Showing posts with label ITSM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ITSM. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ITSM Automation and Intelligence Gains Deliver Self-Service to More Users

Transcript of a discussion on how automation, self service, and analytics are combining to allow IT help desks to do more for less.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HPE Voice of the Customer Podcast Series. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people’s lives.

Gardner
Our next IT support thought leadership discussion highlights how automation, self-service and big data analytics are combining to allow IT help desks to do more for less.

We will see how automation and ITSM-driven insights endow help desk personnel with more knowledge and provide a single point of support for end users, regardless of their needs while still catering to their preferred method of help.

Here to share the latest on how IT support is advancing in the era of bring your own device (BYOD), cloud, and tight budgets, are three experts, David Blackeby, Program Solution Owner for Cloud Services at Sopra Steria, based in the UK. Welcome, David.

David Blackeby: Good morning.

Gardner: We're also here with Diana Wosik, Group Program Manager at Sopra Steria, based in Poland. Welcome, Diana.

Wosik
Diana Wosik: Good morning.

Gardner: And we're here with Mark Laird, Group Technical Architect at Sopra Steria, based in the UK. Welcome, Mark.

Mark Laird: Good morning.

Gardner: Let’s start at a high level and talk about how support has changed, and why enabling self-service is so important nowadays. Mark, why is self-service such an important issue when it comes to IT help desk?

Laird: For us, there are probably a number of issues. We have a range across our customer base, from millennials, who are used to dealing with websites, mobile, tablets, who really don’t want to call a call center, and don’t want to end up talking to somebody on the phone, through to the legacy users who are much more used to picking up the phone, asking for help, and talking through a problem.

So they're looking for a more human approach, human interaction, versus the millennials who want to fix it themselves, want to do it quickly, and really don’t want to talk to somebody about it. That’s introducing a range of problems and challenges.

Gardner: It sounds as if you need to deliver support in a spectrum of ways, but perhaps with a common core to that support function.

Underlying answer

Laird: The underlying answer to the problem, whatever the problem is, is likely to be the same. If you have a log-on issue, it will be a password reset or an account issue. It’s how you get that information out to the person who has the challenge.

Laird
If it’s a person on the phone, it's easy enough to talk them through it. But if you have somebody who is coming through a self-service portal, you have to provide them with that same information. So yes, at times, you connect a single call, a single database, and send your knowledge environment to a range of callers.

Gardner: David, we're being called on here to deliver support across the spectrum of modalities, methods, or even latency, but at the same time, many of the world governments are asking for austerity and savings in their budgets for IT. How are we able to reconcile this need for more variety and the delivery of help desk services, but cutting costs at the same time? Is there any way to reconcile them?

Blackeby: It’s part of the core challenge in the current world with austerity, where both our public and private customers are looking at how they can do more for less money.

IT has continuing cost pressures to reduce cost and overhead of providing IT.  At the same time, we talk about new methods of self-service, different types of platforms and different types of devices and this multi-channel effect that costs time, effort and money to invest in these technologies.

Blackeby
That’s the underlying driver for how it comes down to the service provider to do that. The only way we can do that is looking at industrializing that service delivery and automating processes, moving activities that may have previously been done by Level 2 and Level 3 resources. We're looking at how we can move those to cheaper or lower-cost resources, such as a service desk, or in an ideal world, remove them entirely from the cost chain and drive the automation. So the activity increases the speed and the agility while reducing the cost of delivering the service.

Gardner: Diana, another variable in the mix here is the increased use of mobile devices, of fluidity of the user in terms of their geography, their location, even the time of day that they might be working, and of course there is a plethora of devices, if you want to bring your own device organization. How is mobility affecting this equation for a more complex approach to help desk?

Wosik: Mobility is very important nowadays, because everybody uses mobile devices, every single day. We need to ensure a single point of contact, so they all can approach their help desk at any time they need, and they need the availability 24×7 for that.

Gardner: So, we've established that we have a need for more variability, addressing more types of help from more types of users. Tell me a bit more, Mark, about automation and self-service and how they support one another? What is it about automating processes that endows the user with more access to help, but then maybe that same feedback loop between the user and the support infrastructure can be brought to bear on future issues?

Laird: Automation is doing the same thing in a repeated, controlled fashion. Whether it’s a password reset or the delivery of a service or a server, what you're doing is scripting. You're putting into a workflow a process that a user can call on. Whether that user is an end user, an end customer, or in fact one of the operations team, it allows them to do that fairly standard process in a repeated quality controlled fashion.

And that can allow lower cost, potentially, as David said, bringing the tasks from maybe a qualified Level 3 expensive support person into an operations center, or in fact, maybe on to the self-service portal, where you're not having to give access to systems to end users, but you are allowing them to run a script.

Double benefit

Gardner: David, perhaps you could help me understand why self-service is a benefit to both the receiver of the help, the end user, as well as the organization. What is it about self-service that refines process and benefits the deliverer of the help, but at the same time, gives more speed or perhaps options to the receiver of the help?


Blackeby: Essentially it supports both sides of the equation. From an end user perspective, it’s that instant gratification, I can go into a centralized portal. I can do my search or raise my request and I can be instantly satisfied with the response. I could be presented with a knowledge article that tells me how to fix my particular issue.

If I'm requesting a new service to be delivered through orchestration in the back end, I can make my request, and the orchestration comes in and drives the automated delivery of that service to me. So it increases the agility for the user and it reduces delays.

From the other side of the equation, looking at it from a service provider’s perspective, the more work the user can do themselves takes cost away from us as a service provider.

Historically, a user would have called the service desk, so as a part of that conversation you need to understand who the user is to provide them the service. Make sure it’s a service that they are potentially allowed to have and sort of help through the process. That means that we need a body to answer the phone, and the amount of time that we spend on a typical call from the user drives the cost from a support center perspective.
That reduces the handling time by our agents and by the people who are delivering them the service.

Even if you have a scenario where a user using the portal today, and still need ultimately a human interaction to deliver that service, we already know who they are, and will have asked relevant questions upfront which means we don’t have to ask the questions later on down the line when we try to deliver a service. That reduces the handling time by our agents and by the people who are delivering them the service.

Gardner: Before we dig into the how you do this, now that we have established why it's an important new aspect of helpdesk, Diana, perhaps you can tell us a little bit about Sopra Steria, the organization, and to what degree they are supporting help desks in your markets?

