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    What the heck is a "Cloud Services Brokerage?

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Tue, Feb 13,2018 @ 09:18 AM

    Bob overwhelmed with textNot so many years ago, the life of an IT executive was only slightly complicated. You had to manage network, systems, storage, people, processes and tools. Your list of decisions were centered around how to architect, build, size, scale and manage the life-cycle of traditional IT services. More than enough confusion for anyone. But, nothing compared with today's demands on an IT exec.

    Not only do these demands still exist, you now have the added consideration of cloud computing and A-Z as a service. Added to that are the demands on WAN infrastructure so that your cloud-delivered services are readily available and secure. Add up your new duties plus, how do you install controls that are effective and easiest managed? Including, through which channels will you purchase technology. The, "Can't get fired for buying #1 brand," philosophy is flanked by hundreds of new cloud-based technologies from an emerging database of specialized suppliers. Sometimes the new guy has the best answer.

    If you're considering cloud options, you can't just go with what you know. You have to dig to find the best and the brightest, even among the newbies. Gartner is a good tool for learning. However, it does not monitor actual engagements of their rated suppliers. They do not have behind-the-scenes info on project successes or failures.

    Now, imagine for a moment, a network of suppliers that are governed by a central distribution channel. A channel that vets suppliers and sets up engagement criteria for their member agents who operate in your local market. Consider a cloud broker, like Liftoff IT, who may operate in your market and represent this channel of suppliers to end-user customers like you. The agents focus on understanding your business and understanding your goals for technology. Then, by collaborating with technical experts from the governing body of the network, they scan the member suppliers for not only best of breed technology but ones with a history of success and failure.

    Your broker-consultant comes back to you with a recommended solution and a short-list of suppliers that are best suited to solve your technology puzzle. Your local agent is an independent, vendor-agnostic, trusted partner who receives compensation from the member network, not directly from the supplier.

    A vendor-agnostic solutions provider, like Liftoff IT, serves an important role within your company. Through this network, you are availing yourself of hundreds of potential solutions providers without having to interview every one of them. And because our network is the biggest client of the member suppliers, you will always get attention when you need it as well as the best price, regardless of the size of the independent agent you're working with.

    There is still a role for the traditional systems integrator. But, why not add the dimension of an independent agent who can broaden the assortment of suppliers from which you pick, while shortening your amount of involvement. Your partner, brokerage is a business model more like financial services than the traditional VAR. More suppliers, more options, more protection, better vetted solutions with less headache.

    Want to know the coolest supplier for the project you're working on? 

       Find Out Now

     

     

    Topics: cloud computing

    5 Steps to Successful Office 365 Adoption

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Fri, Feb 10,2017 @ 12:12 PM

    5 Adoption Phases.jpgMicrosoft now states that there are 1.2 billion Office users in the world and some 60 million commercial accounts. As well, over 85% of the Fortune 500 have a Microsoft product in the cloud and there are now over 50 million new small business clients migrating to O-365 every month, per Microsoft. Five and a half years and adoption numbers like this clearly means that Office 365 has certainly arrived at some level of maturity.

    Since the office productivity suite, like O-365 is often the first application moved to the cloud, many cloud service providers have a laser-like focus on developing their Office 365 cut-over migration product into a well-oiled solution. Success with this project positions the service provider for eventual, additional application migrations and market share growth. Cloud adoption forecasts into the next three years, show that even the most conservative and stayed organizations will be ready to move their office productivity suite to a cloud-based environment. In a research study done by 451 Research, during the next three years, 70% of mainstream buyers will have 50% or more of their computing in the cloud. This means that cloud computing is no longer an experiment. It is here to stay and more importantly, the market is going to get really, big, really fast.

    This may be good news for you as a shopper for services. Because of the maturation of this market there are some solution providers who have been facilitating these migrations for almost as many years as the applications have been available. And they have got it down. For example, we have one solution provider in our portfolio of professional service companies who can boast 20 million user migrations. The refinement of their approach is time-tested and quite mature.

    Proven 5-phase method for successful Office 365 cut-over migration.

