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Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support
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Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinker's Take on the Future of Integrated IT Support

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Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on rapid-response IT support on mission critical applications and systems.

Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on rapid-response IT support on mission critical applications and systems.

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  • 1. Popular Support Providers Chris and Greg Tinkers Take onthe Future of Integrated IT SupportTranscript of a sponsored podcast discussion on rapid-response IT support on mission criticalapplications and systems.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: HP.Dana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and youre listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on why IT customer support is so important and why industry changes are forcing an integration and empowerment effect for how helpdesks respond and perform. Were here with two lauded IT Master Technologists from HP to learn more about what makes good customer support tick. Part of the solution comesfrom providing a more centralized, efficient, and powerful means of getting all the systemsinvolved working, and all the knowledge necessary to come together to quickly get people backin action and keep them there. But, it also involves getting disparate parties and vendors acrossan IT ecosystem to work together in new ways. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirectpodcasts.]These two technologists, who happen to be identical twins, were chosen via a sweepstakeshosted by HP to identify favorite customer support personnel. We will learn why they gainedsuch recognition and uncover their recommendations for how IT support should be done betternow and later in a rapidly changing future of increasingly hybrid and cloud modeled computing.Please join me now in welcoming our guests. Were here with Chris Tinker and Greg Tinker, bothHP Master Technologists. Welcome to you, Chris.Chris Tinker: Hi, Dana.Gardner: And also to you, Greg.Greg Tinker: Thank you, Dana.Gardner: Let me congratulate you on this award. This was I think a worldwide pool or at least avery large group of people that you were chosen from. So, congratulations on that.Greg Tinker: Yes, Dana, thank you very much.Gardner: Did this come as a surprise? How did you feel when you learned about it?
  • 2. Greg Tinker: It was an honor, I can say that, and we are very grateful for that. Our customer installed base, as well as our peers and the management team, put our names into this situation. It was a great honor. Gardner: Yes. Chris Tinker: And it was a surprise. Gardner: Just so we could fill this out a bit, in addition to the quiz and sweepstakes, there was a philanthropic element as well. Every time folks voted, a $10 donation was made to CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that fights global poverty. Is that right? Greg Tinker: Thats correct. For each vote that was cast, HP donated $10 to the humanitarian organization Care, to max out at a $100,000. They met that goal in just a few days. It was quite astonishing.Gardner: Great. Now, its kind of ironic from my perspective, because Im thinking that some ofthe most unpopular people can sometimes be the IT support, because people are in a reallydifficult situation when they encounter them, but you guys won the popularity contest for anunpopular task. How does that feel?Greg Tinker: Its definitely an honor. Its our livelihood, but it’s definitely rewarding.Chris Tinker: Very rewarding.Their darkest hourGardner: You deal with people when they are, in some cases, their darkest hour. Theyre underpressure. Theres something thats gone wrong. Theyre calling you. So, youre not just there in atechnical sense, which of course is important, but there must be a human dynamic to this as well.How does that work?Chris Tinker: We become their confidant. We foster a relationship there between the twoparties. For us, its very exhilarating. Its the ultimate test. You want to build both the technicaland business, but also the interpersonal relationship, because you have to weigh in on so manylevels, not just technical. That’s a critical component, but not the only component.Gardner: Anything to add to that, Greg?Greg Tinker: No, Chris actually summed it up quite nicely. He and I both have a passion forwhat we do and we really thrive in the heat of the moment.