Wosik: I can give you a good example of how it works in Poland and how the automation helps us out regarding the functionality of help desk.

We apply quite a few solutions, like virtual machine (VM) provisioning that has been automatically provisions the machines aligned to customer needs. There is a monitoring tool that is automated. So not only we monitor whatever is going on, but we're also able to answer the needs very quickly, thanks to our automation services.

And then there's the thing regarding the automatic deployment of our releases. Whenever there's a new release of the system, we don’t need a bunch of people who are going to work on it. We can also deploy it very quickly in production, and that helps us to bring the solution as quickly as possible to our customer.

Higher-level view

Gardner: Could you give us a higher-level view of Sopra Steria, the organization, and to what degree help desk support is part of a larger portfolio of services?

Laird: We're a European IT company. We run IT for a wide range of European customers. We deliver services. We write software. We do business process outsourcing. Essentially, if there's a computer involved in there somewhere, that’s what we do.

We have a presence in 27 countries across Europe, in India, and then smaller offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. We have 36,500 staff, and an annual turnover of about 3.5 billion euros. So, we're a reasonably large company, one of the top 10 European IT companies.

For us, the service desk is the single point of contact. For all of our customers, that is their point of contact with us, whether it’s through the Global Delivery Center in Poland, where we're offering French, German, English, small amounts of Spanish and Italian, or through some of the in-country service desks, such as the ones we have in France and the UK. So that is our single point of contact and it’s of key importance to us.

Blackeby: Just to follow on from that, the key piece of that is that it’s an intelligent service desk as opposed to a help desk. It’s really about having the phones manned by intelligent people who are able to both try and fix or resolve issues straight away, as opposed to just logging a call, creating a ticket, and passing it off to someone else.
 
Gardner: How is it that we're providing those individuals on the front line with better knowledge? Are they getting more tools? Are they getting more data? Is this really just correlating a single point of access to the existing data? Is it all of the above? How do we empower those people to do this difficult help desk job better?

Blackeby: In the same way that we try to have a single point of entry for users, for a portal, it’s really the same piece for our support staff as well.

While there are many systems that underpin our service delivery, the key element we try to strive for is that the operators have a single place to work. It’s very much thorough the integration of various systems and data sources into a centralized repository, so that the person that’s trying to act on a ticket, request, or other activity has everything they need in one place, so they can immediately see what the issue is, see what the request is, and then deliver the service to that end user.

Gardner: It strikes me that whether it’s a help desk’s person or the end user, the more they use this, the more the data can be collected, the more knowledge can be harnessed from the interactions, and therefore brought back through a feedback loop into the next level of support.

Is the cost savings on this ultimately about you're better able to understand the market because of the self-service, because of these portal approaches? Is that a big part of it?

Key items

Blackeby: It feeds into that. If you're looking at industrializing or automating, you're really looking for repeatable activities that are done time and time again. The data helps to support that. It identifies suitable candidates that are high volume, high throughput transactions that are really the key things that you want to focus on in terms of introducing automation into the environment, or automation into task elements in a given process. So, over time, it’s pretty much what we are doing.

As Mark mentioned, we're a managed service provider (MSP), providing the services across many customers. So, a lot of the economies of scale we get are best practices that we apply in one account or particular scenarios or issues that we see in one, we can see correlations in other customer accounts as well. So we can bring those efficiencies and bring that investment we make and automation through our back office processes to benefit multiple customers.

Wosik: What is very well known right now is big data and smart analytics that will help us to gather all the information from our customers, so the more tickets and the more incidents are logged, the more information you can gather as well. This is gathered and analyzed. This is when we can provide more accurate and quicker answers to our customers. It’s something that has really impacted our quality of service.

Gardner: Let’s look also back to the systems, when we think about gathering information, more and more big data gathered from logs and other output data from the systems themselves, from the platforms. How are you at Sopra Steria managing the knowledge gathering from your systems and then applying that into this other knowledge base about the activities on your help desk and from the self-help portal?
What is very well known right now is big data and smart analytics that will help us to gather all the information from our customers, so the more tickets and the more incidents are logged, the more information you can gather as well.

Laird: We're looking at some of the new technologies around smart analytics and big data, but we're starting with some of the simpler approaches, which as David alluded to and as Diana mentioned earlier, are just the simple high-volume transactions, the things that we do on a regular basis that are maybe quality issues or maybe they are just time consuming, but those are the key ones we're after.

Then, over the next three to six months, as we move into some of the newer technologies around smart analytics, for example, we'll be taking some of the incidents and things coming into service desk, into the service management system, and looking at those and doing problem management on them.

Have we suddenly got an influx of incidents around our exchange platform? Is that actually indicating that there is an underlying problem or an underlying system error that we need to fix?

It’s starting to link all the various systems, whether it’s the business service monitoring system to the back end that the operations teams are using, or the service management platforms at the front that our service desk people are using, pulling all those together, tying them in with, for example, the configuration management platform, so that people are seeing the same information, both from a front-end user impacting view, or from a back-end infrastructure and service view.

Gardner: And I should think that would also help in more agility to do root-cause analysis and making it faster to time for resolution.

Automate and fix

Laird: Exactly. That back goes back to when we fix problems, close incidents, and if there's a resolution in there, doing the analysis on them to identify common fixes. If an incident comes in or a particular type of incident comes in and we always do the same thing to it, we can automate that. We can actually either get the service desk or help desk people access to that quick fix or just automate it right at the start, so when that issue occurs, we automate and fix.

In some cases, that’s moving out of the customer’s view completely. We're fixing it almost before there's an impact.

Gardner: We've talked a bit about making these help desk approaches better from the end-user perspective, empowering the personnel in the help desk organization itself, and finding some new technologies and analysis benefits to propel that forward, but I would like to go back to the issue of cost.

How are we wringing out more cost from this process, perhaps things like identifying automation and what’s called shift left, better or earlier in the process. So, where are we targeting to get the most results when it comes to cost reduction in all of this?

Blackeby: It really talks about how people do transactions, what things are continually occurring that have a high amount of touch points to them. Some of that comes out through time.
These days, more and more commonly, we can use software distribution, or automated software push tools, that don’t require human interaction at all.