    Phase 1 | Value Envisioning Workshop (VEW)

    The Value Envisioning Workshop is the primary and most critical step in the user adoption program. This step involves a four-hour onsite session where a variety of business executives (Marketing, HR, Operations, etc.) and our change management experts come together to create a vision for the organization. This comprehensive, structured conversation is built to generate insights on current business problems and set specific goals to help construct an adoption plan.

    • Create Vision
    • Identify Business Use Cases
    • Set Goals
    • Define Success Criteria

    Phase 2 | O-365 Planning and Preparation

    During this phase, the user adoption plan is constructed and materialized to set the stage for success in the upcoming phases. The deliverables will be tailored to each organization’s individual needs, involving the user adoption labs and other engagements to construct a user adoption plan that maximizes business value.

    • Secure Executive Sponsor
    • Engage User Adoption Labs
    • Construct User Adoption Plan
    • Create Customized Marketing and Communication Plan

    Phase 3 | Awareness

    Company-wide awareness through effective communication is vital to the success of any trans-formative IT project. This step, guided by heavy involvement of change management consultants, involves deploying strategies and creating materials developed in the previous phase; the goal is to get the entire organization on board with the vision developed by the business executives during the Value Envisioning Workshop.

    • Customized, Multi-Phase Communication Plans
    • Development of Marketing Materials
    • Deployment of Phase 1 Communication Plan

    Phase 4 | Deploy

    The deployment phase involves a variety of training methods, tailored to each individual organization’s needs, to teach employees, managers, and administrators how to use the new technology in order to accomplish their respective tasks more effectively.

    • Resource Site
    • Onsite Training
    • Remote Webinar Training
    • Self-Paced E-Learning Modules
    • Gamification

    Phase 5 | Measure & Iterate

    This phase is critical to realizing the true value and ROI of the IT project. This is where success criteria, such as employee sentiment or productivity improvements are defined and measured. This phase is also key for gathering success stories and determining future goals.

    • Pre/Post Deployment Surveys
    • User Satisfaction Surveys
    • Success Metric Dashboard & Analysis
    • Regular Success Metric Reviews
    • Additional Labs

    Post phase #5, on-going exercises are needed as feature and function changes necessitate reengaging this process again from the beginning. Hence on-going support above and beyond what Microsoft can offer is often a productive choice.

    The cost of implementing a program like this can often be absorbed using incentive funds from Microsoft. The amount, of course, depends on the number of licenses.

    I encourage you to contact us if you would like further information on services provided to make your migration to Office 365 a success.

    FREE e-Book - Updated Overview of Office 365 Click for e-Book

     

    Topics: cloud computing

    4 JIRA Service Desk Metrics Critical to IT Operations

    Posted by Colm Hayden on Thu, Jan 14,2016 @ 03:57 PM

    Jira_Logo.jpg

    Managing and optimising your IT infrastructure is becoming an increasingly central component in ensuring business success. With so many critical business functions taking place in the cloud, over the internet and via an ever-increasing number of devices, keeping an eye on your network service is essential in gaining the necessary amount of insight into the way your business functions. However, with the software tools we have access to today and the sheer amount of information they provide, it's easy to get lost in a sea of meaningless metrics and unimportant data.

    As the primary touch point between the users of your network and your support staff, your service desk can tell you a lot about the health of your IT infrastructure, and how efficient your operations are. In this blog, we'll discuss some of the most important Jira Service Desk Metrics, and how to use them to your advantage.

    New Tickets – Number & Department Based
    The first and most straightforward of the metrics you should be paying attention to is the generation of new tickets – which departments they come from, how many there are over a certain time period, the most common types of requests, etc. Being able to separate tickets according to the department they originate in gives you a broad idea of the health of each individual part of your organisation, and can alert you in good time to emergencies on your network. It's important to ensure each new ticket provides your service desk with enough information to resolve the issue as quickly as possible in order to minimise downtime and keep your workforce productive. To this end, it's essential that your ticket types are comprehensive and capable of catering to the unique needs of your business network. It's also essential to track the number of tickets solved – turning some tickets around in good time isn't worth much if you have others that sit unresolved for weeks on end.

