By Joe DePasquale
It is not uncommon for organizations to end up with “shelfware” – software that was purchased with good intentions, but never fully utilized, maybe never even deployed. One of the responsibilities of the VMware technical account manager (TAM), is to help customers prevent software from becoming shelfware.
One of my customers, a large regional bank in the northeast, has owned vRealize Operations for a few years now; they originally purchased vCenter Operations Manager. At the time, they bought it to gain additional insight into the environment, for troubleshooting purposes. The bank selected it over other products because of the trending analysis of data to eliminate the false positives of other systems. The customer also liked the integration features of VMware products, additional insight offered by plug-ins, and the advantage of vRealize Operations analytics to help understand long-term trending and capacity planning, for making better IT budgeting decisions.
Although the installation of this product is very easy, no one at the bank took ownership of the project. The bank installed and licensed the product, and it was collecting data, but it was never operationalized – so it was also “collecting dust.”
Nobody likes to waste an investment
As an Enterprise TAM on the account, I am engaged on-site twice a week. I always kept vRealize Operations Manager on the bank’s to-do list. I provided the customer with updates on new features and told them how others were using the product for troubleshooting and other things. The reminders and information I provided did not fall on deaf ears. Management at the bank knew they had a tool that was underutilized, and that a new role on the engineering team now had to be filled.
Breaking down silos/internal selling
About a year ago, there were some organizational changes at the bank. One of these changes was the creation of a capacity management team, who had particular interest in tools that could assist them with forecasting infrastructure needs. It was time to start the internal campaign.
Having multiple tools in an organization is nothing new. IT organizations often struggle to reign in tools that have accumulated over time. The VP of the bank’s virtualization team and I were in sync. A new hire, Dan, was appointed to the engineering team to take responsibility for the tool.
Now it was time to talk to the new VP of capacity planning. It wasn’t difficult to convince management to utilize a product the bank already owned and that covered over 80% of their current environment (at the time). It was an easy conversation to have. I just asked them to have a look, and they agreed. Dan held a session, showing the GUI and available reporting, and management decided to utilize vRealize Operations Manager as a capacity planning tool for the bank.
Bringing it to the next level
Now that there was interest and a person responsible for the engineering of the product, it was time to take it to the next level. Customized reporting responsibility was given to the capacity management team. Every environment is different, and those who work in the environment every day have a pretty good sense of what cluster utilization should be. The out-of-the-box report needed to be tweaked just a little. They needed insight and guidance on how those capacity reports are realized (pun intended).
As their TAM, I was able to get a couple of private sessions with an SME to drill into their environment. Jason Gaudreau, a good friend from VMware’s Tech Marketing team, was willing to assist. On his website, www.jasongaudreau.com, Jason has a lot of useful reference information, but it is the TAM Program that gives customers that personal touch with an SME.
I was also able to share a few customized dashboards to assist with troubleshooting. Customized dashboards are a great way to find particular information you want to see when you are looking at the health or performance of a workload or application stack.
The bank had just begun to tap the potential of this powerful tool. Next steps were to start incorporating plug-ins from various third-party vendors to get additional insight on hardware, storage and networking. We also started to utilize the features of Infrastructure Navigator and Configuration Manager.
Today, their environment is over 90% virtualized, so it is more important than ever to have access to the operational and capacity insight of the environment. As we move forward on our SDDC journey, we will use this partnership as a template for other products that meet IT and business needs.
Joe DePasquale is a Team Lead / Staff Technical Account Manager and a 2016 vExpert based in Buffalo, New York. Joe has worked with several large Enterprise customers over his past 4 years at VMware. Previously Joe held an IT Leadership position at a large financial institution.