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Trends and opinions for improved IT service management and client management

Posted By: Anonymous
27 Mar 2015

By Steve Brasen

EMA, Managing Research Director - Enterprise, Mobile & Endpoint Management

IT operations managers are cringing all around the world – desperately avoiding those inevitable words from their executive management, “you need to support enterprise mobility.” The concerns are understandable. After all, IT administrators are already over-taxed with supporting desktop, server, application, and infrastructure management requirements. Asking them to layer a whole new management discipline on top of that can be a daunting prospect. IT managers finding themselves in this predicament often recognize it as an opportunity to practice the fine art of procrastination. Particularly skilled procrastinators will employ one or more of the following excuses:

  • · We don’t have the money
  • · We don’t have the time

· We don’t have administrative staff knowledgeable in managing mobile technologies

While this avoidance strategy has proven successful in many organizations, it is, in fact, only a temporary solution. Smartphones and tablets, whether supplied by a business or brought in by employees, have become commonplace in organizations across all major industry verticals. According to EMA research, 89% of all business professionals rely on a mobile device to regularly perform job tasks, requiring broad but secure access to business applications, data, and other services. Typically of greater urgency, however, is when the CEO receives a gold-plated smartphone for his birthday and wants to use it to access business resources to impress his friends while awaiting his turn on the 16th hole at the local golf club. At that point, the jig is up, and the need to deliver full enterprise mobility management (EMM) is inevitable. But this doesn’t necessarily mean IT managers must surrender to stretching their already exhausted administrative resources. After all, the purpose of procrastination is ultimately to minimize efforts (though poorly executed procrastination my actually back-fire and increase work challenges). The secret to successfully satisfying EMM requirements while at the same time reducing administrative efforts is the introduction of IT management efficiencies.

Traditional endpoint lifecycle management processes (i.e., PC management) commonly involve the complete control and management of desktops and all installed software components from initial deployment through final retirement. This approach is possible in an environment supporting a single architecture (such as Window PCs) but attempting to apply this to the broadly heterogeneous deployments necessary to support workforce mobility is tantamount to drinking the proverbial ocean. Instead, organizations should not attempt to control the entirety of the endpoints and instead focus on the optimal and secure delivery of business IT services (applications, data, email, etc.). This is not to say the devices themselves should no longer be managed, but monitoring and administration tasks should be limited to just the configuration elements necessary to secure and run business services. This approach substantially reduces the amount of required support effort while empowering end users with the ability to perform unfettered personal tasks on their devices (e.g., Candy Crush, Minecraft, and watching amusing cat videos). The secure delivery of business IT services is further simplified by introducing three core mobile management capabilities:

Automation – Any repeatable process can be automated, and the more that are, the less mundane day-to-day activities there are that need to be performed by operations. Commonly automated tasks for EMM include software provisioning, asset discovery, application/email configuration, and data loss prevention.

Role-Based Management – By categorizing users and their devices into logically segmented groups based on the users’ job function or role (i.e., accountants, salesmen, developers, etc.), a common set of profiles can be established defining access privileges, configurations, and application availability. Often, these groups are already identified in a listing service, such as Active Directory. In this way, on-boarding new users requires little, if any, administrator interaction as all settings have already been predefined.

User Self-Service – One unprecedented aspect to enterprise mobility is that employees overwhelmingly prefer self-service. This should be encouraged. By consolidating enterprise resources onto a centralized service catalog or app store, users are empowered to select and install the software element most critical to their job function. And the beauty of it is that they achieve this without having to interact with IT administrators.

So clearly, EMM practices do not need to be a challenge to adopt at all – even for the most ardent procrastinator. In fact, I would argue that the recognition achieved from introducing a service that mostly manages itself far outweighs the relatively minor efforts required for its implementation. And, of course, no price can be placed on the value of rescuing the CEO from the embarrassment of cell phone inadequacy at an informal executive summit.

Download the Whitepaper to learn more .

Posted By: Anonymous
24 Mar 2015

By Jim Frey, EMA

As with many new technologies, there are downsides and upsides to the whole cloud revolution. On the downside there is a long list of challenges that prevent the full promise of cloud from being achieved. But the upsides are significant, particularly from the cost and agility perspectives, and benefits are strong enough to warrant continued efforts to find the path to success. In order to fully appreciate the options for success, EMA’s recently published white paper titled Delivering Effective Service Automation through Cloud Technologies examines both the challenges and opportunities at hand.