  • 3. Gardner: All right. So what does it take to be a good IT support person nowadays? Let me startwith you Chris?Chris Tinker: It’s simply not enough to be a technical guru -- not in todays industry. You haveto have a good understanding of technology, yes, but you also have to understand the tools andrealize that technology is simply a tool for business outcomes. If youre listening to the business,understanding what their concerns and their challenges are, then you can apply thatunderstanding to their technical situation to essentially work for a solution.Gardner: Greg, how about for you? What do you think makes a good IT support person?Greg Tinker: I second Chriss sentiment on that, and Ill add this. Chris and I study, almost on a daily basis, to stay ahead of the technology curve. Chris and I both do a lot in SCSI I/O control logic, with respect to the kernel structure of HP-UX as well as Linux, which is our playground, if you will. And, it takes what I would call firm foundation to be able to provide that strong wealth of knowledge to be the customers confidant. You cant be an expert at one point anymore. You cant be a network expert only. You have to understand the entire gamut of the business, so that you can understand the customers technical problem. Gardner: Its not enough to go to them and say, "Well, thats really not part of our technical expertise. Youll have to go somewhere else." Peopledont want to hear that. They want that one hand to shake, right?Greg Tinker: Thats correct, and today the customer expects the technical master technologist,like my brother and I, not just to know the one thing theyre asking about, because that questionis going to quickly turn. For example, I am having an Oracle performance issue, the customerthinks it may be disk related, but when you dig into it, you find out that its actually an ODBCcall, a networking issue. So, you have to be quite proficient at a multitude of technologies andhave a lot of depth and breadth.Gardner: How did you both get involved with this? Did one get into it first and the otherfollow? Whats the story behind how you ended up here?Lengthy roadGreg Tinker: It was quite a lengthy road. Chris and I actually started off going in one direction,and we agreed many years ago in school that one of us would go one direction and the other inanother, and see who was enjoying the industry better. Chris joined HP and fell in love with it.He and I have a very strong Linux background. Then, I jumped ship and went with my brotherChris, and we have been with HP ever since, and have loved it dearly.
  • 4. Chris Tinker: Thats a great point. We look at IT support as a ladder and we just climbed that ladder. We started in mission-critical support and found it to be exhilarating. With mission-critical support youre talking about enterprise- class corporations. Were not talking about consumer products. Were talking about an entire corporations business running on an IT solution and how were engaged in that process. Unfortunately, in our line of work, we do see customers, where the technology did not go as planned, predicted, or expected and its up to us to essentially figure out what the expectations are with technology and ascertain whether or not the technology can deliver that. Thats how we moved through support.We started off as mission-critical support specialists. We became architects, designing solutionsfor corporations and found out that we were very good at escalations and thats where we aretoday.Gardner: Youve mentioned exhilarating a couple of times. Maybe you could provide us amemorable example of why thats the case. Is there some event that you were involved with inthis capacity that comes to mind that illustrates that sense of exhilaration? Let me start with you,Greg.Greg Tinker: Well, I cant give customer names out, but I will stick to one particular incident. Itwas a dire-strait moment, where a customer deployed a particular non-intrusive patch. Theydidnt think anything of it, and it actually caused a catastrophic kernel panic inside theirinfrastructure and shut down their entire enterprise. Once that condition was met, they couldntboot the enterprise back up, and then it became a pointing game as to what was the fault, was itx, y, or z?Thats when my brother and I got engaged in this to find that one smoking gun that was causingthe environment to panic. And, all eyes were on us. When I talk about exhilarating, were talkingabout C-level execs and everybody else staring at you with hands on the keyboard to figure outwhats causing this panic situation.That’s where Chris and I really thrive. We were able to isolate the condition in probably about anhour-and-a-half and pull out that component, the offender, and get the enterprise back rollingagain.Chris Tinker: Not to speak light of the customer situation, but it was a fun moment -- and I sayfun in air quotes -- because you have the C-level execs standing over your shoulder, literallywatching what you are doing. Theyre sweating because theyve been down for so much time. Ishould state here that it wasnt the HP technology or HP solution that was at fault. It was a third-party interoperability issue that had gone down and caused that interruption.But, we did isolate it and we did figure out what it was. We talked to that vendor, partnered withthem, and got the solution in place in very short order.
