IBM Fosters Innovation: New Cross-Domain
Links Create New Value

IBM Fosters Innovation: New Cross-Domain Links Create New Value

SERVICE MANAGEMENT IN ACTION

In today's competitive economy, software-driven innovation can be a royal road to business success.

And in June, at IBM's Innovate conference, IBM Tivoli General Manager Danny Sabbah unveiled a compelling vision of how organizations can achieve that innovation: by enhancing internal collaboration, reducing costs and complexity, and increasing agility to achieve better service management.

That certainly comes as good news given the service management challenges organizations face today. Among the foremost is this: while software drives services, the IT Development teams that create it and the IT Operations teams that manage it usually work largely in isolation from each other, instead of collaborating cohesively in the pursuit of shared goals.

This de facto wall between the two groups leads to a diminished outcome in many ways. Not least among them: roughly half of all new applications deployed into production are rolled back due to unacceptable flaws.

Toward improving matters, organizations of all kinds can take a significant step in the right direction by asking questions such as:

Fortunately, IBM is in an excellent position to answer those questions. As a world leader in both IT operations and IT development, via the IBM Tivoli and IBM Rational portfolios respectively, IBM has both the expertise and the solutions organizations need to enhance the way software-driven services are designed and delivered.

And the many new ideas coming out of IBM—no doubt due in part to Mr. Sabbah's credentials as former General Manager of Rational and current General Manager of Tivoli—can help smooth the road for organizations trying to move from today's challenges to tomorrow's possibilities.

Optimize service management by linking IT Development and IT Operations

“As IT infrastructures continue to become more standardized, automated, and virtualized, more business value can be created as a result…if that transformation is continually implemented with an eye to service management goals.”

Fundamental to IBM's vision of Integrated Service Management is the premise that as IT infrastructures continue to become more standardized, automated, and virtualized, more business value can be created as a result…if that transformation is continually implemented with an eye to service management goals.

Consider the ongoing metamorphosis of the enterprise data center, which typically includes these elements:

  1. Consolidation of physical assets such as servers
  2. Virtualization, to increase the overall utilization of assets
  3. Automation, which makes everyday tasks much faster and more consistent
  4. Shared logical resources, such as computational power and storage, so that they can be allocated fluidly and in real time
  5. Cloud architectures, which incorporate all of the above to fulfill business workloads dynamically

These developments are all excellent for software-driven innovation; they help create an optimized platform of service delivery that supports business goals more easily, more flexibly, more quickly, and more inexpensively.

But to get the highest possible benefit from such a data center, it's also essential to ensure that the focus continues to fall on the service being delivered—not the technology delivering it, or even the groups involved.

And since today's innovative services are driven by software that is first created by IT Development, and then managed in production by IT Operations, that means new links are needed to integrate these two groups.

By integrating them across the full software lifecycleDesign, Deliver, and Manage—organizations can spur innovation and significantly improve the business value their software-driven services create.

Foster new collaboration across the complete software lifecycle

To understand how this can be achieved, consider these three stages as part of an endless loop. Each stage in the loop feeds into the next; each stage can also be enhanced by connecting IT Development and IT Operations in new ways. This is because for every stage, these two teams have domain-specific tools and information that could be very useful to the other.

Design

This stage revolves largely around software development, including coding and creating builds. Historically, it has been managed almost exclusively as the purview of the IT Development team; feedback from IT Operations concerning previous software versions has of course been taken into account, but typically not available in the detail or depth available from the operations side.

Better results can be achieved by giving IT Development team members more direct access to IT Operations insight. For example, providing architects with visibility into the current production environment needed to design more compatible applications and service. Another example would be visibility into trouble ticket details associated with production problems; another would be performance and root cause details associated with applications and systems on which technical problems were reported.

Given that more complete context, it then becomes simpler and faster for developers to create better software builds. The better the software build, the lower the odds a deployed build will have to be rolled back, and the more value services will deliver.

Deliver

Once a build is deemed acceptable for deployment, it is delivered into production, where it can begin to create value for company insiders (for internal services) or customers/clients (for external services).

