Atlassian at Pink17: The New Shape of IT

pink-17By Dick Stark

The 21st annual Pink Elephant Conference, held February 19 to23 in Las Vegas, is IT’s annual tribute and awards ceremony to all things ITIL. It’s fun and entertaining–words, not often found in the same sentence as ITIL. What’s new this year? Like other shows, DevOps now has its own track. The best news: Atlassian asked RightStar to help staff their booth. Here are a few things I learned.

Atlassian customers love Atlassian. We had a good booth attendee turnout during the exhibit hours, with many existing DevOps customers stopping by. What’s refreshing is the love and loyalty shown to Atlassian by its customers. One government customer, made a big point gushing to the Atlassian Product Marketing Manager for Confluence how much she appreciated Confluence’s design and ease of use.

DevOps does make a difference. George Spalding, Pink VP and longtime ITIL icon is clearly on the DevOps bandwagon. He discussed the two biggest issues of failed IT projects—poor communication and limited delivery of business value. George pointed out that about 65% of IT projects fail and this statistic has not changed for more than 20 years. His suggestions for improvement? Smaller is better, and agile projects are three times more likely to succeed than waterfall projects. With agile projects value is achieved in iterative “chunks” all the way along. Value is achieved instantly, rather than at the end of a large project.

Incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy. Interestingly, in another session, “Leveling Up To Digital & Modern IT,” Enterprise Architect Jason Walker from Cargill had a different perspective. Jason said, “incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy. Building a fourth of a project, doesn’t give you the whole project.” Indeed, at RightStar, when we’ve offered to break an ITSM project up into small pieces for a quick win, e.g., roll out Incident Management first, we’ve found it difficult to reengage the customer to do later phases. The end result is a system with limited functionality.

Build service roadmaps from customer feedback and data. At one large government customer, we are building a Service Catalog using BMC’s new MyIT Service Broker. Let’s make sure that we provide as much feedback to the customers there as possible—for example, wait status, who to contact, and job request status. Use the Domino Pizza Dashboard as an example. (Once a Pizza is ordered on-line, the customer sees a graphic that show the full pizza lifecycle—from order to delivery.)


The overarching trend, however is the importance of IT’s role of business value generation and business enablement. By bringing Dev and Ops under the same umbrella, Atlassian can help facilitate the new shape of IT.

Posted in Atlassian, BMC, DevOps, Digital Engerprise Management (DEM, RightStar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

BMC DSM 2017 Update

By Dick Stark

BMC recently held two webinars. The first, BMC Client Management Integration with MyIT and Smart IT, and the second, Digital Service Management (DSM) given by Nayaki Nayyar, President, DSM at BMC. Both provided an excellent update of the progress BMC has made in the DSM and Remedy v9 space.

BCM Client Management (BCM), formerly Asset Core is BMC’s mid-market discovery tool for agent based inventory, software and patch deployment and endpoint compliance. BCM is a key focus and growth product for RightStar from a consulting, support and sales perspective. BMC, realizing that BCM is an “enterprise grade” solution, has fully integrated BCM with Remedy 9 and MyIT and Smart IT. Now from within Remedy9, users can request software and BCM will fulfill that request. Additionally, Service Desk agents now have an optimized, in-depth view of client inventory, allowing more responsive support. RightStar is currently organizing a campaign for customers and prospects to better understand the value BCM offers.

The second webinar was presented to the BMC partner community. It was led by Nayaki Nayyar who joined BMC in October as President of DSM and responsible for the Remedy, Remedyforce, FootPrints and Track-It! product lines. She opened by discussing the excellent progress BMC is making with Remedy 9.

Nayaki discussed the digital workplace:

Flexible User Experience. A transformative self-service experience to create anytime, anywhere access.

Single Service Catalog for the Enterprise. Like what RightStar is doing at a large government customer: a service catalog across IT, HR, Facilities with a consumer shopping experience.

Integration with existing apps and services. Integrate with the apps that users have and the systems that fulfill their needs.

