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Streamlining Service Management to Achieve Cost Savings Targets

By Reginald Lo

ReginaldLo-cropIT departments continue to face aggressive cost saving targets.  During the recent recessions, many IT departments did not just “cut the fat” but they have also “cut into the bone.”  How can IT cut more?  Every stone must overturned to find even more cost saving opportunities.  A legitimate question is, “how does Service Management help achieve the cost saving targets?”

To answer this question, there are a number of perspectives that will help:

  1. How does Service Management directly save costs?
  2. How do we reduce the cost of Service Management?
  3. How do we change the conversation around Service Management so the Business becomes more interested in maximizing the value of IT Services as opposed to minimizing the cost of IT services?

This discussion is focused on cost savings so we will investigate the first two perspectives.

How does Service Management directly save costs?
The adoption of mature Service Management processes can improve productivity and (let’s be honest as to what Executives are looking for) opportunities for reducing head-count:

  • Reducing the re-work.  The biggest cause of re-work is failed changes.  Better Change Management, Release and Deployment Management, and Testing and Validation, can reduce this largest contribution to waste.  Configuration Management can enable Change Management and make it more effective.
  • Reducing the fire-fighting. Many organizations do not realize the high cost of constantly fire-fighting.  Fire-fighting pulls resources from strategic project work so there are the direct costs to fight the fire as well as the indirect opportunity costs that the projects must bear.  In contrast, a proactive approach, giving people time to think strategically and plan reduces the number of fires and frees the resources that were fighting fires.  Being proactive means emphasizing, among many other things,  the Service Design processes, Event Management, Problem Management and Continual Service Improvement.  Another not well recognized cost of fire-fighting is the impact on the Business.  Fires, by its very nature, do not just create costs and inefficiencies within IT but also create costs (real and opportunity costs) for the Business.  So a reduction in fire-fighting will help IT as well as the Business.
  • Consistent adoption of efficient and effective processes. Too often, processes vary across the organization: different teams follow different processes, different individuals perform processes differently, there are differences between geographic regions, between different legacy organizations (due to the history of mergers and acquisitions), and between different services that IT provides.  If an organization identifies/defines the best practices for its organization and ensures consistent adoption, the organizations as a whole will experience a productivity boost.

How do we reduce the cost of Service Management?
Many of the cost saving arguments for Service Management have been discussed before.  However, a “dirty little secret” is that Service Management is sometimes the cause of “non-value-added” cost to the organization.  This is not the fault of Service Management framework but of an adoption that does not focus on business value.

If you hear comments like “I spend more time writing up a Change record then implementing the Change,” there are probably many cost saving opportunities within Service Management to:

  • Streamline processes and make the more efficient
  • Remove bureaucracy and administrative “busy work”
  • Remove overlapping controls, e.g., between Change and Release
  • More efficient use of tools that support Service Management

Another way of finding to reduce the cost of Service Management is to analyze who is doing what activity within each process.  For example:

  • Can the activity be performed by a less expensive resource?  What training and tools can we provide the less expensive resource so they can be successful at the same tasks as the more experienced / more expensive resources?
  • Can the activity be off-shored (again to a less expensive resource) in a way that we can still keep the process coherent?

To ensure Service Management is not causing a burden to the organization, you need metrics to measure the cost and value of each process.

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Reginald Lo is Director of Service Management Transformation with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in California.

Transforming Your Business with End-User Computing

By Daryl Bishop

Daryl Bishop-cropIn my last blog, I talked about the need for a common definition around what constitutes transformation within the IT organisation. In this follow-up post, I’ll discuss the VMware approach to an end-user computing (EUC) transformation.

First a recap, for an initiative to be truly transformational it must satisfy the criteria of change across the elements of people, process, and technology. Additionally, it should be aligned to business objectives and have clear benefits.

If we look at the typical EUC environment today, it’s transitioning from a rigid environment based on a desktop or laptop running a Windows operating system to one that is application and data-centric rather than device-bound. This has some profound transformational impacts for business and IT.

Today’s End-User Computing Environment
Let’s first take a closer look at the EUC environment found in most organisations today.