One of the challenges we have when we take on a new customer is that you don’t have the excellent benefit of hindsight around how the organization works and what their common problems are. So, as we take on a new customer or a new contract, we have the ability to go and talk to their existing service provider or their in-house person. A lot of that comes out over time.

There are some standard things that we can recognize, because we have similar customers in similar marketplaces or industries and things that we would expect to get from the outset, and by looking at things like password reset tools and things like that are common and applicable across all types of clients.

Then, it’s a case of looking at your volumetrics over time, your repeatable activities, incidents and requests, identifying how can we drive the agility and improve the service levels that we're delivering, and at the same time, reduce cost.

Take a simple thing like software deployment to users machines, historically, that might have been a call to the service desk. They might have dispatched a desk-side engineer or used remote control to be able to connect with a user’s device to go and install the software.

These days, more and more commonly, we can use software distribution, or automated software push tools, that don’t require human interaction at all. We can automatically deploy software to the user.

Zero-touch environment

That moves into that zero-touch type of environment. Through a portal request, we can manage the workflow around any approval activities. Then once fully approved, through the orchestration at the back-end, we can interface by software deployment solution to automate the delivery of that software to that endpoint device.

And we support many different types of devices now. We've seen more and more cases where not only are we talking about physical desktops or laptops, but also around how we manage mobile devices and tablet type devices as well, using mobility and mobile device management solutions.

Gardner: Let’s look at some of these solutions in practice. Sopra Steria has been doing this for some time and across a large marketplace. Do you have any examples that demonstrate when you can do this well that you get those benefits of self-help, common core data, more knowledgeable help desk, reduce costs, all at the same time?
It probably took two or three days to code the solution, but we're saving a significant amount of time every day.

Laird: One of the solutions we looked at in Poland, certainly around automation, was a really simple challenge that the operations team had as part of our Polish operation. Every morning, backups from a particular customer was taking them in the region of one hour to produce a backup report, look at the backup that had failed, re-run backups as appropriate, and then if backups had failed maybe consistently for a couple of days, escalating that out to support team.

We automated the whole thing. It’s all automated using HPE Operations Orchestration. The whole process now takes one of the team about five minutes in the morning, and it’s really a case of checking the output from the system.

So, we've saved somewhere in the region of just under an hour everyday for one person. It probably took two or three days to code the solution, but we're saving a significant amount of time every day. We're getting a much better quality report, and we're able to pass that information out to our second-line and third-line teams earlier in the day, it gives them much more time to fix things.

One of the things that we've looked at now is automating the re-run of backups overnight. Rather than letting them go to maybe two or three days, they're fixed overnight, and we run them within the backup window. It's improving quality to the customer and a having significant impact on savings to the operations team.

Gardner: You mentioned the use of the HPE tools. Are there any other HPE platforms or approaches that are helping you bring in this common data. We talked about the analysis earlier that also helps in this equation of doing more with less.

HPE partner

Laird: We're an HPE partner. We have been for over 10 years now, and we have quite a range of HPE tools across the portfolio, whether that’s from things like the Application Lifecycle Manager, through to HPE Service Manager.

We also have solutions like OMi doing things like event correlation, where we have events coming in from the monitoring solutions, whether that’s from HPE SiteScope or Operations Manager or from third party tools, like SCCM and some of the Nagios tools.

OMi is correlating those events and passing through to the service desk and the operations center the ones that actually need to be looked at. We're filtering out more than 50 percent, 60 percent of the alerts. It reduces our cost. We're filtering those alerts out at a much earlier point in the chain, and with that, we're only raising incidents for ones that actually need to be escalated up to the teams.

We're using tools and technology, to keep costs down and reduce the costs as far as we can.
One of the challenges that are coming more to the forefront these days is probably the adoption of cloud services. It’s a disruptive influence on traditional IT and how IT is delivered.

Gardner: So as we think about being able to future-proof the support services, and by that I mean being able to adapt to a millennial audience, more distribution points, more types of help desk and automation, and that single portal, we also need to be thinking about being backwards compatible. Some organizations do want more of that human touch, the interactions, and perhaps some of the government organizations are interested in that as well.

What is it about the future direction of your services at Sopra Steria, some of the tools and technologies that you are employing from HPE, that allows you to feel confident about being both future proof and backwards compatible for your support?

Blackeby: One of the challenges that are coming more to the forefront these days is probably the adoption of cloud services. It’s a disruptive influence on traditional IT and how IT is delivered.

It’s a challenge for us the service providers to adapt to these. You're talking about environments that can be built in minutes, bringing a whole new way of working, very fluid environments with auto-scaling where the number of resources that we are supporting and managing is growing and shrinking dynamically over time. So that’s really had a big sort of impact on how we deliver service.

We've recognized this and are looking at how we transform the service delivery. We're becoming more reliant on the data that supports the service. So it’s very much around how we manage what’s out there, with a heavy reliance on things like configuration management systems, and discovery of IT resources.

As Mark said, there are things like event correlation, looking at patterns, trends and events so that we can increase the agility and really manage much higher volumes of applications, of servers and of users with a smaller number of people or with the same number of people.

Gardner: It is very exciting a lot is going on.

Tools and technologies

Blackeby: As a ratio you might have a scenario of a support person looking after an average 40 servers to now having to deal with realms of managing, so there are a 100-plus servers, but it’s only through the deployment of the tools and technologies that we can do that.

But at the same time, we still have a large legacy estate and legacy clients and we still need to support. So it’s really looking at how come we engineer our processes so that irrespective of what we are talking about legacy physical server workloads or perhaps on premise virtualized workloads as well as things that might be spun up inside Amazon Web Services or in Microsoft Azure public cloud environments that we provide that consistent level of service and service delivery irrespective of where the service is located or in which format it is delivered back to the customer or users.

Gardner: When I speak to developer organizations and IT production organizations operations, they're seeing a compression and a large degree of collaboration between development and operations. Thus, the DevOps trend.
But at the same time, we still have a large legacy estate and legacy clients and we still need to support.

But when I listen to you, I'm hearing also a compression between operations and help desk in such a way that it benefits the entire IT process in a more automated and the more software-defined and the more data that’s made available, the tighter that compression seems to get. Am I perhaps describing seeing this idea of help desk, support and operations becoming more collaborative, more tightly aligned?

