Contrary to a report published in 2003, IT still does matter, BMC Software CTO Tom Bishop said at the BMC Remedy User Group 2005 conference on Wednesday morning.
Noting that last year's conference keynote speaker was Nicholas Carr, who wrote the controversial article, "IT Doesn't Matter," Bishop begged to differ.
"In fact, I would strongly disagree with that message," Bishop said. "Not only does IT matter but it's probably never mattered so much as it does today going forward."
Bishop cited the need to boost oversight and coordination of IT services, noting that new systems such as PDAs also require management. He also listed areas where work still needs to be done to advance IT systems management.
"The whole value of IT is being able to tie [IT services] back to the business," Bishop said. "The more IT and the business become linked, the more valuable management becomes."
Businesses today are focused on agility and adaptability, with a need to quickly change processes, Bishop said. "That places demands on IT like it never has before."
"IT is becoming more business-relevant," Bishop stressed.
Businesses have needs for operational efficiencies and increased service levels, he said. Also needed are correct metrics to gauge return on investment and return on equity.
"The discussion is over. IT is about business," Bishop said.
Critical factors include best practices and a move toward a process-driven infrastructure based on ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). Also needed is relationship mapping based on ITIL and CMDB (configuration management database), Bishop said. Tying IT to business and doing service impact management necessitates having information about relationships between the various components of an IT infrastructure, he said.
"All of that information has to be captured in some coherent way," Bishop said.
Both ITIL and CMDB are prominent in BMC's product and service strategies.
A BMC user at the conference sided with Bishop's perspective on the importance of IT.
"They [BMC officials] have to present it in that way because they are trying to sell products," said Gerd Hockelmann, a professional services official at Ascom, a telecommunications company in Germany. However, Hockelmann added that he basically agreed with Bishop's premise and noted important factors such as SLAs (service-level agreements) and the ability to recognize problems before the customer does.
Bishop cited the need for a "spanning layer" to hide system complexity. "We need a spanning layer that enables us to capture the different relationships between the various components," but is not component-based itself, Bishop said.
BMC is introducing the notion of a service model and managing environment, he added.
Also important for IT is monitoring of applications for performance and capacity planning and linking that back to effects on overall business processes, Bishop said. There will be an increased emphasis on end-user experience, he said.
Virtualization is becoming an issue, Bishop said. "We're starting to see more discussion around virtualized hardware and software and that creates some problems for us because we're not quite sure how that fits into our management paradigms," he said.
Data collection poses problems, as well, according to Bishop.
IT is striving to be more predictive and automated and to take actions based on service-driven policies, he said. Coloring up his presentation, Bishop said the future IT shop will feature just a man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog and the dog is there to keep the man from touching anything.
Service-level agreements, meanwhile, are evolving to become service-value agreements, Bishop said. And infrastructure metrics need to become application metrics, which is a problem because there is no good instrumentation for measuring application metrics, he said.
IT management systems have to be cross-organizational, which also is a problem for which there is no answer yet, Bishop said. Other issues include security and managing of business processes across multiple domains. It will need to be determined whether this management is to be done from a single location or in a federated way.
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