Showing posts with label SLA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SLA. Show all posts

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Thomas Duryea's Journey to Cloud Part 2: Helping Leading Adopters Successfully Solve Cloud Risks

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect discussion on how a stepped approach helps an Australian IT service provider smooth the way to cloud benefits at lower risk for its customers.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: VMware.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect.

Our latest podcast discussion centers on how a leading Australian IT services provider, Thomas Duryea Consulting, has made a successful journey to cloud computing.

We'll learn how a cloud-of-clouds approach provides new IT services for Thomas Duryea's many Asia-Pacific region customers. Our discussion today continues a three-part series on how Thomas Duryea, or TD, designed, built and commercialized an adaptive cloud infrastructure.

The first part of our series addressed the rationale and business opportunity for TD's cloud-services portfolio, which is built on VMware software. [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

This second installment focuses on how a variety of risks associated with cloud adoption and cloud use have been identified and managed by actual users of cloud services.

Learn more about how adopters of cloud computing have effectively reduced the risks of implementing cloud models. Here to share the story on this journey, we're joined once again by Adam Beavis, General Manager of Cloud Services at Thomas Duryea in Melbourne, Australia.
The question that many organizations keep coming back with is whether they should do cloud computing.

Welcome back, Adam.

Adam Beavis: Thank you, Dana. Pleasure to be here.

Gardner: Adam, we've been talking about cloud computing for years now, and I think it's pretty well established that we can do cloud computing quite well technically. The question that many organizations keep coming back with is whether they should do cloud computing. If there are certain risks, how do they know what risks are important? How do they get through that? What are you in learning so far at TD about risk and how your customers face that?

Beavis: People are becoming more comfortable with the cloud concept as we see cloud becoming more mainstream, but we're seeing two sides to the risks. One is the technical risks, how the applications actually run in the cloud.

Moving off-site

What we're also seeing -- more at a business level -- are concerns like privacy, security, and maintaining service levels. We're seeing that pop up more and more, where the technical validation of the solution gets signed off from the technical team, but then the concerns begin to move up to board level.

We're seeing intense interest in the availability of the data. How do they control that, now that it's been handed off to a service provider? We're starting to see some of those risks coming more and more from the business side.

Gardner: I've categorized some of these risks over the past few years, and I've put them into four basic buckets. One is the legal side, where there are licenses and service-level agreements (SLAs), issues of ownership, and permissions.

The second would be longevity. That is to say, will the service provider be there for the long term? Will they be a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants organization? Are they are going to get bought and maybe merged into something else? Those concerns.

The third bucket I put them in is complexity, and that has to do with the actual software, the technology, and the infrastructure. Is it mature? If it's open source, is there a risk for forking? Is there a risk about who owns that software and is that stable?
One of the big things that the legal team was concerned about was what the service level was going to be, and how they could capture that in a contract.

And then last, the long-term concern, which always comes back, is portability. You mentioned that about the data and the applications. We're thinking now, as we move toward more software-defined data centers, that portability would become less of an issue, but it's still top of mind for many of the people I speak with.

So let's go through these, Adam. Let's start with that legal concern. Do you have any organizations that you can reflect on and say, here is how they did it, here is how they have figured out how to manage these license and control of the IP risks?

Beavis: The legal one is interesting. As a case study, there's a not-for-profit organization for which we were doing some initial assessment work, where we validated the technical risk and evaluated how we were going to access the data once the information was in a cloud. We went through that process, and that went fine, but obviously it then went up to the legal team.

One of the big things that the legal team was concerned about was what the service level agreeement was going to be, and how they could capture that in a contract. Obviously, we have standard SLAs, and being a smaller provider, we're flexible with some of those service levels to meet their needs.

But the one that they really started to get concerned about was data availability ... if something were to go wrong with the organization. It probably jumps into longevity a little bit there. What if something went wrong and the organization vanished overnight? What would happen with their data?

