What is the Future of On-Premise Software?


By Dick Stark

On January 15, Netflix quietly announced a price increase by an average of 13 to 18 percent. With 58 million US subscribers, that works out to an additional $1.4B yearly revenue increase. How elastic is this type of increase?  Will users move to another provider? In my opinion, that’s not too likely. Most may grumble or complain, but in the end what’s a couple of dollars a month increase compared to the opportunity to watch a seemingly unending supply of shows and movies. Let’s face it, we’re all hooked, and will pay almost any price for the chance to keep streaming.

Netflix is the poster child of a cloud based on-demand software subscription-based service provider–not too unlike Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday and others. RightStar has been a Salesforce customer since we started the company 15 years ago. In the early days of SaaS based software, I had the chance to discuss Salesforce’s success with its former CFO.  His comment: “Our customers just can’t get enough—it’s as addictive as cocaine.” And I get it. With any mission critical or semi-mission critical piece of software, the cost of changing to a competitive offering is just too painful, no matter what the cost.  For example, RightStar has spent more than $375,000 on Salesforce since we’ve been in business, just for software subscription charges. Had we run on-premise sales automation software on our own server, we would have likely spent no more than $100,000 during that timeframe. Does it matter?  Not really, we have received good value from Salesforce over time and have no plans to do anything else.

Meanwhile at some of the larger SaaS-based software enterprise companies this past month, executives have undoubtedly exchanged high-fives as the announcement of Netflix’s price increase made the rounds. This is good news for these SaaS-based companies because very few customers will defect given a price increase. This makes for a very bright future for these SaaS providers.

As far as I can tell, there is no slow-down in cloud-based solution growth. Many large organizations, like Capital One have decided to completely empty out their own data centers and turn exclusively to cloud providers like AWS’ platform as a service (PaaS) offering. This gives organizations that have standardized on a PaaS platform, like AWS, the best of both worlds– reduced capital and operating expenses combined with the opportunity to run on-premised based software solutions, which normally have a much less expensive lifecycle cost basis as compared to SaaS offerings.

For example, we are currently involved in a ServiceNow vs Remedy opportunity. Comparing ServiceNow pricing over five years to Remedy on-premise gives Remedy a significant edge in price. This price difference is more than enough to pay for the cost of computer infrastructure and support required to manage on-premise software in either a corporate data center or on a PaaS platform like AWS. Plus, PaaS platforms provide a good defense against ever increasing SaaS pricing.

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Federal Cybersecurity Survey Says…

2019-01-12_cybersecurity survey

By Dick Stark

RightStar and BMC last month sponsored a federal IDG survey to better understand different agencies’ maturity with processes for cyber remediation, and to uncover additional capabilities that they would find valuable in taking a more proactive approach to cybersecurity. The survey was fielded in the US from November 28 to December 12, 2018 and consisted of 100 qualified completes. Here are the highlights.

The top cybersecurity goal for Federal organizations is to take a more proactive approach toward addressing vulnerabilities. When a security incident occurs, the most common response is the “swivel chair” approach where the Operations or Security teams use network management/analysis software, scanning tools, and eventually remediation software to analyze and fix the problem.  The overarching objective, of course, is to prevent the incidents from occurring in the first place.

Government organizations have some ability to map vulnerabilities to critical or non-critical applications, but less than half (43%) are able to do so to a great extent. The increasing popularity of application discovery and dependency mapping tools such as BMC Discovery, illustrates that agencies are becoming more and more proactive about addressing vulnerabilities long before they happen. For example, BMC Discovery can map out which applications or business services run on which servers and network devices, or identify blind spots—servers and network devices that are not visible to the vulnerability scanner and are therefore not scanned. This operational intelligence makes security analysis faster, more accurate, actionable, and proactive to help organizations better manage and mitigate risk.

Reduce security technology and tool complexity. The survey found more than 100 tools in use in the following categories: Automation, Reporting, Remediation, Process Management, Scanning, Analysis, and Data Aggregation. Combining scalability and flexibility along with compliance regulations, and an increasing multi-cloud environment, means that finding the right tool fit can be a Herculean challenge.