Laird: The whole concept of the operations team being hidden away in a back room and the service desk being the public face is changing. They're becoming much more tightly aligned. Things that the operations team is doing have an almost immediate impact on what the service desk is looking at, and the service desk needs to have access to really all the information the operations team has got.

When the user is on the phone and has a problem with a service, it’s good if the service desk can actually say, "Yes, we know there's a problem and we know what the problem is. We have an estimated fix time of 15 minutes." That gives the user the warm feeling that you're in control and you know what you're doing.

Gardner: I am afraid we will have to leave it there. We've been discussing how automation, self-service and analytics are combining to allow IT help desks to do more for less. And we’ve seen how automation and ITSM-driven insights endow help desk personnel with more knowledge and provide a single point of support for end users regardless of their needs, whether it’s self-service or more of the traditional way of reaching support.

So, join me please in thanking our guests, David Blackeby, Program Solutions Owner for Cloud Services at Sopra Steria. Thanks so much, David.

Blackeby: Thank you.

Gardner: And we’ve also been joined by Diana Wosik, Group Program Manager at Sopra Steria in Poland. Thank you so much, Diana.

Wosik: Thanks to you.

Gardner: And also thanks to Mark Laird, Group Technical Architect at Sopra Steria in the UK. Thank you, Mark.

Laird: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And a big thank you to our audience as well for joining us for this IT-support thought leadership discussion.

I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of Hewlett Packard Enterprise-sponsored discussions. Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Transcript of a discussion on how automation, self service, and analytics are combining to allow IT helpdesks to do more for less. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2016. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Focus on Data, Risk, and Predictive Analysis Drives New Era of Cloud-Based IT Service Management, Says Expert Panel

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect panel discussion on how agile ITSM plays an essential role in IT today.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP Enterprise.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Podcast Series. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people’s lives.

Gardner
Our next data center innovation panel discussion focuses on the changing role of IT service management (ITSM) in a hybrid computing world. As IT systems, resources, assets, and information are more scattered across more enterprise locations and devices -- as well as across various service environments -- how can IT leaders hope to know where their "stuff" is, who’s using it, how to secure it, and then accurately pay for it?

Well, it turns out that advanced software asset management (SAM) methods can enforce compliance, reduce risk, cut costs, and enhance end-user productivity -- even as the complexity of IT itself increases.
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We'll hear from four IT leaders about how they have improved ITSM despite such challenges, and we'll learn how the increased use of big data and analytics when applied to ITSM improves inventory control and management. We'll also hear how a service brokering role can also be used to great advantage, thanks to ITSM-generated information.

To learn more about how ITSM solves multiple problems for IT, we're joined by our panel, Charl Joubert, a change and configuration management expert based in Pretoria, South Africa. Welcome, Charl.

Charl Joubert: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: We're also here with Julien Kuijper, an expert in asset and license management based in Paris. Welcome, Julien.

Julien Kuijper: Thank you. Good afternoon.

Gardner: We're also here with Patrick Bailly, IT Quality and Process Director at Steria, also based in Paris. Welcome, Patrick.

Patrick Bailly: Thank you. Good afternoon.

Gardner: And lastly, Edward Jackson, Operational System Support Manager at Redcentric, based in Harrogate, UK. Welcome, Edward.

Edward Jackson: Thank you. Good afternoon.

Gardner: Let’s talk about modern SAM, software asset management. There seems to be a lot going on with getting more information about software and how it’s distributed and used. Julien, tell us how you're seeing organizations deal with this issue.

Complicated circle

Kuijper: SAM has to square quite a complicated circle. One is compliance in a company, compliance with regard to software installation and usage, and also ensuring that while doing this, we must ensure that the software that is entering a company isn't dangerous. It's things like not letting a virus come in, opening threats or complications. Those are three very technical and very factual environments.

Kuijper
But, you also want to please your end-user. If you don’t please your end-user and you don’t give them the ability to work, they're going to be frustrated. They're going to complain about IT. It’s already a complicated enough.

You have to square that circle by implementing the correct processes first, while giving the correct information around how to behave in the end-to-end software lifecycle.

Gardner: And asset management when it comes to software is not small, there are some very big numbers -- and costs -- involved.

Kuijper: It’s actually a very inconvenient truth. An audit from a publisher or a vendor can easily reach 7 or 8 digits, and a typical company has between 10 and 50 publishers. So, at 7 digits per publisher, you can easily do the math. That’s typically the financial risk.

You also have a big reputation risk. If you don’t pay for software and you are caught, you end up being in the press. You don’t want your company, your branding, to be at that level of exposure.

You have to bring this risk to the attention of IT leaders at the CIO level, but they don’t really want to hear that, because it costs a lot. When they hear this risk, they can't avoid investment, and the investment can be quite large as well.
Typically, if this investment is reaching five percent of your overall yearly software spending, you're on the right level. It’s a big number, but still it’s worth investing.

But you have to compare this investment with regard to your overall software spending. Typically, if this investment is reaching five percent of your overall yearly software spending, you're on the right level. It’s a big number, but still it’s worth investing.

Coming with this message to IT management and getting the ear of a person who is interested in the topic and then getting the investment authorization, you've gone through half the journey. Implementation afterward will be defining your processes, finding the right tool, implementing it, and running it.

Gardner: When it comes to value to the end-user, by having an understood, clearly-defined process in place allows them to get to the software they want, make sure they can use it, and look for it on a sanctioned list, for example. While some end-users might see this as a hurdle, I think it enables them eventually to get the tools they need when they need them.

Smart communication

Kuijper: Right. At the beginning, every end-user will see all those SAM processes as a burden or a complication. So you have to invest a lot in communication, smart communication, with your company and make people understand that it’s everyone’s responsibility to be [software license] compliant and also that it can help in recovering money.

If you do this in a smart way, and the process has a delivery time not longer than three days, then you're good. You have to ensure, of course, that you have a software catalog that is up-to-date, with an easy access to your main titles. All those points from the end-to-end software lifecycle are implemented -- from software tool, then software delivery, then software re-usage, software, and also disposal. When all this is lean, then you’ve made your journey. Then, the software lifecycle process will not be seen any more as a pain, but it will be seen as a business-enabler.

Gardner: Now, asset management doesn’t just cover the realm of software. It includes hardware, and in a network environment, that can be very large numbers of equipment and devices, endpoints as well as network equipment.