Graceful journey to the Cloud. Hybrid deployment for Cloud Digital Workplace interoperating with On-Premise Core Remedy ITSM.

New Innovation Suite: for developers and partners. BMC Innovation Suite, part of the Remedy 9.5 release is an extremely flexible and open development environment. There are already 400+ developer sandboxes provisioned and in-use.


Remedyforce and FootPrints: BMC’s solution for the mid-market. Nayaki pointed out that these solutions are alive and well, with Remedforce getting the most focus because of its cloud platform.

RightStar’s experience with Remedy 9 has been very positive and we look forward to learning more about the Remedy 9.5 Innovation Suite and continuing to improve our customers’ DSM experience.



Posted in Digital Engerprise Management (DEM, FootPrints, Remedy, RemedyForce, RightStar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The DevOps Handbook, Part 2

By Dick Stark

Two weeks ago I looked at the DevOps Handbook, Part 1, which discusses the three main principles that form the foundation for DevOps organizations. Part 2 is all about how to start a DevOps movement within an organization.

Up until about two years ago, when we started our DevOps practice, RightStar had focused primarily on the Operations side of an organization: IT service, (now digital management), performance and application management (e.g., BMC TrueSight), and data center automation, (e.g., Blade Logic Server Automation).

RightStar has also been involved in transformative projects such restaurant’s move into the on-line food ordering business (a greenfield project). Our job was to upgrade their infrastructure by adding performance, capacity, and availability tools to support the added stress caused by new web-based order processing system (a brownfield project). This organization faced stiff competition from other digital businesses and had to make a digital investment in order to remain competitive.

Part 2 of the DevOps Handbook is filled with specific case studies of similar types of jobs: Nordstrom’s and Etsy’s transformation to more digitized e-commerce systems, IT infrastructure upgrades at LinkedIn and FaceBook, and API enablement at Target. All relied heavily on DevOps principles and systems to make successful digital transformations.

What can we at RightStar learn from Part 2 of the DevOps Handbook? Very simply, we can help guarantee project success, either on our own customer ITSM projects, or by using Atlassian tools to better manage our DevOps customer projects. A good place to start is to document the value stream using high level process blocks:


Each process block includes the lead time (the total time starting when the request is made) and the process time (the actual work completed or VA). For example, in the Design and Analysis phase of the above value stream, the lead time is 2 weeks which may be due to delays getting a project workshop set up, which itself may only take two days. By understanding the value stream at every step it is possible to focus on specific areas of improvement.

The remainder of Part 2 focuses on getting Dev and Ops to work together by improving processes, such as upgrading and cross-training team members’ skill sets (deep expertise in a few areas is better), using automated self-service cloud based platforms (Operations becomes a service broker), and DevOps tools such as JIRA, Confluence, and HipChat. that will reinforce culture and accelerate desired behavior changes.

By getting Dev and Ops under the same roof and using JIRA and JIRA Service Desk to create a shared, instead of siloed work queue, work can be prioritized globally. Chat tools like HipChat also reinforce shared goals and can dramatically reduce the time to get help or needed information.

The end result in a reduction in time to value, especially as lead times shink and quality improves. This is why I continue to be excited about the impact DevOps can make as we undergo this digital transformation.

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The DevOps Handbook, Part 1

By Dick Stark

Last November, the DevOps Handbook, was released with much fanfare and excitement. Authored by Gene Kim,, the book is about “how to create world class agility, reliability, and security in technology organizations.” Since this is what RightStar does, I strongly suggested that all RightStar consultants read this book. Even better, I promised I’d very briefly, summarize the six parts of the book separately. I’ll begin with Part 1.

Specifically, Part 1 is about the three ways, or underlying pricipals from which all of the observed DevOps behavior can be derived:three-ways

  1. The first way is about the left-to right flow of work from Development to IT Operations.
  2. The second is about the constant flow of fast feedback from right-to-left at all stages of the value stream.
  3. The third way is about creating a culture that fosters two things: continual experimentation, and understanding that repetition and practice is the prerequisite to mastery.

