What is the Future of Your Service Desk?

2017 Gartner Hpye Chart

By Dick Stark

Last week RightStar was asked to answer a question for an RFI, “Please describe your views on industry trends and developments that you are expecting to take place in the next 12 to 18 months.” My answer was the standard answer that one might hear from BMC or ServiceNow: ITSM products are being enhanced and developed with context-aware capabilities, as well as better front-end UIs for business users, via IT self-service for request management and knowledge management and other channels such as IT support, live chat, walk-up support and virtual support agents.

BMC is rumored to be investigating adding AI front-ends, such as those offered by Next IT to allow for virtual answers to complex questions, along with the right solutions and outcomes. Indeed, ServiceNow in May bought Qlue, a virtual agent technology startup that enables better communication between companies and their customers and prospective customers. It combines customers and agents for the most expedient solution, with either virtual or live agents, from any platform including messaging or voice. But is this really the near future? What is hype and what is reality?

AI is clearly at the innovation stage for those early adopters willing to take a chance on new technology. See the just published Gartner 2017 Hype Cycle, above. Just beyond the innovation trigger is customer experience, with BMC offerings like MyIT/Smart IT and Digital Workplace clearly in that camp. Cloud, Mobile and Social are on the upswing, or slope of enlightenment.

Most of RightStar’s customers have barely moved beyond basic incident/problem/change, and configuration management. While virtual agent technology may offer an attractive, ROI, I can’t see virtual agents making much progress anytime soon. Here are some more near-term future ideas for improvement.

Digital Transformation. Although this is a broad category, it is important to begin somewhere. What are employees most pressing needs? At a large government agency, it was the digitization of 45 pages of manual PDF forms. Now, thanks to RightStar’s consulting effort, the agency, using BMC’s Digital Workplace (formerly MyIT Service Broker), now has a new 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.

Knowledge Management. KM projects are often quick and produce a significant ROI. For example, at another government agency, RightStar was 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.

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Enable Blind Spot Detection with BCM


By Dick Stark

Last week RightStar presented a live webcast, “Securing Your IT Assets Using BCM.” We discussed how BMC Client Management (BCM) can help easily secure your technology endpoints, maintain software compliance, and keep data safe from outages and viruses such as malware.

I just finished a terrific new book, American, Kingpin, by Nick Bilton. It is the story of Texas born Eagle Scout, Ross Ulbricht, who began the first Dark Web website to sell any and all things illegal such as drugs, guns, and malware. Known as the Silk Road, the website soon became the Amazon of the underworld with sales of nearly $1B by the time it site was shut down by the FBI. Since there is no honor among thieves, Ross had regular fights with hackers, many who demanded large ransom payments to unlock servers or stop attacks. Since Ross was a businessman he soon learned that it was far better to pay the ransom and restore service, rather than fight.

About two months ago, the largest malware attack ever was launched, infecting more than 200,000 computers. Known as WannaCry, it targeted computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in Bitcoin (about $300 to $600 per machine).

The virus spread through a Microsoft vulnerability in its operating system that the NSA first discovered but used it to create an exploit for its own offensive work, rather than report it to Microsoft. Microsoft discovered and fixed this on March 14, 2017 and released patches for all Windows versions at that time. However, many Windows users had not installed the patches two months later when WannaCry was released. In both of the above examples, having BCM enabled would have allowed the organizations that were impacted to have either previously patched the machines, or at a minimum, detect the blind spots and patch accordingly.

BCM, formerly FootPrints Asset Core, is tightly integrated with both FootPrints and Remedyforce. It provides a single unified console to centralize the lifecycle management of all client devices, audit their hardware and software inventory, push patches, and deploy software to them whether they’re on a LAN or over the Internet. Modules include: Software License, Event, Financial Asset, Power, and Device management.

During the webinar, we discussed Patch Management and Policy Compliance (Audit). The level of effort for BCM Patch is significantly less than Microsoft SCCM, and more like WSUS, Windows Server Update Services, a Microsoft program that enables administrators to manage the distribution of updates and hotfixes released for Microsoft products in a corporate environment. (BCM Patch works for lots of different products such as Mac and Linux.)

A big problem is keeping software titles up to date with the latest version. Patching does not guarantee the software is updated to the latest full version. BCM quickly can group all devices needing latest release updates and deploy to ensure compliance and security.

Of course, BCM comes with an Audit or Compliance module to ensure that customers are well prepared for PCI, SOX, HIPPA and other compliance audits. BCM even supports SCAP, a multi-purpose framework of specifications that supports automated configuration, vulnerability and patch checking, and security measurement.

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What in the World is SIAM?

