Automated Systems Aid Managed Service ProviderInTechnology with Managing Cloud Services, VoIP,Telephony, Networks and Stor...
Previously, we didn’t have anything that could scale as well as the systems that we have in placenow. We couldn’t hope to ...
managed, end-to-end lifecycle of the service, the devices, and the product sets that we have as acompany.Gardner: I have t...
Since we had the initial integrations, weve added extra integrations like Universal ConfigurationManagement Database (UCMDB...
It gets loaded up with the configuration, and then its good to go. Its automatically managed rightthrough to the decommissi...
could help people appreciate what this does, not only functionally in terms of bringing newservices to your customers, but...
Contacting customers within agreed SLAs and how we can drive our suppliers to provide betterservice is fantastic because o...
information and services for their voice, data, and storage customers. Theyve employed anautomated lifecycle approach and ...
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Automated Systems Aid Managed Service Provider InTechnology with Managing Cloud Services, VoIP, Telephony, Networks and Storage for Customers

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Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast discussion on how InTechnology is using HP products to align numerous service management products.

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Automated Systems Aid Managed Service Provider InTechnology with Managing Cloud Services, VoIP, Telephony, Networks and Storage for Customers

  1. 1. Automated Systems Aid Managed Service ProviderInTechnology with Managing Cloud Services, VoIP,Telephony, Networks and Storage for CustomersTranscript of a BriefingsDirect podcast discussion on how InTechnology is using HP products toalign numerous service management products.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: HPDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and yourelistening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on a UK-based managed service provider’s journey to provide better information and services for its network, voice, VoIP, data, and storage customers. Their benefits have come from an alignment of many service management products into an automated lifecycle approach to overall network operations. {Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]Well hear how InTechnology, has implemented a coordinated end-to-end solution using HPsolutions that actually determine the health of its networks by aligning their tools to ITILmethods. And, by using their system-of-record approach with a configuration managementdatabase, InTechnology is better serving its customers with lean resources by leveraging systemsover manual processes.Were here with an operations manager from InTechnology to learn about their choices andoutcomes, when it comes to better operations and better service for their hundreds of enterprisecustomers.Please join me now in welcoming Ed Jackson, Operational System Support Manager atInTechnology. Welcome, Ed.Ed Jackson: Thanks. Hi.Gardner: It sounds like your organization is a managed service provider (MSP) for both largeenterprises and small to medium-sized companies that has been facing an awful lot of growthover the past several years, but you have also been dealing with heterogeneity in terms of manydifferent products that you have had in place for network operations. It sounds like youve triedto tackle two major things at once: growth and complexity. How has that worked out?Jackson: In terms of our network growth, weve basically been growing exponentially year overyear. In the past four years, weve grown our network about 75 percent. In terms of our productset, weve basically tripled that in size, which obviously leads to major complexity on both ournetwork and how we manage the product lifecycle.
  2. 2. Previously, we didn’t have anything that could scale as well as the systems that we have in placenow. We couldn’t hope to manage 8,000 or 9,000 network devices, plus being able to deliver aproduct lifecycle, from provisioning to decommission, which is what we have now.Gardner: Just so our audience better understands the hurdles and challenges youve faced,youre providing voice, both VoIP and traditional telephone, and telephony services. Youve gotdata, managed exchange, managed servers, and virtual hosting. Youre providing storage, backupand restore, and of course a variety of network services. So, this is a really full set of differentservices and a whole lot of infrastructure to support that.Jackson: Yeah. Its pretty massive in terms of technologies involved. A lot of them are cuttingedge. We have many partners. And you are right, our suite of cloud services is very diverse andcomprises what we believe is the UK’s most complete and "joined-up’"set of pay-monthly voiceand data services.Their own paceIn practice what we aim to do is help our customers engage with the cloud at a pace that worksfor them. First, we provide connectivity to our nationwide network ring – our cloud. Once theirestate is connected they can then cherry pick services from our broad pay-as-you-go (PAYG) menu. For example, they might be considering replacing their traditional "tin" PBXs with hosted IP telephony. We can do that and demonstrate massive savings. Next we might overlay our hosted UC suite providing benefits such as "screen sharing," "video calling." and "click to dial." Again, we can demonstrate huge savings on planes, trains and automobiles. Next we might overlay our exciting new hosted call recording package -- UnityCall Recording – UCR -- which is perfect if they are in a regulated industry and have a legalrequirement to record calls. It’s got some really neat features including the ability to tag andbookmark calls to help easy searching and playback.While were doing this, we might also explore the data path. For example our New Flexistorservice provides what we think is the UK’s most straightforward PAYG service designed tomanage data by its business "value" and not just as one big homogenous lump of data.It treats data as critical, important or legacy and applies an appropriate storage process toeach  . . . saving up to 40 percent against traditional data management methods. There’s muchmore of course, but that gives you a flavor, I hope.Imagine trying to manage this disparate set of systems. It would be pretty impossible. But due tothe HP product set that we have, weve been able to utilize all the integrations and have a fully
