Feeds

Performance monitoring is Someone Else's Problem

Tackling the culture of 'No'

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Douglas Adams obviously knew what makes an IT shop tick. In Life, the Universe, and Everything, he identified the Somebody Else’s Problem (SEP) field, which renders some things not so much invisible as unnoticeable. For a while, the imminent collapse of the Greek economy was an SEP, until it became too big to ignore.

IT departments are littered with SEPs because they make the whole tangled mess the average beleaguered IT manager has to deal with more workable. The politically astute sometimes call them “knowledge domains”, or “fields of expertise”, otherwise known as silos.

IT services are supposed to be joined up so that business managers can understand them. They enable a business department to process a certain number of customer bookings every hour, for example, regardless of how many different systems have to collude at the back end.

Ignorance is bliss

SEP fields get in the way of that. They enable the database admin to ignore the networking team and the network manager to ignore the information security officer.

When the business manager complains that the system is too slow, making it difficult to cross-sell products to customers on the phone, an SEP causes the owner of the Linux-based customer relationship management system to say it is working fine and it must be the fault of the order database. Or the network. Or some other problem.

Sadly, a customer can also become an SEP, unless the company is influential enough to haul someone higher up into the frame.

Eric Marks, chief executive of consulting firm Agile Path, calls this “the culture of no”.

Failing to eradicate this culture makes it impossible to offer internal business customers a premium level of service.

“Amazon and Google don’t have an army of service operatives monitoring their farms,” says Graeme Swan, a partner at consultancy Ernst & Young.

“They basically smashed as much infrastructure as they possibly could into warehouses, and then just assumed that capacity would be there.

“Now, clients are telling them they want a premium service”

“Now, clients are telling them they want a premium service. They are worried that they have no way of monitoring it or tweaking it. So there is no premium service.”

You can buy as much premium support as you like (although some question how well it works). Premium performance streams? Not so much.

Tell it to the telcos

Perhaps this is one area where telcos could finally earn a dollar. For years they have focused on providing infrastructure, clinging grimly to low-margin business while content providers pick up more lucrative revenue streams.

Now they could actually use their experience to show the new generation of service providers how it is done, says Jeff Cotrupe, global programme director at Frost & Sullivan practice Stratecast,.

“Especially in the context of mobile marketing, people are turning back to the operators, and asking them how to provide a better quality of service. The operators are saying ‘we’ve been dealing with this for decades’,” he says.

But you are not Amazon and you just want to eliminate the SEP fields to make your users happy. How do you do it?

Ashish Gupta, EMEA vice-president at IT services firm HCL, says he creates a series of service management layers for customers, each designed for different roles.

“So instead of trying to get all the data in different types of format, if you just convert that into a web-based server interface you give the customer the ability to customise it based on the company's needs,” he says.

Find the carrot

This works for an outsourcing firm that is charging its clients based on, say, how many orders the outsourced system books on their behalf. Internal IT departments also need an incentive, and Swan suggests service credits, in which an end-to-end service costs different amounts.

“I think this might be a commercial structure, rather than a technical one,” he says. “It isn’t going to be a socialist state any more. If you want a certain service, you will be able to to pay for it. That then causes technical issues – which is the bit we haven’t cracked and I don’t believe anyone has.”

Companies that want to offer multiple levels of service to their users, and charge accordingly, will face cultural challenges as well as technical ones. Getting everyone to accept that they are all working together on the same problem, and taking ownership of any issues that arise, will probably be the biggest obstacle of all. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.