Escrow clause

That's where we see legal teams getting involved and starting to put in things like the escrow clause, similar to what we had with software as a service (SaaS) for a long time. We're starting to see organizations' legal firms focus on doing these, and not just for SaaS -- but infrastructure as a service (IaaS) as well. It provides a way for user organizations to access their data if provider organizations like TD were to go down.

So that's one that we're seeing at the legal level. Around the terms and conditions, once again being a small service provider, we have a little more flexibility in what we can provide to the organizations on those.

Once our legal team sits down and agrees on what they're looking for and what we can do for them, we're able to make changes. With larger organizations, where SLAs are often set in stone, there's no flexibility about making modifications to those contracts to suit the customer.

Gardner: Let's pause here for a second and learn more about TD for those listeners who might be new to our series. Tell us about your organization, how big you are, and who your customers are, and then we'll get back into some of these risks issues and how they have been managed.

Beavis: Traditionally, we came from a system-integrator background, based on the east coast of Australia -- Melbourne and Sydney. The organization has been around for 12 years and had a huge amount of success in that infrastructure services arena, initially with VMware.
Being a small service provider, we have a little more flexibility in what we can provide to the organizations.

Other companies heavily expanded into the enterprise information systems area. We still have a large focus on infrastructure, and more recently, cloud. We've had a lot of success with the cloud, mainly because we can combine that with a managed services.

We go to market with cloud. It's not just a platform where people come and dump data or an application. A lot of the customers that come into our cloud have some sort of managed service on top of that, and that's where we're starting to have a lot of success.

As we spoke about in part one, our customers drove us to start building a cloud platform. They can see the benefits of cloud, but they also wanted to ensure that for the cloud they were moving to, they had an organization that could support them beyond the infrastructure.

That might be looking after their operating systems, looking after some of their applications such as Citrix, etc. that we specialize in, looking after their Microsoft Exchange servers, once they move it to the cloud and then attaching those applications. That's where we are. That's the cloud at the moment.

Gardner: Just quickly revisiting those legal issues, are you finding that this requires collaboration and flexibility from both parties, learning the road that assuages risks for one party, but protects the other? Is this a back and forth activity? This surely requires some agility, but also some openness. Tell me about the culture at TD that allows you to do that well.

Personality types

Beavis: It does, because we're dealing with different personality types. The technical teams understand cloud and some love it and push for it. But once you get up to that corporate board level, the business level, some of the people up there may not understand cloud -- and might perceive it as more of a risk.

Once again, that's where that flexibility of a company like TD comes in. Our culture has always been "customers first," and we build the business around the longevity of their licenses. That's one of the core, underlying values of TD.

We make sure that we work with customers, so they are comfortable. If someone in the business at that level isn't happy, and we think it might have been the contract, we'll work with them. Our legal team will work with them to make sure we can iron that out, so that when they move across to cloud, everybody is comfortable with what the terms and conditions are.

Gardner: Moving toward this issue of longevity -- I suppose stability is another way to look at it -- is there something about the platform and industry-standard decisions that you've made that helps your customers feel more comfortable? Do they see less risk because, even though your organization is one organization, the infrastructure, is broader, and there's some stability about that that comes to the table?

Beavis: Definitely. Partnering with VMware was one of our core decisions, because their platform everywhere is end-to-end standard VMware. It really gives us an advantage when addressing that risk if organizations ask what happens if our company doesn't run or they're not happy with the service.
It's something that SaaS organizations have been doing for a long time, and we’re only just starting to see it more and more now when it comes to IaaS.

The great thing is that within our environment -- and it's one part of VMware’s vision -- you can then pick up those applications, and move them to another VMware cloud provider. Thank heaven, we haven't had that happen, and we intend it not to happen. But, for organizations to understand that, if something were to go wrong, they can move that to another service provider without having to re-architect those applications or make any major changes. This is one area where we're well getting around that longevity risk discussion.

Gardner: Any examples come to mind of organizations that have come to you with that sort of a question? Is there any sort of an example we can provide for how they were reducing the risk in their own minds, once they understood that extensibility of the standard platform?