  3. 3. managed, end-to-end lifecycle of the service, the devices, and the product sets that we have as acompany.Gardner: I have to imagine too that customer service and support is a huge part of what you doday in and day out. You also have had to manage the helpdesk and provide automated alerts,fixes, and notifications, so that the manual helpdesk, which is of course quite costly, doesn’toverwhelm you. Can you address what youve attempted to do and what you have managed to dowhen it comes to automated support?Jackson: In terms of our service and support, weve basically grown the network massively, butwe haven’t increased any headcount for managing the network. Our 24/7 guys are the same asthey were four or five years ago in terms of headcount.We get on average around 5,000 incidents a month automatically generated from our systems andnetwork devices. Of these incidents, only about 560 are linked to customer facing Interactionsusing our Service Desk Module in the Service Manager application.Approximately 80 percent of our total incidents are generated automatically. They are eitherproactively raised, based on things like CPU and memory of network devices or virtual devicesor even physical servers in our data centers, or reactively raised based on for example device orinterface downs.Massive burdenWhen youve got like 80 percent of all incidents raised automatically, it takes a massive burdenoff the 24/7 teams and the customer support guys, who are not spending the majority of theirtime creating incidents but actually working to resolve them. Gardner: Lets back it up. Five years ago, when you didnt have any integrated systems and you were dealing with lots of data, perhaps spurious data, what did you think? I know that youre an ITIL shop and so you had to bring in that service management mindset, but what did you do in order to bring these products together or even add more products but without them being also unwieldy in terms of management?Jackson: It was spurred by really bad data that we had in the systems. We couldnt effectively goforward. We couldnt scale anymore. So, we got the guys at HP to come in and design us asolution based on products that we already had, but with full integration, and add in additionalproducts such as HP Asset Manager and device Discovery and Dependency Mapping Inventory(DDMI).With the systems that we already had in place, we utilized mainly HP Service Desk. So wedecided to take the bold leap to go to Service Manager, which then gave us the ability tointegrate it fully into the Operations Manager product and our Network Node Manager product.
  4. 4. Since we had the initial integrations, weve added extra integrations like Universal ConfigurationManagement Database (UCMDB), which gives us a massive overview on how the network isprogressing and how its developing. Coupled with this, weve got Release Control, and wevejust upgraded to the latest version of Service Manager 9.2.So it has given us a huge benefit in terms of process control, how ITIL is related. Moreimportantly, one of the main things that we are going for at the moment is payment card industry(PCI) and ISO 27001 compliance.For any auditor that comes in, we have a documented set of reports that we cangive them. That will hopefully help us get this compliance and maintain it. One of the things asan MSP is that we can be compliant for the customer. The customer can have the infrastructureoutsourced to us with the compliance policy in that. We can take the headache of complianceaway from our customers.Gardner: So, having that full view and the ability to manage also discreetly is not only goodbusiness, but it sounds like its an essential ingredient for the way in which you go to market?Jackson: More and more these days, we have a lot of solicitors and law firms on our books, andwere getting "are you compliant" as a request before they place business with us. Were findingall across the industry that compliance is a must before any contract is won. So to keep one stepahead of the game, this is something that were going to have to achieve and maintain, and theHP product set that we have is key in that.Gardner: I suppose too that a data flow application like Connect-It 4.1 provides an opportunityto not only pull together disparate products and give that holistic view, but also provides thatvalidation for any audits or compliance issues?Recently upgradedJackson: We recently upgraded Connect-It from 4.1 to 9.3, and with that, we upgraded AssetManager System to 9.3. Connect-It is the glue that holds everything together. Its a fantasticapplication that you can throw pretty much any data at, from a CSV file, to another database, toweb services, to emails, and it will formulate it for you. You can do some complex integrations inthat. It will give you the data that you want on the other side and it cleanses and parses, so thatyou can pass it on to other systems.From our DDMI system, right through to our Service Manager, then into our Network NodeManager, we now have a full set of solutions that are held together by Connect-It.We can discover the device on the network. We can then propagate it into Service Manager. Wecan add lots of financial details to it from other financial systems outside of the HP product set,but which are easy to integrate. We can therefore provision the circuit and provision the deviceand add to monitoring automatically, without any human intervention, just by the fact that thedevice gets shipped to the site.