In this stage, too, many compelling cross-domain optimizations are often possible. For instance, consider how much value can be created via automated test environments—completely standard systems created via software provisioning tools and a library of predefined system images.

These tools are usually associated with IT Operations, where they're routinely used to create consistent production systems. Similar benefits, however, can be achieved by IT Development in the testing process. When free test systems are made visible and available to testers around the globe for immediate use, and are automatically deployed and perfectly consistent from case to case, the testing process is faster and more accurate, software bugs can more easily be identified and eliminated, and high-quality release candidates emerge more quickly.

Manage

Once software is deployed into production, IT Operations tools can collect and share many types of information of direct relevance to the IT Development group. Examples include service requests, stability statistics, business analytics, overall software utilization or the utilization by specific business groups or customers/clients, and many others.

Further, as problems will inevitably arise, development and operations have the opportunity to lessen the impact of those problems on the business. Sharing real time information collected by operations teams around problems or security breaches associated with particular builds with development teams can speed problem fixes. In turn, the ability for operations staff to see the status of fixes in development allows for better communication with clients and more effective management of expectations.

Simply put, the more relevant information IT Development and Operations share across the lifecycle, the easier it becomes to continuously improve that software in the next stage.

A broad range of business benefits

Of course, you don't have to consider matters in that much detail to see that considerable business value can be generated by connecting these two previously isolated groups.

In a broad, holistic sense, a number of clear benefits stand out:

Clouds, outstanding platforms - drive collaboration between IT Development and Operations

This, of course, brings us to cloud computing—a particularly clear and persuasive example of just how much business value can be created via new, cross-domain integration.

No single topic in the world of enterprise IT has received as much attention in recent years as cloud, and for good reason: clouds are service delivery platforms of unprecedented efficiency, cost-efficiency, flexibility, and scalability. What often goes unsaid about cloud architectures, however, is the way they can also serve as an outstanding centralized platform to fulfill both IT Operations and IT Development objectives.

Revisit the application lifecycle discussed earlier—Design, Deliver, and Manage—and notice how well all three stages can be pursued in a cloud context. The same cloud that automatically creates virtual servers for IT Operations, for instance, can also automatically create test servers for IT Development.

More generally, clouds offer both a means of evaluating current services and applications and an optimized way to refine those services and applications (or create entirely new ones) to solve problems or fulfill customer needs and interests. Through cross-domain integrations implemented in a shared cloud, software architects and IT operations managers can each get a window into the other’s world and a way to reach through it. They can provide both the context-informed insight and the business processes needed to enhance the complete application lifecycle.

As just one example, consider how golden service images coming from development can be deployed by operations in an accelerated manner via a service catalog. Faster deployment means faster time-to-value and more rapid determination of how well that new image meets user needs (or doesn’t). Alternately, think of service assurance as implemented in a cloud; this is necessary to ensure that when problems occur, they can be solved as quickly as possible, and new enhancements or other requests are collected and shared. Without cross-domain integrations of this type, spanning the full application lifecycle from cradle to grave, clouds certainly will not fulfill their full business potential; they may not even be successful in a general sense.

Given cross-domain integrations of the type Mr. Sabbah endorsed at Innovate, though, clouds can more than live up to their hype; they can, in fact, empower organizations to rethink IT at a basic level. Service delivery can be faster—in some cases, radically faster, dropping from months to hours. The infrastructure becomes both more standardized and more consistent; so is the way teams use it, and the business processes involved. Service integration is simpler. Key operational mandates such as efficiency and security are easier to pursue, and can be implemented more consistently and completely.

When looked at through a business lens, the argument for cross-domain integration in the cloud just gets stronger. Faster time-to-market for new services helps give organizations a competitive advantage—critical in a turbulent economy. As customer needs and interests change, organizations can align the services they provide more closely, and more easily, with those needs and interests. And because the cloud is so deeply automated, organizations can abstract out technical details in favor of what matters: creating business growth through service innovation.

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