As documented by EMA, some of the top challenges with the move to cloud have been security concerns, lack of staff expertise, difficulty understanding application performance, and issues onboarding/adapting legacy applications for the cloud environment. Other than the specific challenges of adapting existing applications to the cloud environment, these issues aren’t so very different from the challenges faced when deploying any IT environment. Traditionally, each of these issues would be taken on and solved using a mix of training, tools, and external services over time. But therein lies the rub. Cloud is supposed to be fast and agile, and no one wants to take the time required to do things the old way.

However, there is hope for addressing these challenges within a parallel initiative that EMA has been following among enterprise IT teams. While trying to get cloud up, working, and delivering results, IT organizations are also looking for broader techniques to automate services and bridge the gaps between technology silos. This same strategy should be applied to cloud, and in many cases this approach is being catalyzed by cloud projects themselves. In order to avoid creating even more silos that require their own expertise and management tools, cloud platforms must be integrated with existing infrastructure and work processes, and automation is the key.

Time and time again, EMA research has found that organizations that embrace automation are able to best optimize the business value and ROI of cloud services. And automation becomes even more critical when dealing with the growing use of complex hybrid environments, where systems are partly hosted on premises and partly on public or private clouds.

So how can the cloud be leveraged for automating service management? The quickest way is to use the cloud itself to host and serve automation solutions, typically using a SaaS approach. And along the way, EMA has found two important decision points. First, mixed/hybrid deployments must be supported. It might be desirable to maintain local hosting for some service management features while choosing the cloud for others. Most critical here is preserving choice and flexibility so every organization can mix and match components and hosting techniques to meet its own specific needs and objectives. Second, service management solutions must embrace and support the multi-cloud reality. Enterprise organizations already live in a world of multiple public/private and internal/external clouds. Only by embracing this reality can service management successfully play its intended role as the “glue” between heterogeneous hybrid cloud infrastructure components.

Cloud is not the only answer for the future of IT, but it certainly has become an essential building block and can serve as a much-needed catalyst for change. IT teams should take advantage of the drive towards cloud to rethink and adjust management strategies by leveraging service automation. Not only will automation improve results for mixing cloud and traditional services, it’s likely that the many promises of cloud will remain unreachable without it.

For more information on Cloud-based Service Automation, check out:

http://www.heatsoftware.com/heat/solutions/service-automation

- See more at: http://blogs.enterprisemanagement.com/jimfrey/2015/02/27/cloud-deliverin...

Posted By: Jim Blayney
17 Mar 2015

In today’s digital age, companies increasingly utilize various external platforms to store and access corporate data. In fact, according to Forbes magazine more than half of all companies in the United States now use some form of cloud computing to conduct daily operations. Executives communicate via email on smartphones, employees access corporate systems on laptops from various locations, and documents are reviewed from home with provisioned tablets. Any one of these devices could contain sensitive company data that would result in a valuable loss of time and money should information be compromised. It’s therefore imperative that today’s company—large or small—take appropriate measures to secure and retrieve corporate data across provisioned devices. But how can companies best protect such widespread data? The answer now lies with service automation.

Service automation relies on the deployment of a series of automated actions that conduct quick remediation when data loss is reported. Let’s say that a sales executive accidently left her smartphone while in transit to a client’s office for a business meeting. The smartphone contains private company emails, financial information, client records and much more that a company must keep confidential. Without her phone, the executive is confined to conducting work in the office on a personal computer; yet, the nature of her job demands that she work off-site multiple days a week. She’s therefore challenged to mitigate the numerous potential consequences of this situation, and quickly.

With service automation, this executive would be able to immediately report the lost phone to her company’s service catalog, which would then provide her access to locate, secure and even wipe sensitive information from her phone. Right from the service catalog, she can also order a new phone and once the new phone arrives restore all previous data and applications, ensuring an expedient return to business as usual.

Compared to the extended process of a manual response to data loss, which involves reporting the issue to the company service desk, creating a task to be sent to the IT department, completing a manual phone replacement order, and reporting back to the service desk, service automation presents companies with a clear advantage. With service automation, downtime is minimal, other departments remain focused on accomplishing company goals, and corporate data is secured.