    Time to First Response
    The Time to First Response is the amount of time it takes between the creation of a new ticket, and the first public comment by a member of support staff on that ticket. The longer it takes for your service desk staff to respond to a ticket, the higher your chances of disgruntled users and the less efficient your organisation will be. A significant part of this comes down to expectation management – generally speaking, users want the reassurance that someone has seen their ticket and is attending to their problem. A simple, short message acknowledging receipt of the ticket will suffice, and making this a standard part of your processes will go a long way towards building goodwill among users and employees alike.

    Requester Wait Time and Time to Resolution
    While Time to First Response is vital in managing your users' expectations, the time it takes to resolve this ticket and report back to the user who submitted it is even more important – not only in managing expectations, but to ensure as much uptime as possible. Requester Wait Time refers to the combined time a ticket remains unresolved while it is being worked on by support staff. The longer this time, the less efficient the support on that particular ticket has been. Time to Resolution, on the other hand, represents the time between a ticket being lodged and the ticket being solved. There are two distinctions to bear in mind here: Time to First Resolution specifies the time taken between the user logging the ticket and support staff solving it for the first time. Subsequently, the user may have further questions, or the solution applied by support staff may not have solved the problem on the client's side. Full Resolution Time refers to the amount of time taken from the ticket being opened to it being resolved for the last time.

    Number of Requests Resolved through use of Knowledge Base
    For organisations that deal with high volumes of support tickets on a regular basis, the load on your IT support staff can become debilitating before long. To this end, having a public knowledge base or wiki page that your users can access could provide some much-needed respite for overworked support engineers. However, it's vital to track how your users make use of these portals, and how many tickets have been successfully solved through your knowledge base. If the number of tickets solved through your knowledge base are lower than you'd like, you might need to improve the state of your wiki page, or do more to make customers aware of the fact that it exists. With a comprehensive and easy-to-use self-help platform, you could achieve higher resolution rates, while freeing up time for your support staff to attend to more complex and pressing concerns.

    Knowing the most valuable Jira Service Desk metrics is only the first step in ensuring that your IT infrastructure is as efficient as it can be. To get true value from this data, it's imperative to monitor and track these metrics as thoroughly as possible, and use that information to optimise and streamline your service desk wherever possible. To find out more about the most valuable Jira Service Desk metrics and how best to manage them, request a live demo with the ServiceClarity team.

     ServiceClarity Testimonial - Global Gaming Company

     

    Top 10 Reasons Why End-User Analytics

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Thu, May 07,2015 @ 10:00 AM

    ITOA_Cool_Vendor_Graphics

    The standard today is to continuously monitor your servers and take stock of your PCs / endpoints. This is proving insufficient in keeping up with the growing expectations about the contribution of IT to the business. Here are 10 reasons why IT departments should raise the bar and add end-user IT analytics to increase their value inside their organization. Any one of these should be reason enough, but with all 10 you can't afford to ignore the trending evidence.

    1. Consumerization of IT - life for IT organizations has forever changed. Forget standardizing on a single platform or controlling the applications used by end-users, today, IT is less about control and more about coping with whatever new technology is released.
    2. BYO from Anywhere - with less control of device, application and location (office, home, public), IT has little choice but to listen to their end-users. When it comes to the Cloud and SaaS the only way to 'listen' to end-users is from the endpoint device.
    3. Software Defined Everything - has introduced an additional level of complexity across the board. With the dynamic provisioning of virtually everything, IT organizations need a clear understanding of how their IT services are being consumed from the perspective of the business end-users. The only way to gain understanding and insight is to use analytics.
    4. A Movie is Worth 10,000 Pictures - if you think of inventory as a snapshot in time then end-user IT analytics is a movie. Analytics allows you to truly understand the operation of your end-user computing infrastructure by looking at all applications, all connections of all your end-users all the time in real-time.
    5. The 3-Ps (pre-emptive, predictive, proactive support and management ) - are the new standard. It's no longer acceptable to maintain the status quo. IT and their service partners have to make things better. The only way to make things better is to continually measure and improve.
    6. Be Smarter and close the Sat-isfaction Gap - CIOs, CISOs, IT Directors and Project Managers can't afford to ignore the growing satisfaction gap any longer. With over 50% of incidents reported by end-users, you need a complete understanding and visibility of what is going on in your infrastructure to deliver a better service to your end-users.
    7. Protection is Futile - security experts acknowledge there is no way to protect against day-zero threats and targeted attacks. So you are going to need end-user analytics for real-time endpoint threat detection before it's too late.
    8. ETD (Endpoint Threat Detection) - is the new reality. Since you can't protect your environment against everything your end-users will encounter, the best solution is to add real-time end-user / endpoint behavior analytics (as a safety net) to your security strategy.
    9. Strengthen Your Security - by correlating end-user / endpoint behavioral (threat detection) analytics with your SIEM tool, your Security Operations Center can be more deterministic.
    10. Manage Change Successfully - with most transformation projects being delayed and / or not delivering the expected benefits to end-users, analytics can give you the the information needed to avoid costly mistakes and keep the project on track.

