited to make sure they are ‘working’.
If you have done an audit then this may have prompted a number of questions including:
Do I require monitoring or management solutions? The simple answer is that you require both. Good management solutions such as Application Performance Management (APM) are a combination of monitoring, configuration, analysis and automation components. So monitoring is essential to any management solution. Be very careful when buying a management solution that it covers your requirements in these areas and don't believe the marketing hype. Simply, be aware of marchitecture!
There is growing evidence of a harmonic convergence of Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) with Security and it is hardly an accident. We often view them as separate worlds, but it’s obvious that they have more in common than they have differences. I live in the I&O team here at Forrester, but I get pulled into many discussions that would be classified as “security” topics. Examples include compliance analysis of configuration data and process discipline to prevent mistakes. Similarly, our Security analysts get pulled into process discussions and other topics that encroach into Operations territory. This is as it should be.
Some examples of where common DNA between I&O and Security can benefit you and your organization are:
Gain economic benefit by cross-pollinating skills, tools, and organizational entities
Improve service quality AND security with the same actions and strategies
Learn where the two SHOULD remain separate
Combine operational NOC and security SOC monitoring into a unified command center
Develop a plan and the economic and political justifications for intelligent combinations