TrueSight Operation Management, combined with TrueSight Vulnerability Management, is BMC’s “manager of mangers’ solution providing a single pane of glass approach across multiple domains. By integrating with other automation and scanning tools such as Rapid7, Tenable, and Qualys, teams can quickly consume scans and automatically tie vulnerabilities to known remediations.

Interestingly, last week we had a conversation with a DOD lead architect for the fourth estate, an effort to consolidate services from 16 DOD organizations into one, with 430 sites, and more than 500,000 employees. The DOD CIO’s mandate is to reduce the DOD data center foot print, and streamline cybersecurity infrastructure. It is therefore no coincidence that the DOD understands the importance of fit and function, as they move towards a standardized DOD security / operations tool platform.

Watch this blog site for a new whitepaper discussing the survey results in more detail. Stay tuned…


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This Year’s High-Tech Prayer Breakfast

By Dick Stark

I bought a full table at the High-Tech Prayer Break-fast held this past Wednesday at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner.  This is an amazing annual event with more than 800 attendees. The speakers this year were Marcus Bullock, Founder and CEO of Flikshop, and Jeff Struecker, Author, Pastor, and former Army Ranger. I was not prepared for for the amazing stories they both shared.  Here’s a brief report:

HighTech Prayer BF 2018Marcus Bullock kicked things off by saying when at 15 years old he was tried as an adult and convicted to eight years in prison for stealing a car. Marcus, whose mother is a preacher, thought that God had left him during those eight long years in prison. He kept going thanks in large part to the frequent letters and pictures his mother mailed him, her regular visits, and her calls to the warden to help “look out” for him. When he left prison in 2004 he had “grown up,” and after working in a paint store came up with an idea for Flikshop, an app that makes it easy for inmates and their families to stay in touch.

So, several years after his release, Marcus created Flikshop. This free app for smartphones lets users take pictures, write messages, and send them off in the form of a 99 cent postcard to friends and family in over 2000 registered correctional facilities across the US. Since frequent communication from home kept Marcus going while in prison, he figured it would have the same impact on others. Thanks to the internet, there is little interest in letter writing, and no internet in prison. Flikshop now makes the difference connecting over 140,000 inmates.  And most of the inmates that use Flikshop don’t go back to prison. Marcus summed things up this way, “No matter where you are, God is calling you.  He has told me that I’m here for a purpose and I can help change the world.”

Jeff Struecker knew at an early age that he wanted to be an Army Ranger, and when he turned 18, enlisted and served for 22 years before retiring as an Army Chaplin in 2011.  During his service he saw plenty of action—the invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Iraq War, and the Battle of Mogadishu/Somalia, which he relayed in great detail. It turned out that this battle, was depicted in the popular movie, Black Hawk Down, in which Jeff played a key role of leading a three-vehicle convoy, that returned a wounded Ranger to base. Upon return, he set out again, on a “suicide” mission to rescue others. Jeff said that it was his strong faith in God that gave him the courage to face his fears and complete the mission successfully. He recounted the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, prior to his crucifixion, as detailed in Luke: “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” At that point, Jeff knew, that live or die, he wouldn’t lose either way. Jeff returned from the battle unharmed and his fearless behavior during the final mission convinced others having faith in God does indeed help deal with the good and not so good times that we all face.

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Is Agile ITIL an Oxymoron?

Agile ITILBy Dick Stark

Last month, BMCer, Cheng Dong Zhao wrote a blog article,“Will ITIL Die or be reborn in the DevOps Era?” The world is becoming more and more Agile, and BMC is finally starting to focus on DevOps, or what Cheng Dong Zhao calls, Agile ITIL.   Will DevOps replace ITIL and what exactly is Agile ITIL?

There is no doubt that ITIL is changing. After more than 20 years, ITIL v4 is looming just around the corner. In that span of time, more than three million people have earned some type of ITIL certification. Now, several training companies are ready to go with v4 training and certification programs in the works. But, thanks in part to the rising popularity of DevOps, ITIL has lost some of its luster.

