Tag Archive | "Enterprise IT"

Signs your IT Department needs an upgrade

Tags: Best Practices, BSM, Business Alignment, Business Service Management, Enterprise IT, IT, IT Management, IT Management Tools, Monitoring, Performance, Service Level

Here are a few topics around monitoring the Enterprise that are common problem areas for IT.   While this is not the entire list, it is a common problem area I hear about often.  Do you have more, please let me know.

1) You have many tools monitoring your infrastructure. While you may be feeding events from many tools into your favorite management tool (AKA: Manager of Managers), you still rely on the underlying consoles for day to day management (IE: while events are able to come in, you are not able to access other features of the underlying management tool to look at performance charts, issues actions against alarms, seeing topology maps, etc).


2) While looking at a sea or red, it is not quickly obvious which outages or performance problems should be worked on first. Is it easy for Level 1 operators to know that server1.mycompany.com is a critical component of three different important company Services (IE: EMail, Purchasing, etc) and server2.mycompany.com is a single node is a cluster of ten and not as critical.


3) The IT Department is graded on the availability of the Services (and/or systems) and you have to manually update spreadsheets at the end of the period (monthly, quarterly, etc) to determine your grade. You have no way realtime to see where you are at within an active Service Level period. You are not able to map current outages to key/important SLA’s.


4) It is not clear that help desk tickets have been opened for a problem identified by one of your management tools… or the current status of the ticket… or if change requests has been opened to address the problem.


When looking for your next upgrade, one stop shopping to a single vendor is not always ideal. The Enterprise has many tools from many vendors and while the one particular management tool has ways to integrate with third parties, it was not designed to do full fledge bi-directional integration. Most tools report on how you did for an SLA and ignore how you are currently doing.  Mapping of critical business processes and/or services is typically within a silo (IE: just that management tool, it might have some additional feeds, but not a true end to end view of the service and components supporting the Service). Many tools open tickets, but very few allow you to visualize all aspects of the total health of the device (think all the ITIL practices here).   Use a product that was designed from the ground up to integrate, correlate and visualize vasts amounts of data from several underlying management tools.

– Tobin

Supply Chain Analytics Just Getting Started

Tags: Analytics, BSM, Business Service Management, Enterprise IT, Measuring, Supply Chain

When you think about things you can measure inside the organization whether that’s from a Business Service Management perspective or other general business measuring such as Business Intelligence (BI) or web analytics, one thing you probably don’t rattle off the top of your head is “supply chain analytics.”But as Mary Jander points out on Internet Evolution, the ability to measure what’s happening in the supply chain could have tremendous value to organizations and in some ways would represent a business measurement holy grail.

A TechTarget’s SearchManufacturing.erp.com article suggests that this technology has actually been around for more than a decade, but it’s only beginning to come together now.

But as Jander indicates in her post, it’s still a vague category, which some business people don’t even acknowledge as a legitimate analytics category of its own. Regardless of what people may call it or where they place it in the business analytics space, according to Richard Sherman, director of North America for the Supply Chain Council, as quoted in Jander’s post, only 15 percent of companies are doing this kind measuring in spite of its high perceived value.

That could be because of a lack of mature tools just yet to handle this and that means IT pros have to be involved to crunch the numbers and generate meaningful reports. Yet from an inventory tracking perspective alone, it seems to be a worthwhile goal for companies to pursue.

Whatever the reason for its lack of traction yet, it could be something your company may want to start exploring because if you can understand the supply chain at detail level, it could give you one more way giving your business an advantage in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Photo by Nick Saltmarsh on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

Microsoft’s All in On Cloud, How About You?

Tags: BSM, Business Service Management, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Microsoft, Microsoft Azure, Vivek Kundra

Business Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementCloud computing is clearly having a huge impact on the technology industry. Recent reports have US CIO Vivek Kundra putting pressure on departments to get involved in cloud computing and to do it quickly. Just the other day news reports surfaced that Microsoft is intending to devote 90 percent of its R&D budget to the cloud. If these major players are in, what’s holding you back?

Now, just because the other kids are doing is not necessarily a good reason to shift your entire IT focus to the cloud. Think about what your mom said: If all the kids jumped off a bridge, would you? Peer pressure is a powerful force, but it shouldn’t be the driving force behind your IT decisions. It should be about how it maps to your particular business requirements.

