Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.
Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect.
Welcome to a sponsored podcast discussion on how new models for IT support services are required to provide a single point of accountability when multiple software implementations are involved. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of Briefings Direct podcasts.]
Long before cloud and hybrid computing models become a concern, the challenge before IT is how to straddle complexity and how to corral and manage -- as a lifecycle -- the vast software implementations already on-premises.
Even before such models as cloud computing models are added to the mix, IT needs to get a handle on supporting these multiparty software instances, along with the complex integrations and custom extensions across and between them.
Of course, more of these workloads are supported these days by virtualized containers and by a service-level commitment. So, who are you going to call when things go wrong or when maintenance needs to affect one element of the stack without hosing the rest? How do you manage at the service level agreement (SLA), or multiple SLA, level?
Not only does IT need a one-hand-to-shake value on comprehensive support more than ever, but IT departments may need to increasingly opt to outsource more of the routine operational tasks and software support to free up their IT knowledge resources and experts for transformation, security initiatives, and new business growth projects.
Nowadays, the focal point for IT operational success lies not so much in just choosing the software and services mixture, but also in the management and support of these systems and implementations and the SLAs as an ecosystem, and that ecosystem must be managed comprehensively with flexibility and for the long-term.
More than ever, finger pointing on who is accountable or responsible amid a diverse and fast-moving software environment cannot be allowed, not in an Instant-On Enterprise.
Consequently, we're here with an executive from HP Software to examine an expanding set of new HP Premier Services that are designed to combine custom software support and consulting expertise to better deliver managed support outcomes across an entire software implementation.
Please join me now in welcoming Anand Eswaran, Vice President, Global Professional Services at HP Software. Welcome back to BriefingsDirect.
Anand Eswaran: The pleasure is mine, Dana.
Gardner: Anand, what is the problem in supporting this level of complexity of multiple systems, multiple types of computing? We're talking about spanning, I suppose, paradigms of computing. How did we get to where we are, and what is it that people need to start thinking about doing differently?
Setting the context
Eswaran: Let me start by at least setting the context on the business problem or customer problem that we're trying to address. One is that, as you just so eloquently explained, IT complexity is increasing by the day. Having multiple vendors accountable for different parts of the IT strategy and IT implementation is a huge problem.
The second dimension of the problem is the software industry paradigm in general. If you look at the software industry and how the software industry works with customers, you have discrete lifecycles through which we touch the customer.
The first is when we actually start to engage with them in solving a business problem for them. We paint the ROI that we could get by virtue of deploying our software solution, and based on that the customer makes a buying decision. Once that buying decision is made, in reality what they have bought is a product, which is the core part of that solution.
The second lifecycle for the customer is when we actually deploy the solution that they purchased. Once we deploy that solution, whether it is the professional services organization of the software company, a channel partner, or a systems integrator (SI), the third step is then that we deploy it in production and then we transition operation and maintenance of it back to the customer.
Taking a step back, if there is a problem, then the customer’s first call is to customer support, which is inside the software organization. And, if the support organization deems that the problem is actually the manner in which the product was implemented and not the product itself, then we transition back to the customer and ask them to contact the organization they used to deploy the product.
Because of the complexity of the solution and because multiple organizations are accountable for different discrete parts of the solution, the customer is left holding the bag on to figure out how to navigate the complexity of the software organization. How do you pinpoint exactly where the problem is and then engage the right party?
So, at the heart of it what we're trying to do is simplify the complexity of how a customer or an IT organization deals with the complexity of their stack.
The second thing is that an IT organization is always striving to flip the ratio of innovation and operations. As you look today, it is 70 percent operations and 30 percent innovation. If you get that single point of accountability, which you so beautifully explained, they can focus more on innovation and supporting the business needs, so that their company can take advantage of greater market share, versus operations and maintaining the stack they already have.
Gardner: It’s interesting, because a lot of the rationale that I hear from moving to cloud computing in general is because of a failure to manage this complexity. But, maybe the solution is to manage the complexity, before you start moving into additional models.
