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Bringing Enterprise 2.0 into IT Operations

Blog

Bringing Enterprise 2.0 into IT Operations


 

enterprise 2.02.0 is everywhere. Starting with Web 2.0, the 2.0 tag has expanded to many fields. It is an inflection point suggesting that every enterprise has to take urgent action on in order to remain relevant.

The whole reason for the Enterprise 2.0 movement, which appeared around six years ago, was just the sheer frustration at the lack of innovation and momentum around on-premise enterprise software. This set the groundwork for a revolt by the people that were aware of the promise of Web 2.0, cloud and mobile innovations.

We see how the momentum for Enterprise 2.0 is growing. According to IDC: (Worldwide Software Market Forecaster) the fastest growing software markets, according to the 2011 results, are Enterprise Social Software, Virtual Machine Software, and Team Collaborative Applications, which are closely related and support important cross-industry technology trends such as social applications, virtualization, and collaboration, respectively. 

Today, many IT departments face a loss of credibility, and it's just not their fault. Enterprise systems need enhancements to simplify use of systems and to better highlight critical Information, so that the IT organization can access complex data in a simply manner.

Step Up to Enterprise 2.0

Today's enterprise software vendors are facing a landscape demanding better functionality and more useful information, especially for enhancing enterprise management. This means that the maturing Enterprise 2.0 effort should be applied, providing IT the basis for engaging with all the nifty collaboration software we have seen in Web 2.0, making enterprise 2.0 applications simple, intuitive and fun.

For example, one of the problems faced by the operations teams is the event dashboards of today's enterprise software. These components frequently feature thousands of events with lots of information, coupled with (too) many tools for analyzing events, hampering the ability to extract useful information from these tools.

This turns operations group into jugglers, jumping between many systems, all the while needing to remember all the information that was accessed along the way, much like an airline dispatcher facing a flood of airline traffic, all the while trying to hold back the potentially drastic impact of changes. 

The Enterprise 2.0 movement came out of user reaction to the shortcomings of vendors enterprise offerings. Now enterprise 2.0 has vendors talking with a focus on social media, collaboration, and creating content by diverse groups of users.

Simpler Tools and Easier Access to Information

When it comes to daily usage, people want it simple. Users don't want to see every bit of information available, and do not want to be confronted with every piece of the functionality in the world. Rather it's more about a user-oriented model for enterprise tools, where users are presented with a guided tour to complicated data, and that the tool is as automatic as possible. This means not having to comb through hundreds of windows or tabs, but to ideally have one window, and one button to get to information that can be put into action.

Applying this requirements to IT operations there is a need in a dashboard simply indicating if there is a problem or not and allowing to understand rapidly the problem. IT operations collect a lot of information on services and infrastructure in such a way that any changes to the underlying application and infrastructure components supporting the environment are automatically updated in near real-time. Turning this information into concise and actionable ensures that IT operations can more easily track down the source of problems and reduce downtime, as well as improve the end-user experience and bottom-line results.

Enterprise 2.0 Solving Complexity

We saw a similar state of complexity with mobile enterprise devices, before Apple unveiled the iPhone. Apple took the leap and said, 'Forget about everything you know about smartphones.' Back then, business professionals used their mobile devices to call associates, get email, keep appointments and access the internet. But the iPhone did something different. It took the normal (rather convoluted) functions of a smartphone, like the BlackBerry, and made them elegant. It made them simple and minimalist, that even a child could operate.

Necessary Ingredients for Enterprise 2.0

The move to Enterprise 2.0 applications means distancing the IT organization from the standard feature-itis, complex, heavyweight structure, and difficulty-of-use of traditional enterprise products.

The new Enterprise 2.0 approach should provide IT ops with the agility, portability, and insights they require for managing today's dynamic, changing infrastructures, based on user flows.

The GUI should not be boring, but needs to support a fun visually alluring presentation for discovering, and managing information about IT processes, environments, resources. This 2.0 UI should provide a fine level of data resolution that is clear and elegant. Furthermore, a rich 2.0 UI allows for smooth animation, so just as the world of gaming has taught us about rewards for understanding game rules, this self-teaching (tutorial) can enhance the user experience and make enterprise systems more approachable and useful.

Application Systems With Goal-oriented Flows

Enterprise Management systems adopting the Enterprise 2.0 approach offer a clearer flow for connecting users to their goals, and an efficient means for accomplishing tasks through an accessible knowledge ecosystem. Take the role of the Network Operations Center (NOC) guy who needs to investigate problems. Uptime is critical for fueling business, and he not only needs equipment and technology that works all of the time, but a user-friendly supportive system that helps to define problems.

The 2.0 approach should actually guide him through the investigation process. We can see how Saluto does this in B2C. Soluto allows users to better manage their PC user experience by cutting start-up time, clearly presenting what apps are crashing or hogging CPU, automatically installing necessary apps, identifying when hardware repairs are needed, and even silently upgrades applications.

So why not take this to the enterprise.

Consolidate Info

IT operations face increasingly complex IT environments, with a growth in amount of virtual machines, migration to cloud, and the challenge of having to manage diverse software and hardware configurations. Furthermore, IT ops must support the delivery of new applications on time and high performance and stability. 

With these compounding pressures, IT operations needs intuitive enterprise software that allows them to start managing IT environments immediately, ensuring rapid and efficient response to the varied demands of growing organizations. 

This demands software that consolidates otherwise overwhelming amounts of collected operational information (e.g. configuration), that could overload the IT team. An analytics based approach makes mounting piles of information manageable, by consolidating data by criticality and impact. 

If we will take change management discipline as an example, the stakes are high as identifying changes in a timely manner, can make the difference for devastating impact on application, or soon after, affect business continuity. It is simply impossible to monitor and evaluate every single configuration change in a support stack using purely manual processes. This would demand a workforce that is the population of city, just to perform the necessary system review, let alone in a timely fashion. That's just not practical. Today's IT support staff already have enough on their plates, just chasing down known problems.

Analytics Driven Management

Analytics driven management presents the user with relevant information to accomplish his tasks, keeping the environment performance on target, without having to sift through piles of configuration information, and be forced to evaluate it all himself. 

Evolven (www.evolven.com) took an analytics based approach to the configuration management. Rather than grouping servers, categorizing them and mapping into CMDB we monitor actual in-depth configuration (with all the noise that comes from this). Then analytics are applied to identify those changes, inconsistencies, differences, misconfigurations etc. that can impact stability of the system. With this approach amount of the servers and their uniqueness does not really matter.

Enterprise 2.0: The Bottom line

Just as we saw how Apple changed GUI and made the smartphone more approachable to a broader crowd, so we can expect the same from enterprise software solutions. a suite that provided a robust, fixed set of functionality that met the common needs of many customers, or a single piece or multiple types of service-based functionality that could be integrated into either other enterprise application vendors' offerings or deploying organizations' existing applications and new mashups.

Your Turn
Are you still trying to bring Enterprise 2.0 into your IT organization?

 
About the Author
Sasha Gilenson
Sasha Gilenson enjoyed a long and successful career at Mercury Interactive (acquired by HP), having led the company's QA organization, participating in establishing Mercury's Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as leading a Business Unit in Europe and Asia.

Sasha played a key role in the development of Mercury's worldwide Business Technology Optimization (BTO) strategy and drove field operations of the Wireless Business Unit, all while taking on the duties as the Mercury's top "guru" in quality processes and IT practices domain. In this capacity, Sasha has advised numerous Fortune 500 companies on technology and process optimization, and in turn, acquired a comprehensive and rare knowledge of the market and industry practices.

Sasha holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science from Latvian University and MBA from London Business School.