In his keynote today, Al Zollar described the opportunities and challenges presented by a more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent world. The proliferation of smart devices presents new opportunities to deliver new innovative services- services that wouldn’t have been dreamed of just 10 years ago. These new smart devices also add new levels of complexity that is growing due to the number of new devices and connections added each day, and skyrocketing numbers of security threats and compliance regulations.
Al Zollar outlined examples of increased complexity in a number of industries i.e. an electric company dealing with smarter meters, regular old school meters, transmission insulators, servers, and turbine buckets; a conglomerate of hospitals in Copenhagen managing data distributed across three different storage tiers and four sites with online disk capacity of 500 Terabytes and backup and archive data exceeding 1.5 Petabytes; and the U.S. Air Force managing the operations of nine major commands, nearly 100 bases and 700,000 active military personnel around the world.
He then posed the questions, How do you overcome all of this complexity? How can you possibly see everything? How can you manage and secure everything? How can you increase speed while reducing cost?
The answer—Integrated Service Management that provides the software, best practices and expertise needed to manage infrastructure, people and processes—across the service delivery chain—in the data center, across design and delivery, and tailored for specific industry requirements.
He then went on to explain how Integrated Service Management contains service architectures tailored by industry like the smart grid for energy, or electronic medical record systems for healthcare.
It has lifecycle management bridging workflow across line of business, enterprise architecture, development and testing, and IT and business operations to speed delivery of products and services and ensure continual improvement.
Integrated Service Management also includes service dashboards that allow all audiences—from executives and business operations to IT managers—to see the service and gain insight into service health.
He closed by someone needs to be the thought leader in your organization...and that someone is you! Integrated Service Management can help you achieve that goal.
Give it a read and let us know how you are using APM in your organization in the comments section below.
PS I recognize that the 1300 has nothing to do with this blog post. I just felt the need to post pictures of classic IBM hardware...
* Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose
There are many great reasons to attend Pulse 2010- you can see real-world demonstrations of the newest service management solutions, you can hear about strategies and product roadmaps that can help you chart your roadmap for success, and you can get free-certifications and hands-on instruction in on-site labs. These are all great reasons to attend Pulse 2010, but I would like to focus one that often gets overlooked--networking with people not like you.
Pulse gives you the opportunity to attend tracks tailored to your specific area of focus and network with people doing work like you do. While there is a great deal of value in networking and sharing ideas with people whose roles are similar to yours, there may be even more value in talking with people who don’t do what you do.
What would happen if CEOs, service providers, IT professionals, plant managers, facilities managers, VPs of Operations, security administrators, and storage managers talked with each other? What kinds of solutions and ideas would emerge?
For true innovative thinking to occur, reframing challenges and understanding different points of view is key. While it’s easier to stay in your comfort zone and talk with people who speak your language, the opportunity to talk with people from other industries or from your industry but with roles different than yours may be one of the one of the best ways to gain new insights, reframe the challenges you are facing, and think outside the box.
Pulse 2010 gives you the opportunity to do just that. It offers you the chance to network with industry leaders and a broad audience of users and partners who may have different takes on service management—ones that can help you solve existing problems more efficiently, develop new services, or find new ways to accelerate growth and gain competitive edge.
After my last blog – asking what devops was
– the idea of collaboration across the whole life of service has been in the
forefront of my mind. From that wider perspective I was musing around one of my
frequent topics – how we fail to get the service right because we don't
understand how it is being used, or what the customer really cares about.
Actually the simple picture of supplier and
customer doesn’t really describe the world most of us have to live in. If we go
with the ITIL concept of a customer (someone who has financial influence or
authority) then we also need to worry about what our users think. In other
frameworks you might hear a more general concern about taking the whole range
of stakeholders into consideration. Doesn’t matter which recipe you follow –
does matter that you see the complexity.
