White paper - Key technical support considerations for smart IT infrastructures
IBM Global Technology Services August 2011Thought Leadership White PaperKey technical support considerationsfor smart IT infrastructures
2 Key technical support considerations for smart IT infrastructuresContents top three IT priorities over the next three to ﬁve years. As part of accessing skills, a primary consideration must include ﬁnding 2 Executive summary the right level of support that helps optimize the capabilities of 3 A smarter IT infrastructure implies new support and new technology being implemented.1 maintenance challenges CIOs also universally acknowledge that some of their most 7 New solutions and strategies can mitigate support important objectives often seem to clash: How can we support complexities the growing demand for service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week while maintaining security and availability? How can we reduce 8 Why IBM? costs while improving service delivery? How can we balance10 Next steps to take the need for proactive support while serving as catalysts for innovation? The ultimate question then becomes: What is the best path available to achieve these goals?Executive summary One compelling answer to that question is the strategy for aNew business challenges demand a smarter smarter IT infrastructure from IBM. A smarter IT infrastructure can help:IT infrastructure ● Deliver a shared, integrated and highly available infrastructureToday, everything computes. Intelligence has been infused that addresses today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunitiesinto things no one would recognize as computers: appliances, ● Ensure high availability and quality of existing servicescars, roadways, clothes, even rivers and cornﬁelds. Cities are ● Meet customers’ expectations for real-time, dynamic accessbecoming smarter by transforming traffic systems, water sys- to innovative new servicestems, security—every possible form of municipal infrastructure. ● Contain operational cost and complexityBusiness process is evolving across every industry from banking ● Enable breakthrough productivity gains through integratedto trading and manufacturing. And we are seeing changes in the service management, optimization, virtualization, energyway people live, enjoying advancements ranging from reduced stewardship and ﬂexible delivery choicescongestion and pollution to new ways to communicate and ● Provide the basis for organizations to gradually evolve theircollaborate. Every aspect of life is beneﬁting from the instru- infrastructures to become more resilient, powerful, ﬂexiblementation, interconnection and infusion of intelligence into and cost-effectivethe systems of the world. This white paper discusses the different support challenges thatAs a result, enterprises are taking entirely new approaches to can confront you when implementing a smarter infrastructuretheir IT infrastructures to make a smarter impact on behalf of that includes new solutions like cloud initiatives, virtualizedthe entire organization. According to a recent CIO study con- environments and other new breeds of computer models. Toducted by IBM, the vast majority of CIOs and CEOs identify keep these solutions running daily, you should consider the levelpeople skills, insight and intelligence, and client intimacy as their
IBM Global Technology Services 3of support that will be required. With technology clearly grow-ing in complexity, can your internal teams adequately support Today Targetyour operational needs now and still concentrate on innovation Individual product support Integrated infrastructure supportprojects? Will you be able to grow and retain the skills neededto keep these systems running? You may need support on the Traditional infrastructure support Virtualized infrastructure supportfront end or someone you can team with to address end-to-end, Predictive maintenance, Mitigate system outagesongoing support. Will you have to work with multiple vendors performance optimizationin different locations, or will you have a single vendor and Fixed machine level SLAs Flexible SLA driven by business needssupport contract? And ﬁnally, how do you ensure that youare optimizing the value from the new technology you have IT infrastructure availability Process/application availabilityimplemented? Multiple support providers Single accountabilityBecause no two organizations face the same business context—orhave the same infrastructure—no two will take the same path inthe pursuit of a smarter IT infrastructure. The results, however, Figure 1: A smarter IT infrastructure introduces both great beneﬁts and newwill generally be the same: to achieve more with less—higher support complexities to ITservice levels, reduced costs and proactively mitigated businessrisks of many kinds. This will come as no surprise to the student of technology history. Invariably, as newer, better solutions are developed, technical supportA smarter IT infrastructure implies new becomes more complex in tandem. Consider automobiles. Originallysupport and maintenance challenges pretty basic and simple, the automobile has evolved into anThe higher levels of complexity that come with a smarter incredibly complex mix of interconnected and interdependentIT infrastructure tax IT staffs more than ever. Actionable systems. No one would argue that the shade tree mechanic ofbusiness intelligence and insights require massive amounts of the mid-1900s is long gone, replaced by a highly skilled techni-data to be captured, linked and made available in real-time. cian who utilizes a seemingly complex array of diagnostic andSystems must be integrated and available 24 hours a day, 7 days repair equipment. And while we may pine for simpler days,a week to deliver ever-increasing services. Growing numbers of few of us would give up the sophisticated transportation systemservers, storage and an explosion of devices must be invested in, embodied in a modern automobile.managed and redirected to meet internal and external demands.Even the solutions to some of these challenges—virtualization,consolidation and cloud computing—bring additional complexi-ties that must be effectively managed.