But when Microsoft announces that it’s devoting $9 of every $10 to cloud development, you have to at least wonder what the heck is going on. This isn’t some small amount of money we are talking here. As Kevin Jackson points out on the Forbes Cloud Musings blog, “Since Microsoft’s annual R&D budget this year is $9.6 billion, this investment translates to a massive $8.6 billion.” That’s some serious dough.

What’s more, Microsoft’s bread and butter is on the desktop where mainstays Windows and Office continue to generate the majority of the profits. But perhaps Microsoft sees the future in the cloud and realizes that the money from these sources could dry up at some point as companies move away from expensive licensing and toward cloud-based solutions (like Office 365).

I’m not sure what Microsoft’s long-term strategy is or how much you can believe the hype about their foray into the Cloud, but the company is clearly spending money there and hope to at least have a stake. Windows Azure, the company’s Platform as a Service (PaaS), is certainly getting some attention.

But regardless of what Microsoft really does, the fact they are making this noise about the cloud is a bell weather, and as such you need to at least be paying attention. It doesn’t mean you have to put that kind of percentage of your budget in the cloud today, but you have to at least begin looking at it and the pieces you will need in place to help build and monitor that cloud when the day comes to flip the switch. All the kids are doing it may not be any better a reason now than when you are kid, but in this case, maybe there’s a good reason they’re all doing it, besides being slaves to fashion.

Photo by Web_Anna on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Are Enterprises Really Gaga for the Cloud?

Tags: BSM, Business Service Management, Cloud, Enterprise IT, Private Cloud

So many statistics out there about when we’ll adopt the cloud. Some may suggest that it’s years away, that by 2013 only small bits will be there. Others say, that many organizations are there today. What are you to believe?

For the sake of argument, lets separate public cloud services like Google Docs and Salesforce.com and stick to the idea of private cloud — that is, the idea of building a set of services not unlike the public cloud, inside the firewall. Think of a portal of services you’ve built out on virtual machines providing you and your users with fixed costs and resource flexibility.

It sounds wonderful and there is a lot of upside to building a private cloud, but like anything else, there is expense involved. There is at least a couple of layers of technology you need to lay on top of these services offering (not the least of which should be business service management, ahem).

That’s why I was surprised to read a list of IDC predictions for 2011 — we are talking this year, not some nebulous point way off in the future — that the private cloud would mature in 2011. To be precise, IDC predicted that “Private Cloud Plans Will Mature, Dominate the Enterprise Infrastructure Software Agenda in 2011.”

That’s a pretty bold statement when you consider that a lot of companies still don’t understand the difference between the public and private cloud yet. Many remain wary of it for a number of reasons and it would require a significant change in direction for many IT departments.

Do I think companies are discussing it? I definitely think many CIOs are having conversations with their staffs about building private clouds, but change happens slowly in most IT departments.

In spite of the rapid pace of technological change going on all around us, I think it’s a bit unrealistic to think that what is basically a new technology will mature and dominate. Perhaps discussion will begin and maybe even some sand boxing. Perhaps companies will put forth a plan of attack, but to expect it to mature and dominate as IDC predicted is highly unrealistic to me and is counter to the way I’ve learned IT departments move, operate and absorb change.

Photo by gareth1953 on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Outages, Monitoring and Being Prepared

Tags: Amazon EC2, Business Service Management, Cloud Computing, Disasters, Enterprise IT, Outages

Last week, Lori MacVittie had a blog post on DevCentral about earning your data center merit badge. The message was delivered up front and it was simple to understand: Be prepared. MacVittie is right of course, the best way to stay out of trouble is to put systems in place to prevent it from happening in the first place.

But today’s outage at Amazon EC2 showed us something else — that no matter how well prepared you are, stuff happens that’s totally out of your control and it can spiral out of your control pretty quickly. Lest you think just because you don’t use public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) like Amazon EC2 and hence have nothing to worry about, think again.

If it can happen to Amazon, it can happen to you because at its heart what is Amazon but a giant data center, whose core business is keeping other businesses going. That would suggest that Thursday’s outage was something extraordinary to bypass all of the fail-safes that a system like Amazon has to have in place to keep things going. Today it all fell apart, and it could just as easily happen to you because chances are, your data center doesn’t have nearly the number of contingencies in place that Amazon has.