Some of the problems come from being so
close to how things are done (rather than why they are being done), and by
being so close to what you think matters that you don't spot what matters to
those receiving the service. Sometime it is the silliest things that make the
customers and users unhappy and reject a service. Maybe that is an example of the
‘One Bad Apple’ syndrome – something firmly embedded in the human condition
seems to be our ability to allow one bad aspect to overbalance a dozen good
I had my own version this week, when I
found myself refusing to continue with an online application for a new bank
account because the software insisted on spelling my name incorrectly. (For
reasons I cannot fathom, it seems to have decided that any name starting with
‘Mac’ must have a capital afterwards – so it turns ‘Macfarlane’ to ‘MacFarlane’
without giving me the chance to turn it back.) I didn’t stay around to see what
else the service offered, I just closed the web page and got my new account
somewhere else that will let me spell my name properly.
But there is also the positive face of the
same coin – the power of ‘cool’. Imagine you have found the perfect shoes for
your child – scientifically designed to protect their feet while supporting
their bones and they are even waterproof. As a caring parent these are the only
pair of shoes you want your child to be running about in (see IKB later in this
blog). As it happens your dreams have come true because your child loves them.
Is it because they are good for them, and will help their feet develop properly
– no, they agree to wear them because the heels light up with each step. They
will wear them – and save their feet – but only because they are ‘cool’ –
according to rules you will never understand. By the way, don’t think the
illogical ‘cool’ factor only applies to children, it is there in just about
every service you deliver or use – at work or at home. If you look for it then
you will see it. I don’t want to make this posting too long or I could list
dozens – but just imagine trying to sell powerful and effective software
products against others with less relevant features at higher cost – but with a
fancy graphical interface – sound familiar to anyone?
If you think about these two situations –
where apparently less important elements disproportionately affect decisions -
I am sure you will find many examples of the two extremes; like the fast-food restaurant
that you still avoid because of one bad burger or one element of bad service,
hundreds of miles away and several years back.
Those issues tend to come from how the
service is delivered, yet the same problem can easily come from how it is built
(like my name issue). But one of the differences is getting the message back to where it might make a difference,
because at best the complaints go to the operations side of the house, and this
does not get fed back, maybe because it is dismissed as trivial – because it
doesn’t seem important to whoever received the message.
It isn’t just about hiding complaints
though, we also have the ability not to pass the cool factors back. Do we
always find out why people really like something? It seems to me that we don’t often
ask the right people the right questions. And it also seems there are simple
reasons why we do that:
We presume that what is important to us is what is important to
our customers, users or others that matter. Is this a common manifestation
of IKB (the ‘I know better’ syndrome)? Most of suffer this from our parents,
then grow up and do it other people.
We don’t know who to ask – and we don't know what to ask them.
Both of these situations are understandable
– after all, we are human so of course we see things first and best from our own perspective, and without being forced out into another’s environment then why
should we have the ability to understand people we have never met? The second
is also inevitable in the complicated amalgams of customers, users, services
and suppliers we exist within. Never mind the neat little service chain
pictures you get in the books – it doesn’t really look that simple, it looks
complicated, and mostly because it is complicated.
We can do something about these
difficulties – but they require addressing the way we – and our colleagues –
think, and that takes time and effort.
There are other causes and factors – and
maybe there is one we could do something about, and it is something that would
magnify the beneficial effects when you finally get around to addressing the two points I
listed above: when we do find things out we don’t tell the people who could do
something about it. And the very best way to get that wrong is to build silos
within your supplier organisation and stop people sharing ideas and
After that last blog on devops, I was
thinking about that particular kind of communication issue. There is something deep
rooted in the human psyche that needs to dismantle their immediate environment
into teams (or
groups, or departments or silos or tribes – call them what you will). IT
organisations are perfect examples – with high level internal teams always
emerging once they gets past a certain size. And if you separate into teams that feel the need to compete, then helpful messages will not be fed across between them. So what was built wrong and delivers the wrong thing stays there and will be wrong in the next version too. That is
the inertial element of behaviour that initiatives like devops and whole
service lifecycle approaches have to contend with. We shouldn’t think it can be
as easy as just telling people to collaborate and communicate. Like all
challenges we need to recognise what we are fighting – and to fight back.