4 Key technical support considerations for smart IT infrastructures Newly adopted technologies required by a smarter IT infrastruc- ture bring the need for new management tools. The adoption of Target Capabilities Product and integrated Cross platform harware & software skills, cloud computing and virtualization unchains resources such as environment support including knowledge potential dependencies processing power, storage, memory or network capacity from Virtualized IT Deep skills in system management, physical assets and allows the organization to allocate resources infrastructure support virtualization and concurrent support in a dynamic manner in response to changing business needs. Preventive maintenance, performance 24 × 7 system monitoring, automation, optimization and energy efﬁciency enhanced electronic services This has the effect of adding another layer of sophistication to the IT architecture for support teams to handle. According to Flexible SLA driven Flexible SLA model driven by changing by business needs business needs, not by supported hardware most analysts, problem and incident management, are therefore Understand business needs and entire IT amongst the top ﬁve challenges in a virtualized environment, Process/application availability processes that support business processes and are often underestimated by many organizations. For Single accountability Different support models, including fully managed instance, isolating technical problems and identifying root causes support with consistent worldwide delivery require new capabilities and supporting automation. Technical Source = IBM complexity formally spread out among hundreds of physical servers is now focused in fewer physical devices, but still involvesFigure 2: A smarter IT infrastructure brings new support and maintenance separate operating systems, middleware, application and data.challenges. Cascading failure is another major new complexity to consider,The same is true of the smarter IT infrastructure today. Once which occurs when a smarter IT infrastructure integrates serv-comprised of a relatively simple combination of homogeneous ices and resources across what had been isolated domains. Suchproducts, today’s infrastructure has become a collection of inter- integration helps to reduce costs while achieving higher agility,related hardware and software systems that comprise a whole, ﬂexibility and scalability. However, it also means that oldersuch as storage devices. This level of integration introduces new management tools and processes may no longer work properly,challenges and an integrated support concept—rather than because they presume services are created and managed withinsupporting hardware or software, you must now support the one domain, or via one system, and that is no longer true.solution. In a smarter IT infrastructure, entirely new platformsand classes of solutions will be in place, all requiring skilled and For instance imagine a system’s hard drive fails. In the pastinformed support. Enhanced and adoptive support concepts only the services and applications supported by the particularare therefore required to leverage the full value of a smarter system with that particular drive would be affected. In a smarterIT infrastructure and addressing its new support complexities. IT infrastructure, though, that hard drive may represent one small part of a pool of aggregated, virtualized storage. ShouldThe traditional box-by-box break-and-ﬁx approach is clearly not suffi- that hard drive fail, the impact may no longer be conﬁned to acient to maintain and support this advanced infrastructure. Instead it single service.requires a holistic service and support management approach that isfocused on application availability for the end user rather than isolatedbox availability.
