Case Study: Sprint Simplifies IT Environment with Speedy Implementation of Toolsets from HP
Case Study: Sprint Simplifies IT Environment with SpeedyImplementation of Toolsets from HPTranscript of a Brieﬁngs Direct podcast from HP Discover 2011 on how Sprint reducedapplication sprawl using tools from HPs suite.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: HPDana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BrieﬁngsDirect podcast series coming to youfrom the HP Discover 2011 conference in Las Vegas. Were here on the Discover show ﬂoor this week, the week of June 6, to explore some major enterprise IT solution trends and innovations making news across HP’s ecosystem of customers, partners, and developers. Im Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and Ill be your host throughout this series of HP-sponsored Discover live discussions. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BrieﬁngsDirect podcasts.]Our use case study today focuses on Sprint. Were going to learn about how Sprint is doingapplications, doing IT in a better way. Its going on a long journey to simply and automate,reduce redundancy, and develop more agility as a business solutions provider for their customers,and also their own employees.So we have two executives from the IT organization at Sprint. Let me introduce them now. JoyceRainey, Program Manager of Enterprise Services at Sprint. Welcome.Joyce Rainey: Hello.Gardner: Were also here with John Felton, Director of Applications Development andOperations at Sprint.John Felton: How are you?Gardner: Im great. Tell me little bit about the beginning of your journey. It seems that youvecome a long way, and well get into that, but what was the state of affairs that led you torecognize that things needed to change?Felton: The problem that we had originally had, as any large organization has, were manyapplications, many of them custom built, many of them purchased applications that now are socustomized that the vendor doesn’t even know what to do with it anymore.We grew those over a long period of time. We were trying, as a way to stabilize, to get it into acentralized, single point of truth and quit the duplication or the redundancy that we built into allthese applications.
The goal, as we set forth about a year-and-a-half ago, was to implement the ecosystem that HP provided, the ﬁve toolsets that followed our ITIL processes that we wanted to do. The key was that they were integrated to share information, and wed be able to take down these customized applications and then have one ecosystem to manage our environment with. Thats what weve done over the last 14 months. Gardner: Joyce, what was the goal you had in mind when you started thisprocess?Making it easierRainey: Simpliﬁcation. We had too many of the same. We had to make it easier for our internalsupport teams. We had to made it easier for our customers. We had to lessen the impacts onmaintenance and cost. Simpliﬁcation was the key of the entire journey.Gardner: When you looked at the issue of redundancy, was this about data, applications,network nodes, all the above, or were there certain aspects that you went to ﬁrst, the low-lyingfruit, to reduce that redundancy?Felton: Id say it would be all. We had to concentrate on not only making sure that theapplications base wasnt duplicated, but also the data. The data is where we ended up havingissues. One persons copy may not be as accurate as another persons copy, and then what we ended up spending an enormous amount of time saying whose was right. What we did was provide one single point of truth, one copy of the truth. Instead of everybody being hidden from the data, we allowed everybody to see it all. They may not be able to manipulate it and they may not be able to change it, but everybody could have visibility to the same amount of information. We were hoping they would stop trying to have their own version of it. Our biggest culture problem was that everybody wanted to put their arms around theirlittle piece, their little view. At the end of the day, having one view that is customized, where youcan see what you want to see, but still keeping the content within a single system, really helpedus.Gardner: Just to be clear for our listeners, when you say, data, are you talking about the dataabout the IT systems themselves or the data that is within and its being supportive of theapplications, or perhaps both?Felton: Its all that. Its the data that supports the application. Its the servers that host theapplications. Its the third-party applications that deliver the web experience, the databaseexperience, the back-end experience. Its the ability for us to associate ﬁxed agents to that