So – what are good ways to start? Perhaps
as simply as recognising that while we might bond comfortably into (say) a
‘development’ team or an ‘operations’ team (or any one of a dozen more) – that
doesn’t make the other team the opposition – I think that would be a good first
step, if we can finally realise that – by and large – what benefits one team
also benefits the other.
 For once this isn’t just me making ideas up. I wrote a psychology
essay on this topic at University – way back towards the middle of the last
 This was discussed in the ITIL books for Small Organisations –
versions 1, 2 and 3.
I have some big news to share. You thought world tours were only reserved for the Stones, Springsteen and other big-name acts? Well, I guess service management has hit the big time, because the IBM Service Management World Tour kicks off in mid-August with gigs across the U.S., Europe and Asia.
I think this is a perfect follow-on to Pulse a merry band of IBM experts comes to a town near you (hopefully) and delivers in-depth presentations on the latest IBM solutions and approaches in service management, storage management, enterprise asset management, and System z. Its a series of hard-hitting one-day events held in smaller settings where you can get some serious face-to-face time with service management gurus. Im helping one such expert with his presentations on the Tivoli Service Management Center for z and consolidating Linux workloads on z (no snappy title yet), and Im impressed with his focus and clarity.Even I get it!By the way, if you missed my profile, thats what I do, write presentations, podcasts and website stories for Tivoli.
Anyway, the tour begins in Boston on August 12, with events in 13 more US cities; the Europe and Asia schedules are being finalized now. You can check out what we have so far and even register for the road show at the World Tour page. You can always ping your favorite IBM sales rep, who is sitting by his/her laptop yearning to hear from you, or ping me, Bob Pickard. In any event, I'll be blogging new news on the tour as it comes along. Party on, Garth.
Increasingly, physical assets are being transformed into digitally aware, smart assets that can receive and emit data and connect with one another, allowing people, systems and objects to communicate and interact with each other in entirely new ways creating opportunities for smarter, differentiated services and products.
As the world becomes more intelligent, instrumented and interconnected, designing and delivering the systems and application software for innovative new products and services becomes more and more complex.
For example, today’s cars contain a 100 million lines of code that are connected to the dealer, to a smart traffic system, to an insurance provider, and to a smartphone, which alone could run 100,000s of new applications.
The complexity of these systems of systems has exploded overnight as every single service and interaction between the multiple systems needs to be managed, monitored, and maintained across the entire service lifecycle.
Current models of design, development, operations, and deployment do not scale and are not cost effective. In addition, there is a huge gap between design, delivery, and operations, inhibiting the efficient delivery of services.
Both development and operations see a number of challenges in their IT and product delivery organizations:
70% of budget locked in maintenance
50% of applications rolled back
30% of project costs due to rework
85% of computing capacity idling
Integrated Service Management—which includes Rational and Tivoli software--helps bridge the gap between software development and operations teams. It provides integration of data and workflows across architecture, development, testing and operations software. It integrates best practices including ITIL and IBM assets for SOA, Development and IT Operations to accelerate time to value. Integrated Service Management helps organizations:
Identify required changes and resolve customer issues in less time
Reduce system downtime and repair costs
Limit risk exposure by providing better visibility to change impact
Featured products include: Federated asset management.IBM Rational Asset Manager helps architects and operations with fast problem resolution as the single catalog of known software assets, such as patterns, past change requests, and in-production services and products. Federation with IBM Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database simplifies deployment with automated synchronization and reduces data duplication, allowing only secure proven assets and services into production environments.
Lifecycle process automation. Accelerate the development, test, and deployment cycles; reduce operational risk; and improve audit posture. Rational Asset Manager catalogs templates and deployment reference architectures tailored by industry, which invoke the build-test-deploy workflows resulting in greater consistency, predictability, and faster time to market. IBM Rational Build Forge®, IBM Rational Automation Framework for WebSphere®, and IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager provide an automated test and deployment workflow reusable across application and data center provisioning environments significantly reducing the manual effort in test and build set up and tear down.
Attend Innovate2010 and to learn more about Integrated Service Management for Design and Delivery. Register today.
If you weren't at Pulse 2012, I won't sugarcoat it. It was another successful event and the customers I spoke to got a lot of value out of the conference.