      Analytics often times connotes a mad scientist, Orwellian fascination with data. However, you can see that it has real-world applications and benefits that resonate with your bottom line.

    Topics: IT Operations Analytics ITOA End User Experience M

    Improve Your NOC Operation With This One Managed IT Service.

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Fri, Nov 28,2014 @ 11:17 AM

    By most conservative estimates, 85% of the alerts being generated by your various monitoring solutions are noise. "Noise" is a term IT operators use to describe the flood of alerts that fill up email boxes, which don't require any action. To compound the problem, operators can't be certain which of the landslide of alerts need attention and which ones do not.

    The problem is that every system, device and application in the environment is alerting you to something. Constantly. And because technology is multiplying by the day and data is becoming cheaper to provide, alerting is getting out of hand. So many alerts that it can easily reach 10,000 per week in a standard mid-enterprise environment. And there are some reading this who would love such a small number.



    Alert Filtering

    How are you handling noise?


    Safe to say if you go into any IT operations group and ask about the policy for looking at and/or responding to alerts, you'll get a mixture of answers. Often accompanied with an occasional chuckle, which to me means someone thinks the procedure could be better. The point is, they're a pain to keep up with and cause a lot of lost time opening and reading alerts that require little, if any attention.

    There's nothing like a human.

    A solution we implement for our clients is a combination of Vistara, a SaaS IT operations platform and NetEnrich. NetEnrich is essentially IT operations as a service. This 1-2 punch combines technology and human intervention that in a typical scenario turns tens of thousands of alerts into just a handful of service tickets. 

    With thousands of customers' systems and networks being monitored, knowing which alerts need attention is a source of NetEnrich's success. NetEnrich, is a 300-400 person engineering company with HQ in San Jose and operations in Hyderabad, India has been perfecting the use of its star IP, Vistara (Vistarait.com) for at least 10 years. Vistara can be one of two things: 1.) the actual monitoring tool 2.) collector/aggregator of alerts generated by other monitoring tools. Or, both. With Vistara, all devices in your environment are visible regardless of their physical location. Vistara is an up-to-date IT operations tool that sees all. Now event correlation can be handled in one place.

    The beauty of the combination is this, for about the cost of a good new monitoring solution, you can also get humans to keep watch over it. Alerts are forwarded via email OR thru API integration with your ITSM, tickets are generated by NetEnrich directly into your service portal. You can add services or subtract them as time goes on. For a few bucks more you can add support like OS patching, automated run-book or even full management of an environment, including trouble-shooting, RCA and OEM vendor management. See "Scalable Workforce."

    It gets better.

    Most NOC operations are staffed by the least number of people needed to cover 24x7x365. Recruiting and keeping people who want to do this work can be challenging, particularly if you need people with skills. You might have the right number of people but not the right skill sets to keep up. When you use a share services, remote model like NetEnrich, you have dozens of people at any hour of the day with a deep understanding of every kind of technology being monitored. This means you are no longer limited by the skill sets of your own people. (8 Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Monitoring and Management)

    If monitoring or remote IT support are on your to-do list for 2015, consider a solution that not only provides unified monitoring and alerting but also has a support component that you can dial in by technology. Maybe you want more help managing Exchange than you do with your Linux servers - or the other way around. Depending upon your requirements, these solutions can be customized to your situation. More like "co-sourcing" than "out-sourcing."