It’s not like this message has come as a surprise. ITIL’s waning popularity has not happened overnight.  First, not everyone embraces change.  At RightStar, we know from experience that a shiny new toolset, (and Pink certified to be sure) doesn’t always equal customer satisfaction, increased efficiency and lower overall costs. Sometimes the users don’t cooperate making adoption more difficult.  Additionally, some customers go for a “huge” go-live of everything rather than taking an iterative phased approach.  Finally, we’ve seen ITIL / ITSM projects take years, not months which has opened the ITSM door to DevOps and why Gartner asserts that “DevOps is the bimodal bridge to Mode 2.” (Meaning DevOps/Mode 2 is focused on agility, while ITIL / Mode 1 is focused on stability.)

Speaking about agility, DevOps is a discipline that is all about speed, faster time to market, real sense of urgency, IT modernization, and doing more with less. Culture, tools, vision, now must all be managed alongside different processes. A single best practice is not enough. What’s needed, according to Cheng Dong Zhao, is Agile ITIL

This means that traditional IT Operations must adopt agile methods or it may be overtaken by more agile DevOps systems and processes.  IT Operations must connect all the dots. Enter ITIL v4.

ITIL v4, or Agile ITIL will be detailed in early 2019. Training courses start in February, with signups at organizations like Pink Elephant available now.  ITIL v4 expands on the previous versions by providing a practical and flexible basis to support digital organizations. It provides an end-to-end IT/digital operating model for the delivery and operation of tech-enabled products and services and enables IT teams to continue to play a crucial role in a wider business strategy. ITIL 4 also provides a holistic end-to-end picture that integrates frameworks such as Lean IT, Agile and DevOps.

Finally, I was happy to see a diagram of BMC’s Agile ITIL focused on BMC’s full stack consisting of Remedy, Digital Workplace, Atrium CMDB, and TrueSight. Agile ITIL is alive and well!

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Does an ITIL Process Assessment Matter?

ITIL Maturity ModelBy Dick Stark

This week, RightStar finished up an ITIL process Assessment for a RightStar customer. To win this business, we beat two formidable ITSM consultancies in the ITIL space. Of course, this customer, like a lot of our customers, needs significant process improvement. Unlike, most customers, they realize they need help and were willing to invest in an ITIL foundation that will eventually improve customer satisfaction, lower the cost of service management, and increase operational effectiveness. Does an ITIL process assessment matter, or should a customer just purchase a new toolset, like ServiceNow?

As an avid golfer, I often compare a new ITSM toolset to a new set of golf clubs. New clubs with the latest technology promise extra distance off the tee, more accuracy, and a lower score and handicap. This is an excellent sales pitch, as most would prefer to turn to technology, rather than spend extra hours on the practice range, or pay for lessons. Golf however, like IT service management is not easy. It takes hours of instruction and practice to improve. Unfortunately, there are few easy fixes. All golfers quickly learn it is not the club that makes the real difference, but rather the “clubee.”

It is common to see organizations blame their poor to mediocre IT performance on their toolset, rather than their processes, and invest in new technology only to discover, that a new toolset may make them only slightly better off. Plus, an ITIL assessment or process improvement, like taking a golf lesson is not fun. Who wants to really see what their golf swing looks like, or learn how their organizational IT performance compares to good practices.

In our ITIL assessment, we examine several service management processes such as incident, request, access, problem, and service level management. We compare and score each process against an ITIL good practice, and then recommend steps to improvement. Takeaways often include: ITIL training and adoption such as instructor led and simulation training like Apollo 13; baseline and benchmark metrics and KPIs using tools from MetricNet; better knowledge management; and CMDB improvements.

In a DevOps world focused on agility, ITIL’s focus on stability is now perceived as old and clunky. But Agile ITIL, or ITIL v4 is right around the corner. This particular customer understands the value of a process framework and continual improvement. And as they consider a new ITSM tool, likely ServiceNow, having a strong foundation and plan for a new ITSM rollout will ensure that they get off to a good start and successful transformation to digital IT service management.