particular information, so that when I am calling out the ﬁxed agent for an alarm, Im getting theright person online ﬁrst, versus having a variety of individuals coming on over time.Gardner: So, you have some goals about eliminating redundancy in your tools and in your data.You needed to create the single source of truth and you needed to integrate other IT supportcapabilities in order to get to this automated ability.What were some of the cultural or organizational issues that you hit? We can talk abouttechnology, but you also have to look at people. They are part of this process. Joyce, how did youlook at that and how did you solve that?Rainey: We continued to work on it. Adoption is a big key in any transformation project. One ofthe things that we had to deﬁnitely look at was making sure that facts can prove to people thattheir business requirements were either valid or invalid. That way we stop the argument of whatdo I want, versus what do I need?A lot of educationWe really had a lot of communication, a lot of education along the way. We continue to educatepeople about why we do this and why were doing it this way. We engage them in the process by making them part of the decision-making, versus just allowing the tools to dictate whether you can do it. With the tools, you can do whatever you want. However, you want to customize the product, but should we and for what purpose? So, we had to introduce a lot of education along the way to make sure folks understood why we were going down this path.Gardner: Youve done this fairly quickly, a year and a half. It could be long for some peopleshorizon, but to me thats a very fast transition of this nature. What is it that was the tipping pointthat got people to say, "Okay, Ill give up a little bit of my turf, because Im going to getsomething else in return?" What was it that they got in return that made this work?Felton: First of all, we implemented in 12 months. It was 14 months to get the futureenhancements of the data quality and all the things were working on right now. But as to thetipping point, I think the economy had a lot to do with it, the environment that was going on atthe time.You had a reduction in staff. You had downsizing of companies. It made it harder for individuals,to Joyces point, to protect an application that really had no business value. It might have a lot ofvalue to them, and in their little piece of the world it probably was very valuable, but how did itdrive the overall organization?Dan Hesse did a great job in coming in and putting us on a path of making sure that were ﬁscallyresponsible. How are we improving our customer expectations and how are we moving in this
direction continuously, so that our customers come to us because were best provider there couldbe? And our systems on the back end needed to go that way.So, to Joyces point, when you brought them in, you asked "Does this help that goal?" A lot oftimes, no. And, they were willing to give a little bit up. We said, "Youre going to have to give alittle bit up because this is not a copy/paste exercise. This is an out-of-the-box solution. We wantto keep it that way as much as possible, and well make modiﬁcations, when we need to tosupport the business." And, weve done that.Gardner: So this wasnt nice to have. This really had to happen.Rainey: Absolutely. The economy in any kind of transformational program is a key factor forinvesting in these kind of products. Youre going to make sure that if youre introducingsomething its because youre going to add value. Youre going to grow. Youre going to mature.For us at Sprint, we want to make sure that we can stop some of the maintenance, the redundantmaintenance, when we need to concentrate our resources in the right area.Having new integrated solutions, bringing our development teams together, we can work underone umbrella. We can deliver more collateral investments across the organization. We can traineveryone on many different things, so they are not just siloed like we had before. We were ableto retire many products with the introduction of these systems.Gardner: People are quite familiar with Sprint, but I saw some of the numbers are veryimpressive. Help us understand the size and scope of applications, customers, and retail outlets.12,000 serversFelton: There are thousands of outlets, retail stores. We have our third-party customers as well,like Best Buy and RadioShack. We have about 12,000 servers, about ﬁve petabytes of storage.We serve about 39,000 customers internally at Sprint.We host all that information to make sure that we process about a million change records amonth. That information that were capturing are conﬁguration items (CIs). The actual contentthat goes in the system was, at one point, in the 24 million range. We dialed that back a little bit,because we were collecting a little too much information.We have about 1,300 applications that were internally built. Many of those are hosted on otherexternal vendor products that weve customized and put into Sprint. And, we have about 64,000desktops. So, there is a lot going on in this environment. Its moving constantly and that goesback to a lot of the reasons why, if we didn’t put this in quickly, theyd pass us by.Gardner: So, for that single version of truth for whats going on in your IT organization withthis very signiﬁcant massive scale, how did you start that journey? What came in handy to startthat and where have you taken it?