  5. 5. It gets loaded up with the configuration, and then its good to go. Its automatically managed rightthrough to the decommissioning stage, or the upgrade stage, where its replaced by anotherdevice. HP systems give us that capability.Gardner: So these capabilities really do allow you to take on a whole new level of business andservice. It sounds like the upholding of the network, the integrity, and then the automation reallyhelps you go to market in a whole new way than you could have just several years ago.Jackson: Definitely. One of the key benefits is it gives us a unique calling card for our potentialcustomers. I don’t know of many other MSPs that have such an automated set of technologytools to help them manage the service that they provide to their customers.Five years ago, this wasnt possible. We had disparate systems and duplicate data held in multipleareas So it wasn’t possible to have the integration and the level of support that we give ourcustomers now for the new systems and services that we provide.Gardner: Of course, HP has been engineering more integration into its product and you havebeen aggressive in adopting some of the newer versions, which is an important element of that,but I have to imagine that there is also a systems integrations function here or professionalservices. Have you employed any professional services or relied on HP for that?Jackson: When we originally decided to take the step to upgrade from Service Desk to ServiceManager and to get the network discovery product set in, we used HP’s Professional Services toeffectively design the solution and help us implement it.Within six months, we had Service Desk upgraded to Service Manager. We had an asset managersystem that was fully integrated with our financials, our stock control. And we also had aNetwork Discovery toolset that was inventorying our estate. So we had a fully end-to-endsolution.Automatic incidentsInto that, we have helped to develop the Network Operations Management Solution into beingable to generate automatic incidents. HP PS services provided a pivotal role in providing us withthe kind of solutions that we have now.Since then, we took that further, because we have very good in-house knowledgeable guys thatreally understand the HP systems and services. So weve taken it bit of a step further, and most ofthe stuff that we do now in terms of upgrades and things are done in-house.Gardner: Its a very compelling story. I wonder if we have more than just the show-and-tellhere. Do we have any metrics of success? Have you been able to point to faster time toresolution, maintaining service-level agreements (SLAs), or something along those lines, that we
  6. 6. could help people appreciate what this does, not only functionally in terms of bringing newservices to your customers, but also in terms of how you operate and some important metrics thataffect your bottom line?Jackson: Mean time to restore has come down significantly, by way over 15 percent. As I said,there has been zero increase in headcount over our systems and services. We started off with afew thousand network devices and only three or four different products, in data, storage,networks and voice. Now weve got 16 different kinds of product sets, with about 8,000, 9,000network devices.In terms of cost saving, and increased productivity, this has been huge. Our 24/7 teams andcustomer support teams are more proactive in using knowledge bases and Level 1 triage.Resolution of incidents has gone up by 25 percent by customer support teams and level 1engineers; this enables the level 3 engineers to concentrate on more complex issues.If you take a Priority 3, Priority 4 incident70 percent of those are now fixed by Level 1engineers, which was unheard of five or six years ago.. Also, we now have a very goodknowledge base in the Service Manager tool that we can use for our Level 1 engineers.In terms of SLAs, we manage the availability of network devices.. It gives us a lot moreflexibility in how we give these availability metrics to the customers. Because were businessdriven by other third party suppliers, we can maintain and get service credits from them. Wevealso got a fully documented incident lifecycle. We can tell when the downtime has been on theseservices, and give our suppliers a bit of an ear bashing about it, because we have this informationto hand them. We didn’t have that five or six years ago.Gardner: So, by having event correlation and data to back up your assertions theres much lessfinger pointing. You know exactly who had dropped the ball.Jackson: Exactly. With event correlation, we reduced our operations browsers down to justmeaningful incidents, we filtered our events from over 100,000 a month to less than 20,000 manyof these are duplicated and are correlated together. Most events are associated with knowledgebase articles in Service Manager and contain instructions to escalate or how to resolve the event,increasingly by a level 1 engineer.We can also run automatic actions from these events, and we can send the information to therelevant parties, and also raise an incident and send it directly to the correct assignment groups orteams that are involved in looking after that.Internal SLAFor Priority 1 incidents, which by an internal SLA we have15 minutes to communicate to thecustomer, we can do that now within two minutes, because the group that’s been assigned theincident are on the ball straight away and they can contact the customer and let them know of thepotential / or actual problem.