Beavis: Once again, it was a not-for-profit organization recently where that happened. We documented the platform. We then gave them the advice of the escrow organizations, where they would have an end-to-end process. If something were to happen to TD, they would have an end-to-end process of how they would get their data, and have it restored on another cloud provider -- all running on common VMware infrastructure.

That made them more comfortable with what we were offering, the fact that there was a way out that that would not disappear. As I said, it's something that SaaS organizations have been doing for a long time, and we’re only just starting to see it more and more now when it comes to IaaS and cloud hosting.

Gardner: Now the converse of that would be that some of your customers who have been dabbling in cloud infrastructure, perhaps open-source frameworks of some kind, or maybe they have been integrating their own components of open-source available software, licensed software. What have you found when it comes to their sense of risk, and how does that compare to what we just described in terms of having stability and longevity?

More comfortable

Beavis: Especially in Australia, we probably have 85 percent to 90 percent of organizations with some sort of VMware in their data center. They no doubt seem to be more comfortable gravitating to some providers that are running familiar platforms, with teams familiar with VMware. They're more comfortable that we, as a service provider, are running a platform that they're used to.

We'll probably talk about the hybrid cloud a bit later on, but that ability for them to still maintain control in a familiar environment, while running some applications across in the TD cloud, is something that is becoming quite welcoming within organizations. So there's no doubt that choosing a common platform that they're used to working on is giving them confidence to start to move to the cloud.

Gardner: Do you have any examples of organizations that may have been concerned about platforms or code forking -- or of not having control of the maturity around the platform? Are there any real-life situations where the choice had to be made, weighing the pros and cons, but then coming down on the side of the established and understood platform?

Beavis: More organizations aren’t promoting what their platform is, and we’re not quite sure that it could be built on OpenStack or other platforms. We're not quite sure what they're running underneath.

We've had some customers say that some service providers aren’t revealing exactly what their platform is, and that was a concern to them. So it's not directed to any other platforms, but there's no doubt that some customers still want to understand what the underlying infrastructure is, and I think that will remain for quite a while.
As they are moving into cloud for the first time, people do want to know what that platform sitting there underneath is.

At the moment, as they are moving into cloud for the first time, people do want to know what that platform underneath is.

It also comes down to knowing where the data is going to sit as well. That's probably the big one we’re seeing more and more. That's been a bit of a surprise to me, the concerns people certainly have around things like data sovereignty and the Patriot Act. People are quite concerned about that, mainly because their legal teams are dictating to them where the data must reside. That can be anything from being state based or country based, where the data cannot leave the region that's been specified.

Gardner: I suppose this is a good segue into this notion of how to make your data, applications, and the configuration metadata portable across different organizations, based on some kind of a standard or definition. How does that work? What are the ways in which organizations are asking for and getting risk reduction around this concept of portability?

Beavis: Once again, it's about having a common way that the data can move across. The basics come into that hybrid-cloud model initially, like how people are getting things out. One of the things that we see more and more is that it's not as simple as people moving legacy applications and things up to the cloud.

To reduce that risk, we're doing a cloud-readiness assessment, where we come in and assess what the organization has, what their environment looks like, and what's happening within the environment, running things like the vCenter Operations tools from VMware to right-size those environments to be ready for the cloud.

Old data

We’re seeing a lot of that, because there's no point moving a ton of data out there, and putting it on live platforms that are going to cost quite a bit of money, if it's two or four years old. We’re seeing a lot of solution architects out there setting those environments before they move up.

Gardner: Is there a confluence between portability and what organizations are doing with disaster recovery (DR)? Maybe they're mirroring data and/or infrastructure and applications for purposes of business continuity and then are able to say, "This reduces our risk, because not only do we have better DR and business continuity benefits, but we’re also setting the stage for us to be able to move this where we want, when we want."

They can create a hybrid model, where they can pick and choose on-premises, versus a variety of other cloud providers, and even decide on those geographic or compliance issues as to where they actually physically place the data. That's a big question, but the issue is business continuity, as part of this movement toward a lower risk, how does that pan out?