Edward at Redcentric, tell us about how you see the management of assets through the lens of a network.

Jackson: We have more than 10,000 devices in management from a multitude of vendors and we use asset management in terms of portfolio management, managing the models, the versions, and the software.

Jackson
We also have a configuration management tool that takes the configurations of these devices and runs them against compliance. We can run them against a gold or a silver build. We can also run them against security flaws. It gives us an end-to-end management.

All of this feeds into our ITSM product and then also it feeds into things like the configuration management data base (CMDB). So we have a complete end-to-end knowledge of the software, the hardware, and the services that we're giving the customer.

Gardner: Knowing yourself and your organization allows for that lifecycle benefit that Julien referred to. Eventually, that gives you the freedom to manage and extend those benefits into things like helpdesk support, even IT operations, where the performance can be maintained better.

Jackson: Yes, that's 360-degree management from hardware being delivered on-site, to being discovered, being automatically populated into the multitude of support and operational systems that we use, and then into the ITSM side.

If you don’t get it right from the start and you don’t have the correct models defined for example a Cisco device or the correct OS version on that device, one perhaps where it has security flaws, then you run the risk of deploying a vulnerable service to the customer.

Thinking about scale

Gardner: Looking at the different types of tools and approaches, this goes beyond thinking about assets alone. We're thinking also about scale. Tell us about your organization, and why the scale and ability to manage so many devices and information is important?

Jackson: Being a managed service provider (MSP), we have about 1,000 external customers, and each one of those has a tailored service, ranging from voice, storage, to data, and cloud. So we need to be able to manage these services that are contained within the 10,000 plus devices that we have.

We need to understand the service end-to-end. So there’s quite bit of service level management in there. It all ties down to having the correct kind of vendor, the correct kind of service mapping, and information needs to be accurate in the configuration items (CIs), so support can utilize this information.

If we have an incident that is automatically generated on the management platforms, it goes into the ITSM platform. We can create an effective customer list within, say, five minutes of the network outage and then email or SMS the customer pretty much directly.
We need to understand the service end-to-end. So there’s quite bit of service level management in there.

There’s more ways of doing it, but it’s all due to having a tight control on the assets that are out there in the field, having an asset management tool that can actually control that, and being able to understand the topology of the network and where everything lies. This gives us the ability to create relationships between these devices and have hierarchical logical and physical entities.

Gardner: You have confidence that you work with tools and platforms that can handle that scale?

Jackson: All the tools that we have are pretty much carrier-grade. So we can scale a lot more than the 10,000 devices that we currently have. If you set it up and plan it right, it doesn’t really matter how many devices you have in management. You have to have the right processes and structure to be able to manage them.

Gardner: We've talked about software, hardware, and networks. Nowadays, cloud services, microservices, and APIs are also a big part of the mix. IT consumes them, they make value from them, and they extend that value into the organization.

Let’s go to Patrick at Steria. How are you seeing in your organization an evolution of ITSM into a service brokering role? And does the current generation of ITSM tools and platforms give you a road to that service brokering capacity?

Extending services

Bailly: What’s needed for becoming a service broker that is we need to offer the ability to extend the current service that we have to the services that are available today in the cloud.

Bailly
To do that, we need to extend the capability of our framework. Today, our framework has been designed in order to run the operation on behalf of our customers, to run the operation on the customer side, or the operation on our data center, but more or less, traditionally IT. The current ITSM framework is able to do that.

What we're facing is that we have customers who want to add short-term [cloud capacity]. We need to offer that capability. What's very important is to offer one interface toward the customers, and to integrate across several service providers at the same time.

Gardner: Tell us a bit about Steria. You're a large organization, 20,000 employees, and in multiple countries.

Bailly: We're an IT service provider, and we manage different kinds of services from infrastructure management, application management, business process outsourcing, system integration, etc., all over Europe. Today, we're leveraging the capabilities that we have today in India and in Poland.

Gardner: Now, we've looked at what ITSM does. We haven’t dug into too much about where it’s going next in terms of what analysis of this data can bring to the table.

Charl, tell us, please, about how you see the use of analytics improving what you've been doing in your setting. How do baseline results from ITSM, the tools we have been talking about, improve when you start to analyze that data, index it, cleanse it, and get at the real underlying information that can then be turned into business benefits?

Joubert: Looking at inadequacies of your processes is really the start of all of this. The moment you start scratching at the vast amount of information you have, you start seeing the errors of your ways, and ways and opportunities to correct them.

Joubert
It's really an exciting time in ITSM. We now have the ability to start mining this magnitude of information that’s being locked inside attachments in all of these ITSM solutions. We can now start indexing all that unstructured data and using it. It’s a fantastic time to be in IT.

Gardner: Give me an example of where you've seen this at work -- maybe a helpdesk environment. How can you immediately get benefits from starting to analyze systems and IT information?

Million interactions

Joubert: In the service desk I'm involved in, we have about a total of a million interactions over the past few years. What we've done with big data is index the categorization of all these interactions.

With tools from HP, Smart Analytics and Smart Ticketing, we're able to predict the categorization of these interactions to a accuracy of about 84 percent at the moment. This assists the service desk agents to more accurately get the correct information to the correct service teams the first time, with fewer errors in escalation, which in turn leads to greater customer satisfaction.

Gardner: Julien, where does the analysis of what you're doing with software asset management, for example, play a role? Where do you see it going?

Kuijper: SAM is already quite complex on-premise and we all know today that the IT world is moving to the cloud, and this is the next challenge of SAM, because the whole point of the cloud is that you don’t know where your systems are.

However, the licensing models, as they are today, refer to CPU, to on-premise, to physical assets. Understanding how you can adapt your licensing model to this new concept -- not that new anymore now -- this new concept of cloud is something to which even the software publishers and vendors have not really adapted their model.
This is the next challenge of SAM, because the whole point of the cloud is that you don’t know where your systems are.

You also have to face some vendors or publishers who are not willing to adapt their model, especially to be able to audit specific customers and get more revenue. So, on one hand, you have to implement the right processes and the right tools, which are now going to navigate in a very complex environment, very difficult to scan, very difficult to analyze. At the same time, you have to update all your contracts, and sometime, this will not be possible.

Some vendors will have a very easy licensing model if you are implementing their software in their own cloud environment, but in another cloud environment, in a competitor, they might make this journey quite complicated for you.