Is cloud as a trend fueling this? What else is behind the need to get a better handle on multiple instances of software?
Eswaran: One is the loud and clear feedback from the customers. As we look back in the last two years of Customer Advisory Boards we do, where we have different CIOs participating, the main feedback element, which always features in the top three, is "Help us take accountability for the full business value."
We talk about business values. Business outcome is probably the most clichéd word, but you can never deliver on a business outcome until you take accountability for the full lifecycle. So, the feedback is the necessity to make sure that the business outcome we promise to the customer is realized, and we take accountability for it as the first and most important reason, Dana.
And you're right, cloud is a big trend and cloud talks about exactly the same things, which is: "Let us completely make this whole process of managing the operations in the stack transparent to you, Mr. Customer."
The reality is that cloud is still nebulous. Different companies have different interpretations of cloud. Customers are still a little nervous about going into the cloud, because we're still not completely sure about quality, security, and all of those things. So, this is the first or second step you take before you get comfortable to get to the cloud.
What we're able to do here is take complete control of that complexity and make it transparent to the customer -- and in a way -- to quasi-deliver the same outcomes which a cloud can deliver. That’s the second thing: Cloud is a trend, and we're making sure that we actually address it before we get there.
The third thing, which is very interesting is that a lot of these services are also things we're providing to the cloud service providers. So, in a way, we're making sure that people who offer that cloud service are able to leverage our services to make sure that they can offer the same outcomes back to the customer. So, it’s a full lifecycle.
Gardner: That’s an interesting point. These services providers, these hosts, these cloud providers can’t manage their margins and provide a quality service at an affordable price, if they don’t employ these same sorts of comprehensive support.
Now, if we need to change how the software and multiple implementations are managed, you as an IT support provider probably need to change as well. So what’s different now about how you are coming to market than several years ago?
Eswaran: Let me just first tell you what we're talking about today. If you look at classical customer support as part of a software organization, the support organization supports the product, and that’s why you have the complexity for the customer as we talked about.
What we're announcing and launching is enhancing and elevating that support from just being a product to actually being the entire project and the solution for the customer. This is where, when we deploy a solution for a customer, which involves our technology, our software, for the most part, a service element to actually make it a reality, we will support the full solution.
That's the principal thing now that will allow us to not just talk about business outcomes when we go through the selling lifecycle, but it will also allow us to make those business outcomes a reality by taking full accountability for it. That is at the heart of what we are announcing -- extending customer support from a product to the project and from a product to the full solution.
Gardner: Is it fair to say, Anand, that you're looking at this now from that SLA or multiple SLA aspect -- that you're sort of an über SLA manager? Does that take it to the next level?
Eswaran: Absolutely. And if I walk through what HP Premier Services is, that probably will shed more light on it. As I explain HP Premier Services, there are two dimensions to it.
The first dimension is the three choice points, and the first of those is what has classically been customer support. We just call it Foundation, where customer support supports the product. You have a phone line you can call. That doesn't change. That's always been there.
The second menu item in the first dimension is what we term as Premier Response, and this menu item is where we actually take that support for the product and extend it to the full project and the full solution. This is new and this is the first level of the extension we are going to offer to the customer.
The third menu item takes it even further. We call it Premier Advisory. In addition to just supporting the product, which has always been there, or just extending it to support a solution and the project -- both of those things are reactive -- we can engage with the customer to be proactive about support.
That's proactive as in not just reacting to an issue, but preempting problems and preempting issues, based on our knowledge of all the customers and how they have deployed the solution. We can advise the customer, whether it's patches, whether it's upgrades, whether it's other issues we see, or whether it's a best practice they need to implement. We can get proactive, so we preempt issues. Those are the three choice points on the first dimension.
The second dimension is a different way to look at how we're extending Premier Services for the benefit of the customer. Again, the first choice point in the second dimension is called Premier Business. We have a named account manager who will work with the customer across the entire lifecycle. This is already there right now.