By Dick Stark

Last week I attended an itSMF webinar, “Introducing SIAM (Service Integration and Management).” I tuned in because SIAM was new to me and I wanted to learn more. SIAM is an adaption of ITIL that focuses on managing the delivery of multiple suppliers. It is not a framework or process. SIAM is a service capability and set of practices that build on and compliment ITIL. Is SIAM something that we should be aware of, and how can SIAM help RightStar better meet the needs of our customers?

SIAM Component Model:

SIAM Component Model

Although SIAM is relatively new and fast evolving, I hadn’t heard of it until last Wednesday. Yes, there is a 240-page Body of Knowledge that goes along with it, and a consortium of organizations that have helped roll this out. EXIN is even starting to offer an accreditation program, and IT consultancies like Scopism, which helped developed the body of knowledge, now offer SIAM training classes. I’m not sure this is something we all need—a new set of books to read and classes and certifications to consume. Yet, there is a growing need for the SIAM approach due to organizations that wish to use multiple suppliers to deliver integrated services, the increasing complexity of the IT value network, supply chain, and service provider characteristics.

When learning about SIAM what struck me was the similarity of the Federal Systems Integrator (Beltway Bandit) Community. Over the years, RightStar has been a subcontractor many times to organizations like GDIT, CSRA, CACI, and Leidos on very large, potentially multi-billion-dollar IT contracts. In all cases each Prime contractor uses multiple disaggregated suppliers or subcontractors that are focused in a particular IT area—infrastructure, desktop services, help desk, security and so on. And as a result of being part of the proposal process, I have observed that each SI has its own SI methodology that is explicitly detailed to include enterprise architecture, supply chain, project portfolio management, risk and quality management, ITIL process, integration, KPIs, and service catalogs, to name a few. What I’ve observed is how similar each SI’s methodology is to each other’s, yet there is no standard, hence the need for SIAM. In sum, SIAM can be used to provide a single point of visibility and control for service management and the delivery of all services provided by suppliers. It is all about end-to-end accountability for the performance of IT services to the users, coordinating delivery, integration and interoperability across multiple services and suppliers and providing the necessary governance on behalf of the business.

What’s in it for RightStar partners BMC or Atlassian? Both offer extensible platforms that provide end‑to‑end service management, analytics, and accountability for all services. With toolsets like Remedy 9 or Digital Workplace, or JIRA Software or Portfolio, customers can benchmark service delivery performance, hold suppliers accountable to KPIs and provide the communication and incentives for suppliers to better work together.

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Report from BMC Exchange Federal

Federal Exchange 2017BMC’s annual Federal user group conference, Exchange, was held this on June 7 at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. Attendance was up this year with more than 400 customers, partners, and BMC employees in attendance RightStar and BMC presented, Increasing Employee Productivity with a Digital Workplace Initiative, to a room full of attendees. Here is a short Exchange 2017 update.

Dan Streetman, BMC Senior VP, Worldwide Strategic Sales and Operations acted as the host for Exchange and opened with talk about the digitalization of government. He cited several examples of government done well, like real time earthquake information from the Department of the Interior, prospective driver crash and inspection information from the Department of Transportation, and a “bug bounty program set up by the Pentagon.

Dan looked at service innovation using a new graphic, borrowing from DevOps:

Federal Exchange 2017 Service Innovation

The objective of any mature service desk is to “shift left” or reduce the calls to the service desk through self-help, improved knowledge or problem management, and better workflow or AI tools. And BMC has the right tools to truly innovate the service desk: Monitoring tools, like TrueSight; Policy tools like BladeLogic (Threat Director), Automation tools like Atrium Orchestrator, and Workflow tools like Remedy with Smart IT.

Keynote speakers included Margaret Graves, Deputy CIO, White House OMB, and Don Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health IT. Margaret spoke about modernizing government and mentioned that agencies today need better collaboration and used USCIS / Department of State as an example of the need for interagency communication. Modern IT can help. Don Rucker then described the progress that has been made in medical IT, especially electronic medical records, and discussed several government success stories.

RightStar’s session detailed the progress at DOJ we have made in replacing a paper catalog system housed on SharePoint with BMC’s MyIT Service Broker.

The old manual system was based on PDF and Excel spreadsheets that the requestor filled out and submitted. This system had no audit trail or tracking mechanism, and no way to report on the outcome of the request and associated cost.

The new system has a modern “Amazon-like” interface that makes it faster and easier for DOJ users to access IT services. The trial system is now live and DOJ is looking to roll this out to all.

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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.

Posted in Business Management, Digital Engerprise Management (DEM, FootPrints, ITSM, Remedy, Technology Trends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment