To CMDB or Not to CMDB? ITAM vs CMDB

Boxing-ITAMvsCMDB

Co-authored by Patricia Adams

This year, I decided to make some landscaping changes around my property. I have been repairing fences, planting new gardens, and pulling up trees in my efforts to meet the landscaping goals I set. Throughout the process, I learned I do not own the correct tools for many of the tasks I intended to complete. On several occasions, I have improvised using tools in my possession instead of purchasing the recommended tools. For example, I wonder if I should have purchased and used a chain saw to cut down a tree, or was the hand saw I currently own sufficient? And will it continue to be efficient? Only time will tell, but I do fear the outcome from some of my decisions.

For IT asset management and support, ITIL and ITAM provide guidelines for best practices. ITSM and ITAM software are tools that manage and support IT assets and their configuration. An ITSM Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a tool that documents an IT asset, much like a software tool that provides ITAM functionality. It is important not to confuse the different objectives of the CMDB and ITAM software tools.

Pound for Pound Strongest Leader in 2015 Gartner Client Management Tools Magic Quadrant

I spent roughly sixteen years practicing martial arts. I learned several styles that included self-defense, stand up fighting techniques, grappling, and how to throw an opponent. I also learned to use several weapons—yes, I do have nun-chuck skills. 🙂 Sometimes I like to watch Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights, but not because of the violence or blood. I’m really more of a pacifist. I prefer to watch the smaller guys compete in the octagon. They’re faster, more agile, land more strikes, and are far more strategic and technical in the way they fight than the heavy weight competitors. However, you won’t see a fight between a featherweight and a heavy weight in the MMA. It’s just not considered a fair fight.

Battle in the Magic Quadrant Octagon

Ten reasons to consider LANDESK Managed Services

Top10In the old days, 15 years ago, organizations tried to be self-sufficient. Some even had staff for taking care of the lawns and manning the cafeteria. Now companies outsource that type of stuff. IT departments are no different. They had their own datacenters, phone infrastructures, and every software solution had its own team. Don’t be offended if you still have staff performing some of these functions—well, maybe not the lawns. It may be time to consider strategic outsourcing. As my teenage boy told me as he tried to get me to jump off a cliff at Lake Powell—do it and your cool!

There are a lot of reasons things have changed. High speed Internet is #1. It’s allowed companies to let their employees work from home and it can allow you to outsource your LANDESK administration.

How do you know if outsourcing your LANDESK solutions is right for you? Let’s start by looking at some common scenarios.

1. You lost your LANDESK administrator

Has your administrator been called up for military duty? Maybe they retired, went on extended sick leave or simply took a new job.

2. It is difficult to find experienced engineers in your area

I haven’t checked, but it’s possible that they are not any level 3 LANDESK administrators in Williston, North Dakota.

3.You are a new customer and need immediate impact (RIO) and don’t have time to ramp-up staff

LANDESK products solve big problems like security and compliance. Both of these need to be addressed quickly. Most of our customers engage our professional services teams to get setup and configured while their IT staff gets trained on administration. We frequently see customers in a rush to get our solutions running so they can enjoy the benefits. Leveraging managed services for the short term is an option.

4. You have budget but are restricted from hiring additional employees

In acquiring additional staff, having investment funds is only half the battle. There are many reasons why organizations are hesitant to add full time employees. There are other options.

5. Your staff is needed for other key projects only they can perform

You know your staff and their strengths. You also have projects you need them working on. How often do you put projects on hold because your employees too busy to get to them? You may not be able to outsource your project but you can outsource your LANDESK administration.

6. Your need is not big enough for a full headcount

Every LANDESK solution doesn’t require a full time headcount to be managed. Have you ever tried to hire two-thirds of a person? It’s messy! I’ll never do that again. LANDESK has the staff to provide you 1/3, 2/3’s or 7/8’s of a headcount. We will charge you for just want is needed for your success.

7. Your organization does not have the processes in place for managing devices

Most organizations leverage LANDESK for installation and configuration of their solutions. Maybe you want to take that a bit further and have us get the processes and best practices in place before deciding to do it yourself.

8. You need someone to manage long term projects such as: patching, OS deployment or software distribution

 

There is no substitute for experience. You may have great staff that just doesn’t have experience is a certain area. You can send them to training and be patient while they get up to speed. You can also leverage LANDESK to help.

9. Your company is outsourcing so internal staff can focus on core competencies

Each organization has different needs and priorities. Maybe you think email needs to be managed internally. Maybe you think your LANDESK solution can be managed by LANDESK.

10. You would like service level agreements on your IT solutions

Everyone likes a guarantee. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Our statements of work specify what we will provide and that’s what you can expect.

Feel free to come up with your own reason to use LANDESK Managed Services. Feel free to share your thoughts with me. jerry@landesk.com

Watch This: Winnning the Race by Improving IT

Can IT keep pace?

Can IT keep pace?

Welcome to an interactive blog! That’s right, this time, if you are reading this, you are going to have to put a little effort in. Not much, just a bit.

Here’s how it works. I’d like to write about a video I’ve been showing recently. However, what I write won’t make any sense, unless you’ve seen the video.

So… You need to watch it. It’s only about two minutes long, and shows an Indianapolis 500 racing car pit stop in 1950. Then it shows a Formula One racing car pit stop in 2013.

Take a look now by clicking HERE, watch it, then come back to carry on reading.

Is it Time for IT to Do an Uber?

A typical black cab in London

A typical black cab in London

What excitement in the UK. This week London taxi drivers ‘caused gridlock’ when they protested en masse against… what? Take a guess? Was it the situation in the Ukraine? Syria? World Cup rules? The price of doughnuts?

Nope. It was a protest against the mobile app Uber. Now, I’m going to pretty much assume that anyone reading a LANDESK Blog is going to be relatively tech-savvy. At least to the point where you probably know that Uber is an app that can be used to bring a local mini-cab to your mobile location to pick you up for a pre-agreed rate, and payment is electronic so no cash is needed. So I won’t explain all that.

The A-Z of the Service Desk and IT Support Show

We are slap bang in the middle of the ITSM Expo and Conference season. With less than a week away from the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS) in London Tuesday 29th April and Wednesday 30th April. Here is my A to Z of what to watch out for and cross off your list:

A – Top visitor tip to help you plan your visit, download the SITS App 

B – I’m looking forward to a presentation from Barclay Rae @barclayrae on Wednesday at 10:00 am entitled Respect the Service Desk explaining how to rethink the role of the Service Desk

What would you call this caption?

What would you call this caption?

C – Come up with a witty Caption to go with the image on the left and tweet it back to us @LANDESK for your chance to win a KINDLE Fire HD at #SITS14

D – For your chance to win either Dre Powerbeat headphones, a Pebblewatch or a Nike+Fuel band attend seminar on the LANDESK stand 400

E –  The Education Programme at SITS takes the form of Keynotes, seminars and roundtables.

End Users: The Locomotive Heading Directly for IT’s Covered Wagon

Moving trainI have a confession. A few months ago, I went to our IT department and asked if they could help us implement a new service that would automate our win/loss analysis program. They said they could, but wouldn’t be able to get to it until 3-4 months out (granted, part of the time was during the holidays). I’m not the world’s most patient person, so I decided I’d take the bull by the horns and figure out how to do it myself. I’m sure I created some security concerns with my implementation, and I’m fairly certain IT doesn’t have any access to what I did, but that’s their problem. Sometimes work has to get done, and in this case, it did.

Help I’ve Forgotten My Password…again!

Reset my password!

I’m writing this blog while waiting for a response from whom I shall refer to as “Your Company IT Failed Me” to my email – “Help I’ve Forgotten My Password”. Yes, once again I’ve forgotten my password and “Your Company IT Failed Me” doesn’t have any way of recovering or resetting passwords, so I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone to email me and get me back into the system.

Woolley Headed End Users

Meanwhile it got me thinking. How many times has that email or phone call hit that company’s call queue in the last month and how much time have they wasted responding in person? For many of you in service desk land I guess it’s a pretty typical daily occurrence that takes up valuable time of analysts. Analysts, who at the same time are getting frustrated and annoyed with woolley headed end users like myself, because we are stopping them from doing real IT work.

The IT Superhero – A recap of Pink 2014

As the sun sets at the end of another Pink Elephant ITSM conference & exhibition, I’ll take a few minutes to describe events and the conference from my perspective.

Firstly, I think we can say that the team at Pink once again did an amazing job overall. The conference has a gentle start with early training and exam sessions, but then kicks off properly on the Monday morning with the big keynotes. The theme was Superheroes – reflecting that the superheroes in IT have tough jobs in tough times, but do amazing things. Lots of lycra and leaping around, but a firm message: IT People are Business People. The IT Superhero is not a Cowboy. The IT Superhero follows process and does the job properly. Total support from me on those points.

The guest keynote speakers on the first day were both totally outstanding. Commander Chris Hadfield was – as you would expect from a super-famous guitar playing astronaut – most impressive. The phrase “awesome” is tossed around like cheap confetti these days, but this is a man who has had extraordinary experiences and has performed a job that is worth of considerable awe.  Reassuring also to hear that if the (Windows) computers in the Soyuz rocket had any problems they would turn the whole rocket off and then turn it on again. Something we all know about in IT!