    So, buy new monitoring. Or, buy monitoring with managed IT services that come with it. Dish out the work you don't want to do (or aren't good at) to remote support and focus on what you want to do. In a majority of the time, the remote operators will do it better and for less money than it costs you to do it yourself.

    Topics: Managed IT Services, Remote Tech Support

    7 Questions to Ask Yourself if You're Ready for Managed IT Services?

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Tue, Oct 28,2014 @ 04:12 PM


    iStock_000035696454Medium-resized-600-346082-edited

    If you are a small business owner and considering whether or not Managed IT Services will benefit your company, the answer is almost always- yes. There is little doubt that most small businesses can benefit, yet that in itself does not always justify the cost of bringing on a third party provider. Accepting that Managed IT Services Providers (MSP) can offer solutions to common problems found in small business operation, the real question is when it makes sense to switch from in house IT solutions to Managed Services.

    There is a good chance if you are already considering using a MSP, the time might be near when you are ready to make the switch. Small business owners do not have the luxury of a never ending IT budget, therefore it is very important to recognize when your current IT management is no longer cost effective. For most small businesses this occurs when the business grows to the point of needing either a contract with a local service provider who is "on call" for IT needs or hiring a full time IT person to remain on staff. There is of course another option for small business owners to consider and that is hiring a MSPr to oversee their IT needs.

    If you are still unsure that your business is ready for the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Do you find IT costs are continually increasing?
    2. Is it difficult to find and retain quality IT staff?
    3. Is your network and workstation performance and speed decreasing?
    4. Are your employees spending more time dealing with IT issues than focusing on job they have been hired to perform?
    5. Do you have problems with viruses, spyware and other security issues that could threaten the confidentiality of proprietary information?
    6. In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, would your network be at risk? Would recovery be a concern?
    7. Do you find network downtime is increasing?

    If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then your business is ready to investigate.

    Now that you have determined Managed IT Services are right for your business, the next challenge is finding the right provider of these services. This is a decision that should not be made lightly or rushed as the wrong provider can end up costing your company more money than your current situation. Before you begin the search for a provider you should first consider your IT budget as well as issues or problems you want to be addressed.

    It is important to remember that Managed IT Services are not a one-size-fits-all type of solution to business problems. Each business and industry has their own issues to contend with and a qualified Services Provider will work with you to find the solutions that will benefit your company the most. If a potential provider is more intent on selling you services and not listening to the needs of your business, move on to another provider who is willing to listen to your concerns and offer customized solutions that address these needs.

    The point of outsourcing your IT management is to save money while freeing up time to focus on other business operations. For this reason it pays to put forth the effort to find the best MSP to oversee your technology needs.

    Topics: Managed IT Services

    IT operations analytics: Changing the IT perspective

    Posted by Poul Nielsen on Fri, Mar 21,2014 @ 09:02 AM

    With the addition of more endpoints and with more varied business processes relying upon them, enterprise IT infrastructures are expanding and becoming ever more complex.

    Nielsen Blog Photo 1 resized 600

    The growth and complexity of infrastructures, along with the wealth of data that passes through an organisation’s IT infrastructure on a daily basis, presents IT operations teams with fresh challenges that are becoming increasingly harder to address.

    At the same time, such challenges are leading end-users to become further dissatisfied with their IT departments.

    All of this signals a need for a change in focus for IT operations teams; from an ongoing system of reactive maintenance to a more proactive, innovative and tailored approach. CIOs, though, currently find themselves without the financial or human resources necessary to take this approach, having to cut costs and corners in order to find new IT efficiencies.

    Driven by a need to address these concerns, the emergence of real-time IT analytics will prove to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Analysing significant amounts of operational data in real-time brings with it the ability to identify the trends and anomalies that can serve as key indicators of the health and performance of a company’s IT infrastructure.