So yes, an ITIL process assessment does matter.

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Report from SMAC 2018

By Dick Stark

Ezra and David at SMAC 2018Last week, RightStar attended and helped sponsor, the Service Management and Automation Conference (SMAC) in Las Vegas. (When BMC moved from its Engage annual user group conference, to regional Exchange one-day conferences, this created an opportunity for a BMC training partner, CyberTrain, to organize and host their own annual conference.) This year’s show was slightly smaller than last year’s because the show’s focus was Remedy only.

Key show takeaways:

Chatbots, aka, Helix Bots, are getting hot. With about eight different Chatbot presentations, (including RightStar’s), that message was heard loud and clear. BMC mentioned the RightStar GWU success in their Keynote, and we had several BMC customers express interest.

Zero Downtime Upgrades. Administrators can now roll out everything—Windows and Unix executables, etc. And everything can be rolled back later, with no loss of data, if any snag is hit along the way.

Simplification/Auto Deployment of Packages. The install process is moving from installers to deployable packages for automated deployment and synchronization of server groups. BMC reported that a cloud-based Helix software installation now takes about five minutes vs four weeks, prior to containers. Doug Mueller, Remedy inventor, described a situation where a customer moved from 76 servers to 18, stating, “you no longer need to put all the apps on different servers.”

UVA Health. Our UVA Health customer, gave a presentation entitled, “Managing an EMR Go Live using Digital Workplace.” UVA developed a form that is embedded into the Epic application that allows users to submit an Epic ticket. In approximately one year, this form was submitted 16,673 times. UVA estimated, time saved as a result of DWP, rather than a phone call was 1346 hours or more than half of an FTE, a huge success.

Remedyforce, Beyond IT. RightStar presented a customer case study on the use of Remedyforce, in non-IT applications like HR, Facilities, Benefits, Payroll, and Security. This was taken from a large county government project which is nearing completion.

Astound is a new AI Silicon Valley start-up with an AI enterprise platform for service management with integrations to Remedy, ServiceNow and Jira. Interestingly, because Astound is purpose built for ITSM, it is an alternative to IBM Watson in BMC’s Chatbot offering.

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Report from BMC Exchange NY

By Dick Stark

BMC’s New York Exchange, was held October 18 near Times Center in New York City.  Turnout was excellent with more than 400 customers, partners, and BMC employees in attendance. During the chatbot session, RightStar received praise from George Washington University about their recently completed chatbot project. Here is a short NY Exchange update.

The message heard loud and clear from BMC was that all is going very well. Remedy and Discovery sales are up over last quarter, with SaaS based sales leading the way.

Peter Leav, BMC CEO and President opened by discussing the impact of digital transformation, stating that, “50% of CEO’s expect their industries to be digitally transformed, and 84% see their profit margins going up.” What are the required capabilities for this transformation? According to BMC, it is:

  • Automate—run anywhere
  • Service—discovery everywhere, and
  • Operate—performance monitoring, security and compliance, and cost and capacity optimization

Peter concluded by saying that, “Omnichannel is non-negotiable, as customers want their choice of cloud, and service delivery platform, and BMC has the tools that best enable this transformation.”

Bill Berutti, BMC President, Enterprise Systems, then discussed the following opportunities and BMC’s alignment:

  • Cloud, especially multi-cloud
  • DevOps, and how legacy tools struggle to keep pace,
  • Cognitive, the volume of data is overwhelming, and
  • Security, the pace of change is beyond human scale.

Donna at BMC Exchange NY

Regarding, Cognitive, Chad Haftorson, BMC Director of Product Management, and Donna Hill, Assistant Director, GWU, presented a session on the future of service management.  Donna discussed her experiences with implementing BMC Chatbots, powered by IBM Watson. Thanks in part to RightStar, GWU was able to implement Chatbots in just three months and in time for the returning students in August. Donna reported that although this was a trial, the students voted by an overwhelming majority, 88% to make chatbots a permanent service. The bodes well for GWU and helps ensure that the future of service management will indeed include chatbots as a service desk essential.

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