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  • Writer's pictureAndy Jonak

It's all About the Integrations

It’s all about the integrations? What does that really mean? In a starkly different way to cast my opening salvo this month, here it is: Organization's IT environments and IT infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex. We all know it, as we all live and breathe it every day. Welcome to the world of IT. In addition, users need (some say demand) access to data from many different sources in order to make quick, efficient and informed decisions about their operations and IT environments. Oh, and they want access to that data right now so that the decision they need to make can be made right now. Add to this Next Generation Datacenters, Cloud, Big Data, DevOps environments, and the complexity grows exponentially. To accomplish this quick access to performance and operational data for users and executives (wait for it): It’s all about the integrations. 

So what do I mean? I mean being able to take all of the processes, workflows and IT tools that are being used and integrate them. To have them work together so that the sum of the individual parts is much more valuable to the organization than each individually. This is not to say that each is not important and/or critical in its own right (they are), but they become more powerful when brought to together. On the surface it sounds so simple, but to do this well and efficiently is anything but. This is powerful and what we see that organizations are demanding of their IT environments.

Take a simple example: All organizations have Element Manager tools for various aspects of their data centers. A tool for storage management, a tool to manage servers, network, applications, environmental, etc. Very straightforward. Each of these tools performs its function really well (in most cases) and provides value to the people the need them. But how can the storage team get access to the information that they need from the server or network team, or the application team, so that they can plan for capacity and get to the root cause of problems when they occur? Again, sounds simple, but is very much not. These areas are generally are siloed within organizations and can integrate but in many cases do not because of this siloed approach. This can be for a variety of reasons. Departments are territorial about their domains and might find it difficult to want share – we see it all of the time. Plus there is politics involved which further muddies up things. 

In the case above we see organizations are bringing in Event Management platforms to sit above the Element Managers to aggregate the alerts from the element tools and roll them up into one overarching tool. But the rolling up to this one tools in not just meant to be a single pane of glass view, though that is very important. Where the value of this comes by taking the information rolled up by these element tools and use that information to get a complete view of the operational health of the environment. And then by using this information to determine dependencies and correlations. So when that application went to down in Dallas, you know it was caused by a network port failure in Boston. And then taking it a step further and using it to predict problems before they occur. So that the tools know that when that network port goes down in Boston, it will affect the app in Dallas. It can learn the signs of what happens before that network port goes down so it can be resolved before it takes down the application. That’s really powerful. And that’s all about the integrations. By integrating your Element Manager tools together with an Event Management tools. 

But it’s not just about tools when it comes to integration: processes and workflow are absolutely critical as well. You can have the greatest tools that money can buy, but if they are not implemented correctly and integrated (there’s that word again) into the business workflow, it won’t matter. And if correct processes are not in place to assure these workflows and use, success will be difficult to find. When this happens you know what we see? The tools take the blame and not the fact how to use the tool in a day to day operations has not been clearly defined and documented. We see this time and time again, where these tools (unfairly) become shelfware because of this or at the least deemed ineffective. And the is all about the integrations. In this case, the lack of integration of these tools into the workflows and process. It’s a shame. 

We also see that organizations are increasing moving some workloads to the cloud but need to be able to use them as if they were onpremise and have them integrate with onpemise environments. Take ServiceNow: Most of our customers are either using or looking at it due to its capabilities and ability to get up and running very quickly and in providing value. That’s the beauty of a SaaS tool and environment. But everything I mention above still applies. These outside environments need to be integrated into existing tools (on-premise or cloud) to give users a seamless approach to how they receive and consume their IT services. In ServiceNow environments, we see that organizations are looking to integrate their platforms (CMDB, Assessment Management, Service Desk, etc.) into existing Event Management platforms, which in turn are integrated into all of the element managers, which are all integrated into existing (or to be created) workflows and processes. The complexity around this can staggering. 

But when this can be done, the value to the organization can also be staggering, in a good way. Users can have access to data faster and from more sources. IT organizations can use this to resolve issues quickly and get services back up and running quickly. These tools can help reduce Mean Time to Identification (MTTI) and then Mean Time to Isolation, (MTTI again), and then Mean Time to Repair (MTTR). And then bring predictive and proactive capabilities on top of that. This isn’t just a nice to have, it’s what organizations are demanding. It can be complex and seem a bit overwhelming initially, but the payoff and value can be huge if done correctly. 

This is where you should leverage your partners for help. Much of this can be done in house, but we see that organizations need help initially in ensuring that these environments are setup and integrated in a way that makes sense for each organization's needs, processes, workflows and goals. We work with many, customers in regards to this and while each and every customer environment is different, we see the same challenges over and over. That experience helps us to guide our customers on what makes sense specifically for them and remove some of the complexity around these integrations. But no matter if you do this internally or lean on a good, trusted partner for help and remember, it’s all about the integrations.

Until next month…



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