View our service automation infographic here.

Posted By: Jim Blayney
27 Feb 2015

All companies strive to integrate new employees as quickly and seamlessly as possible, as a smooth onboarding process allows for greater productivity and overall cost efficiency. The sooner an employee is equipped with the devices, access, and information he or she needs, the sooner meaningful work can begin. Effective onboarding is also important because a company that fails to afford new hires an easy transition provides a poor first impression of corporate operations and imposes unnecessary delays and challenges, both of which can affect new hire retention rates.

Employee onboarding has traditionally been conducted using manual methods; however, this approach is no longer optimal as it requires the coordination of multiple departments that a hiring manager must each depend on to be timely and efficient.

For example, using manual onboarding methods, when a manager hires a new employee he or she will first need to notify the company’s human resources department. The human resources manager will then email other relevant departments, such as finance, IT, and facilities, to prepare for a new employee. Each department will in turn create relevant onboarding tasks to complete; the IT department will need to order and configure a new laptop, tablet or smartphone, the finance department will need to add the employee to the company payroll, and the facilities team will need to begin set-up of a new workstation. Each of these tasks could take multiple days to complete, and only once all are reported back to the HR department is the new employee ready to begin work.

So what does a more effective approach to onboarding look like? Onboarding can now be completed in significantly less time with innovative service automation. Using service automation software, a hiring manager will submit a “new employee setup request” which will automatically implement a hardware and software profile for the employee based on his or her position within the company. Required software applications will be automatically provisioned to each new device, and once completed the company’s service desk will confirm that each of these automated tasks meet service level agreements. From there, the service desk will ensure that the employee’s devices and access are running optimally, and the new hire is ready to begin work!

View our service automation infographic here.

Posted By: Anonymous
13 Feb 2015

By Steve Brasen

EMA, Managing Research Director - Enterprise, Mobile & Endpoint Management

Have you ever tried to create a major slide presentation on a tablet? Or edit a large spreadsheet? Or write a long document? Probably not. While it’s certainly possible to perform more substantial business tasks on a tablet, the small screen real estate and limited system resources (e.g., processing speed, memory, graphic support, etc.) are typically insufficient in current tablet form factors. However, carrying a laptop around with you everywhere you go just so you can access email is not very practical either. The reality is that we live in a multi-device world where the average worker employs 3 – 5 different computing devices in the regular performance of their job function. . . . and I would argue that’s exactly how it should be. Each user employs the device they prefer to optimally perform tasks at any particular time or place.

From an IT management perspective, though, supporting an increasing number of disparate devices creates a number of challenges. Where previously IT administrators only needed to support one or two PC platforms (Windows and Mac), now they must also manage a wide variety of mobile environments (e.g., iOS, Android, BlackBerry, etc.) and a diverse set of device architectures. Making matters worse is the fact that mobile management platforms were principally developed independent of PC management platforms. Recognizing this deficiency, IT management vendors are taking steps to introduce Unified Endpoint Management solutions that provide support for all managed endpoints from a single console interface.

2015 is poised to be a landmark year in the introduction of Unified Endpoint Management capabilities. Here are the top 5 currently trending solutions and best practices being adopted to enable unified PC and mobile management:

  • Integrated Management Console – Administrators should be able to access all PC and mobile management resources from a single console interface. This minimizes support efforts, reduces training requirements, and enables consolidated reporting and alarming across all managed devices.
  • Consolidated Role-Based Access – Essential to simplifying and standardizing administrative practices is the ability to manage collective groups of end users. Role-based access allows administrators to create profiles for groups of users based on their job role (e.g., accountants, sales managers, marketers, developers, etc.). Profiles that identify access privileges and configuration settings for both PC and mobile devices should reference a common set of user roles. One way of achieving this is to leverage roles that have already been defined in a centralized listing service, such as Active Directory, that is directly accessible by each management platform.
  • Establishing a Common Workspace – Users are most productive when they are able to access the same resources in the same way on different devices. Current methods for achieving this include virtual desktops that are accessible on all user devices, web-hosted workspace environments that are accessible from any device with an HTML browser, and workspace policy engines that automatically install and configure compatible applications on endpoint devices to provide consistent user experiences.
  • Mutually Accessible Data Repositories – In most organizations, business-critical data is distributed across enterprise servers and clients and must be accessed via a variety of different processes depending on the type of device being used. Lacking simple and effective methods for transferring files and data records, users most often resort to employing unsecured email or an external resource (such as Dropbox) in order to transfer a file from one device to another. Providing a common and secure data repository that is easily accessible from all device types ensures users are able to rapidly access data files without violating business requirements.
  • Standardized User Self-Service – Today’s more technology-oriented users prefer to be self-sufficient in the employment of their computing resources. Standardized services for provisioning applications and accessing business services should be enabled for all supported devices to establish consistent and easily performed user practices. Not only will this empower end users with control over how their devices are used, it will also minimize the amount of effort IT administrators must invest in performing mundane day-to-day operations.

Collectively, the introduction of these trending capabilities lays the foundation for true Unified Endpoint Management. Looking further out than 2015, future trends can be expected that create unified user polices for both PC and mobile devices. Also, common application and workspace containers will be enabled for both platforms. Ultimately, we will cease to differentiate between PC and mobile management altogether. Instead, IT administrators will employ one set of management practices and automation tools to seamlessly provision, support, and secure business resources on every endpoint in exactly the same way. In the meantime, EMA highly recommends organizations seeking to adopt a mobile management platform look for solutions that are focused on delivering key elements for enabling Unified Endpoint Management.

Posted By: Jonathan Temple
12 Feb 2015

Today marks an important new chapter in the evolution of service and unified endpoint management with the merger of FrontRange and Lumension. The two companies are merging to form HEAT Software and I’m thrilled to be heading the newly formed organization as CEO. I should hasten to add that the new company will feature a blended management team with executives from both organizations.

By bringing together the two leaders of hybrid service management and unified endpoint management solutions under one “roof”, HEAT Software is going to be a force to reckon with.

For starters, HEAT Software is now backed by the financial strength of private equity firm Clearlake Capital Group who initiated this merger with the acquisition of FrontRange. Clearlake had the foresight to merge their portfolio client Lumension with FrontRange to form an organization that is going to transform the service management and UEM landscape.

HEAT Software now has a combined 350 employees and thousands of customers worldwide. And that means the newly created organization, with business operations worldwide, has the breadth and depth to scale R&D, product development, customer service, sales and marketing operations on an entirely new level.

So, what’s the motivation for the merger? As part of our growth strategy, we see a clear opportunity to become the leading provider of hybrid service management and unified endpoint management software solutions. To do so requires a strategy to merge with or acquire complimentary companies that offer solutions and services that help fill out our portfolio in support of our mission to be a dominant player in these fast growing markets. We will continue to look for new products, services, solutions and partners that can help us achieve our goal.

FrontRange's merger with Lumension represents an important step in support of this vision. As a global leader in endpoint management and security, Lumension helps businesses protect their vital information and manage critical risk across network and endpoint assets. These capabilities dovetail perfectly with FrontRange’s service and client management technologies that are part of a service automation initiative that will transform how enterprises achieve greater efficiency in delivering uninterrupted IT and workflow processes across business units.

Posted By: Mareike Fondufe
26 Jan 2015

A company’s service department can experience a number of unexpected challenges on any given day. Maybe network service is lagging, customers are having difficulty accessing their accounts, or an internal employee discovers that his tablet is no longer working. These types of service challenges are no doubt problematic, but are far less cumbersome when resolved with the help of Service Automation software, which can automate and streamline solutions to technical problems. Compared to addressing IT issues in a manual system, service automation saves time, expense, and increases overall efficiency.

Take for example the dilemma a company’s Vice President of Sales experiences upon discovering that a price quote cannot be modified in his Excel spreadsheet. The Vice President knows that this modification must be made as soon as possible to continue work and further a positive relationship with his client. To ensure that this is possible, with service automation software the Vice President of Sales would log on to his company’s online Self-Service portal, receive an article from the Self-Help database that recommends the reinstallation of the Excel program, initiate an automatic reinstallation which is in line with the company’s compliance guidelines and the software will fully automatically complete the task. In total, this procedure could take just minutes to complete.