Beavis: That's actually one of the biggest movements that we’re seeing at the moment. Organizations, when they refresh their infrastructure, don’t see the the value refreshing DR on-premise. Let the first step cloud be "let's move the DR out to the cloud, and replicate from on-premises out into our cloud."

Then, as you said, we have the advantage to start to do things like IaaS testing, understanding how those applications are going to work in the cloud, tweak them, get the performance right, and do that with little risk to the business. Obviously, the production machine will continue to run on-premises, while we're testing snapshots.
DR is still the number one use case that we're seeing people move to the cloud.

It's a good way to put a live snapshot of that environment, and how it’s going to perform in the cloud, how your users are going to access it, bandwidth, and all that type of stuff that you need to do before starting to run up. DR is still the number one use case that we’re seeing people move to the cloud.

Gardner: As we go through each of these risks, and I hear you relating how your customers and TD, your own organization, have reacted to them, it seems to me that, as we move toward this software-defined data center, where we can move from the physical hardware and the physical facilities, and move things around in functional blocks, this really solves a lot of these risk issues.

You can manage your legal, your SLAs, and your licenses better when you know that you can pick and choose the location. That longevity issue is solved, when you know you can move the entire block, even if it's under escrow, or whatever. Complexity and fear about forking or immaturity of the infrastructure itself can be mitigated, when you know that you can pick and choose, and that it's highly portable.

It's a round-about way of getting to the point of this whole notion of software-defined data center. Is that really at heart a risk reduction, a future direction, that will mitigate a lot of these issues that are holding people back from adopting cloud more aggressively?

Beavis: From a service provider's perspective it certainly does. The single-pane management window that you can do now, where you can control everything from your network -- the compute and the storage -- certainly reduces risk, rather than needing several tools to do that.

Backup integration

And the other area where the venders are starting to work together is the integration of things like backup, and as we spoke about earlier, DR. Tools are now sitting natively within that VMware stack around the software-defined data center, written to the vSphere API, as we're trying to retrofit products to achieve file-level backups within a virtual data center, within vCloud. Pretty much every day, you wake up there's a new tool that's now supported within that.

From a service provider's perspective it's really reducing the risk and time to market for the new offerings, but from a customer's perspective it's really getting in that experience that they used to. On-premise over a TD cloud, from their perspective, makes it a lot easier for them to start to adopt and consume the cloud.

Gardner: One last chance, Adam, for any examples. Are there any other companies that you would like to bring up that illustrate some of these risk-mitigation approaches that we've been discussing?

Beavis: Another one was a company, a medical organization. It goes back to what we were saying earlier. They had to get a DR project up and running. So they moved that piece to the cloud, and were unsure whether they would ever move any of their production data out. But six months after running DR in the cloud, we just started to provide some capacity.

The next thing was that they had a new project, putting in a new portal for e-learning. They decided for the first time, "We've got the capacity seeing over in the cloud. Let's start to do that." So they’ve started to migrate all their test and dev environment out there, because in their mind they reduced the risk around the up time in the cloud due to the success that had with the DR. They had all the statistics in reporting back on the stability of that environment.

Then, they became comfortable to move the next segment, which was the test and dev environment. And all things are going well. That application will run out of the cloud and will be their first application out there.
We have the team here that can really make sure we architect or build those apps correctly as they start to move them out.

That was a company that was very risk averse, and the DR project took a lot of getting across the line in the first case. We'll probably see that, in six to eight months, they're going to be running some of their core applications out of the cloud.

We'll start to see that more and more. The customers’ roadmap to the cloud will move from DR, maybe some test and dev, and new applications. Then, as that refresh comes up to the on-premise, they would be in a situation where they have completed the testing for those applications and feel comfortable to move them out to the cloud.

Gardner: That really sounds like an approach to mitigating risk, when it comes to the cloud, gradual adoption, learn, test, and then reapply.