An important first step in the DevOps lifecycle is the focus on the technology value stream, which includes a heavy emphasis on reducing the deployment lead time to minutes instead of months. This brought to mind the difficulty we often have getting ITSM projects started with large government agencies. Due to security constraints, the lead time to provision servers, open-up firewalls and ports can be months, not days. The value stream may look something like this:


An obvious “fix” is SaaS based security approved, e.g., FedRamp certified apps, that supply “dial-tone,” ready service. Reducing the deployment time by using a SaaS based app like BMC’s Remedyforce reduces the overall lead time and can significantly improve time to value.

The second way, the Principal of Feedback is also critically important. One common practice is swarming, or containing problems before they have a chance to spread, and to diagnose and treat the problem so it cannot reoccur.

This manifested itself during a BMC Service Broker (SB) install last week. Since SB is a brand new product, the accompanying installation documentation was incomplete. By “swarming,” contacting BMC support, BMC sales management and the BMC customer success office at the same time, enough attention was applied immediately to help get SB successfully installed. (Without SB installed, the project was at a complete standstill.) We were then moved to the next step: document the correct process, to ensure this won’t happen again.

Posted in Atlassian, Business Management, DevOps, Digital Engerprise Management (DEM, RightStar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Every Customer a Reference

uspsBy Dick Stark

“The function of a business is to get and keep customers.”

–Dr. Ted Levitt, Harvard Business School

Thanks to social media and on-line business/retail evaluation and ratings sites, companies now compete on a completely different level than previously.   As a result, most customers feel entitled to excellent service and often select vendors, on the basis of good service, not just product or price. This means that customer satisfaction is more important than ever.

One recent excellent customer sat story that happened to me occurred on Christmas Eve. Since I spend the majority of my time in the office, I always have packages sent to my office, not to my home. And; like in previous years I waited too long to make my on-line gift purchases. Although most of my presents arrived in time, I knew that one was not scheduled to arrive until after Christmas—nothing I could do about that.

So, I was surprised when on Christmas Eve (last Saturday) the mailman pulled up in the driveway with the remaining gift. What made this so amazing was that it was delivered not to the office, but to my home. (Christmas Eve was not a day I planned on being in the office.). It turns out that our office mailman knows me, and knows where I live because he used to have my residential route. So, he asked the mailman that has his old route to deliver the package addressed to the office to my home. It worked and I received the gift in time for Christmas!

Customer satisfaction, or “every customer a reference,” is a RightStar customer motto and a critical success factor for RightStar. What other types of customer service stories do we have? When I visited BMC in Tampa, their Director of Technical and Customer Support, told us a story about a large customer we both share. He said that they ran out of disk space recently when working BCM (AssetCore). Without flinching, BMC ordered new servers and expressed shipped them to the customer for free.

Several years ago, we did something similar for a ScanStar customer. Once we began the project, we discovered that their scanners were not compatible with ScanStar. This was surprising since we make it a point to ensure that all ScanStar customers receive our list of certified scanners. Rather than argue about who was right, we rushed five new scanners to them overnight at no cost. This guaranteed an on-time delivery and a very satisfied customer.

Likewise, our consultants are often faced with situations where a software defect has slowed our implementation progress. Rather than push the customer for a change order to make up for our lost time, we will often work “for free” until the job is complete.

Every customer a reference may be a slight stretch, since some customers may never be fully satisfied, no matter how hard we try. But, those will be the exception, not the rule.

This means that we must continue to deliver excellent customer service. In 2017, we will set customer sat metrics and measure how we’re dong not just through frequent surveys, but also with more face-to-face visits and phone calls. For 2017, we’ll continue to work hard to ensure, “every customer is a reference!”