  • 5. Gardner: I imagine that, even though typically these vendors dont always have all of theirducks aligned, when it comes to this sort of a mission-critical situation, theyre probably thankfulthat theres someone there trying to corral this. So, I imagine the cooperation is pretty high inthese circumstances.Stakes are highChris Tinker: Yeah, the stakes are high at this level. You are talking about, not only the corporation, the customer, but you are also talking about the vendors, whether it be HP or third party, and we are partnering with all these vendors. Everybody has got a stake in the game. Essentially, their reputation is on the line. So we partner, regardless. As we don’t want to be thrown under the bus, we don’t throw anybody else under the bus. We partner. We come together as one throat to choke or one hand to shake, however you want to look at it. But, essentially, we all have the same thing in common, the customer’s wellbeing.Greg Tinker: Ill second Chris’ sentiment on that, in the sense that when were engaged at ourlevel, its no longer a finger-pointing game. Its a partnership, regardless of who the customer is.If its HP gear, so be it. If its somebody else’s gear, and we see where the problem is at, we dontpoint the finger. We ask the customer to get their vendor on the bridge with us and we work as ateam to get the business restored, because that’s priority one.Chris Tinker: That’s HP technical support. That’s what we thrive at. That’s one of our charters.Our management has dictated that they want team effort, global effort.Gardner: I suppose you can always deconstruct fault afterward, and the point is to get people upand running ASAP.Greg Tinker: That’s right.Chris Tinker: That’s exactly right. Root cause is a nice to have, business online is better.Gardner: Right. How long have you guys been doing this? How long has this been yourprofession and your passion?Chris Tinker: Thirteen years now.Greg Tinker: Twelve for me.Gardner: Okay, 12 and 13 years. Whats changed over that period of time? It seems as ifcomplexity just keeps rolling higher and higher, with more unintended consequences as a result
  • 6. of that. What would you characterize, Chris, as whats evolved or changed most in the past dozenyears or so?Chris Tinker: Catchphrases change. Today its cloud computing, but cloud computing has beenaround for a long time. We just didn’t refer to it as cloud computing. Shared infrastructure ofcourse is what we called it.Virtualization today is becoming a big ticket item, where in years past, big iron was the thing thatwas a catchphrase. Big iron was very large computers. We still have big iron in storage, that’strue. We still have that big footprint, big powerhouse, that consumes a lot of power, but that’s anecessity of the storage platform.The big thing for today is converged infrastructure. These are terms you wouldn’t have heardyears ago, where we are trying to converge multiple type of protocols, physical media under onemedium, networking, Fibre Channel, which of course is your storage network, TCP/IP network,going across the same physical piece of media. These are things that are changing, and of coursewith that comes extreme amount of complexity, especially when it comes into the actual enginethat drives this.Gardner: Additional thoughts, Greg? Whats changed in your perception?Big ironGreg Tinker: As Chris stated, the key phrase of yesteryear was big iron. I want a big behemothmachine that can outdo mainframe. If you look back to 1999 and 2000, what you were lookingfor in the open system world was something to compete with Big Blue.Today its virtualization and blades. Everybody used to say -- probably about mid-2005 -- "I wanta pizza box. I want a new blade." We no longer call those blades. Those are called pizza boxesnow. Today, the concept is all about blades. If you cant make the thing 3 inches tall and 1 inchwide, there is something wrong.Gardner: Youve been describing how things have changed technically. How have thingschanged in terms of the customer requirements and/or the customer culture? That is to say, whatare their expectations or perceptions? Lets start with you Chris.Chris Tinker: Expectation is more for less. They want more computing power. They want moreIT for less cost, which I think that’s been true since day one, but today, of course, that "more forless" just means more computing power. The footprint of the servers has changed.And two, the support model has changed. Keep in mind, were in support, and were seeing atrend with these concepts where customers are having all these physical servers and the supportcontracts on all these servers are being consolidated down to one physical server with virtualinstances.