Beavis: It is, and one of the big advantages we have at TD is the support around a lot of those applications, as people move out -- how Citrix is going to work in the cloud, how Microsoft Exchange is going to work in the cloud, and how their other applications will work. We have the team here that can really make sure we architect or build those apps correctly as they start to move them out.

So a lot of customers are comfortable to have a full-service service provider, rather than just a platform for them to throw everything across.

Gardner: Great. We've been discussing how a leading Australian IT service provider, Thomas Duryea Consulting, has made a successful journey to cloud computing. This sponsored second installment on how a variety of risks associated with cloud adoption have been identified and managed, comes via a three-part series on how TD designed, built and commercialized a vast cloud infrastructure built on VMware.

We've seen how, through a series of use case scenarios, a list of risks has been managed. And we also developed a sense of where risk as a roadmap can be balanced in terms of starting with disaster recovery and then learning from there. I thought there was really an interesting new insight to the market.

So look for the third and final chapter in our series soon, and we'll then explore the paybacks and future benefits that a cloud ecosystem provides for businesses. We'll actually examine the economics that compel cloud adoption.

With that, I’d like to thank our guest Adam Beavis, the General Manager of Cloud Services at Thomas Duryea Consulting in Melbourne, Australia. This was great, Adam. Thanks so much.

Beavis: Absolute pleasure.

Gardner: And of course, I would like to thank you, our audience, for joining as well. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Thanks again for listening, and don't forget to come back next time for the next BriefingsDirect podcast discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: VMware.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how a stepped approach helps an Australian IT service provider smooth the way to cloud benefits at lower risk for its customers. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2013. All rights reserved.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

HP Premier Services Closes Gap Between Single Point of Accountability and Software Sprawl

Transcript of a sponsored podcast on HP's latest integrated IT support services, the HP Software Premier program.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and 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?

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.

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.

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.

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."

Business outcomes

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.

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.

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?

Two dimensions

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.

We make anything and everything to do with the back end -- infrastructure, upgrades, and all of that -- completely transparent to the customer.

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.

Complete transparency

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?

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.

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.

In my view, and in HP Software’s view, this is a fairly groundbreaking solution.

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.

Customer choice

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.

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.

Eswaran: Absolutely.

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.

Limited launch

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.

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.

Smaller companies

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.

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.

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 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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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Remote Support Offers Enterprises Avenue to Cut Operations Costs While Improving IT Systems Reliability

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast with HP’s Dionne Morgan and Claudia Ulrich on remote support services and value.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on the need to better monitor, resolve, and automate the ongoing performance of IT systems in enterprises.

The trend around using remote support for monitoring, remediation, and maintenance automation is gaining steam in the global IT market. We expect that as these companies become even more cost conscious, they will seek to reduce their total cost of IT operations, and that remote support, best practices, and effective use cases will become even more prominent.

The goal is to free up on-premises IT personnel to focus on what they do best and to offload routine and potentially unproductive chores to organizations that specialize in these tasks, and can do them at high efficiency. We are going to hear from executives of Hewlett-Packard (HP) on how remote support works and how current users benefit from improved systems analytics and higher productivity through remote support IT services.

Here to provide the inside story on remote support is Dionne Morgan, worldwide
marketing manager in HP Technology Services. Welcome to the show, Dionne.

Dionne Morgan: Thank you.

Gardner: We're also joined by Claudia Ulrich, communications manager in Delivery Engineering at HP. Welcome, Claudia.

Claudia Ulrich: Thank you.

Gardner: Let's start by taking a look at why remote support software and services makes sense, now perhaps more than in the recent past, especially due to economic pressures. Dionne, what's the reason that remote support makes more sense now?

Morgan: As we know, IT organizations are under tremendous pressure today to help the business achieve three key business outcomes. Those include accelerating business growth, reducing cost, and mitigating risk to the business. What we've found in our research, as well as in our discussions with customers, is that IT is spending approximately 65 percent of its budget on maintenance.

