Report from the Tampa BMC Helix Remedyforce User Group Meeting

Panel Discussion: Berry College and Tupperware

By Dick Stark

Last Thursday I attended the BMC Helix Remedyforce (Rf) User Group Meeting held at the BMC Tampa office. This is one a series of Rf user groups that BMC is hosting (the previous meeting was held in Dallas). There was an excellent turnout of Rf customers—one came all the way from Lancaster, PA. RightStar customers Berry College, Tupperware, and Brooks Rehabilitation all attended, and I moderated a panel discussion with Berry College and Tupperware. Here is a summary of their presentations.

Tupperware’s Sr. Manager, Global IT Services, opened by describing the combination of BMC, RightStar and Tupperware as a fantastic coalition. He was enthusiastic about progress made and value received to date.

Tupperware is a global, direct-to-consumer marketer of premium, innovative products across multiple brands through an independent sales force of three million with approximately $2 billion in annual sales. Yes, there really is a party every two seconds.  

Tupperware complimented the RightStar team for excellent progress and support. He summed up his selection of Rf as “Champaign tastes on a beer budget.” Tupperware has successfully transformed from a 15-year-old on-premise disjointed Remedy system to an in-cloud automated service desk with full transparency, service level agreements and integrated Problem, Change, and Incident Management.  And no need for further software and hardware upgrades. Given the multi-national (Brazil, Germany, and the US) and “follow the sun” nature of his system, Tupperware has successfully used a rolling go-live process to get everyone up and running.   Their secret to project success—executive sponsorship and successful user adoption, both of which they have “in spades.”   

Berry College is a 2100 student private liberal arts school in NW Georgia. Like Tupperware, Berry College also began with Remedy but migrated to Rf approximately five years ago. Berry College’s Director of User Support, described progress made over the years to include Incident, Asset, Knowledge and Configuration Management.

RightStar has logged several trips to Berry College to assist with BMC Client Management (BCM) which is tightly integrated to Rf. BCM is used in place of SCCM and tracks and discovers software licenses, patches and deploys software, and provides remote connectivity for easier troubleshooting. BCM offers an excellent value for software license management. Berry College believes in continuous improvement and is beginning a self-service/service catalog project to improve the end-user experience.

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Report from BMC Helix Immersion Days

By Dick Stark

Last week, I attended (and RightStar helped sponsor), the BMC Helix Immersion Days Conference in Santa Clara, California, near BMC’s Helix Office. BMC is now back in the annual BMC user conference business.  The result was more attendees and an improved high-tech look.  Next year will be even bigger and better. Key conference takeaways:

BMC Helix is much broader and deeper. BMC’s DSO (TrueSight) and DSM (Helix) groups have joined forces to form Digital Service & Operations Management (DSOM) led by Nayaki Nayyar President, DSOM. Nayaki opened by saying that ITSM is converging with ITOM, and BMC now offering the industry first cloud based E2E platform for Service AND Operations. Nayaki further explained, “BMC helps organizations use technology for digital transformation. And Helix is a multi-cloud, multi-device, multi-channel, AI enabled platform consisting of components such as Optimize, Remediate, Digital Workplace, and Chatbot, to help drive that change.”

AI is here and BMC is ready. Following Nayaki was Sanjay Srivastava, Chief Digital Officer of Genpact, a professional service firm with more than 90,000 employees. Genpact’s focus—to drive digital transformation and deploy AI in the enterprise. The good news is that they are a BMC chatbot customer in a big way. Since they know a thing or two about AI and RPA, their use of BMC chatbots is a huge endorsement of BMC’s chatbot technology.

Next up was Mihir Shukla, Automation Anywhere (AA) CEO. AA is the largest player in Robotics Process Automation (RPA) connectivity and according the Mihir, the fastest growing software enterprise company in the world. “What’s exciting,” said Mihir, “is that now, AI can do it all. For the first time in history, we have an augmented workforce that is capable of doing work. The destination of work itself is changing. In 10 years, lots of things that we call work, won’t be work. We have RPA now doing the work of 1.5M people. In 2020, it will be 3M. This is a huge transformation. In the end it is about RPA. 80% of largest companies use RPA, which has ROI of 3 to 6 months.  This means we’ll see transformation happening worldwide on a massive scale.”

