Interview at HP Discover in Barcelona with Jeff Carlat. We discussed the launch of HP ConvergedSystem for Virtualization, the history of the alliance between HP and VMware, and we gave some teasers about the future
Like the old saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” automation has a lot of buzz because it is solving IT problems, lowering costs and improving business outcomes. Kris Alcantara’s article “Is Automation the Next Buzz Word?” provides a synopsis of a panel discussion at the 4th International Cloud Computing Expo. In that panel, participants said,
• the term “virtualization” will likely fade into the background as automation becomes a higher priority
• automation by nature carries “tremendous amounts of power and efficiency” and enables businesses to do all the right things, including implementing security
• “The funds to do things the old way is not there,” German (CEO & CTO of Stoneware, Inc.) said. “It’s going to spur a lot of innovation and new ways of delivering IT resources.”
Let’s discuss each of these in a bit more depth.
Automation becomes a higher priority in cloud implementation than virtualization. Let’s call virtualization a victim of its own success in this case. We really can’t think about cloud without thinking about virtual servers, storage and networks, all accessible via API’s. What will be important is the ability to work with the virtualization ‘flavor’ used by the cloud client and cloud provider. Automation steps forward here because it can abstract away the differences in technology and let the process execute. This means you don’t have to add skills or technology, you can leverage the skills you have and technologies you already use. The key to automation succeeding in this role is for it to be truly independent and meet the requirements of RBA 2.0 as described by Gartner analyst David Williams. Intelligent execution and technology abstraction are the keys.
One of the big problems in Cloud security is simply the ability to work with the security schemes of each of the toolsets you have to work with. Think about it, to execute and document all of the work associated with a cloud bursting action, how many tools will you have to log into internally and with your cloud vendor. We’re all waiting for some standards to develop, but for many of us the time to adopt cloud is now and we have to do the best we can with what we have. That means working with the security infrastructure of each of the task tools that will support the process of adding capacity in the cloud. Automation can handle both the negotiation of each tool’s security system today and add in support for standards as they develop.
In the end it always comes down to the money, doesn’t it? You’re spending 70-80% of IT resources on routine tasks that just keep you treading water. Automation is an innovative way to execute the routine process that deliver the services you offer today, while freeing up your sharpest people to innovate the services you will deliver tomorrow.
Increasingly, IT vendors are adding automation to their product lines, but this serves more to tie together their acquisitions than it does to do what you need done—integration, orchestration and automation of IT processes that cross the IT silos that exist in your production environment.
Opalis works with market leader VMware Vcenter to provide true end to end process automation and to connect Vcenter to your service desk, change management, and configuration tools. We also work with Microsoft (but don’t trust everything you read on the internet). Links to more information on both of the solution sets are at the bottom of this article.
Automation is more than buzz. Whether your cloud plans call for VMware, Microsoft, Amazon, or any one of hundreds of others, Opalis can keep Cloud from being the next way your scarce IT resources are wasted. Opalis will make cloud the dynamic, low cost road to business success.
Have a look at these resources for more information:
TORONTO, Oct 05, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Opalis Software Inc., the privately held market leader in IT process automation, today announced it has achieved its highest license revenue in a single quarter. New license bookings for the quarter ended September 30, 2009 increased by 104% compared to the same quarter the previous year. Over the course of the quarter, both enterprise and managed service provider customers licensed Opalis solutions for the first time, while several existing global customers placed substantial follow on license orders.
In addition, Opalis reinforced its industry leadership position with the release of Opalis v6.2 which meets RBA 2.0, the vision for NextGen IT Process Automation from Gartner.
“Strong demand for Opalis validates the strategy we developed three years ago, to be the solution that orchestrates management and infrastructure vendors including HP, IBM, CA, Microsoft, VMware, Cisco, BMC, EMC and others, to deliver true end to end process automation.” said Todd DeLaughter, President and CEO of Opalis Software. “With Opalis, customers are prepared to take advantage of cloud computing, which requires automation to dynamically allocate and consume cloud resources. Opalis is uniquely positioned as the provider that unites existing investments in technology and leverages them for re-use, while embracing new capabilities as third parties bring them to the market.