For example, at many companies IT managers are discovering that simply maintaining and administrating their existing infrastructure is now one of their major expenses, and we believe there's several reasons why this is the case.

One reason is that far too much time has been spent by their staff on managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting their IT infrastructure. Obviously, this can be very expensive in both time and money. Too often, there's increased risk and unplanned downtime, which lead to an inability to meet those business objectives and achieve those business outcomes. We're also finding that system complexity is adding to the problem.

In today’s IT environment there is an abundant infrastructure, be it hardware or software, and keeping track of all this infrastructure is a daunting task. When a problem occurs in the infrastructure, finding the source and the nature of the problem, and then coming up with the resolution, can also be a daunting task.

Gardner: What is the problem set? We're seeing this all from a technology standpoint. It's clear to me how the economics work, but what are the technology issues that remote support is addressing?

Morgan: It could be anything from actual hardware failure and trying to detect exactly where within the system the failure has occurred to a need for additional memory or additional hard drive space. Those are some of the typical problems that our customers are facing, and those are the problems where you can automate the process of identifying the nature of that problem and coming up with the solution.

Gardner: I suppose we're looking, in a sense, for needles in haystacks, as well as for elephants in the room. It's a contextual set of problems.

Morgan: That's right.

Gardner: Let's go to Claudia. Claudia, tell us what the analysis and remote monitoring requirements are? How do companies start taking advantage of remote support and what do they need to do? What do they need to put in place to get started?

Ulrich: Our remote support solution is offered to customers free of charge as part of their warranty, HP Care Pack Service, or contract obligation.

They're moving from traditional phone-in support and on site delivery to automated event reporting. This is also called "phone home" capabilities. Adding to customers' manageability solution the ability to monitor the complete enterprise environment by automatically submitting incidents to the support provider increases the level of services, which in return improves availability and reduce service cost for the customer.

On one side, we have HP Systems Insight Manager (HP SIM), which is a unified management platform to manage server and storage environment. By adding our solution, which is called Remote Service Pack (RSP), we can enhance HP SIM with remote-event diagnosis and automatic submission of hardware-event modification, which is securely sent to HP.

At the same time, the customer already knows what's going on with this environment, so that we can also report back the case status, as well as the case ID.

Gardner: Just to be clear. This is not necessarily just HP hardware, right? This is a panoply of different products that are supported?

Ulrich: That's correct. We're looking at the complete, heterogeneous IT environment. This includes servers, storage, network, not only from HP, but also from selected vendors like IBM and Dell servers, as well as Brocade and Cisco switches.

Gardner: Are we talking about labor costs or we are talking about scale in terms of why this makes sense from an economic standpoint. It seems to me that when I speak to operators, they have to pick and choose quite carefully where they put their personnel. They always seem to be behind the eight ball in terms of having enough people to manage all of the issues that they're confronted with. How would something like remote support help them better manage their personnel? Let's go to Dionne for that one.

Morgan: One reason this helps to manage personnel is because it's going to be constantly monitoring the environment 24/7. Even at the end of the day, when the staff goes home, the system is still monitoring and it helps to filter the actual events that are coming through, so that the IT organization can prioritize which of those events they need to take action on.

It's actually removing some of the mundane task of troubleshooting and prioritizing the events or the incidents. It also helps, because it reduces the amount of time they have to spend on the phone. When an event is detected, that event is sent back to the HP Support Center, so that the troubleshooting can begin. So, gone are the days when they would have to make a frantic phone calls to the support center. That process is being automated for them.

Gardner: It seems as if a quite of bit of the triage, the leg work, the background preparation, and maybe some context or automated processes have already kicked off, long before that phone calls or message goes out to the on-site person and gives him a head start on the problems solution process.

Morgan: That's right. If they think that our service technicians need to come on site, we’ve automated the process as well, where they don't have to pickup the phone and request an engineer. We can do an automatic dispatch, as needed.

Gardner: In that case, you might have someone already on premises who's been sent there and is working on the problem, and in some instances no local intervention might be necessary at all?

Morgan: That's right.