What else? Helix Immersion consisted of session covering Helix updates on Digital Workplace, Chatbots, Remedyforce (yes there was even a good number of Remedyforce customers attending), Discovery, BMC Client Management, CMDB, Cloud Cost Control, Security, Cloud offerings, and lots and lots of hands on workshops and labs.  BMC did an outstanding job and it was an upbeat couple of days for BMC and its customers. Next year look for a bigger and better conference with even more digital transformation success stories.

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The 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for ITSM

By Dick Stark

Earlier this month, Gartner released its annual Gartner Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management Tools 2019 and its companion piece, Critical Capabilities.  In the Magic Quadrant, BMC Remedy (now Helix) has remained in IT’s holiest of holy places, the upper right corner, along with ServiceNow. Little has changed from a year ago with BMC scoring slightly higher as a visionary, and ServiceNow scoring higher on its ability to execute.  What’s readily apparent is that BMC has fought back as best it can by continuing to focus on innovation, while ServiceNow has significantly excelled outside the ITSM domain. The good news is that BMC can win against ServiceNow and there are still plenty of bright spots ahead.  For instance:

BMC still wins based upon core ITSM technology. In the 2019 Gartner Critical Capabilities for ITSM, BMC leads in 10 out of 12 critical capabilities. This report rates tool sets based upon maturity levels and critical capabilities that differentiates the most popular large enterprise focused products on the market. This report also evaluates three infrastructure and operations use cases and digital workplace use cases. Takeaways include:

  • BMC is the #1 Digital Workplace vendor, five years in a row.
  • BMC Helix is the leader in cognitive capabilities (AITSM) across all vendors.
  • BMC is the #1 Advanced/Intermediate Maturity vendor with a broad ITOM software portfolio.

From the Magic Quadrant report:

  • BMC has a broad IT Operations Management (ITOM) software portfolio, making it a viable partner for mature infrastructure and Operations (I&O) organizations that need to extend their ITSM tools
  • BMC’s containerized BMC Helix ITSM product offers a broad set of deployment and licensing options, including SaaS, co-sell partnerships with public cloud providers (AWS and Azure), on on-premixes, giving customer flexibility in how and where their instance is deployed.
  • Gartner’s Critical Capabilities research determined that BMC scored highest for the advanced I&O maturity use case, indicating it is strongly suited to meet the requirements of high-maturity I&O organizations.

Of course, the report also makes it clear that ServiceNow with its dominant market position and strong partner ecosystem may not drive the best value for all clients as a result of high cost, and frequent upgrades. This is good news for RightStar. Our recent Helix/Remedy new customers and activity bears that out.

BMC still has a strong enterprise and federal customer base, and we will continue to close our fair share of the business. I remain very optimistic.

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MarsLander: Finding Value

By Dick Stark

On Thursday, RightStar hosted our first MarsLander simulation training session. Based upon ITIL 4, this role base simulation is highly realistic and leverages game dynamics to provide a vision of successful ITIL 4/DevOps practices and the resultant business value. Twelve RightStar customers and prospects attended this free session. The session came across as a excellent and entertaining. But what value did it provide and what is the benefit?

RightStar advertises this session as ITIL 4 based so the attendees expect an ITIL 4 education. While we give an overview of what’s new in ITIL 4 such as the Value Stream and Guiding Principles, the simulation is more of an assessment of how to use the ITSM and DevOps framework within an organization and the resultant increase in value by better adherence to these practices. In other words, how to get to Mars quickly, make a profit, and improve customer satisfaction—all at the same time.

