Infrastructure Management Software Blog

OH, IL, WI, IN, MI Operations Center Technical Roadshow - April 20th to April 29th - Don't miss it!

Ever wish you could talk face-to-face with more technical people about Operations Center and Network Management Center products? Don’t really have the time or budget to travel very far to do so?  Well, here is a great opportunity to meet and talk with technical experts on products like Operations Manager and NNMi – right in your background.


Vivit will be hosting a series of six (6) one-day sessions, where there will be a nice mix between presentations and Q&A sessions around these products.  The sessions will be held in the following states on the following days:


- (Columbus) Ohio – April 20, 2010


- (Orrville) Ohio – April 21, 2010


- (Dearborn) Michigan – April 22, 2010


- Wisconsin – April 27, 2010


- (Chicago) Illinois – April 28, 2010


 - (Fishers) Indiana – April 29, 2010


Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions about this roadshow at asksonja@hp.com.

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How to frustrate end users

 


I'm currently on the receiving end of some pretty dismal service quality from my broadband (ADSL) provider. I work from home much of the time so when my broadband is unavailable I really feel unproductive and disconnected. 


 


The issues have been ongoing for a while and relate to some problems with the equipment in the local exchange.


 


I'm not going to delve into great detail or "name and shame" but I did want to take the opportunity to take a step back and use my unhappy experience as a learning opportunity. I think there are a couple of lessons in the interactions that I've had with my ISP which provide great guidance on things to avoid if you don't want to frustrate your end-users as you strive to deliver IT services to your business and your customers.


 


The first thing to avoid is a lack of transparency across the teams who are involved in service delivery. When I call the technical help line to report a red light on my ADSL Router I expect someone to KNOW that there is a problem - and to be able to explain what is being done.


 


Often times this has not been the case.


 


In many cases the help desk don't know that there is an issue. This frustrates me (I'm being used as the monitoring device) but also wastes a lot of time as they tend to follow a process of standard tests before they discover that there is a known problem at the broadband exchange.


 


Bottom line is that if your infrastructure monitoring can detect a service impacting issue then that information should be shared with all the folks who can make use of it. You need to use the information to update your help desk / service management systems so that the folks who are front and center talking to customers appear informed and can provide the customer with reassurance that the IT organization has it's act together.


 


I'm not suggesting that every infrastructure event needs to be visible to the help desk - but if it's got a high probability of affecting service delivery then it has value. And whatever is shared has GOT to be accurate. And the information needs to be updated with current status and estimated fix times so this can be relayed to customers to provide some reassurance that the technicians are dealing with the issue and some expectations on when service will be resumed.


 


We provide interfaces for this stuff for our own monitoring solutions, such as Operations Manager or BAC, into HP Service Manager (and some third party help desk packages) because we believe it's a vital part of how an incident management process connects to service management activities.  This is essential stuff that you need to be able to do as part of what we describe as a Closed Loop Incident Process (CLIP).


 


The second 'thing' that drove me nuts happened mid-afternoon the day before yesterday. I called up because the broadband was down again and the response from the help desk was that the exchange was "having an upgrade".


 


Now two possibilities spring to mind here.


The first (driven by disbelief) is that this is incorrect information - either the status in the fault record is wrong (read earlier comments about sharing accurate information) or the help desk person is trying to fob me off - and that's another big no-no if you want happy customers.


 


The second possibility (also driven by disbelief) is that someone needs to take an ITIL class and understand the basics of configuration and change management as they relate to Service Delivery / Service Management. Taking a broadband exchange offline for 4 hours on a weekday afternoon to perform an upgrade appears, on the face of it, to be a little ill-considered.


 


If you want to understand more about how HP can help with Change and Configuration management then take a look at our Service Manager product.  To be able to plan change effectively you need good, up to date configuration information regarding the CIs (configuration Items) and how they relate to each other and support IT Services. That's not something you can maintain manually - at least not cost effectively - so some automated discovery is essential - and we can help there with our discovery (DDM) and UCMDB technologies.

Making the Best Use of the Tools You Have

I spent the day today at our executive briefing center with a customer that provides online spend management services. They have a number of our data center products, so we spent most of the day discussing integration. The agenda was simple. They wanted to learn how to:




  1. Make the best use of the tools they have


  2. Determine where they should be looking next

First, let’s examine their environment, which in turn drives their requirements.


Hardware
They have a variety of hardware, some HP servers and storage and some from other vendors. Some of this hardware is at the end of its lifecycle and in line for replacement. They want to dramatically reduce their power consumption with the replacement servers. Part of the savings will come from consolidation onto fewer, more powerful machines; part from newer hardware that is more energy efficient. We did not discuss replacement hardware explicitly today, but one topic of concern was that their current infrastructure management software must have the flexibility to manage future hardware purchases.


Virtualization
They are very interested in moving aggressively towards virtualizing most of their IT infrastructure. They want to be able to manage both physical and virtual servers and storage using a single set of instrumentation.


Software
Service Desk. They are using most of the modules within HP Service Manager. This allows them to manage their help desk efficiently and track changes throughout the enterprise.
Configuration Management Database. They have HP’s uCMDB (“u” for universal), which manages all the configuration items (CI) within their enterprise. In an effort to streamline their operations, they also purchased our Discovery and Dependency Mapping (DDM) software to automatically discover their IT infrastructure and populate the CMDB. The CMDB is the foundation layer that ties together all the components within our Business Technology Optimization suite. In addition to maintaining state and configuration information about individual CIs, it understands relationships among them, and how these align with business services.
Network Management. They use an open source network management software.
End-User Monitoring. They use a commercial product (non-HP). They purchased it last year to replace home-grown scripts. It runs synthetic scripts (similar to our End User Management software)
Operations Manager. They just purchased Operations Manager, along with agents, but have not yet deployed it. The prospect of consolidating several existing management consoles was one of the main reasons driving the purchase.


Presenting a Complete View of the IT Infrastructure
We started with the usual slide presentations that showed all the nice relationships among the products. Of course, heads nodded in agreement when we mentioned self-inflicted IT problems, the finger-pointing among groups during troubleshooting, and the challenge of seeing everything through a single console.


The key problem emerged that they lack a holistic view of the entire environment. Fortunately, once they deploy Operations Manager, this will solve the problem. It provides a “single pane of glass” in which they can view events from across their entire infrastructure, including the non-HP servers, non-HP network management, and non-HP user monitoring, in addition to all their HP hardware.


Generate (Enriched) Service Tickets from Events
And, Operations Manager can automatically open tickets in Service Manager. In addition to opening tickets based on events, Operations Manager enriches the events with all the relevant information from the CMDB including the affected business service. Once the incident is closed, either manually or automatically, Operations Manager will clear the event in its console and then tell Service Manager to close the ticket .That wrapped up the section on making the most of what they already have.


Automation Cuts Costs
Then, things got really interesting when we went to the white board. We outlined how much money they can save by implementing Operations Orchestration, our runbook automation solution, to automate some of the routine actions an operator would perform using Operations Manager. We used an example of another customer who saved $400K per year just by automating a database fix that takes only one minute to fix. That problem occurs 400 thousand times per year. At $1 per minute for support costs, do the math.


This paints a clear picture of where they should be looking next. And, all the discussions were based on released technology that is available to anyone today.


Let us know how you are making the best use of the tools you have. We’ll give you some expert guidance about what steps to take next that will further increase the return on your investment in infrastructure management software.


For Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.

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