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Archive for the ‘Integration’ Category

“Sometimes industry hypes can reciprocally enforce each other and sometimes they even coexist so closely that the question: “Who was first?” verges on the “chicken or the egg causality dilemma”. With “Virtualization” and “Cloud Computing” it’s different. Of course, they do “hype” each other but the concept of cloud computing is not even thinkable without having virtualization technologies in mind.”

That’s how I started a blogpost in October about an EMA White Paper on Virtualization Control through Intelligent Service Automation, written by former EMA analyst (now CA employee) Andi Mann. Notwithstanding this I still feel that many people compare apples and oranges when talking about virtualization and cloud computing.

Reason enough for me to share with you a definition by Gartner which should add some clarity. Gartner characterizes virtualization as

a disruptive technology in IT infrastructure and operations”, which has the potential to substantially reduce the cost of IT and support business to embrace change, “and enables new models(styles) of computing such as cloud computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using internet technologies”.

This distinction between a disruptive “technology” on the one hand and the “mode” in which companies obtain IT services on the other hand should be very helpful because it can explain perfectly the conditions for hype evolution – when upcoming technologies and economic parameters (recession) shake hands.

Of course, technology-wise virtualization is not a lone fighter. This is a lesson companies have learned painfully. It is more a “quadruple jump” composed of integration, virtualization, management and automation.

Have you tried? We can help you!

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“Over the next five years, IT automation will overtake offshoring as the next major efficiency trend in IT.” This is how Ken Jackson, President of Americas at UC4, starts his article about The Dawning of the IT Automation Era. This is surprising just for those who either consider offshoring as the universal answer to all cost reduction challenges or think that cost reduction is the only target of IT automation.

But in a world where IT environments are becoming more and more complex “squeezing every bit of extra cost out of your IT budget” and therefore leaving IT professionals with a “bare bones operating plan” is a tactic which is not sustainable at all. It`s like engaging in a rulebook slowdown while neglecting the fact that IT can really boost your business and ensure accurate service delivery.

The truth behind this is simple: you need money to invest in cost saving technologies. Because keeping IT systems just up and running is not enough. If you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water you have to jointly develop business innovation abilities and cost avoidance strategies.

The answer to complexity is process visibility, and a combination of real-time intelligence and just-in-time execution. This will help you to squeeze instead every bit of value out of your IT budget.

And this is what it’s all about.

For more information on the “several factors contributing to the coming age of IT automation” read Ken Jacksons inspiring article.

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It’s not even 3 weeks ago that the SOA thought-leader community announced The SOA Manifesto as part of the closing keynote of the 2nd international SOA Symposium in Rotterdam.

It seems a good time for Manifestos, that’s taken for granted, but do we need to wrap the SOA approach into a Manifesto too? Now that the technological benefits of SOA applications over existing legacy applications have been well documented? Now that it is well known that SOA offers business benefits across applications and platforms, including location independent services, a loosely coupled approach providing agility, the dynamic search for other services, and that services are reusable?

According to Joe McKendrick, “SOA is not a thing that you do, and it definitely isn’t a thing that you buy … but something tangible, a style if you will, just as Roman, Greek or Modern are styles of architecture.” This perfectly paraphrases the very first statement of the SOA Manifesto, which philosophically states that service orientation is more an attitude, “a paradigm that frames what you do.”

The good thing about the Manifesto is that it reminds us of the cultural implications of a SOA approach. And that it plays nicely with the principle that states that “SOA is not made out of products”. But on the other hand we should not neglect the technical challenges, of course. Because the situation we are focussing on is the fact that over 50% of the processing in the current application landscape is background processing.

That is why we need interfaces that guarantee the inclusion of background processes into the SOA business process. That is why we need intelligent Workload Automation tools based on Web Services to initiate, monitor, and manage background processes. And that is why UC4 customers prefer an Automation Broker (here is the Whitepaper for Download) to bridge between SOA vision and batch reality than being part of a platonic style symposium.

I am looking forward to your comments!

Here is the video of the announcement:

You can find a complete list of the authors at the bottom of the manifesto, or view a picture of everybody on stage at the signing of the SOA Manifesto.

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“We recently had to replace the server in my office. It was seven years old and one of the hard drives failed. It was not an expenditure I expected to have this year. My IT guy said that my desktop is seven years old. He also informed me that half the machines in the office are between five and eight years old and that I should budget to replace all of them next year. If we did not have a weak economy, I would normally have replaced these machines after five years of service. I think my business is typical of many businesses around the world“. This is how Ronald Roge, chairman of R. W. Roge & Company, one of a highly regarded wealth management firm describes the situation.

The related article from forbes.com is about the IT market and the pent-up demand in many firms due to the crisis in the last year or two. The good news: Concerning 2010 forecasts, the industry’s experts expect the cork to pop this year.

What strikes me is that in the article they talk mainly about IT lifecycles and replacement procedures and not about how technology itself has changed in the last two years. Take virtualization technologies and the role they can play – even in a tense economic situation – as the key to doing more with less; to reducing hardware, space and energy demand and to making your business more available, more agile and more productive.