That means that ultimately you’re probably closer to a disaster like yesterday morning than Amazon ever was (yet it happened anyway).

All of this is not to scare you because IT pros know the score about these things, but it is to remind you that having systems in place to monitor and alert you *before* that disaster strikes is more important than ever. Now, it may end up that it doesn’t matter how prepared you are if a disaster strikes that’s completely beyond the scope of anything you could possibly have imagined in a reasonable contingency plan.

All you can do is follow MacVittie’s simple advice and be prepared for whatever comes. It might not always be enough, but if you do your best, you’ll minimize those major outages and be ready to deal with them when they do happen. But remember disasters happen to everyone at some point, whether your in the cloud or in-house in a data center, and you need to be ready.

Photo by rbrwr on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Where BTM Meets BSM

Tags: BSM, BTM, Business Service Management, Enterprise IT, SLA

Business Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementFor businesses, it’s always hard to get all the possible value out of the different systems that help keep a company operating. One way you can begin to see that value is at the intersection of BTM and BSM. B what? I hear you saying.

Let’s back up and explain the terms. BTM stands for Business Transaction Management. As Sean Larner wrote on the L’abre Solutions blog, “Business transactions are the simple and complex entities that produce business outcomes.” Therefore, Business Transaction Management is the act of managing those transactions. This is not to be confused with Business Process Management (BPM), which lets you set up complex business work flows to automate the act of moving work through the enterprise to completion.

Where this gets interesting is when BTM crosses paths with BSM, which of course stands for Business Service Management, the very subject of this blog. One thing we cover in great detail on this blog is how to deal with service level agreements (SLAs). In his post Reaching SLA Nirvana, Lee Frazier offers 8 ways to reach that elusive goal of controlling your SLAs.

Finding a coherent set of tools is a big part of that, and as Larner points out in his post “utilising BTM it is now possible to define and measure, success/failure (state) and time based business SLAs…” Larner goes on to define a set of vertical tasks that could be measured in this manner including investment banking trade lifecycles and  retail transaction flows.

The beauty of this type of measurement is that you can link it to your BSM strategy and find real business value that can help you better understand your business. BTM might not be something that you’re acutely aware of, but by having it in place, it can work with your BSM system and provide you with a deeper understanding of your business at an extremely detailed level.

Photo by Joshua Rappeneker on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Reducing Complexity in the Enterprise

Tags: Business Service Management, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Microsoft, VMware

Business Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementBusiness Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementWhile attending the CeBIT technology trade fair in Hannover, Germany, I saw a presentation by Paul Strong, CTO at VMware for Europe, Middle East and Africa, where he spoke about the relationship between cloud services and IT.  One thing he said really struck me: “When you pull apart software, you’re pulling out business processes.”

It’s a notion that really makes sense, but he took it even further. He said that 80-85 percent of your business costs are related to software. If I had been asked that before seeing this presentation, I think I would have said hardware was more costly, but Strong pointed out that this is because it’s very difficult for most enterprises to achieve the kinds of economies of scale to bring cost down. What’s more, he said that complexity drives cost.

That brings to mind the Dawn of a New Day farewell email that Ray Ozzie sent to Microsoft employees to announce his departure last fall in which he said, “complexity kills.” Specifically he said:

Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT.  Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use.  Complexity introduces security challenges.  Complexity causes administrator frustration. And as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the best of intent – complexity is inescapable.

Software complexity is not only bad from a design standpoint, it also has a profound impact on IT and how they deal with patch management and upgrades and the myriad of problems and challenges associated with maintaining software in the enterprise.

That’s why Strong says moving non-critical processes to the cloud makes so much sense because cloud software vendors remove a lot of the complexity associated with enterprise software maintenance. They reduce the processes to a smaller, more manageable number of patterns, and they deal with upgrades and server maintenance for you.

From  your perspective, it changes the role of IT. As Strong said, it enables IT to return to its core purpose to map technology to business needs and to make smarter choices. Your job is no longer babysitting the software, but watching the entire system and making sure those systems work as they should and meet the needs of your organization.

