IT Operational Excellence

When IT departments are tuned to run their best, they achieve more, spend less and drive success back into the organisations they support.

IT operational excellence is an approach that helps to ensure IT departments run efficiently and deliver great service. Without an operational excellence philosophy, IT departments lack vision and strategy, are slow to adapt and are more likely to be bogged down by trivial issues.

Achieving IT operational excellence isn't about implementing one particular framework. It is a mindset geared towards continuous improvement and performance that incorporates multiple principles designed to align team goals around delivering value to the customer.

IBRS can help organisations achieve IT operational excellence by revealing the most effective ways to leverage resources and identify the most valuable activities and differentiators in a given IT team.

Conclusion: The cost of Flash Memory, a high-speed alternative to disk storage, has declined to the point that it is now economical to use in a broad set of cases. This has spawned a large number of Flash based products, often from start-ups, that offer an adjunct, or alterative to, Disk. The different approaches, and the conflicting technology claims, make product selection complex. When coupled with a high capital price, technology risks, and the viability of start-ups, purchasing Flash products carries a high risk for the next few years.

IT organisations should only purchase Flash devices tactically when a sufficiently strong benefit justifies the risk. Over the next five years the cost of Flash will decline by a factor of 10, and the technology and vendors will mature, making it suitable for mainstream use.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Based on conversations, interviews and meetings with Australian clients, IBRS has compiled a list of the top six mistakes that are probably impacting your architecture practice right now.

Astute CIOs and business executives will take steps to avoid these common mistakes which we see repeated in many organisations.

Read more ...

While there were no new projects or tenders announced this month, outsourcing deals are finally becoming a little more significant, with the Royal Adelaide Hospital network deal being especially interesting. The forecasts for outsourcing are currently excellent and there are grounds for optimism in the future.

Read more ...

Conclusion: For the last 20 years an organisation’s applications and data have been largely accessed from a Windows desktop. While the Windows desktop will remain an important access platform, IT organisations will be expected to also enable access via mobile device and to support Software as a Service (SaaS) applications.

The first step is to shift paradigms from “delivering a standardised desktop” to “enabling access from a range of devices and form factors using multiple delivery methods”. The second step is to choose between a best-of-breed or integrated platform strategy for the management platform.

Read more ...

Conclusion: CIOs need to decide if they will invest in the practice of enterprise architecture and if so, how to approach it. Many CIOs choose to invest in enterprise architecture for the wrong reasons: because other organisations are doing it or because a consultant says it is “best practice”. Instead CIOs should consider which enterprise architecture functions would provide specific benefits, given the functions that are already provided in the organisation.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Australian enterprises seem to be slow in adopting social media and related enterprise collaboration tools. Survey evidence indicates that corporate Australia is not as interested in the social and collaborative technologies as counterparts in other regions.

Taking a steady and progressive strategy implementation of social and collaboration is probably an advantage. Being an early adopter with such technology may be an opportunity for some enterprises but not for a mid-sized or larger organisation. However, waiting too long, or crafting an even better strategy may mean wasting opportunities.

Read more ...

There were only a few deals this month with one very interesting contract between Perpetual and Fujitsu which came through towards the end of the month. This contract is a complete, infrastructure agreement, which used to be quite common but now really stands out in the current environment where customers prefer to outsource to multiple, smaller vendors. This agreement may indicate that the consolidated, single supplier arrangement could be coming back into popularity.

Read more ...

In the last four years the mobile device space has undergone a major transformation as Apple redefined the market, first with the iPhone and then the iPad. In that period Apple created a mobile device business with revenues that exceed the total of all Microsoft’s revenues1!

Microsoft, long the dominant desktop software vendor, has struggled in the mobile device market and has fallen out of favour with the consumer and the enterprise for mobile devices. A recent survey2 of the smartphone installed base in the US shows the iPhone has 34% of the market, Android 51% of the market and Windows mobile 4%.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Direct dependencies between services represent one of the biggest mistakes in the adoption of a service oriented architecture. An event driven approach to service design and service orchestration is essential for increasing agility, for achieving reuse and scalability, and for simplifying application deployment. Complex Event Processing offers a gateway to simplicity in the orchestration of non-trivial service supply chains.

Read more ...

