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ITinvolve Blog

Archive for August, 2012

The Future of IT Operations – Principle 5: Access to the collective knowledge of people is a fundamental imperative for operational success

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

This is part six of  a six part series from our CEO – Logan Wray

Principle 5: Access to the collective knowledge of people is a fundamental imperative for operational success

We believe that to operate IT with the utmost efficiency and least risk, IT professionals need to operate within a context where everyone is responsible for the accuracy of his own key information, and accountable for sharing it with the rest of stakeholders involved in a specific problem or issue. That means designing a tool where individual IT team members are responsible for the content and accuracy of the data surrounding their role and responsibilities. This is not to say that all current information sources are not utilized. Rather, a single environment is needed to effectively capture that information such that it is effectively utilized by all those that need it

The Future of IT Operations – Principle 4: Enable IT individuals and teams to collaborate in context

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

This is part five of  a six part series from our CEO – Logan Wray

Principle 4: Enable IT individuals and teams to collaborate in context

Much is being made of the social media revolution we are experiencing in the workplace these days, making it difficult to separate fact from hype. We heard that IT professionals don’t necessarily need more chatter in their IM or email in-box. Instead, they want to collaborate and exchange information in the context of a specific issue at hand. They told us how important it is to cut out all the extraneous noise so each team member can follow and participate in a discussion thread related to a specific problem important to that individual and his/her role.

The future of IT operations will be shaped by In-context collaboration that leverages familiar social media-style formats but is focused on specific channels of communication around the things they care about.

While everyone agrees about the benefits of collaboration, IT professionals need a more practical means to collaborate with each other virtually. They don’t have time to sit on the phone for hours in mind-numbing reviews of changes or struggle with locating the right people to bring together to address an incident or problem. They need to be automatically notified when a change, incident or issue affects something in their area of responsibility.

The future of IT operations will be shaped by In-context collaboration that leverages familiar social media-style formats but is focused on specific channels of communication around the things they care about. This is the only effective way to help ensure all the right people are effectively communicating in the specific context of the issue, without extraneous noise or chatter. Giving each stakeholder the ability to review related information, including in-context comments from all participants combined with relevant analysis and visualization, would go a long way to streamlining decisions, and helping responders resolve incidents and make decisions more quickly and effectively.

Just as important, these collaborative engagements with other stakeholders need to be recorded and captured for reference in the future so that collective knowledge builds over time and lessons learned through first-hand experience can be shared with others down the line so they never have to be re-learned.

Stay tuned for Principle 5: Access to the collective knowledge of people is a fundamental imperative for operational success

Never sit through another three-hour CAB meeting again

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

We’ve all been there.  Stuck on the phone while reviewing a seemingly endless list of changes that have to be approved.  Knowing we could be doing a lot of other things more that need our attention.  That’s why ITinvolve for Change Management is so appreciated by our customers.  It lets them avoid those marathon CAB meetings for good.

That’s because they now have a tool that enables their staff to review and collaborate on proposed IT changes in advance—anywhere, at any time.  ITinvolve lets you review and discuss changes, conflicts and sort out issues to smooth and streamline the change review and approval process—saving you tons of time and effort.

Here’s a screen capture example of a communications string that shows how reviews and approvals can take place online at any time through a “virtual CAB” type of review.

 

See how you can make your change review and approval process easier, faster and more effective with ITinvolve for Change Management.  Check out our Change Lifecycle Manager under the product section of our web site and watch the short video that helps explain how it works.

 

The Future of IT Operations – Principle 3: Present intelligent and relevant analysis to stakeholders automatically

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

This is part four of  a six part series from our CEO – Logan Wray

Principle 3: Present intelligent and relevant analysis to stakeholders automatically

Current service desk tools simply do not have the analytic functionality needed to present information required by IT professionals to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively today. What is needed is a way to take the collective knowledge of individuals and data sources involved, analyze the relationships and dependencies related to a specific issue, and then provide the relevant information to the IT operations users to help them make better decisions.

Service management tools need to stop making IT users spend valuable time searching for information among multiple sources, and then forcing them to spend even more effort to sort out and analyze key information once they’ve found it. Rather, the tool itself should help each IT professional analyze key relationships and dependencies and then automatically present this information to stakeholders.

By presenting users with key information through a concept that we call Active Knowledge Delivery, appropriate stakeholders are automatically alerted to the potential impact of incidents or changes and brought into the discussion, helping them resolve operational tasks with unprecedented speed. This kind of capability—one that IT professionals could only dream of until now— would be able to bring the analysis and knowledge necessary to improve the performance of operational tasks to the right people at the right time, in the context of their specific role or job.