Rainey: Its important to recognize that data is data, but you really derive information to drivedecision making. For us, the ability for executives to know how many assets they really have outthere, for them to concentrate their initiatives for the future based on that information, becamethe reason we needed our data quality to really be good.So, every time that somebody asked John why he went after this product suite, it was because ofthe integration. We wanted to make sure that the products can share the same information acrossthem all. That way, we can hold truth through that single source of information.Gardner: What were the products you used and how did that "whole greater than the sum of theparts" come about?Felton: We started with asset management. Asset management was really the key for us tounderstand assets and software, and how much cost was involved. Then we associated that toUniversal Conﬁguration Management Database (UCMDB). How do we discover things in ourenvironment? How many servers are there, how many desktops are there, where they at, how doI associate them?Then we looked at Business Service Management (BSM), which was the monitoring side. Howdo I monitor these critical apps and alarm them correctly? How do I look up the information andget the right ﬁx agents out there and target it, versus calling out the soccer team, as I always say?Then, we followed that up with Release Control, which is a way for our change team to manageand see that information, as it goes through.The ﬁnal component, which was the most important, the last one we rolled out, was ServiceManager (SM), which is the front door for everybody. We focus everybody on that front door,and then they can spin off of that front door by going into the other individual or underlyingprocesses to actually do the work that they focus on.Early adopterGardner: And the latest version of BSM from HP came out right about the time you werestarting this. So, you were, in a sense, an early adopter, aggressive. You werent tentative in usingthis suite of products from HP?Felton: Well even go so far as to say that we were the only one. For just BSM in itself, Im veryproud of our team. We had [another ALM product] in 2009. We went to Business AvailabilityCenter (BAC) January 2010. HP said they had this new thing called BSM9-something. Would wetake it? We said sure, and we implemented it in March of that year. We took three upgrades inless than ﬁve months.I give a lot of credit to that team. They did it on their own. There were three of them. Noprofessional services help and no support whatsoever. They did it on their own, and I think that’spretty interesting how they did that. We also did the same thing with UCMDB. We are on the 8x
platform, about halfway deployed, and HP said theyd like us to go to 9x, and so we turned thecorner and we said sure.We did those things because of the web experience. Very few people on my team would tell youthat they were satisﬁed with the old web experience. I know some people were, and that’s great.But, in our environment, as big as it is and as many access points as we had, we had to make surethat was rock-solid.And, 9x for all those versions, seemed to be the best web experience we could have, and it wasvery similar, if Im looking at BSM. Drop-downs and the menus, of course, are all different, butthe ﬂow and the layout is exactly the same as SM, and SM is exactly the same as CMS.We got a nice transition between the applications that made everything smooth for the customer,and the ability for them to consume it better. Ill go so far as to say that a lot of my executiveteam actually log into BSM now. That would have never happened in the past. They actually golook up events that happen to our applications and see whats going on, and that’s all because wefelt like that platform had the best GUI experience.Gardner: So, its a system of record for other systems of record that presents a singular viewthat a business executive can get to, and enjoy and not be faced with too much technology, butget the right information at the right time.Rainey: Absolutely. And, if you get your CEOs and your VPs and your directors consuming andleveraging the products, you get the doers, you get the application managers, you get the ﬁxagents, you get the helpdesk team, because they start believing that the data is good enough fordecision making at that level of executive support.Gardner: Okay. When you have good data, when you know what it is that your IT organizationis comprised of, consists of, and when you can start to eliminate redundancy, be more agile, whatdo you get? What are some of the metrics of success that you’ve seen?Felton: We wanted reduction in our [problem resolution time] by 20 percent. Does that reallymean you get a reduction? No, it means you get out there, you ﬁx it faster, and the end-userdoesn’t see it. By me focusing on that and getting individuals to go out there, and maybe moreproactively understanding whats going on, we can get changes and ﬁxes in before there was areal issue. We’re driving towards that. Do we have that exact number? Maybe not, but that’s thegoal and that’s what we continue to drive for.Removing cost
Additionally the costs are huge, having 35 redundant systems. We removed a lot of maintenancedollars from Sprint, a lot of overhead. A lot of project costs sometimes are not necessarilytangible, because everybody is working on multiple projects all at one time.But, if Ive got to update ﬁve systems, its a lot different if I update one, and make it simpler onmy team. My team comprised about 11 folks, and they were managing all those apps before.Now, theyre managing ﬁve. It’s a lot simpler for them. Its a lot easier for them. We’re makingbetter decisions, and we make better changes.We’re hoping that by having it that way, all of the infrastructure stability goes up, because we’refocused. To Joyce’s point, the executive team pays attention, managers pay attention, everybodysees the value that if I just watch what this thing is doing, it might tell me before there is acustomer call. That is always our goal. I don’t want a customer calling my CIO. I want thecustomer to call my CIO and for him to reply, "Yes, we know, and we’re going to ﬁx that as fastas we can."Gardner: Maybe its a bit too soon, but do you have any ﬁgures as to what your operationalbudget has done? What the impact has been?Rainey: We implemented six months ago, so we’re still going through some of our maturityprocess. We do know for a fact that the operational cost of those 35 applications removed fromthe environment was able to be diverted to some other areas of investments, so we can go aheadand repurpose that money into other spaces that we need to start investing in.Gardner: How about the whole helpdesk function? How has that been impacted?Felton: Six years ago that helpdesk had 400 people. As of today it has 44. The reason it does isthat we bypass making calls. I don’t want you to call a ﬁx agent to type a ticket to get youengaged. We came up with a process called "Click It." Click It is a way for you to do online self-service.If Im having an Exchange problem, an Outlook problem, or an issue with some application, Ican go in and open a ticket, instead of it being transferred to the helpdesk, who then transfers itto the ﬁx agent. We go directly to the ﬁx agent.We’re getting you closely engaged, hoping that we can get your ﬁx time faster. We can actuallyget them talking to you quicker. By having this new GUI interface it streamlined it through a lotof wizards that we can implement. Instead of me having seven forms that are all about access,maybe now I have one. Now, there is a dropdown menu that tells me what application I want itfor. That continuous improvement is what we’re after, and I think we’ve now got the tools inplace to go make that easy for us.Gardner: And here at Discover, there have been some awards HP has delivered, and you gotone. Tell me a little bit about that, Joyce?