  • 7. The support model of yesteryear doesn’t always fit the support model that they should havetoday.Greg Tinker: What Chris is talking about there is consolidation efforts. Customers used to have500 servers. Today, -- I want to exaggerate my point here -- we have it on a virtualization of oneor two physical machines that are behemoth and its virtualized 500 guests.Though that model works right for consolidating the cost effort of the infrastructure, so yourcapital cost is less, the problem now becomes the support model. Customers tend to reduce thesupport as well, because its less infrastructure. But, keep in mind, most customers kind of forgeta lot of times that theyve put all their eggs into the basket and that basket needs a lot ofprotection.So now you have your entire enterprise running on one or two pieces of physical hardware that isa grossly complex with not only the virtual servers, but the virtual Ethernet modules, the FibreChannel model concepts are all now basically one concept to run every protocol type, whetheryou are running infiniband, Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, etc., the complexity requires a greatdeal of support.When a customer calls up and says, "Weve made a change in our environment and my server hascrashed, the physical server went down, or has lost access to its storage or network," youre notjust affecting that one physical server, but youre affecting hundreds. So, the support model todayis quick.Chris Tinker: To add to Greg’s point, a compartmentalization of yesteryear was, "I havephysical servers in racks and I will go to another row with a different rack. It has more serversthere." So, your compartmentalization, your isolated zones, were in the physical data center,where today your isolated compartmentalized zones are within the same chassis.Gardner: It sounds to me that there is a higher risk profile. Is that a fair characterization?Hardware redundancyGreg Tinker: That would be a fair characterization. There is a higher risk on the hardware endin the sense that you still have hardware redundancy, of course, but youre fully dependent uponcluster technology and complexity.Lets talk about the chassis. The chassis concept of our blade infrastructure, and this is true formost vendors, is that you are redundant there. But, if you want to be redundant at the hardwarelayer, youve got to have yet another chassis. In order to get that redundancy across the chassiscomponents, you have to have a virtualization software on top of it, adding more complexity,which becomes a real need for a powerful support base.Chris Tinker: A good solution design for business risk assessments are still a critical componentto your solution design.
  • 8. Gardner: Im going to guess that over the past several years in the tradeoff for cost and risk,people probably favor the cost side a bit. So, that means the people in your position are thebackstop. "Ill assume more risk and Ill have some cost benefits, but in order for me to survive,Im going to need a more capable IT support function." Is that a fair assessment?Greg Tinker: That’s what the trend is becoming. The trend is, "Were going to reduce our cost inthe CAPEX and reduce our cost in the infrastructure. Were going to consolidate and virtualizethat concept, and we are going to look at our support strategy in a different light." That’s whatmost customers think.Gardner: What is that new light?Greg Tinker: The new light today is that customers are focused more on the higher end supportmodels, meaning four-hour call to repair, where it used to be 24-hour or 48-hour support models,where we were not in a huge rush. If we had a disk drive failure, we had plenty of time, becausewe had full redundancy, whatever. So we had plenty of time to fix those components.Today, with all this consolidation effort, it becomes a real critical need when you have a failingcomponent, whether it be hardware or software, to get that component addressed urgently. Youdon’t really have the time.Chris Tinker: That’s a great point. Looking at that standard support model, you had so manyphysical servers and your business was essentially interlaced with these systems. You couldhandle an outage, whether software or hardware condition. It wasnt as strategic or as strong astoday’s virtualized environments, where you would have much heavier business impact.To Greg’s point, this inter-support model used to work with some of these virtualizedenvironments. I am not saying all virtualized environments, but some of these virtualizedenvironments. With four-hour call-to-repair, you can imagine in four hours what’s required. Thetechnologists who answer the phone first have to address the business concerns to figure out whatthe business impact is and understand what the problem is.Once we ascertain what’s causing that problem and the problem has been defined, we have tofigure out what’s going wrong with the technology in order to bring it back online.Business assessmentAll that has to be done within four hours on some of our most critical contracts. Of course,that’s the most advanced contract. There are many stages between that one and all the way downto standard support. There are all levels in between, and that customized support model has to bea business assessment.