If we consider a manual solution, which would involve calls to a support desk, manual lookups, emails and additional phone verifications, there’s no doubt that service automation is the most streamlined approach to resolving software issues expediently. Ultimately, when it comes to solving a technical problem, the fewer manual interactions involved, the less chance of delays and setbacks that could continue to halt production and decrease customer satisfaction.

See how service automation makes a difference by viewing our infographic, here.

Posted By: Anonymous
07 Jan 2015

By: Dennis Drogseth

EMA VP of Research

If you think that ITSM is static and old hat, think twice. A huge number of innovations are just emerging—some have been a long time in coming; while others are unexpected surprises—as analytics and automation are changing the ITSM game dramatically.

Here are some trends that I’ve seen in 2014 that I expect will grow in importance in 2015. Some may explode into prominence, but I expect most will continue to rise more gradually into industry consciousness, which is typical of the more profound transformations versus those that enjoy a chic but shallow industry cachet.

· As the role of IT is changing to become a more front-office (as opposed to back-office) presence, ITSM will become a yet more critical part of that transformation. Why is this? ITSM can become a new center for IT insights, governance, automation, and analytics to come together with a fully human voice, capturing vital perspectives on real user experience and sharing them with development and operations. But to do so, ITSM will have to change in its technology adoption priorities, as indicated in the following discussions.

· Mobile, wireless, and social IT will become a yet more important part of that transformation—as end-point awareness becomes ever more critical in delivering, sustaining, and optimizing IT services. Critical “areas to watch” in 2015 include: managing and optimizing endpoints as performing assets while cultivating the powers of enhanced GUI designs, mobile and social IT to promote improved service interaction.

· Automation will be one of the biggest game changers for ITSM, with the potential to impact virtually every other “game-changer” here. While ITSM is traditionally viewed in terms of “service desk,” as it evolves it will reach out through automation and analytics to include operations, and even development, far more proactively. This is true whether we’re talking about configuration automation, more advanced workflows, runbook or IT process automation, or other automation investments.

· Perhaps nowhere will automation become more conspicuous than in the changing role of change management (including release and configuration management) from slow, laborious, and fragmented manual processes to more streamlined and yet more service-aware capabilities. In 2015, I predict that automation, service modeling, and analytics will begin to come together in new ways, with far less overhead than in the past—transforming not only ITSM but service management even more broadly. This will be one area in 2015 where agile, DevOps, and ITSM will begin to converge.

· None of the above will work, however, without attention to governance, process, dialog, and business alignment. Fragmented, piecemeal automation can result in train wrecks, while cloud computing is adding ever more options that need to be assessed for performance, usage, capacity, and costs. ITSM will begin to play a role as an interactive center for that dialog in 2015, at least in some IT environments, with a new face and a new look.

Does all this sound like wishful thinking?

Maybe, but I’ve already seen good evidence supporting everything here.

I’m also holding myself accountable, as we’ll be doing some unique research beginning in January—looking at the future of ITSM. If the data proves me right, or even if it proves me wrong, I promise you’ll hear from me when the results are in some time in February.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to disagree (vehemently, if need be) or cheer me on. Or otherwise add or comment. I very much welcome the conversation.

Posted By: Jim Blayney
29 Dec 2014

Enterprise has long-anticipated the advent and integration of the “Internet of Things,” a concept which refers to the projected rise of interactive, independent internet devices, so transformative it will usher in a new era for enterprise. Among its many revolutionary aspects, the “Internet of Things,” (IoT), will allow more objects to be represented digitally and controlled remotely, affecting how companies provide customer service, conduct system management, oversee IT networks, and much more. The widespread application of the IoT is forecasted to monumentally change the way in which companies engage in business and secure revenue.

The good news is that the “Internet of Things” has already arrived. Devices with internet connections currently far surpass the total population of humans on earth, and according to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, there will be approximately 50 billion internet-connected devices by the year 2020. As implementation of the IoT increases through “Smart Solution Networks,” applied by progressive enterprises around the world, if your enterprise hasn’t considered capitalizing on the IoT, the time to do so is now.