The second keynote – Caroline Casey – was also awesome, but for totally different reasons. To see her stand on stage, laughing and at times crying, and tell her incredible story of discovering and overcoming a tough handicap was an amazing experience, which led to a huge sobbing standing ovation. ITSM people clearly are very much in touch with their emotional side. Not a dry eye in the house.

As usual, the show floor buzzed quietly, less of a rushing torrent of people, more gentle detailed and considered conversations and practitioners exploring the various vendor offerings. Interesting to see no one clear direction across all vendors, but LANDESKs user oriented IT vision seems to be drawing great interest  – more of that below.

IT-GuyNow, at Pink it’s really all about the sessions. It’s a huge agenda and there’s way too much going on to be able to see everything. In fact, one criticism I have is that each 45-minute time slice has just too many choices running at the same time. I had to make hard choices and not attend sessions that I really wanted to see, and then find that some sessions are running with a relatively small number of attendees in the room.

It was most interesting to see industry leadership initiatives evolving. A few years ago back2itsm was very present, this year the lead was taken by the Pink Think Tank, a panel of very great minds quite correctly reflecting the broad concern that IT is becoming bypassed as the business looks too seek IT solutions elsewhere. Often referred to as Shadow IT, this concern basically boils down to risk of irrelevance and risk to business safety.  This concern came up time and time again. Pink Think Tank tackled this with group focus on one specific area. Not ‘boiling the ocean’ but finding the recommended point to press hard to address the situation. And that point – driving business value by IT growing into more of a broker for multi-channel service suppliers. The principle being that by IT becoming a preferred go-to point for liaising with these external services, it becomes easier and safer to go to IT than to do it yourself. I’m fairly on board with this, although I have some concern that we’re fixing the situation by focusing too much on back-end IT activities and less on the end-user experience. More on that below. I guess that will come as the Think Tank progress, but I do wish them well.

Talking of community, SMCongress was a much discussed topic. I still have nothing to say on that one, I mostly stepped back from the conversations about that ‘change the world’ initiative that, well, hasn’t changed the world. Call me a cynic, that’s ok.

Obvious high points over the week included Alexos announcements around ITIL. I won’t go through all of them but the headlines for me are the appointment of the very brilliant Kaimar Karu as Head of ITIL (cool title eh?) and the start of a new cyber security best practice portfolio. That is very sharp of Axelos, it makes them very relevant indeed. Since LANDESK is an experienced vendor in ITSM and security solutions, I find this most exciting. Good to see Axelos living up to expectations so far.

I wanted to call out David Cannon’s session on the coming ‘business apocalypse’. Again pretty much the same subject around Shadow IT, but his summary of the situation was stark. Basically if you don’t change IT you can expect to be working in a basement or a cloud data center, His approach – in line with Pink Think tank but stretching further – focuses on the importance of the Service Portfolio, on Business Relationship Management, Demand Management and other associated activities. There’s way more to it than that of course. Anyway, I loved his approach, though I’ve got concerns. Looking at many organisations today that don’t have enough staff to manage Incident Problem and Change well enough to keep the fires down.

Even more so than in previous years the social community atmosphere was outstanding. The volume and range of tweets being produced during the conference was quite extraordinary with contributions from people with different backgrounds and experiences and opinions, both present at the event and of course remote from the Conference. Well done Pink for streaming the keynotes live so everyone could contribute. If you’ve not looked already, just pop into Twitter and search for the hashtag #Pink14. It’s all there.

Related to that it was interesting to see Tuesday’s keynote from Joshua Klein being a little less successful. A case of ‘know your audience’ I think. His presentation of visionary imminent future technology examples was good but didn’t totally amaze the audience – we’re mostly was well aware of them (credit @ServiceSphere2010/11/12), and the unfortunate use of stereotype imagery of women in IT caused a genuine and completely valid twitter storm of horror. Let’s not forget ITSM is the industry with a very high proportion

Checking out the Google Glass

Checking out the Google Glass

of amazing successful women in all roles. Mind you – Josh Klein got it right for me on a few points, particularly the move to mobile and wearables and context.  IT becoming more sensors and servos, less code and computers. Talking of wearables, LANDESK was giving away a Pebble Steel watch on our stand, and –yay – I also finally got to try Google Glass. My view? Amazing, I want them.

Of course it’s not all virtual community. Networking and meeting old and new friends and colleagues is a crucial important part of the event. Pink facilitate this very well with the social networking events on the show floor, which inevitably lead to great group meetings over beer and peanuts going late into the evening. Wonderful to meet so many experts, opinion leaders, customers and online community members in real life.

Now, to return to the earlier point, it does feel that IT is aware of and grasping the Shadow IT challenge. I’m concerned that it is only using traditional ITSM approaches and procedures to address those challenges. Kind of what we’ve done before, but more. That’s okay, but the piece that was missing for me was a front-end result of this activity – the new user experience. Okay, so we apply multi-channel supplier brokerage, and we enhance our service portfolio, but how would that actually transform the end user experience as a customer of IT? Describe the end result.