Stay tuned for Principle 4: Enable IT individuals and teams to collaborate in context

The Future of IT Operations – Principle 2: Find better ways to see the IT environment and how it relates to others

Monday, August 27th, 2012

This is part three of  a six part series from our CEO – Logan Wray

Principle 2: Find better ways to see the IT environment and how it relates to others

One of the key advantages that humans can use to assess and solve problems is the ability to visualize. White boarding or drawing a picture is often the fastest and clearest way to understand relationships and dependencies in a very complex situation. IT operations is no exception.

IT team members would benefit enormously from being able to see relevant relationships and quickly understand the dependencies and potential impacts from a variety of perspectives.

IT professionals told us they are looking for better ways to see their entire IT environment from their particular point of view, without having to sketch it out in VISIO every few weeks as it evolves and changes. And, just as important, they want a way to look at what is going on from the point of view of other colleagues and stakeholders who share the IT environment.

To genuinely grasp and manage the complexity of today’s constantly evolving, highly diverse and complex IT environments, IT professionals need better ways to visualize the vast array of evolving relationships between systems, applications, services, policies, people, physical or virtual devices, or functional areas. When assessing and resolving incidents, searching for the root causes of problems, or proposing changes, IT team members would benefit enormously from being able to see relevant relationships and quickly understand the dependencies and potential impacts from a variety of perspectives.

Stay tuned for Principle 3: Present intelligent and relevant analysis to stakeholders automatically

The Future of IT Operations – Principle 1: Capture all kinds of knowledge for better understanding

Friday, August 24th, 2012

This is part two of  a six part series from our CEO – Logan Wray

Principle 1: Capture all kinds of knowledge for better understanding

In conversations with hundreds of IT professionals, we heard that IT team members working in complex environments needed a better understanding of critical dependencies and relationships when responding to incidents, resolving problems and making changes. Too often the knowledge supplied by current service management tools was fragmented, incomplete, out of date and simply not trustworthy.

The IT Ops professional now and in the future needs easier access to knowledge (both structured and unstructured information) without having to spend hours searching for it.

We also discovered that every team member possesses sources of information and expertise about managing his or her particular realm that serve them well as an individual but are not always shared or available to the wider team. Whether its access to a CMDB or special database, detailed VISIO diagrams of a particular application or service, or simply a sharp memory in recalling a relevant incident from the past, IT professionals use a wide range of knowledge to accomplish tasks and solve problems every day—much of it outside of the scope of their existing service management tools.

Therefore, the IT Ops professional now and in the future needs easier access to knowledge (both structured and unstructured information) without having to spend hours searching for it. This knowledge should not be required to conform to any one particular source, nor should it depend on purely auto-discovered content. IT professionals need a kit where they are provided the right information fast, tapping into all kinds of sources, so they can leverage the key information best suited to the issue at hand.

Stay tuned for Principle 2: Find better ways to see the IT environment and how it relates to others

The Future of IT Operations – Five principles to empower IT professionals

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

This is a six part series from our CEO – Logan Wray

Embracing the human element

There is a fundamental disconnect in IT operations these days between the service management tools provided and the needs of IT professionals who use these tools. That’s because most IT operations and service management tools have been busy trying to eliminate the human element by focusing on automating processes and refining existing technology. Perhaps this approach is a result of attempting to eliminate human errors. Or perhaps it is an attempt to save money. But, although automation is critical, we believe that the knowledge and human element is equally critical to IT operations

The vast majority of existing tools have hit a wall when it comes to handling the diversity and complexity of today’s social enterprise with its mix of new technologies and newly empowered users. The market needs new and innovative solutions.

One result of current approaches is IT professionals often waste lots of time searching for information they need, not trusting much of the information they find, and spending considerable effort trying to locate, communicate with, and extract key information from colleagues or other stakeholders to do their job.

This situation has unfortunately become “normal” operating procedure in many IT departments. And, it is to a large extent a reflection of the vested interests by major and minor service management vendors on promoting the legacy architectures they have built in the past. There has been a striking lack of appreciation for how IT teams actually have to deal with the challenges they face every working day, including responding to incidents, resolving problems, and anticipating or reacting to the impact of changes in an environment where they must meet increasing business demands and assume more risk.