IBM Global Technology Services 5A deep transparency and understanding of the interrelation between time possible, and create the least impact on the performanceapplications and infrastructure components is prerequisite to mitigate and availability of key services. Most maintenance and supportthe risk of domino effects in a virtualized infrastructure. teams will lack the expertise required to accomplish this.Change management represents a fourth complexity. As newsolutions or software versions are deliberately introduced to To implement a high availability concept forthe infrastructure, each represents a new possible point of a wholesale and retail provider of food andfailure. The effect of this can be multiplied in a smarter IT nonfood products, IBM has provided access toinfrastructure; when multiple domains, each contributing to thedelivery of what is now an integrated service, introduce changes advanced and efficient services and is able toconcurrently, increased (and often unacceptable) business risk leverage a single point of contact relationshipcan develop. Improper orchestration of changes means problemscan begin at one logical point, application or service, and soon to reduce the client’s IT services support costs.expand to encompass others. One example is the management The company also enjoys the support of aof dependencies between microcode and release levels of all the fail-proof system environment. Further,interrelated infrastructure elements. A new software version ora ﬁrmware update on one element might cause unpredictable the services solution helps the client maintainissues elsewhere. Furthermore a virtualized environment often high availability levels and meet itsrequires that updates are consistently performed in a concurrentmode because you cannot simply take particular systems out 98 percent availability requirement.2of production. Problem resolution through vendor support will also becomeSeamless integrated hardware and software support, including a more complex. Many organizations have relied on multiple ven-cross-platform microcode and release management, is therefore dors (solution providers) to support the once simple combinationone of the key success factors in a smarter IT infrastructure. of homogeneous products. When a problem arises with a partic- ular product, IT works with that particular vendor to hopefullyEven shifting to a smarter IT infrastructure itself can represent a come to a speedy and effective resolution. But in a virtualized,very real challenge to support and maintenance teams—a special consolidated and integrated environment, problems may notand exceptionally extensive form of change management. Such a easily be isolated to a particular element, and vendors may fail tolarge transition requires considerable time, energy and expertiseto accomplish, and furthermore, the transition must be made inan effective and cost-effective way; it must take place in the least
6 Key technical support considerations for smart IT infrastructurestake responsibility—instead passing the buck to others. Such a Already in today’s infrastructure, typically 40 percent of laborsituation will inevitably slow time to solution, reducing service cost to operate IT is spent on “out-of-bounds” tasks like incidentlevels or even leading to extended, complete outages, just when management and ﬁreﬁghting to keep the IT operation ongoing.3the organization’s dependency on reliable IT services is at an all By implementing structured and process-oriented service man-time high. agement and support concepts, there is enormous potential to free up resources and cost in IT operations and redirect themA single point of accountability across vendors based on into strategy and projects. The mounting complexity adds to theconsistently agreed and constantly monitored service levels signiﬁcant amount of time staff spends on support. In addition,can signiﬁcantly improve the availability management of a IT support staff skills may be a concern. Having a supportsmarter IT infrastructure. partner who can supplement skills, offload tasks and mask complexity is key. Today Target 5% SLA account management 10% Projects +10% 5% Strategy & architecture +15% 25% Projects 30% Changes -5% 25% Changes Out-of-bounds labor 40% (Incidents, ﬁre ﬁghting) Out-of-bounds labor -15% 25% (Structured incident handling) 20% Steady state labor -5% 15% Steady state labor Increase customer orientation Today = best-can-do service model Business value Target = service management & process oriented Tool based change process service model, manage IT as a business Tool based incident management process and support Modernize infrastructureFigure 3: A comparison of the relative spending of labor to operate an IT infrastructure.