  • 9. Gardner: So, we have these trends around increased complexity, reduced time to repair ormeantime to emulate your issues. We also have a higher level of concentration of risk and animpetus to cut cost, and you guys are dropped in the middle of that.What does this mean for your role? It sounds like you need to be good technically. You need tobe almost Professional Services as well as helpdesk and support. You need to have those goodinterpersonal skills, a background in architecture, a background in a variety of differenttechnologies. Help me understand what it is that you think comes together that allow somebodyto do what you do?Greg Tinker: I think the biggest thing I would say is having strong technical background.Having in-depth knowledge of C is a good idea, knowing the kernel structure. That way whenyou have a failure in a component, software or hardware, you have a clear understanding in thestack as to where the problem most likely resides. You need to have a good idea of where tofocus."Im having a set-sock-opt error in the TCP protocol stack." You know you don’t have to look atthe Fibre Channel stack. Granted, Im making that way too simple on purpose. My point is thatyou have to have a very clear understanding of where the stuff resides.Chris Tinker: Its having an understanding of the actual layers, and in computer technology itsunderstanding all about the layers of the technology, whether it be the hardware layer or theupper layer stack. If they describe a problem to you as X, its being able to understand wherewould that fall, what layer would that fall in. And, that’s going to expedite your ability totroubleshoot that problem.But, to Greg’s point, that goes back to listening -- listening to the problem, listening to thecustomers situation. The very first thing you do is not start looking at logs. You start listening tothe customer’s problem and having that relationship. One of the key components here isownership, letting the customer know that I am engaged now, I own this, Ill work with you, andwe will get this solved. That gives them the confidence and the reassurance that there issomebody that’s going to work with them. That’s what HP Technical Support is all about --having that ownership.Gardner: There have also been some shifts over the past dozen years or so in the degree towhich remote support is possible and your ability to get inside and get that information. Maybewe could take a moment to learn more about what tools have been brought to bear to help youwith this, when you get that phone call. When youre dealing with that customer in their momentof need, their darkest hour, you also have a bit more of an arsenal. You have some arrows in yourquiver. Maybe you could explain what you think are the most powerful ones and why they workwell.
  • 10. HP virtual roomChris Tinker: The HP Virtual Room (HPVR). If you go to rooms.hp.com, it’s a good example.As you just mentioned, yesteryear it was, "Hey, send me the logs. Send me the examples. Sendme some data, and Ill parse through it and figure it out." You had to wait for data to come in andthen start parsing those logs, parsing that data, and building your hypothesis of what might be theproblem.Now, imagine if I were able to take that in real time. So, Greg, talk about real time.Greg Tinker: Real time is key in today’s technology world. Nobody wants to wait. Take yourphone for example. Can you stand it when you have pressed the email button and your phonetakes more than three seconds to load it up? Everybody gets annoyed when its slow. Well, thesame is true in technology services support.When customers call in, they expect immediate response. By the time it gets to our level, whereChris and I sit and our team resides inside the support model, the customer is in dire straits. Weuse the Virtual Room technology. Its similar to WebEx.There are a lot of similarities out there. Different vendors have different tools. We use the HPVirtual Room toolset and we can jump onto any machine in the world, anywhere in the world, ata moment’s notice. We can do crash analysis on a Linux kernel crash in real time on a customer’smachine. The same with HP-UX, Solaris, AIX, name your favorite.We can look at these stack traces and actually find the most likely component that compromisesthe infrastructure. We can find it, isolate it, and remedy it.Chris Tinker: Not only is it just us troubleshooting, but its bringing to bear our peers. Its teamwork, a two-heads-are-better-than-one mentality. Greg even lived that first. At the end of the day,youve got 2, 4, or 20 people on the phone. You can imagine all of those people sharing the samedesktop at the same time to try to look at a problem. You get all these different levels ofexpertise.Youre able to take all these talents and focus them on one scenario. So, now with four-hour callto repair, how is that even possible? Its possible when we have to bring these people and partnerwith these people. They could be not only HP employees and HP technical support. That goesback to vendors and those relationships. We bring those vendors into the same Virtual Room,showing them where were seeing the problem and asking what we need to do to solve this.Gardner: That puts you in the role of being the conductor in an orchestra in a sense. That’sanother skill set as well, getting that leadership and the ability to get people to line up and focuson a common problem. Does that come up more nowadays?Chris Tinker: We have many hats to wear. It goes back to our prior point that being a technicalguru is not the only critical component to being able to execute at this level.