Photo by Jimmie, Jackie, Tom and Asha on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Mobile Applications Can Provide Cornucopia of Data

Tags: Analytics, Business Service Management, Enterprise IT, Mobile, Monitoring

Business Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementIn February, I had the pleasure of attending the Western Mass Pod Camp, a one-day “un-conference” held each year in western Massachusetts where among the speakers I saw was Dave Wieneke, Dave got me thinking of something I hadn’t considered before, and that’s the idea that apps on mobile devices not only provide users with valuable data (sometimes), they have the capacity to transmit data back to your company as well…if only you know what to do with it.

In fact, according to a report from analysts Heavy Reading, it’s no coincidence that large companies like IBM and Adobe have been buying in Analytics companies like they’re going out of style. Analytics, as we’ve written here are interesting to anyone following monitoring because they give you insight into your customer behavior. This in in stark contrast to a print ad, for instance, which could have some call to action, but usually you buy it and hope for the best with very little way to measure the ad’s effectiveness outside of a focus group.

The Web in general changes that dynamic by giving you the ability to gather a number of kinds of data about visitor behavior to web sites. When you have an app sitting on a mobile device, the potential is perhaps even greater. Weineke gave the example of a car maker that gave out iPads equipped with the car’s owner manual with every purchase.

This was more than a gimmick, it was a way of gathering data. The car company could see each time an owner looked up a problem. They could see which features were hard to use, what parts might be causing the biggest issues and in general follow the customer experience through their interaction with the manual. It’s a narrow view for sure, but one that certainly provides valuable insight.

Companies need to be thinking about apps more in terms of how they can use them to collect aggregate data. If you’re in a position to collect and analyze data, and you give thought to data gathering as part of your design process, you can give your company some valuable customer feedback without asking them directly for it.

Photo by illustir on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Why Amazon Cloud Drive Matters to IT

Tags: Amazon Cloud Drive, Business Service Management, Consumerization, Enterprise IT, Monitoring

Business Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementAmazon recently announced a new cloud storage service called Amazon Cloud Drive. It gives consumers 5GB of free storage and additional storage is $1 a gig/per month. Not a bad deal actually for the convenience of having your stuff at hand, but what Amazon was offering wasn’t just free storage.

They also threw in a way to play your music online and a little upload tool to get it there. They even sweetened the deal early on by offering 20 GB of storage instead of 5 if you bought one album from the Amazon MP3 Store, plus they store Amazon MP3 store purchases on your Cloud Drive automatically by default and don’t count those purchases against your storage total.

It’s not the best online storage out there, but with the player, it’s pretty darn convenient.

So why should you care? You’re not dealing with consumers, right? Well, actually you might be and here’s why.

What a tool like Amazon Cloud Drive does it bring the idea of cloud storage to the masses. While there are plenty of tools that offer online storage now including Dropbox and Box.net, and these services are doing quite well, Amazon brings a level of selling power to the table that these smaller companies can’t match. They might not have the same feature set (not by a long shot), but they are inside a site many people go to regularly, and as such might be more likely to be exposed to.

And those same consumers are more than likely your employees. When they see the simplicity and ease of use, they might even start leaving work files on the drive so they access them when they’re not in the office and they’ll begin to see the convenience the cloud brings.

And when they do, (this is beginning to sound like ‘If You Give a Moose a Muffin‘), chances are they going to want that convenience at work.

You see where I’m going with this now. As cloud computing services like the Amazon Cloud Drive become more available, users will begin (if they haven’t already) to demand that same kind of simplicity and ease of use in the enterprise.

And you need to be ready because as my recent post (Survey Says Managing Cloud is Chief Concern) indicated, while IT may get they have to go to the cloud, most businesses don’t seem to understand that there is management component involved, even outside the firewall.

So follow those intrepid employees to the Cloud. Just make sure you have tools to monitor these services in place when you do.

Photo by getinet on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

How Do You Tell if the Cloud is Greener?

Tags: BSM, Business Service Management, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Green IT

I came across an article the other week questioning whether cloud computing was actually greener than conventional enterprise computing. On its face, the fact that you are using resources more efficiently would suggest that it is, but how do you prove it? 

One of the cornerstone concepts of cloud computing, whether you’re using a private cloud in-house or a public cloud is the ability to use fewer resources more efficiently. Last year while attending the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, I learned that Salesforce.com uses less than 2000 servers to support more than 72,000 customers. That’s efficient.