Rainey: I am very proud, very proud of Sprint. Im very proud of the team. Im very proud of theexecutive support that we received throughout this journey. The HP Excellence Award was a verybig milestone for everyone to remind us that it was well worth it, the time that was spent, theenergy that was spent. Im very glad that HP and our customers have been able to recognize that.Felton: Im also very proud of the team, as well, and we also won the CIO 100 Award. So, we’vebeen able to take the same platform and the same kind of journey and show a much largeraudience that it really was worth it. I think that’s pretty cool.Gardner: So, you have a little bit of 20/20 hindsight. If I were another organization, a CIO, andI was listening to this podcast, what would you tell me in terms of learning or doing somethingdifferently? Whats the view from where you are upfront?Importance of speedFelton: I think speed. I wouldn’t do it slower. I think 12 months, even though it was veryambitious, helped us, because you didn’t take the focus off of it. You got it in and nobody tried toreplace it.What I might do differently is spread it out a little more, do smaller increments ofimplementation, versus all at one time. Don’t do the Big Bang Theory. Put in BSM, but alwaysknow that its going to integrate with SM, and SM is going to integrate with CMS, and CMS isgoing to integrate with AM.Then, build that plan, so that you integrate them. You get your customers involved in thatparticular application, and then when you go at the very end and put SM in, this the front door.They’re already familiar with what you’ve already done. That is something we probably didn’tdo as well as we could have. It was more of a Big Bang approach. You put it in and you go.But, at the end of the day, don’t be afraid to re-look at the processes. Don’t necessarily assumethat you’re going to copy what you did today. Don’t assume that that is the best way to do it.Always ask the question, what business value does it address for your corporation? If you do thatover, and over, and over, individuals will quit asking, because if you ask, these platforms arevery ﬂexible.You can do anything. But when you get them so customized that the vendor cant even help you,then every upgrade is painful, every movement that you make is painful. What we’ve done hasgiven us the ﬂexibility to clean up a lot of stuff that was left over from years ago, an approachthat may have not been the best solution, and given us an avenue to now extend and subtractwithout putting a huge investment in place.Gardner: I have to imagine, too, that this has given you a little bit better perception in terms ofIT’s role and value. Have you gone from zero to hero, or is that overstating it?
Rainey: I think its a little overstating. We need to realize that its all about incrementalimprovements. I know that on day one, not everybody was as excited as we were byimplementing the product, but along the way we’ve proven that the data quality is better,decision making is better supported. Hopefully we’re starting to create a bigger and moreattractive user community that trust that this system is going to do the right things for us.Felton: One other thing is that we had a really good idea of, "This is our business. Run it thatway. You are a part of Sprint." We try to say, "We’re going to make investments that also beneﬁtus, but don’t do them just to do them, because in this space as you look out on that ﬂoor and seeall the techno wizards that are out there, shiny objects are pretty cool, but there are a lot of shinyobjects."We wanted to make sure that the shiny object we produced is something that was long lastingand gave value back to the company for a long period of time, not just a quick introduction.Gardner: Well, great. We’ve been hearing about how Sprint has undergone a signiﬁcant journeyin improving their IT operations, their efﬁciency, getting a grip on their assets, even shifting theculture to improve not only the business’ bottom line, but really the value of IT generallythroughout the organization.I’d like to thank our guests. We’ve been joined by Joyce Rainey, Program Manager of EnterpriseServices at Sprint. Thank you.Rainey: Thank you very much for having us.Gardner: And also John Felton, Director of Applications Development and Operations at Sprint.Felton: Thank you again. I really appreciate the time.Gardner: And thanks to our audience for joining this special BrieﬁngsDirect podcast coming toyou from the HP Discover 2011 Conference in Las Vegas. Im Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst atInterarbor Solutions, your host for this series of User Experience Discussions. Thanks again forlistening and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: HPTranscript of a Brieﬁngs Direct podcast from HP Discover 2011 on how Sprint reducedapplication sprawl using tools from HPs suite. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011.All rights reserved.You may also be interested in: • 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
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