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Navigating the Management Information Black Hole

December 21, 2012 No Comments

Featured Article By Jamie Thomas, VP of Tivoli Strategy and Development

It’s estimated that 90 percent of companies today view cloud as critical to their business strategies. As these companies adopt enterprise and hybrid clouds they tend to adopt a broad range of specialized tools to help them address new management challenges that come along with cloud. These challenges include how to deploy, secure and change virtualized assets.

A similar dynamic is occurring related to the adoption of mobile devices. As companies increasingly use smart phones, tablets and a wide range of built-for-purpose devices they are finding it necessary to adopt new tools to ensure these devices are performing as designed and meeting the needs of end users..

These are just two examples of how enterprises are adopting an ever-broader range of service management technology and tools to manage their increasingly complex IT environments. While these tools provide value in isolation they often create challenges for IT operations personnel who need end-to-end visibility, control and automation to manage IT environments.  Operations personnel often are challenged to integrate diverse tools so that they can share data and create end-to-end automated workflows.  Typically enterprises rely on costly and time-consuming custom projects to integrate different software tools. These custom integrations tie up funding that could be used for higher value IT projects.  More importantly they often are subject to failure as the underlying component tools evolve and as changes are made to managed services.

Today’s computing environments, which are characterized by frequent dynamic change, pose a particular challenge for poorly integrated service management tools.  For instance, take the diagnosis of a bank’s newly changed customer transaction system.  The bank’s operations staff will typically use multiple tools to manage different parts of the transaction system. Each of these tools can provide a distinct perspective on the disruption and generate data about the event. For example, staff might use one tool to monitor the network, another to monitor the server infrastructure and yet another to monitor transaction performance. . Integration of the perspectives offered by these various tools can provide valuable information needed to diagnose and correct the problem.

The challenge is that many tools are difficult to integrate. As a result the data and potential insight these tools generate can be trapped in isolated silos—lost in a virtual information black hole. The key to efficiently managing today’s diverse and sophisticated IT environments is finding ways to more easily integrate the tools and technology used to manage the environment.

A new approach to integrate these service management tools can prevent these silos and, ultimately, help organizations create efficiencies and provide better services to users.

Freeing the Data

We need a solution that enables open access to information from the service management tools. One approach is leveraging community standards and proven web and social networking principles to free the data and expose the value buried within IT operation tools.

Defined by a community of service management practitioners, vendors and partners, Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) provides an innovative approach for integration, underpinned by best practices for “linked data.”

Linked data describes a method of sharing data between disparate applications. Each data resource is assigned and available via a unique address.  Much like any web site, the location and type of data can be easily found and requested by any authorized tool. This means that tools can access information directly from the trusted source, making the overall process more reliable and automated.

Linked data is an approach that can be used by any industry. Companies that use this approach include IBM, Ovum, Citigroup, Boeing and General Motors. Collaboration groups like the OSLC build specifications that are open, based on linked data concepts to provide interoperability across vendors.

With approaches like OSLC, integrations can be done much faster and cheaper than existing fragmented methodologies because the data is now available according to an open specification rather than hidden behind a proprietary API.  This enables multiple vendors to access or provide the data. From a tool creator’s perspective, this is the value of OSLC in action: one integration strategy across all products, enabling many 3rd-party tools to interact with them. The result is vastly improved time to integration.  We have seen up to an 82% reduction in integration effort with this new approach.

Integrating service management tools and breaking down silos is a critical step for organizations as it will enable them to capitalize on the ever growing influx of data.  OSLC-based integrations provide open interoperability across vendors and ultimately allow organizations to be more efficient and provide better service to their customers.  By engaging in open communities, the industry can work together to define open standard based approaches to integration.  IBM would like to invite the broader industry to join the open efforts to collaborate and define the future of Integrated Service Management.

Jamie Thomas is the Vice President of IBM Tivoli Strategy and Development. Tivoli is at the forefront of IBM’s Smarter Planet and Cloud strategies, managing today’s dynamic and complex infrastructures, giving customers the ability to manage resources and risks and optimize human capital and manage service levels and business processes.  Tivoli offers comprehensive service management solutions in seven key service areas that give customers visibility, control and automation: Integrated Service Management, Asset Management, Storage Management, Security Management, Application Management, Network Management and Energy Management.

Jamie leads the worldwide team responsible for delivering the solutions central to Service Management across the Tivoli portfolio, and also leads the business management teams responsible for prioritization of strategic investments. The Tivoli delivery team of over 4000 employees spans the globe, including twenty-one international locations and eighteen labs across North America.

During the last twenty years, Jamie has held numerous development roles in IBM Software, most recently as the Vice President of Rational development and client support. Prior to that, she served as Vice President of WebSphere Server Development for the Application Integration Middleware Software organization. Prior to that, she served as Director of WebSphere Strategy and Communications.

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