In this simulation the attendees work in the Digital-service team of SPACE-Y, a company that sells data collected from their space missions to customers, such as Universities and Research Centers. The team’s mission is clear: “Launch a rocket with MarsLander, deploy it on Mars and collect valuable data for Universities and Research Centers.” The participants include: Sales Director, Product Owner, Customer Support Team, Flight Operations, Application Development, Service Manager, Systems Engineer, Change Release Manager, and Vendors.  The challenge is to balance between delivering value and continually improving services in an agile way.

The game began and stress, confusion, and chaos were the immediate outcomes. Incidents happened and work didn’t flow like it should. Several constraints prevented goal accomplishment when round one ended. What makes matters worse is that in a public session the students don’t know one another and are more “siloed” than they might be if they were all from the same company.

Several rounds commenced with RightStar discussing the application of ITIL 4 concepts such as: Visualizing the ‘demands & opportunities,” mapping the value streams, identifying value leakage and improvements, and progressing iteratively.

At the end, the workflow was much improved. But, how do we translate these improvements to a call to action, that the attendees can take back to their own organizations? Similarly, how do our own customers that invest in new DevOps or ITSM toolsets benefit? Marslander key takeaways include:

  • Focus on value. Post the business goals and make them visible to teams.
  • Improve priority mechanisms linked to productivity and business impact.
    • How do we determine priority of work (sequencing, ranking, what takes precedence?)
    • How can we increase capacity by removing blockers (i.e. automation)
  • Collaboration. Foster effective collaboration.
  • Explore coaching roles. Use Agile coaches.
  • Reserve time for continual improvement. Do Retrospectives.
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State of DevOps

By Dick Stark

Earlier this year, BMC commissioned Salvatore Salamone to produce a 2019 State of DevOps Report summarizing the findings of an Interop / Information Week survey of 150 IT and application development professionals across all industries. Although similar in name to the more widely known Puppet State of DevOps annual report, the BMC report focused primarily around the survey and its results. Here is a short update of each report.

BMC 2019 State of DevOps Report:

  • Most companies are familiar with DevOps and are using the strategy now or plan to do so within the year.
  • Drivers for adoption include the need to develop, deploy, and support more applications in faster times.
  • A plethora of tools and technologies are being used, evaluated, and purchased to support DevOps efforts.
  • Expected benefits include greater speed-to-market, improved application performance, reduced downtime, and quicker fixes
  • and updates.

Despite pressure to hold costs in check application proliferation means more not less applications, while digital transformation produces more competition meaning an even more rapid push for greater speed to market. And at the top of the list for DevOps investments? New tools, followed by redesigning processes to drive a DevOps approach.

On the other hand, the Puppet 2018 State of DevOps Report is much more prescriptive. This report presents the five stages of the DevOps evolution: build the foundation, normalize the technology stack, standardize and optimize, expand DevOps practices, automate infrastructure delivery and provide self-service. Here are a few of my takeaways–in no particular order:

  • Change Management is becoming more agile. “Change management as it is traditionally applied is outdated. We know, for example, that 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support. We also know that when people are truly invested in change, it is 30 percent more likely to stick.”
  • Finely tuned Configuration Management tools are a strong indicator (by a factor of 27) of a highly evolved DevOps organization. Achieving configuration repeatability assures stable, reliable and secure production environments.
  • Self Service. The two defining practices include automation of incident responses and resource availability via self-service. The more DevOps teams empower individuals, the less frustration results, and the more work gets accomplished. Likewise, incident automation improves resolution time and ensures that remediation processes are consistently applied.
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June 11 Helix User Group Meeting

By Dick Stark

On June 11, RightStar and BMC sponsored a Helix user group meeting in Washington DC. Traditionally, this is an annual event that RightStar manages going back to 2006 when RightStar launched the first annual Potomac cruise onboard the Odyssey. This year’s event was held on land at the Loft at 600F, as a full day Helix immersion covering product updates including Cognitive Service Management (CSM), solution demos, a GW University Chatbot presentation by RightStar and afternoon solution labs.