IBM Global Technology Services 7New solutions and strategies can mitigate problem by manually examining and integrating informationsupport complexities from such logs. A better outcome can be obtained via automatedMany new solutions and strategies are available to help resolve analysis. Logged events are recognized by intelligent monitoringthese and many other complexities that can arise in a highly tools and are correlated to reveal signs of impending failure.virtualized, smarter IT infrastructure—if the IT support and Subsequently, the results can be escalated to appropriate ITmaintenance team has both the tools and expertise. personnel—reducing the business impact of technical problems, and in some cases, eliminating it entirely.Proactive monitoring, for instance, can help to reduce or virtu-ally even eliminate the business impact of technical problems This is an example of how traditional diagnostic competenciesby continually tracking the health of the IT infrastructure. This must evolve and grow to serve the new smarter IT infrastruc-monitoring can help anticipate future problems, and notify ture. Conventional IT teams may require some assistanceIT staff by email or pager to take preventative, rather than cor- via new solutions and/or supplemental expertise in order torective, action. The health and status levels of key IT-enabled accelerate the learning curve needed to utilize them. In somebusiness services can be monitored in real-time dashboards, cases, where the competency in question is not core to the ITwhich deliver easy-to-understand, color-coded reﬂections of organization’s strategy, best results may come from out-taskinghow well (or how poorly) those services and applications are these functions altogether.performing against business objectives. Expertise in fulﬁllment of service-level agreements can becomeAdvanced support capabilities are also useful in this context possible in a smarter IT infrastructure, if supported by informed,for automated event aggregation and analysis. Just as with any effective maintenance and technical expertise. A smarter ITother aspect of the business, the introduction of intelligent infrastructure, of course, is just that—dynamic. This means thatautomation, which consistently executes many common tasks, service-level agreements (SLAs) supported by a smarter IT infra-can dramatically improve both the effectiveness and efficiency structure can now be linked dynamically to shifting workloads.of IT maintenance and support. Rather than being deﬁned by static information that does not reﬂect changing demand levels, the service level can ﬂuctuateOne powerful example: log parsing and analysis. Many applica- in response to real-time information. Such enhanced ﬂexibilitytions, systems and services create ongoing event logs, reﬂecting in creating and fulﬁlling SLAs can translate into cost reductionschanges as they occur in real-time. However, manual analysis of and form the foundation of optimized demand management.those logs will generally be complex, slow and error prone. It isalso very difficult to gain a holistic understanding of a complex
8 Key technical support considerations for smart IT infrastructuresFlexible support models can help clients accomplish complex IBM maintenance and support services are driven by proven,tasks, manage tasks for clients, or out-task individual processes consistent methods: These methods, which provide a collabora-that are problematic. tive framework based on situation appraisal, problem analysis, decision analysis and potential problem analysis, are designed forPursuing such possibilities, however, will require more than just the complex support challenges that arise in a highly virtualized,a smarter IT infrastructure. It will also require the tools and interdependent smarter IT infrastructure. As a result, it empow-knowledge to address the full range of new support complexities, ers IBM not merely to solve clients’ technical problems morewhich will simply be beyond the expertise of many in-house quickly and cost effectively, but also to help them link servicesIT support and maintenance teams. and applications in new ways, or introduce new services and applications, with minimal business risk or impact on ongoingFor this reason, organizations interested in developing a smarter operations. These methods thus support change over time, toIT infrastructure will need a source of trusted support with deep help the infrastructure become more dynamic in the ways thetechnical knowledge and proven expertise to help enable growth organization requires.and innovation while optimizing IT support costs and optimiz-ing system availability. Recently ranked the No.1 external support vendor for server support, capabilities provided by IBM are enhanced through theWhy IBM? use of leading support management technology and proprietaryIBM is exceptionally well-positioned as a trusted team member databases of technical information, available to address particularto help you balance the conﬂicting priorities of managing costs, maintenance and support concerns such as aggregated eventproviding service and fostering innovation. As a leading provider analysis, reporting and proactive monitoring.4 Cross-brand,of single support accountability to cover a smarter IT infrastruc- cross-platform support is available for a wide range of environ-ture in all its aspects, IBM can offer a comprehensive range of ments and platforms, from IBM® System x® to Microsoftsourcing options. Windows, from Linux to VMware. This comprehensive range translates into quantiﬁed actionable intelligence concerningIBM has extensive experience in service management, virtualiza- which services are performing well, which require attention, andtion, cloud computing, IT optimization and business processes, the anticipated business impact. Because IBM support servicesdealing with thousands of organizations globally in virtually are continually enhanced by close links with IBM productevery major business sector. This enables over 23,000 services development and IBM Research, they provide an even moreand support professionals with IBM to capitalize on key insights comprehensive, swift and accurate level of support in casesand strategies with direct access to research and development in where organizations have deployed IBM technology in the infra-a collaborative model across all infrastructure elements. structure. Additionally, IBM can solve the change management puzzle—keeping track of the technical details related to how the infrastructure changes over time via integrated inventory and change management.
