Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/29/systems_management_burden/

Relieving the systems management burden

Where's that X?$$ing report? Oh, here it is

By Martin Atherton

Posted in Reg Technology Panel, 29th January 2008 15:35 GMT

Reg Tech Panel We owe you a report on day-to-day aspects of operational IT management. It's finally here for the downloading.

Sincere thanks to all who contributed to the research. Do some downloading and tell us what you think. It's all based on what you told us, and it seems that some of you are having more joy than others when it comes to the day-to-day management of IT.

The results were surprising and interesting, not least due to the way we came up with of expressing the burden that IT departments find themselves under. Cunningly, we called it 'the burden'. The areas causing headaches don't seem to account for much individually, but when we see people citing eight, nine and ten areas as causing major headaches concurrently, we start to get a more accurate picture of what's bugging IT departments every day.

One of the key causes of 'the burden' is a lack of co-ordination across the numerous IT and systems management tools used by IT departments across the globe. It doesn't seem to matter where you started from either – a single or a multi-vendor strategy – the difference in burden is not big enough to matter. The gap between historical capabilities (being pretty good at granular monitoring and micro-management of the IT infrastructure), and those needed to allow the IT department to operate as a 'service provider' is definitely slowing things down. All this business and IT service management stuff may well be surrounded by a lot of marketing guff, but we know - because we've measured it - that organisations moving in this direction with their IT management lead happier lives. Not because their burden is completely removed, but because they work under a more appropriate level.

If the fragmented nature of systems management capabilities is currently the bane of your life, then find some recycled paper, print this report out and go hit management and your IT vendors with it.

The vendor community in general talks a good game, but where it needs to pitch in is in providing guidance to their customers in terms of how to get from the current, fragmented set-up towards a sustainable and cohesive set of IT management capabilities which stand a better chance of supporting businesses and their IT departments into this new era.

Your feedback also highlighted some practical areas to address, which might help expand what little space you get for exploring where the future of systems management may lie in your organisation. For example, we found some excellent correlations between some seemingly mundane stuff like IT staff and user training and its ability to reduce the everyday strain on the IT department. We wouldn't bother highlighting this if the differences between doing it and not doing it weren't so significant. It's easy stuff to grasp, but it's also the stuff that's easily pushed to one side when time is short and work needs to be done.

At the same time as the online study, we talked to a load of IT leader types as to the likely direction of near-future IT management. We've found some good parallels between the two sets of results, so the reports work well as a pair, as well as separately exploring two faces of the same coin. Visit here to take a peek, www.freeformdynamics.com and thanks again for taking part.