If you were not there (and even if you were), don't forget about our regional "Pulse Comes To You" (PCTY) events in your country. It's another way for you to meet with us and get the information you need about our service management solutions.
One of the things that makes IBM...well, IBM is that we have excellent business partners like Cisco.
I was able to get some time with David Flesh (Director of Marketing, Cisco Network Management Technology Group) to talk about the partnership that Cisco has with their Cisco Prime solutions and our IBM Netcool solutions.
This will be the first of several videos we'll be posting on the blog. More to come...
My bosses gave me a very simple task, "Solve the confusion surrounding some of the questions our customers have around cloud computing and service management."
I told them I'd have it done before lunch.
And if you believe that, you have way too much faith in my marketing abilities (hi, mom!).
In all seriousness, you have questions about cloud computing. Lots of questions.
Cloud is everywhere and there's a lot of information that our customers are having to sift and sort through.
Which is why back in May, I assembled a group of sales leads, marketing peers, development executives...literaly a "who's who" of cloud computing at IBM and asked them this:
What are the questions our customers have around cloud?
That started a series of conversations that led us to several core questions, and we got to work.
We enlisted some of our top people working on cloud and we asked them to get in front of a video camera and talk directly to you about these questions.
The result is a video series we call, "Cloud Enabling Your Data Center."
Today, we are releasing the first video: "Achieving Greater Efficiencies With Virtualization And Cloud Computing (Service Management Across The Entire Infrastructure)"
This video features two of our top sales executives; Bowman Hall and Barbara Korte. Barbara is a sales executive for Integrated Service Management and you might remember Bowman Hall from the Cloud demo during the Pulse General Session.
As I said, this is the first of the video series. Future videos will be released in the next few weeks.
We also have a short URL that goes to a landing page we've put togther with additional cloud materials and (most importantly) a full list of Pulse Comes To You and Impact Comes To You events that are happening in your area.
Even if you went to Pulse or Impact in Las Vegas this past year, these local events are great opportunities to deep-dive into a topic like cloud computing as well as meet your peers and local subject matter experts.
More to come and please feel free to comment below about your thoughts on Cloud.
PS also this week, we announced a new version of IBM Tivoli Service Automation Manager (Announcement Letter 211-256). The new release allows IT service providers to onboard multiple customers, deploy IT services very quickly across multiple platforms and hypervisors, maximize resource utilization and drive cloud operations effectiveness and efficiency by adding storage support and expanding on network integration. Learn more about the new features and the product on the product page.
David has written about the Cloud Service Management Simulator Workshop in a previous blog and things are heating up as we get closer to Pulse.
In addition to the Sunday workshop we have a few extra seats left on Saturday for business partners and customers who wish to attend. If you are interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Both workshops (Saturday and Sunday) are from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm.
And for more information, watch developerWorks' Scott Laningham interview Ivor MacFarlane on what to expect in the room.
I am writing this on a plane back to England from Madrid, at the end of a pretty hectic few weeks that involved speaking at five itSMF events in five different countries – from Finland to Spain. There has to be a good joke somewhere in a run of 5 events that started with the Finnish – but I’ll let you work that that one out for yourselves.
Anyway, I already wrote about how good the Finnish conference had been, and the Spanish one matched it with all the simple things done really well: good venue, lots of people (all friendly). As well as getting the basics dead right there were one or two minor excursions into the unusual, with a plate spinning performer on the opening morning, (who was upstaged as a professional juggler by the itSMF chair) and a conference dinner in a restaurant with opera singing waiters (all of which somehow felt quite normal).
Attending a range of events in a row like this really brings to mind how there is a common thread throughout them all – clearly the main one is our common focus on service management. Also, many of the same people are at each event including several representatives of our little mutual admiration society of regular speakers at such things Perhaps because of that common theme though, there is an appreciation of the differences – still quite noticeable across so small a place as Western Europe.