  • 11. Greg Tinker: Its knowing one’s limitations. As powerful as Chris and I are in the technologyworld, we have limitations like anyone would. That’s why its a team effort. Using tools like theVirtual Room, we can look at a situation and have a good idea of where the problem may be.Leadership roleIf we don’t have that skill set, in a moment’s notice we can get one of our team members to jumpinto the room with us, look at the desktop, look at the situation, and assess it with us. So, its aleadership role that we hold in our organization, in the massive technology world of HP, to goout and grab those experts that you need and bring them to bear to the situation.Chris Tinker: Dana, to your point, its not enough just to know the technology that youreresponsible for supporting. For example, you’re tasked with having to know third-party vendortechnology, but you are also tasked with having to understand the technologies like HP VirtualRoom.For example, Greg mentioned WebEx, there are many technologies out there, tools that we usethat HP doesn’t create and doesn’t support, but the industry as a whole utilizes on a daily basis.Im sure youre using one right now that’s either a freeware or a public license.Greg Tinker: Take Outlook for example. That’s a tool. Today, everybody is expected to knowOutlook. If you find someone that doesnt know it, you then question their ability. Everybodywould. Im using that as an example, but a lot of people take these types of tools we use today forgranted.Gardner: While we are on the subject of tools, whats coming next? If I were to design thesetypes of tools, you would be the guys I would go to, to get my list of requirements. What are youasking for? What would you like to see come next in order for you to be able to do your jobsbetter?Chris Tinker: The mind meld or The Borg.Gardner: Reading minds, that’s a good one. More practical.Greg Tinker: Now, there are some tools that are being leveraged daily inside HP as well asoutside. HP Storage Essentials being one. The biggest thing we see today is storage. The growthrate of storage is enormous. And the biggest problems customers run into are performance andcapacity.Capacity is the easy one, right? I am 100 percent full in my file system. I just need more. Thatsthe easy one to fix.
  • 12. The hard one to fix is "My application is not running the way I want it to, Fix it." Those are thedifficult ones. We have to have a lot of tools to help us understand what the load conditions are,because its no longer the yesteryear scenario of a Superdome, HP Rack, one big behemothmachine, four terabytes of memory, 400 CPUs, loading up one storage array. Thats no longer thecase.We have grid computing structures of 600+ nodes running a multitude of different things -- SAP,Oracle, Informix, Exchange, etc. All of these different load-bearing concepts are coming into onemonolithic storage array. It can become quite daunting to understand whats causing that loadcondition, and we have a lot of tools today that are helping us ascertain the root of thoseproblems faster.Chris Tinker: We have become the bleeding edge of technology. Essentially, its software thathasnt been released. Its tools which are not actually production ready, and we use these tools aswell, and some tools we can’t even speak about.Business realitiesBut, these are tools that will be in the enterprise eventually. They will be out in the worldeventually. You asked earlier what we see coming down the road? Imagination is essentially oneof the only things in technology. In todays world, there are other factors of course. Businessrealities temper the development of technology, but its going to be very exciting to see whattechnology is being developed and whats coming next.Gardner: While were looking at whats coming next, you mentioned that level of interest inapplications not performing, a very general sort of problem at the surface. It seems to me that thedefinition of application is shifting. As we look at more hybrid computing models, we look atpeople who will be compositing from a variety of services, all perhaps coming from a variety ofsources. The business process needs to be supported, but the constituent parts now are even morescattered, harder to identify.It seems as if folks who are in your role are going to have an even more important play herewhen it comes to these distributed and cloud and hybrid types of applications. Any thought aboutwhat you would be needing and what to expect if thats the future?Chris Tinker: Well, with performance, your key challenge is understanding what tools we use,what metrics we look at. With databases, there are databases tools like AWR with Oracle. Whenshould I be looking at AWR, as opposed to the operating system performance metrics, asopposed to the storage array or network performance?It goes back to what Greg said earlier. Its having this very large breadth of technology expertise.Its being able to understand first what tool I use to look at performance? Then, of course, youhave to go back to the business. You have to ask the business owners, the P&L owners, "What isyour expectation? What is actually your business challenge?"