Existing Smart Solution Networks

While at present the “Internet of Things” may be best known for affording a new level of personal convenience through smart refrigerators and Wi-Fi thermostats, the IoT offers enterprises equal convenience and efficiency with potential for greater revenue. For example, a healthcare system is an example of how a “Smart Solution Network” can improve both the quality of customer service and enterprise efficiency. Through an integrated system of multiple, interactive internet devices, which include servers, tablets and desktops, the rapid flow of communication and information between doctors, staff and patients essential to its operations can now be conducted more quickly and accessibly. Such also results in greater attention given to patients and less time conducting routine administrative tasks.

The Need for Effective Service Management

However, while there’s abundant opportunity for profit and customer connectivity, a “Smart Solution Network” can also present enterprises with challenges in terms of IT service management software, automation and remediation. Why? In a healthcare system, for example, meeting regulation compliance and affording optimal efficiency to patients requires the help of an effectively managed “Smart Solution Network” that can seamlessly coordinate things like the simultaneous use of virtual electronic medical records, automatic submissions of health insurance, and automatic responses to staff requests.

An optimally managed “Smart Solution Network” is also one that offers lifecycle management with software and hardware that is simplistic, secure, and most importantly, scalable. The IoT demands a new level of flexibility for enterprises, which means any service management solution must be able to enact changes swiftly and simply. According to a recent survey conducted by KPMG, 20 percent of global technology business leaders saw the complexity of the IoT as a barrier to embracing its network; a truly effective “Smart Solution Network” management system will eliminate any such complexity with automated processes, easy provisioning capabilities and more.

A “Smart Solution Network” with a robust, highly flexible service management software solution, built on IT best practices, will afford enterprises the ability to make more informed decisions, increase productivity, reduce costs, and ultimately offer customers a higher quality of service.

Posted By: Anonymous
19 Dec 2014

By Steve Brasen

EMA, Managing Research Director - Enterprise, Mobile & Endpoint Management

Reflecting on my earlier career in IT management, I have to confess to a level of astonishment at how naïve IT administrative practices were just a decade or two ago. Failure events were common, and most organizations just accepted as immutable fact the reality of systemic firefighting. IT services critical to business operations were all too often held together with little more than a hope and a prayer. Sure, my colleagues and I were acutely aware of the importance of performing “root cause analysis” and implementing proactive management practices, but who had the time for that? The inevitability of business pressures, support limitations, and time constraints most often contributed to sustaining a mantra of “just get it working and move on!”

At the core of these deficiencies was the unfortunate fact that administrators principally relied on manual process and a few ad hoc scripts to perform support tasks. This approach is inherently inefficient as it is eminently time consuming and fraught with human errors and inaccuracies. Nowhere is this shortcoming seen more keenly than in the inability to perform effective change management. Nearly all IT failures can be attributed to an unforeseen problem with a planned or unplanned change. Relying on manual processes for implementing changes will always result in an elevated number of failure incidents and exceptionally long resolution times.

The recently published EMA white paper, “ Effective Change Management: Maximizing IT Reliability Through Service Automation ,” outlines best practices for adopting service automation to support change processes. Also revealed in the paper are the key business values achieved by automating change management, which can be summarized in five areas:

  • Ensures Consistent Implementations – By standardizing the execution of change processes, all deployments are performed in a predictable manner, reducing incidents of human error.
  • Achieves SLA & Compliance Goals – Automated monitoring processes continuously identify and report on any performance issues or potential problems that may impact user or business productivity.
  • Reduces Time-to-Resolution – Automation enables instant reporting on out-of-compliance changes as well as continuous performance monitoring to promptly alert administrators when incidents occur, enabling rapid remediation times.
  • Enables Proactive Management – Automation, in conjunction with analytics, identifies potential problems before they impact business production and performs root cause analysis, ensuring failure events do not recur.
  • Minimizes Costs – Resource optimization and capacity planning enabled by automation increase the life of existing asset investments while enabling new investments to be right-sized to meet business requirements. Operational expenses are also reduced as fewer administrators are empowered to perform a greater number of tasks.

Change in IT is persistent as both technologies and business requirements are constantly evolving. But change does not need to be a painful and challenging experience. With the strategic application of automation, any change process can be simplified and made more reliable and cost effective—transforming chaotic, reactive IT operations into predictable, proactively managed environments.

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