Key Q309 Deals — The largest U.S. municipal hospital and health care system serving over 1.3 million people, licensed Opalis to automate the self healing process by integrating IBM Tivoli Netcool, Microsoft Operations Manager, BMC Event Manager and BMC Remedy.
— U.S. based global outsourcer with revenue over $16 billion placed significant follow on orders with Opalis to integrate CA Service Desk and EMC Infra and automate change, configuration and incident processes across their systems.
— Europe’s leading provider of IT infrastructure services with revenues over GBP 2.5 billion placed follow on orders with Opalis for several enterprise customers to automate user provisioning, virtual lifecycle management, and incident management by integrating Microsoft Active Directory and BMC Remedy service desk.
Case Studies – Opalis customers continue to celebrate success with Opalis, click here for more information.
— Global Bank Improves Virtual Service Delivery From Hours To Minutes With over 35,000 employees and $320 billion of assets, this highly diversified financial service provider uses Opalis to eliminate the cost associated with virtual server sprawl and improved service delivery from 2 hours to 2 minutes. Using Opalis, the bank created a VM management portal that automates five critical processes associated with requests, provisioning, decommissioning, backup, and lease expiry of VMware virtual machines. Opalis is used to track the machines assigned to various projects and the storage consumption of the virtual server.
This enables IT staff to determine where storage is being used and identify which virtual machines are no longer needed. The automated lease expiry also allows the IT staff to notify users when their VMs will be decommissioned.
Automating these processes removed the need to perform manual audits.
— The largest provider of driver and vehicle assistance services in North America This industry leading automotive services organization uses Opalis to connect and discover information within target systems, share that information across a publish and subscribe data bus and take action based on complex triggers and conditions. This allows the IT team to drive new business and innovation through automation. Opalis was selected over the competition because of its intelligent decision making capability and flexible process branching, as well as its ability for non-developers to design and implement process automation.
— Global Managed Service Provider Standardizes & Automates Best Practices This U.S. based consulting, technology services and outsourcing firm is a Fortune Global 500 company with more than 100,000 employees operating around the world.
To retain market leadership and strong competitive position, they standardized best practices using Opalis. They increased revenue through delivery of new services, reduced level 1, 2 and 3 support costs and were able to improve customer experience and satisfaction. Data center costs are reduced between 20-40%, while 70% of level 1 incidents are solved automatically. There is also a 50% reduction of level 2 incidents. In addition to the superior ROI capabilities, Opalis was chosen over HP, BMC, IBM because Opalis can dynamically adapt to run context specific processes across multiple locations. Opalis also automatically detects changes such as new fields or assets in the environment, initiate multiple workflow branches and monitor for events in systems without adding agents.
— Online Phonebook Company Improves Customer Satisfaction & Time to Revenue The U.S. based publisher has been a customer of Opalis for several years. With Opalis, they integrate IT tools like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), Tivoli Storage Manager, and BMC Service Desk Express. In addition to reducing cost and risk while improving IT operational outcomes, they also use Opalis to automate critical business processes. Automation directly improves their revenue stream and customer satisfaction. “We cut down the time it took to post new content from days to minutes, significantly improving our revenue stream with Opalis. What’s more, we redeployed a number of people to new roles. “We did reduce costs via outsourcing but nothing like the way we reduced costs with this latest use of Opalis,” Steve J., Director of IT Operations.
About Opalis Software Inc.
Opalis Software Inc. is the market leader in IT process automation software with some of the largest customers in the world, including Accenture, VMware, Fujitsu Services, Computacenter, Toyota, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dow Chemical, Yellowbook, Chico’s, British Telecom, Bank of New York, and Woolworths. Opalis provides comprehensive IT process automation solutions for global managed service providers and large enterprises. With Opalis customers integrate, orchestrate, and automate IT processes across physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure and improve service delivery while reducing costs.
Think about the last few business cycles and where the emphasis was. In the 80’s and early 90’s it was all about Quality. TQM and the threat from Japan were big drivers for action. As we moved into the mid 90’s and the internet boom we all talked about time to market and first mover advantage (I’m more a believer that the early bird may get the worm, but the second rat gets the cheese…). For the last year or so the emphasis has all been about cost. Most businesses can only focus on one of these at a time. It’s the businesses who manage for nail 2 or more at the same time that break away from the pack.