That hits you immediately on arrival at a new conference when you run until a long term acquaintance of the opposite sex and prepare yourself for the welcoming hug and kiss on the cheek. As the travelers among you likely already know, you have to perform a quick mental calculation based on where your fellow hugger and kisser is from, and then make an assumption as to whether they will follow their national rules or be adapting to the local ones. It can be an embarrassing moment when your Dutch friend goes to offer that third kiss to the cheek of a man who is in Spanish greetings mode and has turned away after two. Many of the experienced Southern Europeans seem to have little concern over simply asking the lady beforehand how many are expected. But the more staid British and American folks can find themselves out of synchrony and not sure why - helping them find out that European Union, Schengen open borders and pervasive English notwithstanding, there are still many cultures packed into a small space and the variation between (and even within) countries is so much more than between US or Australian states.
None of this is serious stuff of course – all part of life’s rich pattern and a source of fun and laughter when accompanied by a glass of wine. But the conversation it generated turned quickly into broader cultural differences – a subject I was interested in since it formed an element of my talk at most of these events. How many times do we say the wrong thing to our customers or fail to understand what they really mean because we fail to establish common understanding and expectations? Some cultures are reluctant to complain about bad service – be that in a restaurant or in the work environment, while others believe they should always comment with an aspect that could be improved, even when the service is very good. Fail to understand what kind of customer you are dealing with and you can be unnecessarily worried or totally surprised when a contract is not renewed.
For many multinational companies this is everyday business and they put significant effort into understanding and training their people to see through cultural variations. But as mobility and the intermingling of cultures accelerates so rapidly, with even small companies using offshored supply and almost everyone receiving service from other cultures it is something perhaps we all need to focus more effort on.
The consequences of not doing might well be more serious than a failed kiss on an unexpectedly absent cheek.
We live – more and more – in a world where everything that matters can be done on line, where we see and hear better on screen than for real.
You can now take an active part in the world – and potentially run a successful business - without ever leaving your home, possibly without getting out of bed.
And even when we do turn up for real we spend a lot of our time watching things on a screen – be that the presenter or performer in a large hall or the action reply on the giant screens at a football match
You will have seen in the promotions and advertising, that the key presentations from IBM’s show-piece service management event – Pulse – running on 4-7 March in Las Vegas will be streamed live on the web to the warm and cosy comfort of your home.
Despite how easy and good the virtual feed of sessions, chat and information were, 7000 people did get out of their beds in 2011 to travel to Las Vegasand actually be at Pulse, just as thousands turn out weekly to watch football at the stadium when they might have had a better view of the action by staying at home. And even formula one motor racing gets sold out attendance when you can never hope to see much of the race in person compared to what the TV coverage offers.
It seems that there are still good reasons to actually be there – not to put down the value of connecting to the live web streams, but even in the 21stcentury, people learn from people. Pulse is a big and excellent example, but throughout our community we see conferences still being successful and drawing people together to share experiences in surroundings that the virtual world can’t quite match yet. As well as the formal sessions at conferences and events, the networking opportunities of being with others in similar circumstances delivers real benefits – comparing notes with our peers from across the world.
Technology is good – and joining conferences on line is way better than missing it altogether, but people-to-people still has a lot going for it. I’m looking forward to the combination – the atmosphere of really being there and mixing with everyone in the exhibition areas – and over a sociable beer or two at dinner. And of course the added value that streamed interviews and 'watch again on demand' that is available over the web.
This amalgam of real and virtual seems set to be the conference norm for a good few years still – 7000 people at pulse thought so last year, and thousands went to itSMF conferences around the world in 2011 too.
And Pulse is in Las Vegasof course – where could be more appropriate for the combination of real physical existence with technologically driven enhancement - a bit like Red Dwarf's famous 'better than life' game. J
Do you think virtuality will one day totally replace human gatherings? I guess eventually it might, but for now I intend to enjoy both at once and count myself lucky to be alive at the right time to do that.
You can find out all about Pulse – physical and virtual offerings at www.ibm.com/pulse.
See you there – for real, on line, facebook, twitter and more!
Al Zollar, will be collaborating with thought leaders at CIOsynergy on May 6. One of the topics Al will be talking with other CIOs about is how building a dynamic infrastructure can help CIOs free up more of their time to focus on innovation and driving competitive advantage.