  7. 7. Contacting customers within agreed SLAs and how we can drive our suppliers to provide betterservice is fantastic because of the information that is available in the systems now. It gives us alot more heads up on what’s happening around the network.Gardner: And now that you have had this in place, this integrated lifecycle, end-to-endapproach, youve got your UCMDB, is there now, in hindsight, an opportunity to do someanalytics, perhaps even refine what you requirements are, and therefore cut your total cost atsome level?Jackson: Were building a lot of information, taken from our financial systems and placing it intoour UCMDB and CMDB databases to give us the breakdown of cost per device, cost per month,because now this information is available.We have a couple of data centers. One of our biggest costs is power usage. Now, we can breakdown by use of collecting the power information, using NNMi -- how much our power is costingper rack by terms of how many amps have been used over a set period of time, say a week or amonth. where previously we had no way of determining how our power usage was being spent orhow much was actually costing us per rack or per unit.Its given us a massive information boost, and we can really utilize the information, especially inUCMDB, and because it’s so flexible, we can tailor it to do pretty much whatever we want. Fromthis performance information, we can also give our customers extra value reports and statisticsthat we can charge as a value added managed solution for them.Gardner: For the benefit of our listeners, now that youve gone through this process, are thereany lessons learned, anything you could relay in terms of, "If I had to do this again, I might doblank?" What would you offer to those who would now be testing the waters and embarking onsuch a journey?Jackson: One of the main things is to have a clear goal in mind before you start. Planeverything, get it all written down, and have the processes looked at before you startimplementing this, because it’s fairly hard to re-engineer if you decided that one of the actualsolutions or one of the processes that you have implemented isn’t going to work. Because of theintegration of all the systems, you might tend to find that reverse engineering them is a difficulttask.As a company, we decided to go for a clean start and basically said wed filter all the data, takethe data that we actually really required, and start off from scratch. We found that doing it thatway, we didn’t get any bad data in there. All the data that we have now is pretty much beencleansed and enriched by the information that we can get from our automated systems, but alsoby utilizing the extra data that people have put in.Gardner: Thanks so much. Youve been listening now to a sponsored podcast discussion on aUK-based managed service provider, InTechnology, and their journey to provide better
  8. 8. information and services for their voice, data, and storage customers. Theyve employed anautomated lifecycle approach and it has benefited them in a number of levels.Thanks to Ed Jackson, the Operational System Support Manager at InTechnology. Ed, we reallyappreciated your input.Jackson: Okay. No problem.Gardner: And this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks to ouraudience, and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it oniTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: HPTranscript of a BriefingsDirect podcast discussion on how InTechnology is using HP products toalign numerous service management products. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011.All rights reserved.You may also be interested in: • Discover Case Study: Seagate Ramps Up Dev-Ops Benefits with HP Application Lifecycle Management Tools • HP Discover Interview: Security Evangelist Rafal Los on Balancing Risk and Reward Amid Consumerization of IT • HP delivers applications appliance solutions that leverage converged infrastructure for virtualization, data management • HP takes plunge on dual cloud bursting: public and-or private apps support comes of age • HP rolls out EcoPOD modular data center, provides high-density converged infrastructure with extreme energy efficiency • HP at Discover releases converged infrastructure products and services aimed at helping IT migrate rapidly to the future • HPs IT Performance Suite empowers IT leaders with unified view into total operations, costs

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