Gardner: How does this match up against the larger IT support trends and issues? We're talking about next-generation data centers, using more blades, and increasing utilization through the use of virtualization. How does this IT services and remote support approach align with, support, or augment this notion of the modernization of the data center? Let's go to Claudia on that, please.

Ulrich: Remote support is a critical piece of establishing the next-generation data center. HP has defined six enablers to build this next generation data center, and RSP can definitely contribute to these enablers. Just to mention two of them, automation as well as management of the complete data infrastructure. It also plays a critical role in establishing and operating this next-generation data center by capturing the attention of the IT industry, requiring a stable environment, and accommodating the changes as needed.

It's important to customers that they can monitor and manage all of their IT equipment, not just on a particular service, but also across the whole holistic environment. They have really one thing or solution that integrates with their business processes, and not the other way around, where they have to adjust the remote support processes.

We're really looking at this one foundation to enable consolidation and modernization of data centers, and also to be able to transition between the two, using a common management system, which we have with HP SIM. This also includes industry trends toward virtualization, as well as blade, and cloud computing, as they evolve. The RSP is already designed to accommodate those business needs.

Gardner: You mentioned cloud, and that's been a hot topic lately. It certainly seems that, at some level, organizations are going to be having more hybrid types of acceptance and utilization of services coming from a variety of cloud, host, or partner infrastructures.

It seems to me that not only solving a problem becomes important, but also identifying whose problem it is becomes more and more important over time. Is there something in the way that remote support and HP's methods work that could help in this hybridized environment, where we need to find out whose problem it is, before we can even get into the solution? How do you feel about that?

Morgan: With RSP, because we are able to monitor and troubleshoot not only the HP infrastructure, but also some other third party infrastructure, that can actually help with the troubleshooting.

For example, what we have found with customers is that, when they are using these remote support tools, they're actually able to reduce the amount of time they spend in troubleshooting by 20 percent and they're also able to increase the accuracy of the diagnosis by over 99 percent. So, with these remote support tools, if they're monitoring the heterogeneous environment that Claudia talked about, that will actually speed up the process of troubleshooting and isolating the problem.

Gardner: Let's get into a little detail about the actual view into these issues. Is there a management console? Does this align with some of the existing IT management tools, the dashboards and consoles that might be in use? This is an integration question. How does remote support integrate into existing IT management functions and tools? How about to you, Claudia?

Ulrich: RSP is offered as a plug-in to HP SIM, so it serves as the central console of managing the complete customer’s IT environment. It's offered to customers during HP SIM installation, and it's centrally hosted on the same dedicated servers and fully integrates into the view of HP SIM. This means the customer can use HP SIM, but he can also access the service attributes and the remote support functionality, as introduced by the RSP plug-in.

Gardner: How are these outputs then delivered? Do you have a choice among a Web service, an RSS feed, or communications? What are the various ways in which end user organizations can be on the receiving end of what remote support offers?

Ulrich: In the HP SIM view, the customer will have access to his complete IT infrastructure. They can already see what kind of servers, storage devices, and network devices that they have in their environment. In addition to this, they can see all the event information, including information about failing parts, the corrective actions, as well as the replace number, including their location, and even access to streaming videos.

They can also configure HP SIM to receive corrective notification, when an event is detected, and automatically submitted to HP, so that they can always understand what is happening in their IT infrastructure, and they keep control, because this is really important for customers. They like the benefits and they appreciate the benefit, but, at the same time, they always want to understand what is happening in their IT infrastructure.

Gardner: Let's look at some examples of how this works, and perhaps some metrics about how companies have saved money or increased their performance and the quality. Let's go to Dionne on that. Do you have some case studies or enterprise use-case scenarios where this has been used, and what kind of paybacks are they getting?

Morgan: Yes, RSP is being used by many HP enterprise customers. These customers represent some of the world's leading companies across many business sectors, including retail, banking, manufacturing, healthcare, and so on. All of these customers have been demanding solutions to help them increase their return on investment (ROI).