At LANDESK we talk a lot about user oriented IT, a technical and philosophical approach that complements best practice frameworks and traditional processes, but also introduces a mindset of concentrating on the user and the user experience as the most important piece. We put the end user at the center of everything IT does. Not the end. But that is a bigger topic and I’ve written too many words already. You’ll find more on that throughout the LANDESK blog site.

In summary, I think these events are always a very individual, personal experience. My experience was that this was not only the best Pink conference yet, but also the single best global ITSM I have ever attended. It’s becoming a cliche to say ‘its all about the people’ but my impression once again is that our industry has the brightest greatest potential – IT people that both see long vision, think and know about the business, and know how to action to get there. Exciting times.

The Productive Power of Communication

Regular readers may know I tend to have a fairly eventful and at times rather entertaining business-travel experiences.  I’m not sure what I’ve done to offend the Travel-Gods, – perhaps I’m somewhat behind in my sacrificial offerings – but generally when I travel if things can go wrong, for me they frequently do.

To be fair, it’s never my fault. I’m always on time, always leave plenty of time. Never forget my passport or laptop (although there was once an unfortunate forgotten-underwear incident, although that’s a story for another time). However, I do seem to get more than my fair share of travel changes, holdups and unexpected reschedules. I’m also intimately familiar with the maintainenance routines, de-icing and now also electrical fuse-boxes on airplanes.

I’ve learnt a thing or two about being at the customer-end of a service interruption, and it has got me thinking about how in the world of IT Service Management, communicating the right information makes a huge impact on the productivity of the enduser/customer.

Let me illustrate with a real example. A week or two back I found myself at London Waterloo train station about 10 p.m. ready to jump on the train to take me back home. When I arrived at the station to get my return train it quickly became apparent that all was not well. The departure boards – and there are many at Waterloo – were all flashing DELAYED. Crowds of people were standing in front of the display boards, staring up at the boards. Of course I joined them and quickly spotted the train I had hoped to be catching listed up there – alongside the words DELAYED.  Now, each train did have a departure time listed – but it quickly became apparent as time passed that this was theTrain Timetable original listed time and that soon passed into history and irrelevance.

Two hours passed. No trains arrived or left.

What did I do?  I did the same as everyone else. I stood gazing slack-jawed up the announcement boards, looking at the word DELAYED flash next to the train that I was waiting for.

The problem was that although I had STATUS information, I had nothing else. STATUS alone doesn’t let you decide the right course of action.

Occaisonally there was an announcement over the tannoy, and a largely distorted alien voice mumbled something with the word ‘…power failure… all trains temporarily halted… as soon as we know… apologise…’

So I knew INFORMATION on the fault – not that I cared greatly – and I knew the status. But I didn’t know any TIMESCALE or ALTERNATIVE, and that was why I had no choice but to stand there getting cold along with everyone else. In the absence of ‘how long’ I couldn’t risk going elsewhere in case my train suddenly arrived. In the absence of an alternative travel option I could only wait until I knew when my train would be ready.

The point I’m making here is one of communication and the effect of good and bad communication on the customer.

Let’s look at it from an IT perspective. If corporate IT is to be User Oriented, we must not only provide the right services, but also the right information to encourage choice and productivity. Even in a situation where a service is impacted or unavailable, the way we communicate can still enable choice and productivity.

So what do you communicate? When your IT services are offline do you proudly communicate through self service and email and other routes? Do you communicate STATUS? Most self service sites show service status don’t they? But thats half the picture. If you miss other vital pieces of communication then you can actually cause the enduser to freeze, just as all the passengers had no choice but to stare at the departure boards for 2-hours. You put the enduser in a bad position where they are hindered even more by our communication than by the service being unavailable.

It’s a little bit like the last blog I wrote where I talked about the concept of always identifying a next-action date. There are a few value items of communication that let you understand and decide and act. In this case these items are :-

STATUS: what is impacted

INFORMATION: what is understood about the impact, including scope and scale.

TIMELINE: how long it will be impacted

OPTIONS (alternatives, workarounds)

Imagine, if the train departure boards had said ‘Ian’s train home: DELAYED. Cause: Power Failure. Timescale: Until at least one hour from now. Options: No alternative routes exist.’ then I’d have been able to go into a coffeeshop or bar, have a warming drink and perhaps work on a document or send some emails. I’d have been productive. Instead I was unproductive and I got very cold toes. (Mind you, I did get this blog out of the experience so perhaps it’s not all bad).

If you are in IT, when you communicate to the business, remember what you communicate should encourage choice and productivity. Just another example of User Oriented IT.