CIOs in every industry are all too familiar with the operational and financial challenges that growing infrastructure complexity and rising energy costs are creating for their organizations.
There is increased complexity across the board, and that is a trend that will continue. Creating competitive advantage now means dealing with complexity better than your competitors. And that means the ability to work across your organizations technology siloes to harness technology to support breakthrough innovations.It also means creating a flexible anddynamicinfrastructure to support those innovations.
IBM has been working with many companies and CIOsto helpthem to realize their part in the Smarter Planet, and address the challenges of this environment with such capabilities as Integrated Service Management, Cloud, Security, and Virtualization delivered via our extensive portfolio of hardware, software, and services.Our offerings help our customers create that flexible, dynamic infrastructure that frees up CIOs to innovate, and create the breakthrough services that make them more competitive.
IBM’s vision for a dynamic infrastructure offers an evolutionary new model for efficient IT delivery—giving CIOs the tools to overcome the minutia of daily operations to drive real business innovation.
It’s an approach that allows CIOs to:
Position themselves as agents of change within their organizations
Help break down barriers to global integration
Lead by example on green initiatives and reduce enterprise energy consumption.
That means CIOs will be better able to align IT with business goals and help pave the way for creating the Enterprise of the Future.
Find out more about building a dynamic infrastructure.
Today we trust computers – literally and
unconsciously with our very lives. I was reflecting on this level of trust when
I got £50 of cash out from my local ATM and declined the offer of a receipt.
Seems I now have total faith the computer systems will ‘get it right’. I’ve
come a long way from keeping all my own cheque books to cross check against
later bank statements.
Now, combining that faith with a little
healthy British cynicism, and triggered by watching the Olympics tennis finals on
TV, a mischievous but irresistible thought came to my mind.
It used to be that when a ball hit the
ground near the line we relied on the human eye to say whether it was ‘in’ or
‘out’. That caused disagreements and discussion – and - in tennis often -
sulking, swearing and the full range of petulant behaviour.
Nowadays that is all replaced by
referencing the technology. When there is doubt – or one of the players
questions a call - then we simply ask the computers. What we get then is a neat
little picture representing the appropriate lines on the court and a blob
showing where the ball had hit. So, problem solved: disappointment still for
one player but, so it seems, total acceptance that the computer is right. After
all it is an expensive system working away inside a very expensive box – must
be right, mustn’t it. Or to put it another way ‘computer says in’, who would
But what occurred to me is this. All we can
actually see is some boxes around the court, and a stylised display with a blob
on it. That could be delivered by one person with a tablet showing the court
lines and them touching the screen where they think it landed. Very cheap and
still solves all the arguments because – naturally – everyone trusts technology
Now – of course, and before anyone calls
their lawyers – I am not suggesting for the merest moment that there is the
slightest possibility of such a thing happening. But it’s fun to think it might
be possible. There is little public awareness of what accuracy the system – and
here I presume it does really exist – works to. If you dig around on the web
you can find out (the answer by the way for tennis is 3.6mm). You also find out
there is some very minor grumbling and questioning going on. But that seem at
geek level – in everyday use the audience stands instantly convinced.
So, thinking it through there are a couple
of interesting consequences to real IT life:
Once you realise that trust depends on quality of presentation
at least as much as on accuracy, should you focus more on that? Certainly
you have to take presentation seriously, because the corollary is that if you
deliver perfection but don’t make it look good, then no-one will believe
it even though you are right.
Whose responsibility is it to check – and is it even possible? I
suspect this discussion will take us into the territory of ‘governance’. But
even before we get there it implies that User Acceptance Testing needs to
do more than look at things. Of course yours does, doesn’t it?
I guess my big issue is to wonder how
comfortable we are – as the deliverers of the technological solutions for our
customers – and especially our users - to have such blind faith. Of course,
people being the irrational things they undoubtedly are, that blind faith in
the detail is often accompanied by a cynical disregard for overall competence –
think faith in ATMs and on-line bank account figures with the apparent level of
trust in the banking industry as a whole.