So this will be complex and will be resolved by correct data to analyze and also some legal workforce and purchasing workforce to try to adapt the contracts.

Gardner: In many ways right now, we never really own software. We only lease it or borrow it and we're charged in a variety of ways. But soon we'll to be going more to that pay-as-you-use, pay-as-you-consume model. What about the underlying information associated with those services? Would logs go along with your cloud services? Should you be able to access that so that you can analyze it in the context of your other IT infrastructure?

Edward, any thoughts as a managed services environment and a management of networks provider. Do you see that as you provide more services that you are providing insight or ITSM metadata along with the services?

IaaS to SaaS

Jackson: Over the past five or six years, the services that we offered pretty much started as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), but it’s now very much a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, managed OS, and everything up the technology stack into managed applications.

It's gotten to a point now that we are taking on the managing of bespoke applications that customers wanted to hand over to Redcentric. So not only do we have to understand the technology and the operating systems that go on these platforms in the cloud, but we also have to understand the bespoke software that’s sitting on them and all the necessary dependencies for that.

The more that we invest into cloud technologies, the more complex the service that we offer our customers becomes. We have a multitude of management systems that can monitor all the different elements of this and then piece them together in a service-level model (SLM) perspective. So you get SLM and you get service assurance on top of that.

Gardner: We've recently  heard about HP's IDOL OnDemand and Vertica OnDemand, as part of the Haven OnDemand. They're bringing these analytics capabilities to cloud services, APIs as well. As I understand it, they're going to be applying them to more IT operations issues. So it’s quite possible that we'll start to see a mash up, if you will, between a cloud service, but also the underlying IT information associated with that service.

Let’s go back to Patrick at Steria. Any thoughts about where this combination of ITSM within a cloud environment develops? How do you see it going?

Bailly: The system today exists for traditional IT, and we also have to have the tooling for designing and consuming cloud services. We are running HP Service Manager for traditional IT, legacy IT, and we are running HP Cloud Service Automation (CSA) for managing and operating in the cloud.

We’d like to have a unique way for reconciling the catalog of services that are in Service Manager with the catalog of services that are in CSA, and we would need to have a single, unique portal for doing that.
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What we're expecting with HP Propel is to offer the capabilities to aggregate services that are coming from various sources and to extend that by also offering them. When we're serving this live, we need to offer some additional features like collaboration, incident management, access to the knowledge base, collaboration between service desk and end user, collaboration between end users, etc.

There's also another important point and that is service integration. As a service provider, we will have to deliver and control the services that are delivered by some partners and by some cloud service providers.

In order to do that, we need to have strong integration, not only partnership, but also strong integration. And that integration should be multiple point, meaning that, as soon as we're able to integrate a service provider with this, that integration will be de facto available for our other customers. We're expecting that from HP Propel.

And it’s not only an integration for provisioning service, but it’s also an integration for running the other processes, collaboration, incident management, etc.

Gardner: Patrick mentioned HP Propel, do any of you also have some experience with that or are looking at it to solve other problems?

Single view

Joubert: We're definitely looking at it to give a single view for all our end users. There are various supportive partners in the area where I work. The end user really wants one place to ask for fixing a broken light, to fixing a broken PC, to installing software. It's ease of use that they're looking for. So yes, we are definitely looking at Propel.

Gardner: Let’s take another look to the future. We've heard quite a bit about the Internet of Things (IoT) -- more devices, more inputs, and more data. Do you think that’s something that’s going to be an issue for ITSM, or is that something separate? Do you view that the infrastructure that’s being created for ITSM lends itself to something like managing the IoT and more devices on a network?

Kuijper: For me, as asset management experts and software asset management experts, we have to draw a line somewhere and say, "There is this IoT, and there is some data that we have to say we don’t want to analyze." There are things that are here on the Internet. That’s fine, but too much engineering around that might be over-killing the processes.

We also have to be very careful about false good ideas. I personally think that bring your own device (BYOD) is a false good idea. It brings tremendous issues with regards to who takes care of an asset that is personally owned by a person in a corporate environment, who deals with IT.

Today, it’s perfect. I bring the computer that I'm used to in the office. Tomorrow, it’s broken. Who is going to fix it? When I buy software for this machine, who is going to pay for it and who's going to be responsible for non-compliance?
We also have to be very careful about false good ideas. I personally think that bring your own device is a false good idea.

A CIO might think it’s very intelligent and very advanced to allow people to use what they're used to, but the legal issues behind it are quite complicated. I would say this is a false good idea.

Gardner: Edward, you mentioned that at Redcentric, scale doesn’t concern you. You're pretty confident that the systems that you can access can handle almost any scale. How about that IoT? Even if it shouldn’t be in the purview legally or in terms of the role of IT, it does seem like the systems that have been developed for ITSM are applicable to this issue. Any thoughts about more and more devices on a network?

Jackson: In terms of the scale of things, if the elements are in your control and you have some structure and management around them. You don’t need to be overly concerned. We certainly don’t keep anything in our systems their shouldn’t be in there or doesn’t need to be.

Going forward, things like big data and smart analytics layered on top would give us a massive benefit in how we could deliver our service, and more importantly, how we can manage the service.

Once you have your processes is in place, and can understand the necessity of those processes, you have the structure, and you have the kind of management platform that your sure is going to handle the data, then you can basically leverage things like big data, smart analytics, and data mining to enable you to offer a sophisticated level of support that perhaps your competitors can’t.

Esoteric activity

Gardner: It's occurred to me that the data and the management of that ITSM data is central to any of these major challenges, whether it’s big data, cloud service brokering, management of assets for legal or jurisdiction compliance. ITSM has become much more prominent, and is in the position to solve many more problems.

I'd like to end our conversation with your thoughts along those lines. Charl, ITSM, is it more important than ever? How has it become central?

Joubert: Absolutely. With the advent of big data, we suddenly have the tools to start mining this information and using it to our benefit to give better service to our end-users.
With the advent of big data, we suddenly have the tools to start mining this information and using it to our benefit to give better service to our end users.

Kuijper: ITSM is definitely core to any IT environment, because ITSM is the way to put the correct price tag behind a service. We have service charging and service costing. If you don’t do that correctly, then you basically don’t tell the truth to your customer or to your end user.

