With the economic outlook remaining uncertain, it was perhaps unsurprising that reducing costs was cited by 69 per cent of enterprises in our recent YouGov survey as being a top priority for service management and IT operations.
The same research identified consolidation as the major theme with 36% of respondents saying they believed consolidation of tools to a common standard platform could help achieve this aim.
The importance of consolidation
As a service management and IT operations specialist, we have seen first-hand the fact that, while many organisations recognise the potential of consolidation, some are more successful than others in realising these benefits – but why is this?
Experience shows that successful IT organisations can gain great benefits from implementing common standard platforms or enterprise systems. Over the last year, we have seen examples of consolidation involving service desks, change management applications, monitoring/event management systems and discovery tools, where IT organisations often have multiple systems or tools in use, usually from different vendors.
In each of these examples, a common technology platform (e.g. an enterprise service management system) is the first and base requirement for success as it is difficult to run any reasonably sized IT department with, for example, piecemeal service desks across the business and different change management tools in each business unit. Where this does happen, the same mistakes are repeated, data is fragmented and there is no common platform for propagating experience across the organisation.
Clearly then, a common technology platform has a crucial role to play in unifying IT - but is this alone enough? The short answer is ‘no’. Time and again, implementations fail not because of the software but because of poor processes. In many cases, this is due to the fact that they are too technology-centric and, crucially, not enough attention is paid to the processes and the people.
Getting to grips with process basics
If the process is embedded in the software tools the real value through improvements can be realised and delivered through the technology platform. A successful IT-enabled process, whether ITIL or not, should be applied consistently across the business. All too often, people are trained in the technology but not the process, resulting in everyone performing processes differently.
Another key issue is that process should be embedded into the software, rather than being an add-on. It’s also worth remembering that good software doesn’t replace bad practice: unfortunately, too many organisations buy new software and customise it to deliver the old bad processes.
A best-practice approach will ensure that the process is precise and based on instructions and not general guidelines. Lack of supporting work instructions and definitions mean that processes are performed inconsistently and reporting data cannot be relied upon.
Optimising server strategies
Interestingly, 25 per cent of enterprises surveyed identified server consolidation as a priority. While reducing the number of physical servers itself through virtualisation is fundamental, the reality is that many IT organisations have multiple point solutions for managing and administering servers, as well as separate teams based on technology (e.g. Windows, Linux etc), business unit and region.
The result is server management processes that are often inconsistent, inefficient and not reliable. Here, a better approach to re-organisation could involve the creation of a server management ‘tower’ with common server management policies and processes across the business and common standard platform/tool for managing these (e.g. provisioning, patching etc).
In all, using a common standard platform as an enabler for making an IT process more efficient and consistent will always yield better outcomes than assuming new software on its own will really make any difference.
Tags: Data Centres