IBM Global Technology Services 9IBM can centralize all support operations, giving the organization resolution. Managed Support solutions can further include serv-a single point of accountability while reducing costs. Consider, ice elements like contract and invoice management, inventoryfor example, an organization supported by a large complex infra- management, consistent service level management with relevantstructure comprised of many solutions from many vendors. In reports and reviews. Consolidating multiple support contractssuch a case, IBM can serve as the central liaison among all the into a single agreement typically saves 10 - 15 plus percentvendors involved; when problems occur in any portion of the of maintenance budgets while increasing the availability byinfrastructure, IBM will work with the vendors to solve those 5 - 10 percent.problems, from initial problem reporting to subsequent problem IBMs modular support services are designed to optimize your support today and tomorrow Support continuum Trusted support advisor Single point of contact Intergrated hardware Multi-vendor managed support and software support Availability management Proactive hardware Customized support and software support Client value Hardware warranty Extended service hours Software support and premium response Remote support Web self-service Managed support Enhanced support Support Foundation Proactive PreventiveFigure 4: Modular support services from IBM are designed to optimize support for today and tomorrow.
10 Key technical support considerations for smart IT infrastructuresIBM support offerings are modular, customizable and available A quantiﬁed assessment from dedicated professionals is essentialat multiple levels to meet organizational needs, strategies and in the development of such a strategy. A Managed Technicalbudget. IBM’s full range of support coverage: all hardware, and Support Workshop provides a better way to begin to establishsoftware, of both IBM and major non-IBM vendor offerings objectives holistically, with respect to business goals and priori-are available in three forms: Foundation, addressing basic needs; ties. This workshop provides a deﬁnition of business processesProactive, for more extensive, integrated support designed involved, establishes their requirements with respect to ITto drive service levels to new heights; and Dynamic, intended (including SLAs), determines IT service elements and theirto precisely match speciﬁc organizational requirements associated objectives and deﬁnes the key performance indicatorsand contexts. (KPIs) needed to verify objectives are met.A smarter IT infrastructure can provide organizations with IBM can work with your organization to create an optimizedmany opportunities and eventually help them to evolve their maintenance and support plan that is right for the business—infrastructures to become more resilient, powerful, ﬂexible and leveraging the full power of the IBM services and solutionscost-effective. Organizations that develop a maintenance and portfolio to help reduce costs, increase service levels andtechnical support relationship with IBM can thus do so with proactively mitigate business risks.conﬁdence. They will know that as a leading service providerand technology innovator, IBM will continue to deliver extraor- For more informationdinary maintenance and support performance that is driven by a To learn more about the IBM Maintenance and Technicaldeep commitment to meeting customer needs both today and Support Services, please contact your IBM marketing represen-tomorrow. tative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites: ● ibm.com/services/maintenanceNext steps to take ● ibm.com/services/us/its/html/mts-assessment.html#Where should you begin on the road to an optimized itsspotlightmaintenance and technical support strategy? Additionally, ﬁnancing solutions from IBM Global FinancingA logical ﬁrst step is an evaluation to determine problem hot can enable effective cash management, protection from technol-spots and identify the most pressing business priorities for revi- ogy obsolescence, improved total cost of ownership and returnsion, as well as opportunities for cost savings. In cases where on investment. Also, our Global Asset Recovery Services helporganizations are considering migration to a smarter IT infra- address environmental concerns with new, more energy-efficientstructure, it should be coordinated with a new maintenance and solutions. For more information on IBM Global Financing, visit:technical support strategy. ibm.com/ﬁnancing