Conclusion: In the last two years VMware’s desktop vision has undergone a profound transformation from a narrowly focused VDI (a centralised, virtualised desktop) strategy to a broader Dynamic Desktop1 strategy that supports Physical and Virtual desktops and Software as a Server and mobile applications. Despite this change, for the next 18 months VMware will continue to trail Citrix, which has greater desktop experience and had all the elements of a Dynamic Desktop since 2009.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Governments across Australia have been engaged in Shared Services initiatives for almost a decade. Decisions taken over the last two years to abandon, de-scope or rethink Shared Services by these same Governments demonstrate that the traditional model has not worked and a different perspective is needed. Perhaps knowledge/wisdom can be drawn, not from other government shared services initiatives, but from a completely different business model such as franchising? In franchising it is about having a great product with repeatable and standardised business process, great customer service and a growth strategy.

Read more ...

Conclusion: In order to optimise spending on Microsoft’s products, licensing should not be viewed as a short-term, tactical activity, but rather a long-term strategic activity. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in licensing surprises in future, and the turmoil and budget overruns associated with such situations.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Mark Twain said “'I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”. Overly long, complex or imprecise RFTs create headaches for all involved.

Astute CIOs will ensure that the statement of requirements in an RFT remains succinct, clear and unambiguous. Sufficient attention to detail will save you from a variety of headaches later in the tendering process.

Careers and reputations have been tarnished when disgruntled vendors expose the shortcomings of the tender process through the courts.

Read more ...

While outsourcing deals were a little thin in July there was a lot of discussion around the risks for companies with “BYOD” policies, and the opportunities for service providers to manage solutions. The failure of Peru’s One Laptop per Child initiative (“OLPC”), which has been hampered with problems such as insufficient skills and school resources to make use of the computers, highlights problems that arise when there is a serious mismatch between ideas, strategies and reality. This is a common problem with outsourcing arrangements in general Illustrating that great initiatives and solid implementation plans are not sufficient if external influences, such as the human element, are not taken into consideration.

Read more ...

Conclusion: IBM’s launch of its PureSystems line of hardware completes the vendor line-up for Integrated Systems. While this does not dramatically change the market it does further solidify our 2009 prediction that IT infrastructure is transitioning to a new procurement and deployment model. However, due to internal barriers adoption rates are modest and this transition will only happen slowly over the next seven years.

On the next major IT infrastructure refresh, especially storage, IT organisations should review their approach to procuring and delivering infrastructure. This may require challenging the established infrastructure dogma in order to accurately evaluate the benefits of Integrated System.

Read more ...

Conclusion: One of the challenges faced by senior IT and non IT managers is how to encourage right use of IT resources by their staff? One option, favoured by many organisations, is to charge business units for the cost of IT services and make line management accountable for outcomes and astute use of IT resources. Whilst the option is fine in theory, it comes with a price. The effort needed to collect and allocate IT usage costs is not trivial and often leads management to ask whether it is worthwhile.

Read more ...

Conclusion: For organisations that use digital content distributors, telecoms suppliers, and social media, the Convergence Review is an important stage in how policy and regulation will evolve. The review sought to update the regulations in the sector which has changed rapidly. Although the review did not focus on digital players, there were elements in the digital arena that indicate where change may lead.

It is probably inevitable that more regulation will enter the digital content and distribution sector. The need to impose controls will be to facilitate market competition and foster new ventures. It will also be used to protect individuals. That means that running an unregulated market is not possible if the goals of increasing local content, commerce and technology innovation are to be achieved. Organisations may have a special interest perspective depending on their role within the content, communications, technology development and social media sectors.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Einstein said that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This is true in enterprise architecture and project management. CIOs know that simple solutions have many benefits over complex ones. Highly complex projects have high failure rates, like highly complex architectures. However, many CIOs unwittingly encourage and reward complexity. Complexity must be viewed as a primary focus for reducing cost and risk associated with large projects. CIOs should understand some of the key steps that can lead to reduced complexity in projects and systems.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Microsoft licensing continues to be a major point of confusion and disruption to many IT groups, and procurement managers. Understanding the principles underlying Microsoft’s licensing will go a long way to optimising procurement during negotiations and avoiding licensing errors.

Read more ...