BMC Helix Updates. Joel Jacks, BMC Cognitive Service Management Evangelist opened with an overview of BMC Helix and a product road map.  He looked at the following technology trends:

  • Cognitive: 80% rate cognitive important to digital transformation success
  • Containers: 71% have already implemented containers within their environment
  • Multi-cloud: 86% rate cloud as highly important

BMC Helix is out ahead of these trends with a solution focusing on Cloud, Containers, Cognitive and Omni-channels. For example, Joel discussed how before containers, a high availability server provisioning to install and configure could take as long as four to six weeks. With containers and server automation tools, a similar setup takes only two to ten minutes.

Next, Joel discussed:

  • MyIT: not just IT services, but bundles,
  • Helix integration services: such as cloud to cloud and Helix to Jira,
  • Hybrid deployments: with on-premise Remedy and Discovery solutions, and
  • Cognitive services: such as AI and machine learning.

Joel also pointed out that Helix will be offered in the AWS GovCloud for FedRAMP High by the end of 2019.

RightStar then presented the GW chatbot case study where we worked with BMC and GW to deploy a prototype system for students as they returned to campus last August. Phase 3 which should go live this Fall, will include additional university groups and more automated request fulfillments. Current GW use cases include:

  • Device registration, including mobile phones,
  • Knowledge lookup, such as student network IDs and how to get help, and
  • How to create, submit and track service requests.

Helix Lab. After lunch, BMC’s Tom Luebbe led a Helix Lab for those Remedy administrators and developers looking for a deep product dive. Tom set up separate VMs for each student with lessons covering: Multi-Cloud service management, how to integrate with Jira; how to configure and use the BMC Chatbot; and how to configure key performance indicators and use the CMDB explorer.

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Increasing Atlassian’s Value Through Training

By Dick Stark and Jenine Wech

As a DevOps consultancy and an Atlassian Solution Provider, a critical RightStar objective is to create and maintain sustainable Agile/Atlassian practices for our customers. In some form, most of our larger customers are in the software development business and have made a significant investment in Agile processes and Jira software. Furthermore, they understand the importance of user adoption and return on investment. Atlassian’s tool suite, along with Agile process, coaching, and training can make a huge difference. If done right the outcome is faster software development, heightened quality, and reduced development costs. Training is the cornerstone of any Agile Digital Transformation project.

Why become Agile in the first place? Lean and Agile practices across the entire environment maximize value while eliminating waste (the goal of “Lean”). Agile teams work with high efficiency and autonomy while aligning with stated values such as optimize and automate, progress iteratively with feedback, collaborate and promote visibility, and keep it simple and practical. Or more simply stated, “get twice as much done in half the time.”

Why training matters. The Atlassian tools are only part of the overall Agile solution. Training increases awareness of tool capability to handle IT Service Management functions (i.e. Service Desk and Operations Support functions) as well as product development (i.e. Software Development, Training and Knowledge Management) and business functions (i.e. Onboarding, Off-Boarding, Asset management, Procurement and Contract Processing). As users begin to understand capabilities. Identified process improvements can now be executed with high velocity. Authorized and properly trained super-users can directly update the format of information and tool configuration–activities traditionally controlled by highly skilled programmers.  Atlassian tools, specifically Jira and Confluence, put a higher level of tool control in the hands of those executing the work, meaning adequate configuration and administration training makes a huge difference.

Training approach. RightStar’s approach focuses on three stages of knowledge transfer:

  • Before Training: includes review of training outcomes and build a plan to meet the needs of the organization.
  • During Training: includes activities to encourage retention and motivation as well as enhance engagement.
  • After Training: includes identifying areas for coaching, remediation, and looking at tool set improvements and re-configurations.

Management Approach. Training delivery will take an agile approach beginning with an upfront assessment to better identify the training requirements and build a plan for delivery. Important elements include content development, training coordination, coaching, and the implementation of a knowledge portal. Regular retrospectives will ensure the project continues in the right direction. The end results: continual improvement of value delivery. 

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