The second part of the second dimension is very new, and large enterprise customers will derive a lot of value from it. It's called Premier TeamExtend. Not only we will be do the first three choice points of foundation, support for the whole solution, and proactive support, we will extend and take control for the customer of the entire operation of that solution.
At that point, you almost mimic a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, but if there are reasons a customer wouldn't want to do SaaS and wouldn't want to do managed services, but want to host it on-site and have the full solution hosted in the customer premises, we will still deploy the solution, have them realize the full benefit of it, and run their solution and operate their solution.
By virtue of that, we make anything and everything to do with the back end -- infrastructure, upgrades, and all of that -- completely transparent to the customer. All they care about is the business outcome. If it's a solution we have deployed to cut outages by 3 percent and get service levels uptime up to 99.99 percent, that's what they get.
How we do it, the solutions involved, the service involved, and how we're managing it is completely transparent. The fundamental headline there is that it allows the customer to go back to 70 percent innovation and 30 percent maintenance and completely flip the ratio.
Those are the five choice points, which is what HP Premier Services is about, which starts to roll the ball up the hill and help the customer.
Gardner: Let me drill in on that Premier TeamExtend. That really sounds like a new flavor on this whole sourcing equation, even on where you get your IT value.
If I understand correctly, you are almost saying that you can get the best of the SaaS or cloud implementation, whereby you have that one interaction, that one manager. You have a cost point that you can define and appreciate. You have levels of service management that you define and put in place.
But, you don't have to take the risk of moving this off premises or even changing the architecture fundamentally. It's really changing how you manage this particular set of software assets and, therefore, you can get the best of both worlds. Or am I overstating it?
Eswaran: No, you're not overstating it. In fact, the reason it works really well for us is that what you said is exactly true. Let me give you a couple of use cases where it starts to make a big difference.
Within HP, as we all know, we have Enterprise Services (ES), with outsourcing services we offer to our customers.
There are many instances in which ES has offered a software solution to the customer as part of an outsourcing solution. We've offered Premier Services to our ES team, so they can can offer that über, one throat to choke, one point of accountability solution for the customers they work with without necessarily having to say, "If you have a software problem, you probably need to go to HP Software Customer Support." We help ES take full accountability at the back-end.
We work across HP to make this whole vision of one throat to choke, one point of accountability, and making accountability for the business outcome for the customer a reality.
You said exactly the right thing, you didn’t overstate it. We can also offer the same service to all the outsourcing providers or cloud service providers we work with.
Gardner: There has to be some technical capability involved here? The last time we spoke, it was around Business Service Management 9 (BSM9), which you released last year. Is there a technical capability where you can come in and implement BSM 9, which allows you to then manage these implementations remotely and at a competitive cost, which would allow you to come back and offer something like Premier TeamExtend?
Eswaran: Absolutely. There are a couple of things. One is, there is technical capability involved. The second is that we're offering this across the entire HP Software portfolio stack. BSM 9, would be applicable, when we are talking about offering this service in the operation space of our HP Software products. But, we can also do the same thing in the applications space. We can also do the same thing for certain HP Services projects, which may not have that big product footprint.
Across the portfolio
So, this is a service that we're offering across the entire portfolio for all solutions we put in front of customers. Some of them may involve BSM, and some of them may not. People may ask what's different. "Why are you able to do it today? The customer problem you are talking about sounds pretty native. Why haven’t you done this forever?"
Dana, if you look at a software organization, the segmentation between support and services is very discrete, whether inside the company or whether it is support working with services organization outside the company, and that’s the heart of the problem.
What we're doing here is a pretty big step. You hear about "services convergence" an awful lot in the industry. People think that’s the way to go. What they mean by services convergence is that all the services you need across the customer lifecycle merges to become one, and that’s what we are doing here.
We're merging what was customer support, which is a call center, and that’s why they can't take accountability for a solution. They are good at diagnostics, but they're not good at full-fledged solutions. They're merging that organization.