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10 Ways to Get More from BMC Remedyforce


By Dick Stark

Last  Wednesday, RightStar hosted a Webinar, “10 Ways to Get More from BMC Remedyforce.” RightStar’s Remedyforce business, business is going strong and other new orders are on the way, with several similar orders forecasted to book by the end of the year. Good thing Remedyforce just keeps providing more value. Winter17, the latest version will be out in January. Here are a few RightStar suggestions for customers to get more value out of their current Remedyforce system:

Editing CMDB Items in Bulk. Most users edit CMDB data on a line-by line basis which can be very tedious. By editing using “bulk mode,” a user can make multiple changes on the screen and then update all at once. This prevents the user from exporting the data to Excel, making the changes and then importing the data back in.

Adoption Dashboards. In the salesforce App Exchange there is a free app called Adoption Dashboard. We demoed why this is a great way to get started with Remedyforce. Adoption dashboards include: who is logged in, how many are using the system, logins by department, logins by region, and logins by role. Since user adoption is an important success factor, this helps pinpoint steps to ensure more participation and usage.

Validation Rule: Resolution. Validation rules require data entry fields to meet certain criteria or conditions. For example, if the service desk status is closed and the total characters are less than 20 in a description field, display an error message. This enforces more meaningful data that can become part of a resolution knowledge database.

Set Actions Visible in Self-Service. By making actions visible or public, the administrator can ensure that the end users see a specific field, for example a note. Of course, public or private fields should be carefully considered, based upon the level of transparency within the organization.

Allow clients to Add Notes in Self-Service. RightStar recommends checking the add notes box so that end-users can add notes to the incident. Otherwise, reporting an incident can be a frustrating experience for the user.

Incident Time Tracking. Since time is money and since some organizations actually track the actual cost per call or incident, Remedyforce allows technicians to check a box to denote time spend working or not working an incident. Reports can be generated by technician and incident type to determine which technicians are more efficient than others, which technicians “sit on incidents,” and which incidents take the most time to resolve.

List views in Administration. Administrators often get “lost” in the various workflow settings of incident, problem, or change management. By using the List View option, an administrator can look at workflow in a particular area like change management, instead of trying to sort through everything. This is a terrific timesaver when reviewing specific workflow.

What’s new in Remdyforce Winter 17? BMC promises that with this new release, especially Self-Service 3.0, Remedyforce takes a giant leap forward with self-service functionality.

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The DevOps Handbook



By Dick Stark

Remember the Phoenix Project? Well, good news, The DevOps Handbook is just out, a book by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis. (Gene Kim was the lead author of the Phoenix Project.) Like the Phoenix Project, I highly recommend this book for anyone in IT or dealing with IT, although for anyone in DevOps, this should be required reading.

To recap, the Phoenix Project is about a fictional auto-parts company, Parts Unlimited, with retail outlets nationwide. In its rush to develop a new “killer app” to allow its customers to make on-line purchases in a way that “leap-frogs,” the competition, nearly every IT calamity possible befalls the company. We learn lesson after lesson about security, change management, knowledge management, and of course DevOps.

The Phoenix project concludes with three underpinning principles:


  1. The first way is about the left-to right flow of work from Development to IT Operations.
  2. The second is about the constant flow of fast feedback from right-to-left at all stages of the value stream.
  3. The third way is about creating a culture that fosters two things: continual experimentation, and understanding that repetition and practice is the prerequisite to mastery.

This is where the DevOps Handbook begins. From the book’s introduction, “DevOps astonishingly enables us to simultaneously improve organizational performance, achieve the goals of all the various function technology roles (e.g., Development, QA, IT Operations, Infosec), and improve the human condition.”

At 437 pages, it is not likely that anyone will get through it in a single sitting. Nor, will many read it cover to cover. The book is divided into six parts, beginning with an introduction of Agile and continuous delivery, and detailing the three ways. The DevOps Handbook concludes with chapters on security and compliance. It also includes case studies from Google, Capital One, Target, Netflix, etsy, and others.

Thanks to our growing DevOps and Atlassian practice, RightStar has an incredible opportunity to work with customers to help them merge both DevOps and ITSM/ITIL practices to enable them to be more efficient, productive, and of course, more competitive. Look for future blog posts when I will tackle and summarize a chapter at a time…..

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