But it’s not just the efficiency that’s a factor here, companies like Google, Yahoo! and Amazon  that are running hundreds of huge data centers have a stake in making sure they are running as efficiently as possible because extra energy isn’t just bad for the environment. It’s bad for business.

When I was at CeBIT a few weeks ago in Hannover, Germany I saw Chang-Gyu Hwang, who is National CTO of South Korea talking about using the heat generated by buildings in cities to generate more energy. This same principal could be applied to server farms to generate the electricity to run them.

But it’s still open to debate, which brings us to measurements. When you have a system in place that enables you to measure the energy you’re using, you can begin to quantify your energy usage to the extent possible.

On one hand, if you move some of your functions to a public cloud, you off-load some of that energy consumption to the vendor (but you could still see it as part of your company’s carbon footprint).

If your vendors provide this type of information, you could plug it into your monitoring infrastructure to track energy usage as part of your overall business measurement goals.

And if you use virtualization in-house, you might be using the same number of servers (or even less due to increased efficiency), but you’ll be using them to greater capacity meaning that they aren’t just sitting there doing nothing a good part of the time (yet still using the same amount of electricity regardless).

Having tools in place that manage your entire business IT infrastructure across different types of measurements including energy consumption, can help you fully understand your business and the impact your energy usage is having on the environment and your bottom line.

Photo by AleBonvini on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Microsoft Announces Mobile Management Tool for iPhone, Android & More

Tags: BSM, Business Service Management, Enterprise IT, Microsoft, Microsoft Management Summit, Mobile, Monitoring, System Center Configuration Manager 2012

Believe it or not Microsoft held a conference last week that was devoted completely to device management. Dubbed the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS), Microsoft looked at many ways to manage the variety of devices in your organization. 

They described it as follows on the event web page:

“At MMS 2011, you’ll drill deep into IT management technologies and learn about the latest solutions for Desktop, Datacenter, Device and Cloud management from Microsoft.”

Now, you might expect since it’s Microsoft that this was exclusively devoted to managing Windows devices — whether PCs, tablets or mobile phones — but you would be wrong. In fact, Microsoft announced the Beta of a new monitoring tool that they claim enables you to track iOS devices (both iPhones and iPads). Symbian (that’s Nokia’s OS for now until they switch over Windows Phone 7 next year) and Android.

It also lets you watch your servers and clients (although presumably these are Windows only).

The tool, The System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (SCCM 2012), will supposedly enable IT pros to manage this variety of devices from a central console. According to a post by Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft reporter  extrordinaire, on ZDNet, the new tool has been designed specifically to handle the so-called consumerization of IT, which has lead to the proliferation of a variety of mobile devices across the enterprise.

Microsoft released its second SCCM beta last week. From a monitoring stand-point, this is a big departure for Microsoft which typically confines its monitoring to Windows devices. While Foley suggests this undercuts Microsoft’s claim that Windows tablets are superior to iPads and Android tablets, I think it shows surprising foresight to acknowledge the breadth of the existing market and to provide a way to monitor all of the mobile devices in the organization.

Foley pointed out, however, in an update that the SCCM 2012 actually results in a weaker mobile reporting product in spite of the fact it’s supporting these additional devices. That’s because Foley’s colleague, Simon Bisson, reported that Microsoft has decided to moth ball the System Center Mobile Device Manager (SCMDM), which while supporting fewer devices than SCCM 2012, provided a more detailed view of those devices it supported.

Regardless, it show that with a Summit devoted entirely to monitoring, it is a critical part of IT’s job. Look for another post or two later this week on news from last week’s Summit.

CIOs Need to Make Mobile-Social-Cloud Fit

Tags: Business Service Management, Cloud, Enterprise IT, IT, Mobile, Social, Trends

Without a doubt the three trends having the biggest impact on the enterprise today are mobile, social and the cloud. These three elements have put the ability to access and share information easily into the hands of every employee with little or no intervention from IT, and from the perspective of some CIOs, that’s a very scary prospect indeed.

In a recent article on CIO Insight, A World of Risk: Are CIOs Up to the Challenge, author Irfan Salf looked at some of the risks associated with these technologies. Like it or not these, technologies are driving the movement toward what has been called the consumerization of IT.