If you mix this with the IoT and the possibility to have anything with an IP address available on the network, then you enter into more philosophical thoughts. In a corporate environment, let’s assume you have a tag on your car keys that helps you to find them, and that is linked on the Internet. Those gizmos are happening today.

This brings some personal life information into your corporate environment. What does the corporate environment do about this? The brand of your car is on your car tag. They will know that you bought a brand new car. They will know all this information which is personal. So we have to think about ethics as well.

So drawing a line of what the corporate environment will take care and what is private will be essential in this IOT. When you have your mobile phone, is it personal, it is business? Drawing a line will be very important.

Gardner: But at least we will have the means to draw that line and then enforce the drawing of that line.

Kuijper: Right. Totally correct.

Gardner: Edward, the role of ITSM, bigger than ever or not so much?

Bigger than ever

Jackson: I think it’s bigger than ever. It’s the front end of your business, and the back-end of your business its what the customers see. It’s how you deliver your service, and if you haven’t got it right, then you are not going to be able to deliver the service that a customer expects.

You might have the best products in the world, but if your ITSM systems and your ITSM team aren’t doing what they're supposed to be doing then you know it’s not going to be any good, and the customers are going to say that.

Gardner: And lastly to Steria, and Patrick, the role of ITSM, bigger than ever? How do you view it?

Bailly: For me, the role of IT Service Management (ITSM) won't change. We did ITSM in the past and we still continue to have that in the future. In order to deliver any service,  we need to have the detailed configuration of the service. We will have to run processes and not have the service change. What will change in the future is the diversity of service providers that we use.

As a service provider, we'll have to walk with a lot of other service providers. So the SLA will be more complex to manage for service management. It will be critical. For the customer, you will have to not only manage — but to govern — that service even if it is provided by lot of service providers.

Gardner: So the complexity goes up, and therefore the need to manage that complexity also needs to go up.

Bailly: What is also very important in license management in the cloud is that very often the return on investment (ROI) of the cloud adoption has ignored or minimized the impact of software cost. When you tell your customers, internal or external, that this xyz cloud offer will cost them that amount of money, you will most likely have to add up 20-30 percent because of the impact of the software cost afterward.

Gardner: I am afraid we will have to leave it there. We've been talking to a panel of experts about IT service management and its role in a hybrid computing world. We’ve found out how the future of analytics plays into ITSM, big data included, as well as many of the other scaling issues around mobility, IoT, and the licensing and legal issues around all assets in IT.
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So a big thank you to our panel, Charl Joubert, a change and configuration expert based in Pretoria, South Africa; Julien Kuijper, an expert in asset and license management based in Paris; Patrick Bailly, IT Quality and Process Director at Steria in Paris, and  Edward Jackson, Operational System Support Manager at Redcentric in the UK.

And a big thank you to our audience as well for joining us for this special new style of IT discussion. I'm Dana Gardner; Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of HP-sponsored discussions. Thanks again for joining us, and don’t forget to come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP Enterprise.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect panel discussion on how agile ITSM plays an essential role in IT today. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2015. All rights reserved.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Redcentric Uses Advanced Configuration Database to Focus Massive Merger Across Multiple Networks

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect discussion on the necessity of planning in attempting to merge data and systems across disparate operations.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Podcast Series. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing sponsored discussion on IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people's lives.

Gardner
Once again, we're focusing on how companies are adapting to the new style of IT to improve IT performance, gain new insights and deliver better user experiences, as well as better overall business results.

Our next innovation case study interview explores how Redcentric PLC in the UK has tackled a major network management project due to a business merger. We'll hear how Redcentric used advanced configuration database approaches from HP to scale some 10,000 devices across two disparate companies and managed them into a single system.

To learn more about how two major networks became merged successfully, we're joined by Edward Jackson, Operational System Support Manager at Redcentric in Harrogate, UK. Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Edward.

Edward Jackson: Hello.

Gardner: Tell us a little bit about your company and this merger. What two companies came together, and how did that prove to be a complicated matter when it comes to network management?
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Jackson: The two companies coming together were InTechnology and Redcentric. Redcentric bought InTechnology in 2013. Effectively, they were reasonably separate in terms of their setup. Redcentric had three separate organizations, they had already acquired Maxima and Hot Chilli. And the requirement was to move their network devices and ITSM platform base onto the HP monitoring and ITSM platforms in InTechnology.

It’s an ongoing process, but it’s well on the way and we've been pretty successful so far in doing that.

Gardner: And what kind of companies are these? Tell us about your organization, the business, rather than just the IT?

Jackson
Jackson: We're a managed service providers (MSPs), voice, data, storage, networks, and cloud. You name it, and we pretty much deliver it and sell it as part of our managed portfolio..

Gardner: So being good at IT is not just good for you internally; it's really part and parcel of your business.

Jackson: It's critical. We have to deliver it and we have to manage it as well. So it's 100 percent critical to the business.

Gardner: Tell us how you go about something like this, Edward, when you have a big merger, when you have all these different, disparate devices that support networks. How do you tackle that? How do you start the process?

Data cleansing

Jackson: The first phase is to look at the data and see what we've got and then start to do some data cleansing. We had to migrate data from three service desks to the InTechnology network, and to the InTechnology ITSM system. You need to look at all the service contracts. You need to also look at all the individual components that make up those contracts, and effectively all the configuration items (CIs), and then your looking at a rather large migration project.

Initially, we started to migrate the customer and the contact information. Then, slowly, we started to re-provision devices from the Redcentric side to the InTechnology Managed Services (IMS) network and load it into our HP management platforms.

We currently manage over 11,000 devices. They are from multiple types of vendors and technologies. InTechnology was pretty much a Cisco shop, whereas at Redcentric, we're looking at things like Palo Alto, Brocade, Citrix load balancers and other different types of solutions. So it's everything from session border controllers down to access points.

It was a relatively challenging time in terms of being able to look at the different types of technology and then be able to manage those. Also, we've automated incidents from Operations Manager to Service Manager and then notifying customers directly that there is a potential issue ontheir service. So it's been a rather large piece of work.

Gardner: Was there anything in hindsight that you did at InTechnology vis-à-vis the data about your network and devices that made this easier? Did Redcentric have that same benefit of that solid database, the configuration information? In doing this, what did you wish you had done, or someone else had done, better before that would have made it easier to accomplish?
It was a relatively challenging time in terms of being able to look at the different types of technology and then be able to manage those.

