IT Modernization with BMC’s MyIT

MyIT Service BrokerBy Dick Stark

“People won’t hate government if it works and if it serves them well. Digitalization starts us down that path.”

—Tony Scott, Former Federal Government CIO

A week ago, RightStar went live with BMC’s MyIT Service Broker at a large civilian agency. The project digitized 45 pages of manual PDF forms, and built a Service Catalog, to request products such as cell phones, laptops and VPN services, while providing a modern easy-to-use Amazon, look and feel. This system will soon expand to include employee on-and off-boarding.

Meanwhile, another RightStar team is working on a similar project with another large civilian agency to provide essential IT products and services to its employees. The agency has begun demoing this to its “customers” with the feedback often, “you finally get it.” (Because MyIT is such an improvement over the older SRM product it is sometimes mistaken for a competitive product.) Eventually this service will be rolled out to mobile users as well. The short-term impact is that Remedy is not “going anywhere” with the government electing to continue to stick with Remedy due to the value provided through IT modernization.

IT modernization is a top priority for most government agencies as they race to replace aging legacy systems. Just last week, the OMB asked Congress for $228 million for the central fund, known as the IT Modernization Fund (ITMF), to act as a first-year proof of concept for how agencies would submit business cases and the ITMF board would decide which projects to award funding.

Quoted on the Federal News Radio Website this week, a Federal OMB official stated, “Programs that cost in the $3 million to $5 million range such as migrating email to the cloud or help desk consolidation, would provide enough samples for the fund to impact agency missions, and for the administration to understand how the business case process works This creates a strong incentive for agencies to come up with modernization proposals that have a high return or investment, as well as those that focus on common platforms or cloud services.”

Ironically, last week’s lead FCW article, “Failure to Digitize,” described the ongoing effort to modernize the H-1B Visa process at the US Customs and immigration (USCIS). This effort, which began more than ten years ago, and is now four years behind schedule, has cost USCIS more than $2.3B, according to FCW. The Washington Post provided even more detail, quoting a former USCIS union representative, “You’re going on 11 years into this project, they only have one form, and we’re still a paper based agency.” In fact, the agency’s application H-1B application process averages 60 pages and is currently processed entirely on paper.

This project ranks “right up there” with other government infamous projects, Lockheed’s, botched $170M 2001 FBI modernization project, and CGI’s removal from its $678M 2013 Obamacare website development contract. Who or what to blame? The FBI project is often cited as a case study for agile development over the traditional waterfall approach. And now the USCIS can blame waterfall as well. Similarly, CGI’s failure was its inability to adequately test software end-to-end.

But of course, the ITMF is not looking to sponsor such large humongous projects. Rather, quick wins, like a new agency wide service catalog that goes live in months instead of years and provides a rapid return on investment and real business value.

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Winning with BMC Discovery

BMC Discovery Map

By Dick Stark

BMC Discovery, formerly ADDM, continues to be one of BMC’s hottest software products. And for RightStar things are starting to heat up. We just received an order for new Discovery services which we will begin next week. Additionally, we just learned that BMC Discovery beat a competitive discovery tool in a proof of concept with a large municipality. That City has been a long time RightStar SDE account and is now considering a move to either Remedy or a competitive product, and a Discovery win is a strategic first step.

At the City, the priority for discovery overshadowed the need for new service desk software. Why? Because of an upcoming data center move and unplanned outages. So, how did BMC Discovery win? BMC set up the POC using real customer data. BMC has a more extensible library (by a factor of two), and uses a “start anywhere,” application mapping methodology, as opposed to the competition’s top down approach. A top down approach means the scan will just stop at a point due for example, to lack of credentials, and remain incomplete, leaving out valuable information. This gave BMC an impressive speed and scalability edge.

Interest in BMC Discovery remains high thanks to the growing complexity of the IT infrastructure like the cloud (multi-cloud and hybrid), and third platforms (social, mobile, IoT, and analytics). These third platform technologies often put undue stress on IT support groups. As a result, IT analysts often have little or no visibility into root cause analysis and cross dependencies, often hindering IT operational performance. BMC Discovery enables IT departments to better understand “how the pieces fit together,” to discover datacenter inventory, and configuration information and map business applications to underlying infrastructure.

At a RightStar government customer where we are now supporting Remedy, a former Lockheed employee had this to say in a technical brief about DTRA’s Discovery implementation, “BMC Discovery not only shows you the network you know: servers, network gear, even printers and storage. It also shows you your network’s secret life by mapping out communication patterns and groupings you never knew existed. These relationships can be invaluable in an operational environment for operational impact and configuration management.”

At a RightStar government intelligence customer where we have worked with BMC Discovery for more than five years, we are providing value in software license management and discovery. Microsoft’s licensing rules for SQL are so complex that by using BMC Discovery we can help ferret out the CPU Cores for the VM and the CPU Cores for the ESX/ESXi hosts to determine which is the best way to save money on licensing. We also help determine which PCs can handle an upgrade to Windows 10.