In an article last week on Fortune, Brian Caufield talked about this trend saying that unlike the old days when IT dictated exactly what devices were allowed in the enterprise, and which ones were not, that power is fading fast as people (particularly executives) want to use their iPads and iPhones at work.

Beyond the devices, the cloud and social media tools bring another layer of simplicity for end users and complexity to IT pros in terms of monitoring and mitigating risk for the enterprise. The good news for users is that it means they can get their files anywhere from any machine, but conversely that could be bad news for you if it means dealing with compliance and governance headaches.

Like it or not , however,  the ship has sailed and you can’t really go back to the way you were before. The fact is that even as the cloud/mobile/social could life difficult for IT, locking down your enterprise is as counterproductive in its own way as shutting down the Internet was in Egypt in January. It hurts you as much as it helps you.

In the end these trends aren’t going away, and they can help build and enhance your business.  The fact is that you need to find a way to make this all work.

One way to do that is to use monitoring tools to help you get as big a picture as you can of your entire system. PC monitoring can help you track laptops. You can jump on the bandwagon and create custom apps to help you track mobile devices or you can give your employees access to your secure environment, so that when they are working on work-related materials they are better protected.

Just recently, I wrote about how companies like Box.net were changing the face of Enterprise software. One of the features of the most recent Box iOs release was aimed directly at this type of situation by giving your users SSO access to enterprise identity systems.

Instead of fighting against a change that can ultimately help your organization, look for ways to make it work for you and find ways to use the systems you already have in place. Monitoring tools can help you find that compromise you need to free your users, yet give you the control you need.

Photo by sfllaw on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License

Understanding the Different Levels of Cloud Computing

Tags: Business Service Management, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS

Business Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementBusiness Service Management Commentary on IT Service Management, Service Level Management & Performance ManagementAs you look at cloud computing, it’s useful to understand that there are three types of services offered:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This gives you access to storage and servers in the cloud. Examples of vendors in this space include Amazon, IBM, Rackspace and Verizon. The advantage of this approach is that you can expand and contract as needed. If you anticipate having a rush coming such as a big sale, you can expand your servers to meet the increased demand, then go back to your normal numbers when the sale period is over. It prevents your system from going down from because you don’t have the server capacity to handle the traffic. This elasticity (scaling capacity up and back as needed) and paying for what you use are two of the hallmarks of using IaaS.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This service provides a platform on which you can build applications usually linked to a particular vendor. A good example of this is Salesforce.com’s Force.com service, a cloud-based development environment for building applications on top of the Salesforce.com service. Force.com gives you access to a number of developer services you can tap into to help you build your applications.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): Perhaps the most recognized of the three cloud computing types, it provides access to a software service in the cloud.  There are countless examples of this available today  such as Google Docs or Gmail, which gives you access to word processing and email in the cloud. No documents or mail are stored locally and you can access your content from anywhere. All backups and updates are handled on the back end by the provider, greatly simplifying software maintenance.

Once you have a basic understanding of how cloud services break down, it’s useful to think about how these different levels of cloud services could affect your IT environment, how comfortable you might be farming out some of these services to the cloud and what impact it would have on your ability to understand and monitor these different services as part of your overall IT job function.

Photo by Lucien Savluc on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Too Many Systems, Not Enough Vision

Tags: BSM, Business Service Management, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, IT

Once upon time, you tended to side with a single vendor. You were an IBM shop or a Microsoft shop. Those days have disappeared for most organizations. Heterogeneity rules the day and it complicates the life of any IT pro. 

When you take the diverse set of hardware and software found in any large enterprise today and you factor in the cloud with a set of virtual services and external cloud vendors, it complicates the situation even further. And it begs the question about how you control it and get a broad view across the entire spectrum of hardware and software inside and outside your organization.

There are no simple answers to monitoring an increasingly complex computing environment, but a recent article on ITBusinessEdge called A Growing Problem: Data Management on the Cloud suggests there is a way to gain some semblance of control of this situation. And that is the subject of this blog: Business Service Management tools.

The article quotes,  Vikas Aggarwal, CEO at Zyrion, who calls BSM, “the ideal approach for addressing the rapidly growing cloud manageability issues.”

That’s because BSM tools at their best give you the ability to look across the entire environment, to see what’s working and what’s not, but it’s not just simply what’s on and what’s not. A good BSM system gives you insight across the business and the impact it has on what you do.