    A change for the good

    IT Operations Analytics, or ITOA, a form of real-time analytics recently identified as an emerging sector by Gartner, is set to have a major impact on the IT industry as it develops, enabling new and more cost-effective ways of carrying out business processes and delivering services to end-users. (BI and analytics a $10 billion market, says Gartner)

    By employing advanced analytics to harness vast volumes of highly diverse data from various applications and endpoints across an organisation’s IT infrastructure, ITOA solutions provide IT service desks with instant awareness of issues as they occur – and often before the person at the other end is able to acknowledge. Along with awareness, they deliver an understanding of how these issues could in turn affect both the IT infrastructure and the wider business.

    As ITOA looks to enter the mainstream over the next four to five years, as predicted by Gartner, the solution will provide CIOs and IT managers with increasingly important operational and business data. This crucial information will be directly captured from the data generated by those business processes and services entwined within an organisation’s IT infrastructure, before being aggregated and analysed.

    This analysis is then used to provide the IT operations team with full and clear insight into the performance of their company’s IT infrastructure, allowing them to identify and isolate any disruptions, inefficiencies and failures.

    The IT service desk is provided with a graphic view of the current state of the IT infrastructure and individual devices as well as the ability to look back and see a device’s activity history. By identifying any changes that have been made, including any installed applications, the operations team will be immediately made aware of potential issues likely to occur at any given point on the IT infrastructure, as well as an understanding of the impact of these issues.

    Additionally, as a boon to IT service desks, these analytics will provide a clear understanding of the issues, allowing the implementation of the solutions necessary to help users restore or maintain the service levels they require and expect.

    The insights that ITOA delivers will, ultimately, allow for a consistent, efficient service regardless of an IT infrastructure’s size and complexity, even on a limited budget. Unlike traditional network and application monitoring performance tools, ITOA solutions are scalable and therefore able to monitor a growing number of endpoints and applications on an IT infrastructure without requiring extensive per-application configuration.

    The right perspective

    This visibility into an IT infrastructure and its respective endpoints and applications should be welcomed by IT operations teams, as there remains a lack of visibility into the consumption of an organisation’s IT services, and just how these services are perceived by end-users.

    Indeed, although many organisations claim that they actively monitor networks and servers, analysts state that more than half of IT issues reported by end-users were not detected by back-end monitoring tools.

    By using ITOA tools that offer this end-user perspective, members of the IT service team will not only be able to monitor the current state of the IT infrastructure, but also focus on individual devices. In doing so, they can identify and isolate a particular issue on one particular affected device, before identifying other devices on the infrastructure with a similar configuration, and taking pre-emptive steps in preventing similar issues affecting users across the business.

    Project leader

    While ITOA are of obvious benefit in providing a current view of an organisation’s IT infrastructure, they are also useful in the planning of migration and transformation projects.

    According to leading analysts, 90% of these projects suffer delays in their implementation, leading to a failure in their delivering the expected benefits. ITOA solutions, however, can help to minimise potential downtime by better controlling planned changes and pro-actively identifying any unplanned alterations.

    Being armed with such information means that those responsible for planning and implementation will be able to avoid making costly mistakes and assumptions, identifying and resolving potential issues before they derail an IT project. The cost of employing an ITOA solution can be justified from the savings made here alone.

    By identifying and isolating problems as they occur on an individual end-user’s device, ITOA can help IT service desks prevent more widespread issues taking place across the whole IT infrastructure.

    In its Hype Cycle Report, Garner rated the business impact of ITOA as being ‘high’, meaning that its use will see businesses enjoy significantly increased revenue or cost saving opportunities. With lower budgets and smaller teams facing ever more complex IT infrastructures, the emergence of ITOA can be seen by CIOs and their operations teams as the right solution at just the right time.

    Poul Nielsen is VP Marketing for Nexthink: www.nexthink.com

    Topics: IT Operations Analytics ITOA End User Experience M

    8 Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Monitoring and Management

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Wed, Sep 11,2013 @ 09:06 PM

    Schematic of Remote Computer Support

    If you're considering ways to keep your infrastructure up and running while cutting costs AND completing your projects on time, you no doubt have given some thought to remote tech support. 