  • 13. Maybe its a batch job. Maybe its a report they want to run at month end. Maybe they want torun a month-end processing for their business accounting, calculate payroll.The business has tobe able to define what it is they are going after. Their challenge is being able to align thetechnology to deliver on that challenge.Gardner: I wonder if you might have just some last advice for those listening to the podcast asto how they on the consumption side might help folks like you on the services and supportdelivery side do your job better? What advice do you have for them in order to have a betteroutcome? Any thoughts on that, Chris?Chris Tinker: Yeah, its being able to articulate the actual problem at hand, and the challengethat you have with your technology, because keep in mind that technology, IT, is nothing morethan a tool that allows us to have business outcomes. So its nothing more than a tool that thebusiness utilizes for their requirements.Then, to have metrics around their environment. They have to have a baseline. They have to havean understanding of what the technology has been doing.Trending is keyGreg Tinker: Trending is key in a lot of these new virtualized consolidated environments. Youneed to have a baseline, as Chris stated. We need to have the performance characteristics. Yourlogging and ESX is about as common as sliced bread in a grocery store. ESX environments arevery common and thought of very highly. I enjoy them. They are very nice.Customers tend to start moving towards ESXi, which is fine, but ESXi doesnt log. It does logbut you only get like a two hour history. The point is that customers take that logging for granted.You have to have your logging enabled and you must keep at least a six month trend.So you dont keep all your logs and your service forever, but a six month trend is very helpfulwhen you have a mysterious problem show up. Then, we can compare yesterday to today and seewhat differences have shown up in the environment.Gardner: It comes down to data, having the data at your disposal.Chris Tinker: Not just data, but having a baseline. We get a lot of calls where customers haveno idea of what the environment was doing before. They say, "Were having a problem now. Ourusers are complaining." We ask, "How did it used to run? How long did this job used to take?Did it use to take 2 hours, and now it takes 20 hours?" A lot of times, they simply do not know.I wish customers would yield to knowing that logging is critical. You dont have to keep itforever, but keep it for a strategic period of time. Six months is a good number.
  • 14. Gardner: So as we look at the benefits from a cost and performance angle of concentrating andconverging, you might increase your risk profile and become more dependent on folks like Chrisand Greg, but having that data and having an understanding of your baseline can help reduce thatrisk significantly. Thats good advice.Terrific. I want to thank you two for your input and, again, congratulations on being designatedfavorites at something thats probably, as I say, not a popular role. So to be popular in anunpopular position really speaks well of you.Weve been listening to a podcast discussion on how IT customer support is growing inimportance and why the industry changes are flipped, forcing more work towards reducing thatrisk, but with an emphasis on the people at the front line on your support services.So thanks to Chris Tinker. I really enjoyed your thoughts.Chris Tinker: Thank you, Dana.Greg Tinker: Dana, thank you again for having us. I would like to add one more comment. Forthose of your listeners that are willing to come out to the HP DISCOVER Event in Las Vegas,Chris and I have multiple publications and we are giving multiple advanced session discussionson internal I/O control logics at HP DISCOVER Event in Las Vegas, June 6-10. So, if any ofyour listeners wish to come out and meet us firsthand, we would love to see them.HP also has a site where you can connect with HP Technology Services experts. We encourageyour readers to engage with HP directly.Gardner: Thanks to you Greg. We have been, as I say, discussing the support life and the trends,and both of you gentlemen are HP Master Technologists. So thanks again.Greg Tinker: Thank you so much.Chris Tinker: Thank you.Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Ive been your hostand moderator and youve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks forlistening and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Sponsor: HP.Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on rapid-response IT support on mission criticalapplications and systems. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.You may also be interested in:
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