Infrastructure Management Software Blog

Percolating IT events into a single console (customer visit summary)

I had the opportunity to meet with a consumer products company in our executive briefing center earlier this week. They have been growing very rapidly over the past few years, primarily by acquisition. Based on their experience of gobbling up other companies (brands), they have gotten very good at integrating a new business’s IT, taking only 6-9 months to do so. This IT consolidation is critical as the company aims to grow their earnings per share (EPS) about a third faster than their top-line revenue growth.

They run a very lean IT shop, with this group spending roughly 1% of revenue. And, they spend about 60% of their IT budget on “keeping the lights on”, vs. around the 70-80% cited by most analyst firm. Given that they already beat most IT efficiency benchmarks, why were they talking to HP?

Their IT organization is organized in a rather traditional, siloed manner. They have a Windows group, Unix, group, Oracle group, and virtualization group. Each group has its own monitoring tools. Some events flow into a central console, but there is no correlation among events. Since everyone sits in a single room, they can shout over the cubicle walls to diagnose cross-silo problems. Their IT leadership realizes that if the company continues to grow at its current rate, this approach will not scale.

They wanted to hear our recommendations about how to leverage what they are doing, and how they can drive even more efficiencies to meet the EPS goals.

We spoke about common IT pain points and the extent to which they suffered from them.

  • IT is expensive. They currently beat industry averages, but want to do even better.

  • Quality of service is inconsistent. Fortunately, this was not an issue for this company. They meet their service level agreements, but, they are frustrated that most outages are discovered by their customers (internal or external), as opposed to being caught in advance.

  • Managing virtualization introduces cost and complexity. While the number of VMs they use today is relatively modest (concentrated in development and test systems), they are starting to feel the impact of virtualization on troubleshooting problems.

Then, we hit the whiteboard. After one of their architects finished drawing a schematic of their IT environment, we were left looking at the usual spaghetti diagram. The bottom line was that they really needed to exploit the central console and ensure that all events appeared there.

What were the key take-aways?

  1. Using Operations Manager as the central console will speed troubleshooting. They key is to roll all of the events into Operations Manager, rather than just the several silos they are doing now.

  2. Start monitoring the end-user experience. This will provide advance notice of any IT issues before people start calling in. Synthetic monitors will detect problems even if no users are online. This is especially useful in running tests after configuration or other changes are made or in testing key systems prior to the start of a shift.

  3. Create a view of how all the pieces fit together. We touched on this in the context of using a CMDB. We ran out of time to discuss all the different discovery methods we offer, so this was set up as an action for follow-up.

It will be great to continue working with this customer and deepen the strategic relationship as they maintain their growth trajectory.

For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.

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