    Some while ago, I was given the assignment of growing a channel for a company offering remote monitoring. Since I knew nothing about it, I relied on my marketing background to do a market analysis and see what I could learn. I'll skip replaying the entire exercise and jump right to the part where I compared the various competitors in this space.

    There are a number of offerings out there worth considering and really there probably isn't one solution that fits all. That's why you should consider finding a partner who understands the idea of scalability. Some vendors have a "winner take all" attitude where they want your entire infrastructure and the services they offer are blanketed. Meaning, they will outline their services and that is what you must take if you take anything at all.

    So look for a vendor who truly wants to "partner" with you. Someone who will take the time to interview you to learn where you really need help. A true partner will understand that you don't really want to hand everything over. All you want is to have someone take the nuisance factor out of the day to day so that you and your team can focus more on innovation and on the new technologies that will make you money.

    But, in my opinion, here are the minimums you should expect from your remote tech support group. For reference, let's talk Windows.

    1. 24 X 7 monitoring of your Windows servers and OS - To clarify, this means physical AND virtual servers. Your new vendor should have the resources to not only monitor your environment around the clock, they should also have the know-how to react to problems, regardless of when they occur. Any time of day. Any day of the year.
    2. Alert Validation and Escalation - Noise from unwanted alerts is one of the number one causes of frustration in operations. At least 85% of alerts generated from devices or other monitoring tools are not actionable. The problem is that it isn't possible to always know which alerts you should read and which ones you should trash. You want a vendor who knows the difference and can separate the chicken salad from the chicken ----, well, you know what I mean.
    3. Run-book - If your monitoring vendor has a clue, they know that you really don't need to be bothered by every incident. Sometimes, all that is required is a simple re-boot. A good vendor will have a run-book that is your instructions on the steps to take to remediate a problem before they ask for your attention.
    4. OS Patching - A good vendor will have a schedule for reviewing the new releases on "Patch Tuesday" and for testing them, prior to installing them on your systems. As well, the particulars to your schedule need to be customized to your requirements.
    5. Anti-Virus Updates - (Yawn) which of your engineers do you really want doing this kind of work?
    6. Verifying Completion of Backup Jobs - Very simple here. You will want your vendor to notify you of the successful completion of backups.
    7. Integration with your service desk tool. Every remote tech support vendor will have their own tool for opening tickets and monitoring their progress. What you don't want to do is learn their system on top of learning your own. Your new vendor will have the expertise to integrate their ticketing system with your ITSM tool (ServiceNow for example).
    8. Dashboards and reporting - Here, you just want to be able to see whatever your remote tech support group is looking at. One window for all. Plus, weekly/monthly/quarterly reporting of the activity and potential problem areas.
    Beyond these standard services, look for a vendor who will also offer additional services, like trouble-shooting, root-cause analysis and maintenance vendor coordination.
    If you do your homework and shop wisely, you will find a good partner who will rid you of the headache of doing mundane, routine support work and free you up to do more towards getting ahead of the competition.

    Topics: IT Solutions, Managed IT Services, Remote Tech Support

    Analytics Big as IT Solution at ServiceNow Show

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Wed, May 15,2013 @ 11:32 AM

    Service Now Analytics a Hit

     

    The drive for increased efficiencies in IT continues to gather momentum and analytics was definitely a hot topic at this year's ServiceNow Users Convention in Las Vegas. The show, "Knowledge 13" ran May 12th thru the 16th at the spaceous Aria hotel and casino.

    Without exageration the most popular BI solution for ServiceNow is Mirror 42. This is a plug-in tool that appears to the user within the UI of ServiceNow and is brought to you by the same folks who sponsor the popular KPI Library, (www.kpilibrary.com) an online gathering place of nearly 450,000 members who share key performance indicators for their business and various ways in which these indicators drive continuous improvement within their organizations.

    Mirror 42 matches many of these same KPIs with data drawn directly out of ServiceNow, the leading SaaS IT Service Management tool in the world. For the beginning Mirror 42 customer, much of the focus is on incident management and the various performance indicators which reflect trends in keeping up with the resolution of incidents and the resulting service tickets generated and closed.