What’s even more impressive is the new Discovery features and upcoming enhancements. BMC Discovery as a Service will soon be available, and coming later this summer is public and multi-cloud awareness. Since most organizations now have a mix of public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions like Azure and Amazon, BMC Discovery will soon offer the ability to scan all environments, from a “single pane of glass.” This makes BMC Discovery uniquely positioned to help IT win by achieving the full benefits of multi-cloud ecosystems with its industry-leading, vendor agnostic discovery and dependency mapping solution.

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A Tale of Two Surveys

By Dick Stark

BMC released two ITSM surveys this past week. The first, published as a Forbes Insights Paper, “Delivering Value to Today’s Digital Enterprise,” surveyed 261 high level senior managers in mostly large enterprises. The second, a survey of BMC’s Remedyforce (Rf) customer base, shows that Rf is alive and well, that customers like the product, that they get good value from it, and that Rf is used at all types and sizes of customers. Both reports are are well worth a quick read. Here are a few highlights.

The Forbes Insights Paper

Effective ITSM is more important now in 2017 than ever before. According to the Forbes Paper, poorly done ITSM hurts competitiveness as a business, while well done ITSM plays a crucial role in key digital initiatives. Two examples spring to mind. The first, a digitalization service catalog project at a large government agency using BMC’s MyIT Service Broker will soon go-live. Remedy 9 in the underpinning ITSM platform, and the agency will soon start to move away from a paper/email based request management system. Additionally, at a local university, RightStar is moving a Remedy 9 on-premise system to Remedy-on-Demand, to meet their objectives of becoming an all cloud-based organization.

ITSM Benefits from 2017 Survey

Organizations have made excellent progress in improving overall ITSM maturity. Just several years ago, Gartner reported that 92% of IT organizations were operating at a maturity level of less than 3 (proactive/use automation tools). Today, the Forbes survey found that only 10% of organizations are basic or less developed, while 54% are advanced. “Advanced,” means service operations are automated, tied to analytics, and change management is highly collaborative and analytics driven. This is a significant increase in maturity levels and indicates that organizations are making excellent progress and receiving improved value from their ITSM investments.

For example, at another large government agency, RightStar has been involved in an agency wide knowledge project to ensure that employees, not just IT employees have a knowledge system to provide specific support for departmental issues. The objective is to “shift-left” by reducing calls to the service desk and making people more efficient.

Remedyforce Paper

The Rf report was distributed to all BMC Rf customers, with 326 respondents, a very good response. Takeaways are:

  • 91% of all respondents likely to renew
  • 82% said Rf helped them achieve their goals
  • 75% of SMBs implemented in 2 months or less

The real value of the survey was the versatility of Rf. It’s everywhere: large enterprises, SMB’s Telecoms, Finance and Banking, Computer Related, Government, and Healthcare. And although being an existing salesforce customer is important, approximately 50% of respondents do not use salesforce, implying that they chose Rf due to its cloud based nature, ease of implementation, and fast time to value. Even better: both surveys emphasized cost savings as an important ITSM value add. For copies of the surveys email us at sales.rightstar.com.

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What’s New in Remedy 9.1

By Dick Stark

In last week’s Weekly Star, I discussed BMC’s Innovation Suite, which is now available for partners and developers. Well, this week, RightStar held a What’s new in Remedy version 9.1, webinar led by Peter Adams, BMC Director of Product Management for Remedy. In addition to Innovation Suite, BMC has worked hard to deliver several new exciting capabilities. Here is an update.

As I mentioned last week, BMC is trying hard to maintain its status as the most innovative ITSM solution in the marketplace. With MyIT, SmartIT, Smart Reporting, and now the Innovation Suite, BMC has capabilities that are unmatched. What I didn’t realize is additional cool functionality added in version 9.1. Here are some of the highlights.

Data Compliance with Microsoft Office 365. This is a collaboration with Microsoft’s data loss prevention (DLP) module (included in Office 365). DLP allows users to define rules specifying what types of data users can put into emails, and into documents on SharePoint or in the cloud. For example, company policy may prohibit PII information such as social security numbers from being stored or emailed, and DLP can establish and enforce company PII rules. If a user violates this rule, then the DLP notifies the user of the policy breach, and corrective action, or an approval may be granted. Now, with the Remedy DLP integration, a better option is the creation of an incident in Remedy. With the power of Remedy incident management, the security issue can be better managed using escalations or reports to ensure data security compliance.

Asset Management on Every Device. With version 9.1, BMC added an extensive list of capabilities: more asset information (and views) on the Smart IT screens, a visible audit log, better drill down capabilities, and a new three stage bulk update capability. The new Smart IT user experience adds a new streamlined process making the asset management interaction more efficient and faster. In addition, MyIT now supports barcode scanning for viewing an asset, and also for bulk-receiving (like RightStar’s ScanStar).

MyIT Barcode

Knowledge Centered Support (KCS). Version 9.1 now has a KCS certified Smart IT based knowledge management system. Remedy’s KM s offers a quality assessment build into every offering to ensure the knowledge is current and accurate. And now knowledge author performance can be scored.