That’s not to say that their existing tools don’t work to document what occurs. Rather, the problem stems from the expectation of users that their legacy tools should be able to provide more value in today’s world. Tools originally designed to be a “system of record” cannot effectively take advantage of modern communication paradigms, nor are they designed to provide analysis to users to gain better insights or anticipate problems. The vast majority of existing tools have hit a wall when it comes to handling the diversity and complexity of today’s social enterprise with its mix of new technologies and newly empowered users. The market needs new and innovative solutions.

While some recent attempts have been made to “tack on” social media functionality into existing service desk tools along with admonitions to “collaborate” more, these are relative band aids when it comes to fixing the real problem. Until now, no one has really understood or developed a flexible yet scalable solution that can holistically combine the necessary people, process and technology elements into a new way of understanding and managing their current, highly complex IT environments. Until ITinvolve.

At ITinvolve, we turned the current obsession with process and technology in IT ops on its head, and put the human or people component front and center in the proverbial people-process-technology equation. In doing so, we’ve developed a solution that is designed to capture both the human and machine knowledge necessary to understand our complex, hybrid, and distributed environments. A tool that actually helps the humans involved to improve decision making by providing intelligent analysis and combining it with collaboration processes in the context of a specific issue or problem. Just as important, we’ve made sure this new tool integrates with existing infrastructure investments so there’s no need to rip and replace.

In creating this unique cloud service offering called ITinvolve for Service ManagementTM, we developed our solution according to several key principles that we believe will drive—are driving— the future of all IT operations.

Stay tuned for Principle 1: Capture all kinds of knowledge for better understanding

Compliance and Security

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

 

The ITinvolve solution not only helps from a change management perspective—but it also helps the compliance and security groups. A lot of the times the security groups in an IT environment tend to receive criticism because they come after the fact, late in the process, to basically assess all the risk they see associated with a change. And part of the problem is that they have no view into what’s happening around changes. They don’t have an avenue to relate the concerns and risks they see until a CAB meeting; in many cases, that’s the first time they’re hearing about these changes, so of course they’re going to react and of course they’re going to be concerned about it.

With the ITinvolve solution, one of the cool things we created was Perspectives. In a Perspective, a security or compliance person can group the policies around technology objects so that they have a view into how, through a change, you could move yourself out of compliance to a particular regulation. As a change owner tries to work through a change, the security people will be automatically brought into visibility of the change, and they’ll see whether the change has anything to do with the policies they care about. And this way, if they have a concern, they can collaborate with the change owner at that moment, early on, instead of right before a decision is made. So from a compliance sense, Perspectives gives the peace of mind to the change owner of knowing that the security team has also looked at their changes and blessed them, and now they’re not wondering if they’re going to run into an issue at the end of the approval process. It’s a win-win situation, and it’s an example of how tools should enable people to work together rather than create separations between teams.

Improving Effectiveness and Efficiency

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

We’ve heard from many companies that the change approval process needs to be more effective and efficient. At ITinvolve, we believe that the change approval process should be based on effective impact analysis. A lot of companies in large environments are approving hundreds of changes on a weekly basis, in some cases involving hundred people in marathon meetings. In these meetings they often review ever change in detail to help reduce the amount f problems that occur from changes implemented—we knew there had to be a better way.

The simple solution was to stop forcing everything to these change meetings. We wanted to take the information about changes and the opinions from people that could be affected by the change, and make that information readily available in a simple view where the change owner could understand the position of all the stakeholders who could be impacted. That meant that CAB members who have approval power could see that information—the position of all the stakeholders as well as the change manager himself—and at that point there is no need to wait for everything to be part of that meeting.

At any time when stakeholders agree that impact has been properly assessed, changes can be approved—and this can be done on-line. This makes IT staff more productive, eliminates unnecessary costs and makes the overall change approval process more effective.

Understanding IT change impacts for dummies

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Assessing the potential impacts of a proposed change to your IT environment is a constant challenge for IT professionals.  Fortunately ITinvolve for Change Management makes it easy for everyone.

Our Change Impact Analyzer functionality lets you quickly and effectively assess how a proposed change will affect other related objects in your IT environment…things like physical devices, to various regulatory, security, or compliance policies, to applications and business services, and even other stakeholders.

  • Identifies all of the key relationships between objects, including physical, logical, regulatory, compliance, and related business services
  • Identifies all of the impacted stakeholders for automatic notification, enabling proper collaboration to occur before the change is made
  • Displays upstream and downstream impacts to physical objects
  • Automatically analyzes risks of a proposed change, including business services impacted, security requirements and compliance concerns using patent-pending technology
  • Identifies and notifies users of change collisions

Take a look at this short video to get a better idea of how we can help you assess the potential impact of a change before you implement it.