Of course, not before you have done your management lessons on integrating real and virtual environments in a consistent way. Using VMware it becomes clear that the dynamic provisioning of new systems is not enough. Unless they become part of your automation strategy they remain outside your business processes waiting for costly manual integration.

Talking about the cork which is supposed to pop next year we should also talk about the deadlocks threatening the virtualization issue. We should talk about virtual machine sprawl and costly process interruption at the intersections between virtual instances and physically deployed systems.

And we should underline that it is not enough to find out the status of your server hardware the moment you want to dynamically provision workloads; you have to go deeper – into the application layer that correlates and acts on events to bring real-time intelligence and real-time dynamic to virtual and cloud computing environments. It’s obviously much more than fulfilling IT lifecycles. It’s about considering IT as a strategic asset and not as a cost center.

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It wasn’t really a surprise that one of the big topics at the VMworld virtualization fest in San Francisco early this month was the virtual machine sprawl and the long desiderated management answers by the IT departments.

This is not just the case in VMware environments as Jamie Erbes, Chief Technology Officer for HP, points out in a ZDNet interview: “On the need to manage virtualization efforts, the problem of “virtualization sprawl” is becoming real. Developers have adopted virtualization and IT managers don’t use the rigor needed for its use. For instance, if some department wants a new server a virtual machine can be created in minutes. Multiply those departments in a multinational corporation and you have a lot of virtual machines” – and a big threat to end-to-end management.

Hilton Chicago Elevator monitoring by cote, on Flickr In daily IT business the problem is not the quantity of the virtual machines, as the title borrowed from Timothy Pricket Morgan’s blog suggests. The problem is that these VMs are just automated and orchestrated inside the VMware virtual environment and isolated in relation to the IT processes which are still running separately in real and virtual environments. From this process viewpoint, managing the virtual environment is a far cry from managing the entire IT environment – as long as the dependencies between the virtual and the real world are unsolved. That’s the catch. With this in mind, serious virtualization efforts just make sense together with a serious automation strategy. And a serious automation strategy is cross-platform or not – as I stated in this blog months ago.

This is also in tune with Jamie Erbe’s point of view. She emphasizes in the interview mentioned above that “companies need to focus on their policies and how rules for things like storage, applications, cloud computing and storage all work together. If these policies aren’t well thought out the effort to automate infrastructure can be wasted and wind up costing you more.”

Don’t forget. You can do great things with automation. But first you have to make sure that the automation train goes in the right direction. This train is fueled by “integration”. Integration without restraints.

For more information look up the Whitepaper about Intelligent Service Automation for Real and Virtual Environments.

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Are we talking about real things when we talk about “just in time processing”? I mean, things that we are confronted with in daily business. Or is everything just about wishes and visions? And how things might be better?

Michael L. Moser gives kind of a disillusioning answer in his blog claiming that “the typical IT organization has a hodgepodge of disparate job and workload solutions that only rarely talk to each other and often aren’t integrated. Each solution requires its own specialized staff to manage and maintain it. Worst of all, this outdated job scheduling approach is costing companies a lot of money — something they can ill afford in light of the current economic crisis.”

No question, in order to reduce costs, mitigate risks, and increase business agility, enterprises of all sizes have to get rid of these automation islands.

The recent economic gloom has created a troubling paradox in IT management across a broad swath of industries. An EMA research report found that 74% of CIOs must maintain or reduce IT budgets over the next two years – emphasizing both the importance AND the danger of always having a red pencil within reach.

Naturally, businesses do not relax service expectations despite shrinking budgets. As the recession continues, the options dwindle for satisfying these apparently incompatible objectives. With each “red pencil” passing through the budget spreadsheets yielding fewer cost reduction candidates, layoffs loom as the final alternative. With each layoff, the organization pushes increasingly valuable IT expertise out the door, reducing the ability to compete.

Don’t throw your visions to catch reality! Better discover how real-world customers are succeeding: 6 Ways to Cut Process Costs.

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Data analysis is key to understanding your IT workload and improving your service quality. This is unquestioned.

To achieve good results you firstly have to ask the right questions. In the case of process automation you might want to know where irregularities occur in your business, what certain behaviour patterns of your customers look like, which processes are executed most or least effectively, or upon which data automated decisions have been made in the past. These kind of questions not only determine but delimitate the results of the detective-like part of the analysis work.

uc4insightBut the best questions are worthless if the answers look like hieroglyphs. So, secondly you have to understand the answers as well. That’s why data visualization is a crucial part of data analysis. With a good data visualization you can time travel through the history of data and easily surf the whole event tunnel for patterns, trends and anomalies.

Granted, these two aspects of data analysis are commonplace, although not easy to achieve. But what if the data itself is poor or not even accessible because they are lying on isolated sources, platforms, applications? To achieve an end-to-end view in nowadays businesses you might need access to data coming from such diverse parts of your enterprise, like IT-systems, production systems, communication devices, logistics and business partners. Otherwise your analysis effort is not insightful and no more than a nice pastime. That’s why intelligent and selective data integration is the third key success factor for efficient data analysis.

To learn more about this, read the brand new Whitepaper on UC4 Insight.

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