At a government agency, RightStar is implementing an agency-wide Knowledge project using Remedy KM. The objective is to use Remedy KM to “shift left,” that is reduce calls to the service desk. RightStar is doing the analysis, workshops, design, and implementation of Remedy KM to provide the users with easy access to knowledge related to their specific job function. At this agency, knowledge management is not just for the IT team. It also includes accounting/finance, HR, technology services, and the enterprise application departments. The end-result should be less calls to the service desk and improved customer satisfaction.

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BMC’s Innovation Suite

By Dick Stark

Innovation Suite

BMC held a webinar this past Wednesday to provide an update on its new Innovation Suite, which is now available for partners and developers. Innovation Suite allows partners to create modern applications and publish them in the BMC Marketplace for customer consumption.

Just like ServiceNow or Atlassian, BMC is looking to its partners and developers to help populate its Marketplace with applications that sit on-top of its ARS platform and make Remedy more attractive to new buyers. BMC has had a Marketplace (formerly Marketzone) for 15+ years as Remedy got its beginnings as a platform (ARS) and developers built connectors, plug-ins and entire applications on top of ARS. Today BMC’s MarketPlace has nearly 300 offerings ranging from RightStar’s ScanStar to a connector from MyIT to JIRA for bug submission. A healthy Marketplace helps sell the base software platform.

BMC first announced its Innovation Suite at Engage last September. There was some confusion that the Innovation Studio was actually Remedy v9.5, but that’s not the case. Innovation Studio is a separate cloud based (AWS) application optimized to develop digital service management based apps in a very rapid way. At Engage, several BMC partners showcased two new apps: a crowd sourcing funding app for companies to track their employees’ donations of time and money, and an employee visit request app to check visitors in and out. Both developers said that they finished these apps in less than two weeks thanks to the drag and drop Innovation Suite developer toolkit.

To sign up, RightStar (or any developer) simply requests a developer sandbox (more than 400 have already been requested), and then develops using the developer’s toolkit. The developer decides what part of the app is configurable and builds the app using codeless app definitions with visual drag and drop designs. A library stores reusable code definitions. Everything gets translated to Java code. Eventually this means that Remedy consultants will need some knowledge of Java and JavaScript.

It’s important to note that Innovation Suite is currently only available in the cloud on AWS. My speculation is that BMC will announce an ITSM suite, maybe Remedy 10 that also be available on AWS and tightly integrated with Innovation Suite. In the meantime, any apps developed in the cloud, must also be consumed in the cloud. During the webinar, BMC reported that they are working on a connector to Remedy on-premise, but until then Innovation Suite is targeted for new Remedy systems (or new standalone apps) only.

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How to Improve Your Golf Game, or Anything Else Using DevOps Principles

By Dick Stark

Recently RightStar presented a webinar, “How to Improve Your ITSM Processes in a DevOps World.” According to our presentor, and with apologies to Mark Twain, the reports of ITIL’s death are greatly exaggerated. ITIL is NOT dead and all the work required to implement ITIL best practices is NOT wasted! ITSM, your golf game, or anything else can be improved using DevOps principles.

We opened the webinar by discussing the role and importance of ITSM within an IT organization. ITSM (aka Digital Service Management) is the implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business. ITSM is performed by an IT organization and consists of people, processes, and tools. All three are required to realize improvements in quality and customer sat. As a software tool consultancy, RightStar always stresses the importance of good processes. But often times our customers, frustrated with their current ITSM system or toolset, purchase a new toolset without making an investment in processes and are disappointed. It is like being frustrated with your golf game and buying new clubs thinking that will improve your game.

Software Development teams often make up a sizeable chunk of an IT organization. Their output is a software product and they often have a very defined process for designing, developing, testing, and releasing software into production, usually in an agile fashion.

DevOps is a movement that emphasizes collaboration and communications while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes. DevOps focus is on eliminating bottlenecks, duplicate work, and streamlining processes through feedback loops. How can DevOps principles improve ITSM processes? Here are a few suggestions from the webinar:

Incident Management: Look for ways to reduce waste, fix delays that reduce bottlenecks, document lessons learned (retrospectives), and provide incident metrics.

Change Management: Streamline Change Management processes, implement an automated approval process, e.g., use Puppet or Chef to automatically provision servers.

Release Management: Put controls in place to manage code changes, don’t implement ad-hoc code changes because the business requested it, do user acceptance testing in a pre-production environment.

golf technology

How to improve your golf game using DevOps practices: Make practice sessions on and off the course meaningful. Use real-time technology and tools to track your statistics such as 3D swing view, and all the data behind each swing. Set goals, map your progress, and do retrospectives to apply lessons learned and then test the fix, and re-test, based upon your feedback from the sensors attached to your clubs. Using this automated approach is a significant improvement over hitting ball after ball on the practice range expecting improved or different results.

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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.)

pizza-tracker-cool-idea-dominos

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.

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