    ServiceNow has several reporting functions of its own but for many who want to dig deeper and promote efficiency, Mirror 42 seemed to have caught their attention at this show. You can see from the photo (above) there was barely enough room for the number of people who wanted to catch a look and the hear the story.

    One of the most compelling stories involves a chart that is an actual customer's result of using Mirror 42. This particular customer implemented the M42 solution and kept the reports to himself and to a small number of management colleagues for a period of nearly 2 weeks. The number of open incidents remained fairly static. But, after sharing the reports with everyone in the organization, the number of open incidents dropped dramatically. Nearly 60% in the ensuing 4-6 week period.

    In his keynote address to the ServiceNow faithfull, CEO Frank Slootman, covered the challenges facing IT executives in the face of a changing IT landscape. "Changing IT is far easier than changing behavior," said Slootman. By this he is talking about the need for IT to change its focus from technology to service.

    One way to change culture is by socializing trends in processes. In the Mirror 42 scorecard below, you will see an actual case of a change from within the IT team by simply publicizing results. It is dramatic enough to note that the number of Open Incidents declined over 60% in 2 months after implementing Mirror 42. But, what is more relevant is that the IT chief in charge of this project kept this scorecard from the team and shared it only with a handful of managers. After the first two weeks, the decision was made to publicize the scorecard to the entire IT team. Note the dramatic decline in open incidents as a result!

    Socializing KPIs Produces Results

    What became obvious is that showing a team their particular score card provides the kind of real-time feedback that drives action.

    Getting better, more sophisticated KPI metrics is certainly the goal of many. But motivating the troops to better performance is the goal of all. Good people don't try to deliver poor performance. They just need to see what good performance looks like. In the words of W. Edwards Demming, "You can't manage what you don't measure."

    There are several game-changing solutions here at Knowledge 13. Some boardering on A.I. One solution called NextThink measures end user activity to find problems before they surface. Based upon activity in the enterprise it can save user actions to a big data file and present anomolies to management. In one example NextThink Chief Marketing Officer Poul Nielsen shared a story of an organization that was rolling our an upgrade to their ERP. On a Friday afternoon 10 people tried to log on and failed. But, instead of calling the help desk, they just abandoned the activity and went home for the weekend, thinking they'd try again on Monday. NextThink reported to the IT chief that 10 users tried to log on and failed and, "You have a problem."

    It's clear that the importance of monitoring service will only gain momentum and from what I saw at this show, the ServiceNow community could well be leading the way.

     

    Topics: IT Solutions, Managed IT Services

    Making IT Count – The Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Management

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Tue, Apr 09,2013 @ 01:51 PM

    Guest Blog by Chris Joseph, VP Ops, NetEnrich, Inc.

    IT has become a power play for companies big and small. Why? Because if used properly, it can deliver serious business advantages to both the top, and bottom line.

    Whether you are a CEO, CFO or CIO, your top priorities likely include finding ways to increase profitability, grow revenues and reduce costs – or at minimum keep them in line. One of the fastest and most common ways to achieve any of these objectives is through IT.

    But not all IT solutions and services are created equal. In fact, the choices you make when it comes down to picking your services provider and deploying a particular solution are often what separate the good from the great. 

    A good example of this is remote infrastructure management services, or RIM. RIM is defined as the process of remotely managing IT infrastructure such as servers, network devices, storage, applications, virtualization, desktops and others

    Benefits of Remote Monitoring

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Over the past eight years, we have worked with hundreds of enterprises, providing CEOs, CFOs and CIOs with the ability to leverage the RIM model to reduce costs by 30-40% using the six key elements of RIM:

    1. Consolidate and integrate your IT Operations Management (ITOM) and IT Service Management (ITSM) tools
    2. Automate processes
    3. Re-organize to a shared services model to exploit economies of scale and scope
    4. Use offshore delivery
    5. Institute best practices
    6. Use agile engagement models.  

    To learn more about the benefits of partnering with NetEnrich to deploy the RIM model, drop me a line at daveb@liftoffit.com.

    - Chris Joseph

     

    Topics: IT Solutions, Managed IT Services