And it’s not just the fact that you are in the cloud that’s the issue. It’s so much more than that. You are spread across geographies. You are physical and virtual. You have a set of services you provide and all of the components that make up that service have to be in sync.

No tool is a panacea to the problems that face IT, but one way to get on top of the situation is to have a broad view across your computing landscape, whatever it comprises and wherever it lives and BSM, at least gives you a fighting chance to see the big picture.

Photo by ny156uk on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.

Box.net Funding Signals Change in Enterprise IT

Tags: box.net, BSM, Business Service Management, Cloud, collaboration, Enterprise IT

Box.net, the plucky online and storage and collaboration play got a $48 million boost from venture capitalists recently. If you’re wondering why you should care, it’s because it shows that the VCs are backing the Box approach to software and that could have big implications for you moving forward in terms of enterprise software.

Box CEO Aaron Levie has never been shy about his disdain for the way enterprise software is sold or how difficult it is to use. In his view, enterprise software should be as simple to use as consumer software and for too long it’s been the opposite. He wrote on a blog post announcing the funding:

The world of enterprise information technology is changing dramatically. Prohibitive pricing models, inflexible infrastructure, and lack of end-user satisfaction are all unsustainable in today’s business environment

If you’re an IT Pro, that description has to sound familiar. Most enterprise software is expensive, difficult to maintain and end users generally don’t love their applications. Levie’s company is hoping to change the way enterprise software works by providing storage, collaboration and file sharing tools that are simple to use and maintain. Box does this in a couple of ways.

First of all it’s a cloud-based system. That means that all of the software elements are updated on the back end and as administrators you aren’t stuck trying to distribute every patch that comes down the pike to your end users. In addition, Box updates and changes the software on a regular basis. You get updates sometimes on weekly basis instead of a two or three year cycle.

Second of all, there are mobile pieces in place, so you can get your files any time and any place. Just last week Box released an upgrade to the iOS version of Box that provided some key enterprise pieces including document-level password protection and SSO login ability to access enterprise identity systems.

Box files sync across the system automatically, so no matter where you access your files, you get the most recent versions. Box also uses a freemium model to build interest from the ground up. Box’s formula is to let end users come to IT and tell them about the service, rather than the other way around. After they get the first wave hooked, they attempt to get the company to sign up for the paying version.

With today’s $48 million boost, Box should be able to build out its cloud infrastructure even further providing the foundation for an enterprise-class cloud-based system. And you should care because it shows that Levie and his company might be onto something and you need to understand what this means and how you can monitor and work with companies like Box in the future world of enterprise software.

Photo by Alexyv on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

BSM could help resolve VDI network challenges

Tags: BSM, Business Service Management, Enterprise IT, Monitoring, Networking, VDI

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) provides many advantages for IT by removing a number of the variables involved in managing individual networked PCs. When you give end users what is essentially a dumb terminal with a set of defined services, it can be easier to control and maintain, but it can also present challenges across a network because the entire system is dependent on the network with nothing offloaded to the individual machines (as with stand-alone networked PCs).

According to a recent post by David Greenfield on Network Computing, this is even more pronounced when you spread out from a LAN environment to a WAN. He cited several studies that use a variety of formulas to determine just how much bandwidth is required for each user across the network (before you start hearing loud complaints about network performance).

He writes:

A good rule of thumb when running PCoIP is three users per 1Mb. This allows for variance in the display activity between multiple users and provides a range of bandwidth most likely to provide acceptable performance for user.

Whether you buy that or not, it’s a number that you can work with as a basis for discussion if nothing else. If you figure that you require this much bandwidth, you can start to set your monitoring equipment to let you know when the system starts to degrade below these levels (before it reaches a critical state and your IT help desk is bombarded with angry phone calls).

For end users, a sudden slow-down might seem like a front end service issue, when in fact, the problem is the underlying network or a database processing problem. Having BSM monitoring in place can not only help you ensure (to the extent it’s within your control) that the network throughput is operating at the maximum rate possible, but you can also determine if one of the underlying hardware or database connectors on which these services depend is what’s causing the problem.

With BSM in place, you can watch the entire system, and that can help you solve your VDI problems before they reach a point where it adversely affects your user base.

Photo by olishaw on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.