BISHOP-EUCAs shown in the diagram above, staff have historically used either a laptop or desktop as a primary device. This device, running Windows as the operating system, is locked down at the configuration layer with applications installed natively. This stack forms your traditional and very common standard operating environment (SOE) model. Coupled with the SOE, the EUC ecosystem included printers, isolated (not integrated) mobility devices, and finally an identity management authentication and authorisation component.

This model served us well, providing control, standardisation, and management of risk. However, the rise of the consumerization of technology, a modern IT-literate workforce, ubiquitous access to applications, the decreased usage of the Windows operating system, and the always-connected Internet means this model is, at best, inflexible and, at worst, irrevocably broken.

The Transformed End-User Computing Environment
So what does a transformed EUC environment look like? In the diagram below, the focus has been abstracted from the devices to the application and data access layer.

BISHOP-EUC2

Let’s look at each layer in a bit more detail to better understand the benefits of removing the focus on devices and elevating it to the application and data access layer:

  • Business layer
    Business is typically not just a single entity: It consists of your internal business and external B2B organisations that collectively form your business ecosystem. While your business will provide a core service, in the future it’s likely that smaller, more nimble organisations like start-ups will utilize your core business services and APIs to provide customers with innovative products. Your applications and data will not just be consumed internally, but also by external organisations as business-to-business transactions.
  • Application delivery platform
    The application delivery platform is a standardised access point where your consumers will access applications, data, and desktops. The key features of this abstracted application access layer are:

    • Device independence
    • Centralized management via policy
    • Auditable access and usage
    • Accessed over secure channels
    • Simplified ease of use

Where security and control was traditionally applied at the device and operating system level, it is now abstracted to the application and data access layer.

  • Lightweight device management
    In this context, lightweight management means the minimal IT controls necessary to manage devices, primarily for security reasons. While rigid, locked-down control has historically been the norm, in the transformed environment only lightweight controls are applied. For example, mobility devices use mobile application management (MAM) containerisation to ensure IT can remotely wipe or lock access only to the corporate container. Data, applications, virtual desktop access, and security controls are now applied at the application delivery platform layer via centralized policy controls.

Finally does this constitute a transformation? Let’s review the impact through the lens of people, process, and technology:

  • People
    A modernised EUC environment is a catalyst to elevate staff from traditional, task-based to knowledge creation activities using the productivity platform that best suits their work style. By unleashing staff from the rigid model of yesterday, staff exercise increased creativity, providing a real point of competitive differentiation through innovation.
  • Process
    The traditional EUC environment is awash with layers of process to manage a monolithic computing stack. From processes to deploy applications and patches to service desk support, they add complexity with many moving parts to manage. Shifting the focus to the application delivery platform with lightweight management of devices introduces policy-controlled automation and simplified management controls.
  • Technology
    Businesses today struggle with BYOD, security, and management. By abstracting the management to the access layer, BYOD becomes a moot point. IT is no longer concerned, apart from connectivity, about what device is being used. Security is applied where it should be, at the application and data layer. Finally, management is focused on controlling access to data and applications via policy, rather than managing a desktop and laptop stack.

I’ve really just scratched the surface of what constitutes an EUC transformation. The role of unified communications, changing work practices such as activity based working, the software-defined enterprise, and the changes to the IT organisational structure to support the transformed environment — can and should be significant components of a transformation program.

I’d be interested in your view from the trenches. What EUC initiatives do you have planned and how are they transforming your business?
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Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.

VMworld-graphicCheck out the VMworld 2014 Operations Transformation track for opportunities to hear from experienced VMware experts, practitioners, and the real-world experiences of customers transforming their IT infrastructure and operational processes.

Beyond Hype: Transforming IT to Deliver Faster Time to ROI

By Ed Hoppitt

ED HOPPITT-cropPhil Richards, Customer CTO for British Telecom’s global arm, BT Global Services, acts as customer champion and provides thought leadership, direction, and strategy to deliver both technical and commercial elegance to his customers.

As part of the extended VMware team partnering with BT, I’ve been working with Phil’s team to help identify opportunities for transformation — not just in the technology space but also people, process, and governance into the team’s key accounts. Phil took some time out for us recently to talk about his business and his relationship with VMware.

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Ed Hoppitt is a VMware Accelerate Advisory Services business solutions architect and CTO Ambassador and is based in the U.K. Follow him on Twitter @edhoppitt