RSP is helping them to reduce their operational cost. As I mentioned before, based on customer experience and research we have done with many of these enterprise accounts, they actually have been able to reduce the amount of troubleshooting time by 28 percent, and increase the accuracy of their diagnosis by over 99 percent.

This has allowed them to get to a resolution faster, which means that it's going to help the end users get back to accessing the business services that they need. So, yes, we have thousands of enterprise customers who are using remote support today, and they are across all of the industry.

Gardner: How does this help on a compliance level? Are there some companies out there that are using this to help them with their compliance, regulatory issues, reporting issues, or audits? Then, what does this bring to the table for those organizations that themselves are acting like service bureaus, perhaps they have adopted Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), and need to have certain service-level agreement (SLA) requirements met. So, how about compliance and service-level agreements? Back to you, Dionne.

Morgan: In regard to compliance, the way that this can help customers is by having that single view of their environment. If they have to keep track of what's included in their environment and infrastructure, this is going to help them, because they do have a full view and they are able to better manage that. That really helps in terms of compliance.

From a security perspective, this gives customers the flexibility to integrate these remote support processes into whatever security policies and procedures they actually have in place. So, this will comply with the security practices that they need in order to achieve their compliance.

Gardner: That's right, because this involves access to some sensitive systems.

Morgan: That's right, and it's highly secured. It's using industry-standard security protocols. In regard to service management, remote support and especially RSP, supplies some critical pieces to a company's service management model. Incident management, asset management, and continual service improvement are some of the key examples.

If you think about ITIL and the fact that we have a lifecycle that includes strategy, design, transition, operation, and continued service improvement, this is going to help to automate many of those support processes that you need on an ongoing operational basis and incident management. They can assist with help desk management and asset management. Our solution is designed to help customers in the phases of service management, especially focused on operations and continued service improvement.

Gardner: Back to you, Claudia. How should companies know if they're good candidates for this? Are there certain costs that they're incurring or downtime levels that they're suffering? Who are the people who should be saying, “Wow! I've got these key indicators. I should be looking for outside remote support for that sort of assistance?”

Ulrich: As Dionne indicated earlier, all IT organizations are under tremendous pressure to help the business achieve the business outcomes, and this is to accelerate business growth, meaning making better use of people and resources. This is enabled by using automated support processes to operate 24X7, so that the customer's IT staff can really focus on their core business activities, but, at the same time, control how remote support is integrated to enhance support processes.

Another business driver is reducing costs. For example, at many companies, IT managers understand that ongoing administration and maintenance of their existing infrastructure consumes most of the IT budget. There are several reasons why this is true. Much staff is needed in order to manage and monitor the whole infrastructure, as well as troubleshooting IT issues. This can be definitely expensive, in both time and money. Remote support can definitely contribute to this. Last, but not least, it also mitigates the risk to the business. This means to invest in solutions that help reduce unplanned downtime, which leads to an inability to meet business objective.

Gardner: Well, I think we have a much better much understanding of what remote support means, do you have any sense of the future direction? Are there other IT function sets that will fall under this umbrella? Is there an expanding trend toward the inclusion of technologies and infrastructure?

Morgan: I believe that down the road we'll see an expansion of the products that are covered by remote support. We'll begin to look at the total environment, in addition to the infrastructure. We'll also see organizations looking at how to automate processes, how to help with monitoring and troubleshooting applications. So, yes, we do believe that down the road there will be an expansion of the coverage.

Gardner: We've been talking about how to better monitor, and resolve, and automate ongoing performance of IT systems in enterprises. I want to thank out panelists, we have been talking with Dionne Morgan, worldwide marketing manager in HP Technology Services. Thank you so much, Dionne.

Morgan: You're welcome.

Gardner: And also, Claudia Ulrich, communications manager on the Delivering Engineering Team at HP. Thank you so much, Claudia.

Ulrich: Thank you.

Gardner: 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. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast with HP’s Dionne Morgan and Claudia Ulrich on HP remote support services. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.