Having just returned to the office from a great couple of days at Cloud Expo at the ExCeL in London, it’s time for reflection and lessons learned...
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Tackling Tool Sprawl is the Key
Modern IT operations management (ITOM) should be the answer, enabling teams to optimize performance and improve service delivery. Digital transformation is no longer the preserve of the early movers.
Some 82% of executives Accenture polled believe it is “erasing industry limitations and allowing paradigms to emerge.” Yet legacy IT infrastructure is holding these efforts back, and new investments designed to solve the problem can create further complexity. Modern IT Operations Management (ITOM) should be the answer, enabling teams to optimize performance and improve service delivery. But age-old monitoring techniques and tool sprawl are endemic and only increase the likelihood of outages, angry customers and frustrated digital ambitions.
CIOs and IT teams must centralize IT Monitoring to drive change, improve visibility and control and get digital transformation back on track.
Mounting digital complexity
Digital transformation has moved in just a few short years from a “nice to have” to an essential driver of strategic business growth and productivity. This is the age of being “always-on, always connected”, and the pressures on for enterprise leaders to make immediate and significant progress in digital initiatives before they fall behind competitors. In this context, underperforming legacy technology is seen as a major roadblock on innovation, agility and performance. That’s why organizations are rushing to adopt digital, but the result is a heterogeneous mix of decentralized systems and processes that don’t communicate well. Worse still, complexity is even greater in this digital world, which is populated with growing volume of clouds, networks, servers, containers, virtual environments, applications, IoT endpoints and more.
Best practice IT Operations offers IT leaders the opportunity to gain much needed visibility and control into these systems, to catch and fix issues before they cause downtime and support innovation and growth. But legacy approaches and tool sprawl are a major challenge, effectively tying one arm behind the CIO’s back. In fact, Gartner claims that by 2020, over 80% of IT operations tools and processes in IoT initiatives will be unable to meet requirements, resulting in sub-par success rates, so there needs to be a radical change in tooling now.
The challenge of legacy IT Monitoring
Part of the problem is that IT Monitoring has historically been viewed as little more than a utility, rather than something that can drive value by enhancing IT service delivery, decision-making, and the customer experience. This outdated approach extends to what is being monitored: the focus being on availability and health rather than performance and user experience. Investments in the technology are usually reactive, in response to problems but not in anticipation of emerging requirements such as the roll-out of new applications.
Silos across the IT department are a continued block on any moves to refresh IT Operations support tools. Legacy metrics are rarely questioned and responsibility for new metrics is often confined to these siloes, rather than passed up to IT leaders who can align better to business value. A culture of blindly following what has gone before is not uncommon, and ensures organizations remain in firefighting mode, unable to break free and become more strategic.
On top of all this, and linked to the cultural challenges highlighted above, tool sprawl is endemic. Reactive, siloed approaches only fuel the proliferation of unnecessary monitoring products, none of which provides clear visibility over the whole of operations. These investments may have been made with good intentions, to tackle the growing complexity of IT systems, but in reality they have only compounded the problem they were meant to solve.
A crippling bill
The impact on organizations and their IT leaders from legacy IT and bad IT monitoring can be severe. Gartner estimates that IT downtime costs $300,000 per hour. This is far from a theoretical risk: British Airways lost $216m off its market value after a 2017 outage caused 75,000 passengers to be stranded. A similar outage at US airline Southwest due to router failure, led to over 2000 cancelled flights and an estimated cost of $54m to $82m in lost revenue.
The longer term repercussions of such outages are harder to pinpoint, but customer attrition and diminished share value could result. In 2018, several IT issues affected UK bank TSB, locking 1.9 million customers out of their accounts for days and leading to significant fraud. Such incidents can have a drip-drip effect on brand reputation and the potential loss of trust which is hard to roll back.
Even more importantly, without effective monitoring in place, your organization may struggle to drive the digital transformation projects it needs to stay agile, innovative and relevant in today’s unforgiving business environment. According to Gartner: How to Use Cloud to Modernize Legacy Systems, it could ultimately even impact your job security as an IT leader; “the general failure to make progress in addressing legacy issues is now impacting the reputation of the CIO.”
Time to centralize
The only way for CIOs and IT leaders to minimize IT disruption and start to drive business value from operations, is to centralize monitoring. They need a unified view of today’s dynamic, disparate digital and on-premises infrastructure from a single pane of glass.
This will not only enable you to reduce tool sprawl, and automate manual processes to reduce budgetary and resource pressures, but also support future planning. Perhaps most importantly, it will help you to drive business value by enabling faster time-to-market for digital transformation initiatives, as well as providing the visibility you need to communicate this value to business leaders. That’s a great way to enhance your own career prospects and raise the standing of IT in the organization as a whole.