This month’s deals were fairly thin but tenders and project announcements were up. More interesting this month was the chatter centred around BYOD, and other new technologies that are resulting in diversified environments and management and security vulnerabilities arising because of a lack of planning and experience with these technologies.These types of environments are expected to result in new outsourcing service offerings for vendors to take control of areas like mobile device management

Read more ...

The topic of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has resurfaced this year. While this is an important trend that needs to be examined by IT organisations, be careful to separate the facts from the hype. Here are the four most common myths that I keep hearing.

Read more ...

Conclusion: As the market for Board Portals rapidly matures, IT organisations are being asked to assist in selecting and implementing a solution. This is a golden opportunity to raise the IT Organisation’s profile with some of the most influential people in the company.

The CIO must ensure that technical staff do not overcomplicate the project and must find an Executive sponsor who can manage the Board members’ requirements and expectations.

Read more ...

Conclusion: The speed and disruptive effects of consumerisation in the mobile market surprised many organisations that were looking back, not forward. Even mobile providers have not anticipated rates of change and must invest millions to remain competitive.

Over the next three to four years the mobile market will face stark realities in a fully developed and oversupplied market. Providers will have to manage costs, improve service delivery and raise user revenue. That is not an easy set of objectives to achieve. The effect of raising revenues and cost management on users could be disruptive as users seek to maintain price and service levels they have enjoyed for some time. Organisations may have to manage another round of change when it comes.

Read more ...

Conclusion: When assessing the options at outsourcing contract renewal time, ensure insourcing is included in the evaluation as, despite the changeover cost and risks, it may be the best strategy to pursue.

Read more ...

The major interest this month has related to revenue growth for IT service providers. Global and Australian figures are high, and the flow-on effects were clear in the news. Service providers have been announcing new service offerings, strengths in different areas, company expansion both locally and globally, and revenue increases and investment in expanding and improving business operations. Overall it seems there will be some interesting times ahead as business growth impacts on outsourcing industry practices and trends.

Read more ...

CIOs, architects and managers responsible for IT systems often wonder – how did we end up with this mess? There’s no decent documentation. No-one seems to be responsible for the apparent lack of any rational architecture. A lot of stuff is “due to historical reasons”. Of course this would never have happened under your watch, but now it’s your responsibility to make some sense out of it. If your system represents a substantial investment, it stands to reason that you’ll want to understand why it was designed the way it is before you take any radical action to change it.

Read more ...

Conclusion: In spite of changes over the last decade the Microsoft Windows Server licensing is still rooted in the physical machine era of the ’90s. However, most organisations run the majority of their x86 workloads in virtual machines. Microsoft’s disconnect with the virtualisation realities of the last five years can result in licensing confusion. Organisations that choose the wrong licensing approach will either greatly over-spend on Microsoft licences or, more likely, not be compliant.

Read more ...

Deals have increased this month, but more importantly, the deals are more interesting! Increased outsourcing in areas that support consumer-orientated functions (as opposed to just infrastructure or business support deals) is especially clear this month.

Read more ...

As discussed in this month’s research note “Microsoft Licensing + Virtualisation = Licensing Confusion” Microsoft’s Licensing model is based on a physical machine model that is increasingly out of touch with the IT industry.

In the past, when computers did not have the processing power of today’s hardware and operating systems, and software was bound to the physical machine, binding licensing to the physical machine made absolute sense. When organisations wanted to get more computing power, they would buy more machines: which would see Microsoft getting more revenue. Consumption of software (arguably the value of IT in the eyes of users) was closely correlated to the physical machine.

Read more ...

Conclusion: In spite of some benefits in security, remote access and speed of deployment, VDI has remained a niche product. This has largely been due to the higher complexity and much greater capital cost compared with a Full Desktop. However, as VDI infrastructure innovations continue to close the gap, the adoption of VDI will increase beyond this small base. Due to the risks and costs of switching from a well understood model to a relative unknown model, the adoption will increase at a moderate rate and there never will be a “year of VDI”.

Read more ...