What that organization brings in is scale, infrastructure, and absolute global data center coverage. We're merging that with the Professional Services (PS) organization. When the rubber hits the road, PS is the organization or the people who deploy these solutions.
And by virtue of a very, very extensive PS team within HP Software, we operate in 80 or 90 countries. We have coverage worldwide. By merging those two, you get the best of both worlds, because you get scale, coverage, infrastructure, capability. That's how we're able to provide the service where we take accountability for this whole solution.
Gardner: So, whereas I as an IT customer would have to manage different aspects of support, you're going to bring that together on your end and allow me to purchase those in a more integrated and comprehensive fashion.
What I really like about it too is that it allows me to have flexibility in how I would acquire and invest in these types of services. I can do it at a fairly gradual pace and/or I can isolate specific applications and say, "Let's push those out into this more comprehensive support, because eventually I might want to move to a cloud model or a SaaS model." It seems that it gives me quite a bit more as an architecture decision process, and more to work with as a consumer.
Eswaran: Absolutely. In my view, and in HP Software’s view, this is a fairly groundbreaking solution. If I were to characterize everything we talked about in three words, the first would be simplify. The second would be proactive -- how can we be proactive, versus reacting to issues. And, how can we, still under the construct of the first two, offer the customers choice.
Customers are at different points of maturity, of the appetite they have for risk, and the appetite they have for the capabilities that they bring to the table. They are at different points in the trajectory across a variety of those different parameters, and we're offering choice to them.
We're not just giving them one thing, which they're pretty much forced to take, but if it's a very mature customer, with extensive capability on all the products and IT strategies that they're putting into place, they don’t need to go to TeamExtend. They can just maybe take a Foundation with just the first bit of HP Premier Services, which is Premier Response. That’s all they need to take.
If there is an enterprise that is so focused on competitive differentiation in the marketplace and they don't want to worry about maintaining the solutions, then they could absolutely go to Premier TeamExtend, which offers them the best of all worlds.
Choice is a very big deal for us, so that customers can actually make the decision and we can recommend to them what they should be doing.
Gardner: I like the idea of being able to dip your toe in the water and try some things out. If they work, pursue them, and then examine the different hosting options you might have further out. A lot of companies seem to be putting the cart in front of the horse.
They're saying, "We're going to go to the sourcing options like cloud, SaaS or hybrid, but we really haven’t figured out how we would manage the service and support." It seems as if you are, in a sense, encouraging them to do that first, and then think about the sourcing option.
Gardner: This sounds great in theory, but what happens in practice? Do you have any examples of where you have done this -- whether you can tell me who they are or what happened in a general sense? What are some of the outcomes when you do this based on your suggestions across these different four levels?
Eswaran: We're still working on being able to release customer names, but let me walk you through the use cases, so we understand kind of what we are talking about here.
We're working with a large organization in the U.S., where the biggest issue the customer had was the need to cut outages in their data centers by 40 percent. They were struggling on that count.
If you look at the classical model, you sell your product, BSM, operations, orchestration, SA. Essentially, what you're doing there is selling them a product. You're using a services organization to deploy those products and then you turn it back to support.
Now, we can talk about how we do this, but when the customer’s only need was to cut outages by 40 percent, no one organization can take accountability for that final outcome. We can put a solution that gets them there, but eventually they are stuck holding the bag and hoping that this solution will actually do that. If there's a problem, they basically have to figure out who they need to go to, to make sure the problem goes away.
We committed to them that we would put a solution in place which would cut their outages by 40 percent, because we've been in limited launch mode for the last nine months on HP Premier Services.
We were able to deploy the solution, the entire operation stack, across that IT organization. We were able to now hold ourselves, HP Software, accountable for what we committed to them. Sure enough, at this point in time, the customer’s business outcomes are completely and fully realized.
What you see as a subtext to this is that it’s not just the cost savings that we will enable to the different customers because of what we do. It's not just flipping the ratio from operations to innovation. Those are huge things, but the key is that we're able to commit and guarantee service levels. We're able to commit and guarantee business outcomes. That’s not what we were able to do in the past.