I’m also reminded of my first Product Management job. My Engineering counterpart, a more experienced guy, sat me down and said “This is how it works. Your job is to tell me that you want a certain list of features by a certain date at a certain level of quality. My job is to tell you to pick any 2”.
The reason I’m so excited by the IT Process Automation market is that it truly lets you have your cake and eat it too (and eat if first).
Cost – Automating routine actions and complex sequences takes labor out of that equation, making it less expensive. ROI is generally well under a year. The other side of this equation is that you can now do the things on your “to do” list that you couldn’t get to before because you were busy keeping the ship afloat. Now you can do those things the business values.
Quality – You’ve pursued ITIL or COBIT or ISO20000 or 6-Sigma. How do you ensure that processes are followed every time? Automation is the best way, particularly if your automation solution also documents all of its work (in your Service Desk and Configuration Management System) and reports on its own execution. This last part is critical. Once your processes are automated and you have data on their execution, you can now improve the process based on data. Dr. Deming would be so proud.
Speed – with people bridging your tool and organizational silos there’s always lag time in processes. This lag time may be 90% of the total process time. It creeps into process execution time because the completion of one step of the task often become just an (unprioritized?) inbox item for the person who handles the next step of the process. This lag time is eliminated by automation.
You can have them all.
I was only able to attend yesterday but Glen O’Donnell of Forrester gave a great presentation after lunch.
If he said it once he must have said it 5 times “If it is repeatable automate it” and “if it’s not a competitive differentiator, why are you doing it? Outsource it, or better yet automate it”.
IT has no automated processes—most shops have only automated tasks. We all know that >70% of the average IT shop’s effort is simply to keep the lights on. And we know that the business doesn’t value the status quo (unless something’s down). The business values new capabilities that drive revenue or cost control. And yet, IT is mostly stuck in a rut. What to do?
Become a hero.
Not the kind that current incentive structures encourage (I was a bit flattered that he riffed on the firefighters by day; arsonists by night theme I discussed here). Here’s Glenn’s advice on being a hero:
- Be pragmatic
- Automate the automatable
- Become a metrics junkie (measure what matters to the business, not speeds & feeds)
- Tie incentives to the metrics
- Change; don’t be changed
He emphasized that automating end to end processes enforces ITIL discipline, reduces errors, accelerates process execution, and frees your people to innovate. Glenn recently did a paper making the case for why NOW is the time to start automating processes. It’s available here.
Signs are out there that the economy has bottomed out. What are you doing to prepare for the next uptick in your business. Automation cuts costs so you can weather weak economic times and allows you to focus on what matters to the business as things improve.
According to Gartner, Service Desk Tools and RBA should be IT Ops top priorities for implementation. Service Desk Tools are largely a replacement market, with more than half of all IT shops having already implemented one (or more). RBA is early mainstream and is only just now getting onto many IT shops radar. Here’s a chart from the Gartner Article “Hype Cycle for IT Operations Management”:
IT Service Desk Tools are ranked highly because they are the focal point of process definition and process improvement in IT–particularly for people:people processes. Run Book Automation, also known as IT Process Automation is ranked so highly because it helps run IT as a business. With RBA, outcomes are more consistent and accomplished at the lowest possible cost. What’s more, all outcomes are measurable and documented to make compliance tasks simpler and less costly too.
Another way of thinking of RBA is as a way to supercharge the value of the investments you’ve already made it IT tools. You’ve chased inefficiency out of the tasks in IT Ops and with RBA you can chase inefficiency out of the way you link tasks together into processes. With virtualization projects, compliance concerns and headcount caps all squeezing your capabilities, isn’t it nice that there’s a way to take what you already have and make it even more efficient and effective?
Competing in a weeklong series of sailplane races. Check results daily here http://budurl.com/myVac
Opalis released Q2 results and the customer use cases that drove 97% license revenue growth. Market momentum in IT Process Automation / Run Book Automation seems to be decidedly in favor of the Opalis Automation Fabric vs. the limited use automation the ITSM suite vendors are trying to sell with their Service Desk and Config products. Link to Opalis PR http://budurl.com/OpalisUp97