As a little codicil to the story, I registered
with anew doctor yesterday – the nurse asked me questions, took blood pressure
etc and loaded all the data she collected into a computer. The system was
clearly ancient, with a display synthesising what you typically got on a DOS3.0
system. First thought: ‘OMG why are they using such old software, that can’t be
good? Second thought: ‘They’ve obviously been using it for years, so they
really understand it, have ironed out all the bugs and it does what they need. It
ain’t broke so they aren’t fixing it’. But my instinctive reaction of suspicion
of it for not being pretty was there and I had to consciously correct myself.
Would you as a service provider prefer more
questioning of what you package up and present to your customers and users, or
are you happy to have that faith? My own view is that the more blind faith they
have in you, the more the retribution will hurt if things do go wrong. Or
perhaps that’s just me being cynical again?
One statement: simultaneously reassuring and terrifying.
Firstly it’s reassuring because anything that works towards the realisation that development and operation are not really separated by any kind of wall has to be a good thing. Of course there are different areas of focus at different times in the life of a service but they all should have the same aim – delivering what is needed in best possible way. We already all knew that, it is so obviously sensible that who would vote against it? The equally obvious fact that we then don’t do it is one for the psychologists and later blogs, but does lead me into my other reaction:-
The horror that we should be 50+ years into IT services before this seems important to enough for people to give a trendy name. How on earth have we survived this long without a “collaborative and productive relationship” between the people who build something and the people who operate it? And bear in mind both those groups are doing it for the same customer (in theory anyway).
To be fair to IT people though, perhaps this is an obligatory engineering practice we have picked up. Who remembers the days when getting your car repaired was unrelated to buying it? You bought it in the clean and shiny showroom at the front of the dealer, took it to the oily shed around the back if it broke. One of the things that has seen a step-change in the car industry – and is also changing ours and most others – is the realisation that we are now all delivering services and not products. So we are finally realising that long term usability and value is what defines success, not a shiny new – but fragile – toy. In fact, thinking of toys we all recall the gap between expectation and delivery of our childhood toys – the fancy and expensively engineered product that broke by Christmas evening compared to the cheap and solid – be it doll or push along car – that lasted until we outgrew it.
The car industry saw that happen – and we now have companies leading their adverts with a promise of lifetime car driving with their latest vehicles – with the mould really having been broken by Asian manufacturers offering 5 year unlimited mileage warranties. That was about selling a self-controlled transport service instead of a car – and really that is what most of us want. Amazing strides taking place on that front, of course, being taken by companies like Zipcar who have thought simply enough to see there is no absolute link between that service (self controlled transport) and car ownership. (Some of us want other things from a car of course – but that just leads us into the key first step of any successful service, know what your customer(s) want.)
Why I get so interested in all this is its basically what I’ve been saying for the last 20 years – my big advantage is that I came into IT from a services environment (I worked in a part of our organisation called ‘services group’) – and I never really understood why IT needed such a large and artificial wall between build and do. ITIL was (in large part) set up to try and break down the walls – initially an attempt to set up serious best practices and methodologies within operations to match what was already alive and well in development (hence the original name of the project – GITIMM, to mirror SSADM).
So … what am I saying? Please take devops seriously if that is what is needed to get better services. The complexity we need to address now means we have to stop maintaining any practices that prevent good ongoing service design and delivery. If giving it a name and a structure helps then let’s go there.
One of the things I am most proud about in the books I have contributed to is that we made up a fancy name for something good people already did (in our case early Life Support) – the intention was to give it profile and then people would add it to job roles and actually start to plan for it and then, finally, do it better.
Of course that brings with it the chance of looking like the emperor in his new clothes once you examine the detail and originality too carefully. But that’s good too – clever and original usually = doesn’t work too well at first. Solid old common sense (eventually) seems to me to offer a much firmer foundation to build on.
We need good foundations because the situation is actually a lot more complicated than we pretend – multiple customers, other stakeholders, users, operations as users – enough for a dozen more blogs, a handful of articles and a book. So … I’d better get on writing – and maybe so should you?
 Seems so to me anyway – the Delphic oracle was widely believed, responsibility free and most of those who used it didn’t understand where the knowledge came from.