We work with a large financial services organization, where we talked about cutting their defect levels in half across the entire stack, by virtue of a test automation solution we are putting in place.
Again, because of what we are doing here, we actually made that a possibility, because we now manage and take control of the full lifecycle for the customer. I think the initial math was that the defect level they had was close to 7 percent or 6.5 percent, which was causing them a spend of $125 million. So, cutting that in half is a huge cost saving for the customer.
That is the kind of discussions we're able to engage in with our customers today, guarantee a business outcome, and follow through, because we're in control of the full customer lifecycle.
Gardner: How would I know if I am in a right position or a good position to start availing myself of these types of services? Are there any telltale signs inside an organization, whether it’s from a cost structure, whether it’s from availability and performance perspective, whether it’s from a reluctance of IT to bring on more or new technology or solutions?
Are there sort of some telltale signs that would indicate whether moving towards this more comprehensive service and support approach would be the right thing, the right fit, the right timing?
Eswaran: Absolutely. If you feel you're bouncing around between different organizations, as you try to get control of your IT infrastructure, whether if you work with an external SI and you do not feel that there is enough in sync happening between support and an external SI and you feel frustrated about it, this falls right in the sweet spot.
If you feel that you need to start moving away from just projects to business outcome based solutions you need to deploy in your IT organization, this falls right in the sweet spot for it.
If you feel that you want to spend less of your time maintaining solutions and more of your time thinking about the core business your company is in and making sure that your innovation is able to capture a bigger market share and bigger business benefits for the company you work for, and you want some organization to take accountability for the operations and maintenance of the stack you have, this falls right in the sweet spot for it.
The last thing, interestingly enough, is that we see a little bit of uptake from even smaller and medium-sized companies, where they do not have enough people, and they do not want to worry about maintenance of the stack based on the capability or the experience of the people they have on these different solutions -- whether it's operations, whether it's applications, whether it is security across the entire HP software stack. So, if you're on any of those four or five different use cases, this falls right in the sweet spot for all of them.
Gardner: What about availability? When will these services be available? Where can we learn more about them? How should an organization engage? Who do they talk to? Is this a software discussion, a services discussion, a help desk discussion? How do you learn more, and when are these available?
Eswaran: We've been in limited launch mode since June of last year. We wanted to make sure that we engage with a limited set of customers, make sure this really works, work out all the logistics, before we actually do a full public general availability launch. So, it is effective immediately.
From an engagement standpoint, just work with the regular software team members or HP team members you work with. This is a service within HP. It is provided by HP Software Services, but your method of engagement should just be with the regular HP people you work with.
The whole purpose of this is to take complexity away. So work with whoever you work with. They have the ability to dip into HP and avail this service.
If it is software, that's very simple, because we provide that service. If it is HP Enterprise Services (ES), work with them, because we provide the service to ES as well. So, work with the usual HP counterparts or point of contact you have, and they will make sure this service is available for you.
Gardner: And I imagine if you wanted to just do a quick search you could go to HP Premier Services online on your web search and you will probably find a lot of information there.
Eswaran: You should be able to find a lot of information there. We're publicly announcing this on March 8, and we'll have a lot more detail to share then.
Go down to HP Software component of the HP website and you should be able to find datasheets and all of that, and then work with your regular HP point of contact. They will be able to get you any other information you need.
Gardner: Great. We've been discussing about how new models are coming together for IT support services and why they are necessary to provide more of a single point of accountability when multiple software implementation is involved. And as we have discussed this more, I've learned that this is really an opportunity to create stepping stones to future models, a bit more of an architected approach to service with an integrated support characteristic. That to me is pretty exciting.
So I want to thank our guest. We've been here with Anand Eswaran, Vice President of Professional Services for HP Software. Thanks so much, Anand.
Eswaran: Thank you, Dana.
Gardner: And this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You've been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks for listening and come back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.
Transcript of a sponsored podcast on HP's latest integrated IT support services, the HP Software Premier program. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.
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