Executive IT Perspectives: Continuing the conversation on service brokerage and catalog sprawl

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Guest post by Sherry Ramm, ITSM marketing consultant

 

I recently sat down with Joseph Kim, Business Leader for HP Propel. Today I want to share the rest of our conversation where we discuss the history of catalog consolidation in the marketplace and what makes HP Propel different.  If you missed the first part of our conversation, where we discussed what drives his passion and how Propel helps solve some of the problems associated with IT and catalog sprawl. I encourage you to read the first part here if you missed it.



What should IT be looking for in a catalog solution?  How can they avoid the pitfalls?

 

“Part of the issues in finding a good solution to the unified experience and catalog problem has been the availability of capabilities in the market. Actually, Geoffrey Moore stated that the industry would spend over a billion dollar trying to figure out how to move to a systems of engagement. A unified experience and catalog solution is a part of billion dollar spend.”

 

Early attempts at catalog consolidation and the pitfalls of vendor lock-in

 

“Early on, various vendors in the catalog space had pushed for consolidation of catalogs into a single catalog. Although hypothetically this was a doable exercise, many found this to be multi-year projects as consolidation led to not only consolidating catalog items, but the consolidation of fulfillment systems. Meaning, if I move the catalog item, e.g. how I order the laptop vs. how I would provision a private cloud instance, the vendors forced customers to centralize the fulfillment engine to something proprietary.

Also, depending on which vendor you are using, they are trying to get you to lock in.  I won’t mention any vendors here, but certainly if you go with certain vendors, you are automatically locked in.  You can’t do integrations with other systems. So that’s another problem that I see.

If you have multiple fulfillment systems that are already there, aggregation/federation is the better approach.”

 

Solving the unified experience problem

 

“A lot of the vendors, and this includes HP historically, are adding a lot of Portal functionality or catalog functionality off of existing systems to help the primary users of that system.  For example, if I’m a service management customer and I’m using a service management system, you’re still going to need the catalog and portal functionality to personalize it for that persona.  

So it’s not a bad thing that these products have it, but if you want to unify that experience across not just that persona but all of the consumers, you have to think about portal and catalog from a top-down perspective. So, does the solution have things like the ability to aggregate information together?  Does it have the ability for you to openly integrate not only that specific vendor’s product but other vendor products together?  Does it have an integration layer between the catalog itself and the fulfillment engine?  Those are the type of things you need to look at.”

 

Top 3 feature functions

 

“From an actual feature, function perspective, I think three things are the most important components in terms of capabilities:

1)     First, does it have an actual separate portal capability?  Meaning, can I go in and easy personalize the specific portal experience for the individuals that are utilizing it?  Can I create widgets/application and now replicate those capabilities no matter how many different places that I deploy the specific types of technology?  I think that is very important. 

2)     Second, will you have the ability to aggregate your services together?  So, if I have a service management related service, like ordering a laptop, can I aggregate that service information together with provisioning a specific cloud use case?  Because If I want to do a new employee onboarding, maybe I’ll want to give them a combination of eight different systems together as one package, so one service.  Unless you can aggregate the services together, that’s going to be incredibly difficult to do.  

3)     Third, you know we’ve talked about the front end a lot with the catalog and portal and the marketplace type of experience but in the back end you need unique capabilities to do integrations. Not just integrations but do them easy and in an open way.  You can go and create your own integration capabilities if it doesn’t come out of the box in an open way.  And does it support connections to third party products…”

 

How should an IT director get started?

 

One of the things they should look at internally is making the mind shift – which is: ‘I don’t have to deliver all those services myself.’   IT directors need to recognize is that they can’t continue down the same path because users may go outside to use the Amazon’s and the Google’s of the world because it’s faster.  So first changing your mindset to be a broker not just a provider is the first step so that you can set out to capture 100 percent of demand.

The next piece is to look at the service catalog. Start to get that feedback if they want to continue their service what should that experience look like.   Within HP you can go here and register to get HP Propel Free to onramp quickly to a pre-defined service catalog as well as get the HP Portal and knowledge base.

 

Start to measure what’s important to your catalog project, then go out and play with a lot of technologies.  Look at what it takes to consolidate catalog technologies.  Look at what it will take to federate systems.  With HP Propel, we designed a solution that can onramp initial capabilities for free, and then add capabilities as you want them.  HP Propel works in your existing environment with no system disruption. It provides the first open framework of its kind connecting your vendor supply chain directly to your users with a central catalog and personalized, user-friendly portal. No point-to-point, hardcoded integrations or vendor lock-in.”

 

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