Jackson: Unfortunately, the data on the Redcentric side of the business wasn’t quite as clean as it was on the InTechnology side. It was held in lots of differnet sources, from network shared drives to Wiki pages. It all had to be collated. Redcentric had another three service desks. We had to extract all the data out of them as well. The service desks didn’t really contain any CI information either. So we had to collate together the CI information along with the contacts and customers.

It was a rather mammoth task. Then, we had to load it into our CRM tool, which then has a direct connection automatically using Web Services and into Service Manager. So it initially creates organizations and contacts.

We had a template for our CIs. If they were a server CI or a network CI, it would be added to a spreadsheet, and would use HP Connect-IT to load into Service Manager. It basically automatically created CIs against the customer and the contacts that were already loaded by our CRM tool.

Gardner: Is there anything now moving forward as a combined company, or in the process of becoming increasingly combined, that these due diligence efforts around network management and configuration management will allow you to do?

Perhaps you're able to drive more services into your marketplace for your customers or make modernization moves towards perhaps software-defined networking or other trends that are afoot. So now that you are into this, you are doing your due diligence, how does that set you up to move forward?

New opportunity

Jackson: It opens up a new sphere of opportunity. We were pretty much a Cisco shop, but now we have obviously opened up to a lot more elements and technologies that we actively manage.

We have a lot of software-based type of firewalls and load balancers that we didn’t previously have -- session border controllers, etc and voice products that we didn’t deliver previously -- that we can deliver now due to the fact that we've opened up the network to be able to monitor and manage pretty much anything.

Gardner: Any words of advice for other organizations that may have been resisting making these moves. You were forced to do it across the board with the merger. Do you have any advice that you would offer in terms of doing network management and modernization sooner rather than later, other than the fact that people might just think good enough is good enough, or if it's not broken, don’t fix it?

Jackson: When you're looking at a challenge like this, you have to make sure you do your due diligence first. It’s down to planning, an "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" kind of thing, and it’s very true.
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You need to get all the information. You need to make sure that you normalize it and sanitize it before you load it. The clich√© is garbage in, garbage out, so there’s no point in putting bad information into a system once again.

We have a good set of clean data now across the board. We literally have 150,000 CIs in our CMDB. So it’s not an insignificant CMDB by any stretch of the imagination. And we know that the data from the Redcentric side of the business is now clean and accurate.

Gardner: How about proving this to the business? For MSPs it might not be as critical, but for other enterprises, this might be a bit more of a challenge to translate these technical benefits into financial or economic benefits to their leadership. Any thoughts about metrics of success that you've been able to define that would fit into a return on investment (ROI) or more of an economic model? How do you translate network management proficiency into dollars and cents or pounds or euros?

Jackson: It’s pretty difficult to quantify in a monetary sense. Probably the best way of quantifying the success of the project has been the actual level of support that customers have been given and the level of satisfaction that the customers now have. They're very, very happy with the level of support that we have now achieving due to Redcentrics ITSM and business service management (BSM) systems. I think, going forward, it will only increase the level of support that we can provide our customers.

As I said, It's quite difficult to quantify in a monetary sense. However, when churn rates are now as low as 4 percent, you can basically say that you're doing something good.

Fundamental to the business

In terms of things like the CIs themselves, the CI is fundamental to the business, because it describes the whole of the service, all the services that we offer our customers. If that’s not right, then the support that we give the customer can’t be right either.

You need to give the guys on support the kind of information they need to be able to support the service. Customer satisfaction is ever increasing in terms of what we are able to offer the migrated customers.

Gardner: How about feedback from your help desk, your support, and remediation of people. Do they find that with this data in place, with it cleansed, and with it complete that they're able to identify where problems exist perhaps better, faster, and easier. Do they recognize whether there is a network problem or a workload support problem, the whole help desk benefit. Anything to offer there?
The CI is fundamental to the business, because it describes the whole of the service, all the services that we offer our customers. If that’s not right, then the support that we give the customer can’t be right either.

Jackson: About 80 percent of the tickets raised in the organization are raised through our management platform, monitoring and performance capacity monitoring. We can pretty much identify within a couple of minutes where the network error is. This all translates into tickets being auto raised in our service management platform.

Additionally, within a few minutes of an outage or incident we can have an affected customer list prepared. We have fields that are defined in Service Manager CI’s that will actually give us information regarding what devices are affected and what they are connected to in terms of an end to end service.

We run a customer report against this, and it will give you a list of customers, a list of key contacts and primary contacts. You can convert this into an email. So for a network outage, within a few minutes we can email the customer, create an incident, create related interactions to that incident, and the customer is notified that there is an issue.

Gardner: That’s the sort of brand reinforcement and service quality that many organizations are seeking. So that's enviable, I'm sure.

Is there any products or updates that could make your job even easier going forward?

Jackson: We're looking at a couple of things. One of them is HP Propel, which is a piece of software that you can hook into pretty much anything you really want. For example, if you have a few disparate service desks, you can have a veneer over the top. They'll look all the same to the customers. They'll have like an identical GUI, but the technology behind it could be very different.
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It gives you the ability then to hook into anything, such as HP Operations Orchestration, Service Manager, Knowledge Management, or even Smart Analytics, which is another area that we are quite keen on looking at. I think that’s going to revolutionize the service desk. It would be very, very beneficial forRedcentric..

There are also things like data mining. This would be beneficial and also help the auto creation of knowledge articles going forward and giving remedial action to incidents and interactions.

Gardner: Very good. I'm afraid we will have to leave it there. We've been learning about how Redcentric has used advanced configuration database approaches from HP to scale thousands of devices across two disparate networks and create a single entity due to a merger and an acquisition.

I'd like to thank our guest, Edward Jackson, Operational System Support Manager at Redcentric in the UK. Thanks so much, Edward.

Jackson: Thank you.

Gardner: And thank you to our audience for joining this special new style of IT discussion. We've explored and discovered solid evidence from early enterprise adopters of how big data changes everything, for IT, for businesses, for governments, and as well as for you and me, and we've seen how even in the realm of network management big data and analytics is a huge topic.

I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of HP-sponsored discussions. Thanks again for listening and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect discussion on the necessity of planning in attempting to merge data and systems across disparate operations. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2015. All rights reserved.

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