Related Articles:

"Is this the year of VDI? (Part 1)" IBRS, 2012-02-29 00:00:00

Deals were light but other news was especially interesting this month. The standout issue seems to be the IT skills shortage (again!), but the discussions about the shortage seem to be expanding into areas such as hiring practices, potential resolutions etc, indicating people are considering the issue carefully, with commentary going down a few levels. There also seemed to be a high level of CIO and CTO appointments this month. The most interesting topic was the Huawei exclusion from NBN bids – lots of debate (and allegations) on that one, everyone seemed to have an opinion!

Read more ...

Circa 1960: The “Hard theory of platforms”

In the early days of information technology, hardware was THE platform. Companies such as IBM and DEC provided the big iron. Business software was THE application. In those days even software was as hard as stone. The term application platform was unheard of.

Read more ...

Conclusion: No, and there never will be “the year of VDI”. However, now that the capital cost of VDI is close to that of a Full Desktop the adoption of VDI will begin to increase beyond its current small niche. The large capital cost and complexity of replacing the existing desktop fleet, the perceived risks in using to a new desktop approach, and a general lack of experienced staff will ensure adoption of VDI will proceed slowly.

For the next 5-7 years organisations will continue to use a range of desktop deployment techniques (such as Full Desktop, Laptop, Remote Desktop Services aka Terminal Server) with VDI being just one of many.

Read more ...

Related Articles:

"Is this the year of VDI? (Part 2)" IBRS, 2012-03-30 00:00:00

Conclusion:Emerging Technologies (such as those relating to Tablets, to Cloud, to Social Media, to Big Data) threaten to complicate and disrupt the work of enterprise architecture. As enterprise architects struggle to understand, simplify and bring governance to heterogeneous technology environments, new and emerging technologies get in the way.

Emerging technologies cannot be ignored. They promise tantalising new benefits and bring a vision of hope to CIOs struggling with increasing costs and stagnant budgets.

Enterprise architects must understand what is possible with new technology and matching that to the specific needs of an organisation whilst reducing technology sprawl.

Read more ...

Conclusion: With cumulative revenue in excess of $1 billion, and penetration into the majority of ASX50 organisations,Indian based IT service providers are clearly a well-established and credentialed participant in the Australian IT environment. The adoption of these vendors by Australian organisations has continued to accelerate in recent years. An increased challenge for current and prospective customers is to understand the implications of evolving Indian provider capability and investment.

Read more ...

This month we have seen a lot of commentary on the e-Health records initiative, with industry bodies (medical, privacy and software) becoming quite vocal about expected launch date delays and inability to reach technical objectives, while government bodies responsible for the system refute the claims! More significant this month is the rise in outsourcing contracts and proposed tenders and even better, more interesting contracts – finally!

Read more ...

Social media is nearly ubiquitous in every market. So far social media ventures have done extremely well commercially, if not in real money, well then, at least in some discounted financial value accounting methodology.

This year the whole game, so to speak, goes up a degree with Facebook more than likely to go public with its IPO in late May according to latest reports. Forecasting what it will mean to the social media industry, to usage and apps development in a market that is already mature and fully saturated, is complex.

Read more ...

Conclusion: As discussed in “Backup is not Archive!1 all IT organisations should evaluate the deployment of an archival platform to reduce storage costs and improve unstructured data management. Our 2008 survey found archiving in ANZ organisations to be immature and with many risks. A follow-up survey in 2011, and on-going client discussion, shows this situation has improved as evidenced by higher implementation success rates and customer satisfaction scores.

We found the products most commonly used in production were Symantec Enterprise Vault and Commvault Simpana. These products were very well rated by the organisations that used them while EMC on the other hand continues to struggle.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Most vendors emphasise their strengths and obfuscate to hide their weaknesses when responding to an RFT (Request for Tender) for IT products and services. Detecting their weaknesses by unravelling their obfuscation is often a major task for the evaluation team or panel. Failure to detect weaknesses could lead to the wrong vendor (tenderer) being selected and reflect poorly on the team.

Read more ...

There have been no IT deals of great interest this month which is to be expected so early in the calendar year. As with any major government IT program, now that the launch of the federal government’s e-health record system is being ramped up, reports and debates on the system including any setbacks and flaws have increased this month and will probably keep doing so until July. Forecasts are levelling off, but there are interesting comments on predictions for the outsourcing landscape by the IAOP and Outsourcing Centre and it will be of further interest to follow developments over the next twelve months.

Read more ...