Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Remote support offers enterprises avenue to cut operational costs while improving IT systems reliability

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Read complete transcript of the discussion.

The trend around use of remote support software for monitoring, remediation and IT maintenance automation is gaining steam in the global enterprise IT market. I certainly expect that as companies become even more cost conscious that they will seek to further reduce their total cost of IT operations in any way possible. Remote support best practices and effective use will therefore become even more prominent.

The goal of remote support software and services is to free up on-premises IT personnel to focus on what they do best and to offload routine chores to organizations that can leverage the Internet do IT support remotely at high efficiency and lower cost. The benefits of remote support have become very popular among PC owners, and now the value is becoming popular as a cloud computing service for general server support and data center maintenance worldwide.

To better understand the options for better remote monitoring, resolving, and automating of the ongoing performance support of IT systems, I recently interviewed Dionne Morgan, worldwide marketing manager in HP Technology Services, and Claudia Ulrich, communications manager in Delivery Engineering at HP.

Here are some excerpts:
At many companies, IT managers understand that ongoing administration and maintenance of their existing infrastructure consumes most of the IT budget. ... Far too much time has been spent by IT staff on managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting their IT infrastructure. Obviously, this can be very expensive in both time and money. Too often, there's increased risk and unplanned downtime, which lead to an inability to meet business objectives and achieve business outcomes.

We're also finding that system complexity is adding to the problem. ... When a problem occurs in the infrastructure, finding the source and the nature of the problem -- and then coming up with the resolution -- can also be a daunting task.

It could be anything from actual hardware failure and trying to detect exactly where within the system the failure has occurred, to a need for additional memory or additional hard drive space. Those are some of the typical problems that our customers are facing, and those are the problems where you can automate the process of identifying the nature of that problem and coming up with the solution.

[Enterprises are] moving from traditional phone-in [and help desk] support and on-site delivery to automated events reporting. This is also called "phone home" capabilities. Adding to customers' manageability solution the ability to monitor the complete enterprise environment by automatically submitting incidents to the remote support provider to increase the level of services, which in return improves availability and reduces service cost for the customer.

One reason this helps to manage personnel is because it's going to be constantly monitoring the environment 24/7. Even at the end of the day, when the staff goes home, the system is still monitoring and it helps to filter the actual events that are coming through, so that the IT organization can prioritize which of those events they need to take action on. It's actually removing some of the mundane task of troubleshooting and prioritizing the events or the incidents.

We're looking at the complete, heterogeneous IT environment. This includes servers, storage, network, not only from HP, but also from selected vendors like IBM and Dell servers, as well as Brocade and Cisco switches. ... This also includes industry trends toward virtualization, as well as blade, and cloud computing, as they evolve.

I believe that down the road we'll see an expansion of the products that are covered by remote support. We'll begin to look at the total environment, in addition to the infrastructure. We'll also see organizations looking at how to automate processes, how to help with monitoring and troubleshooting applications.

[For now], remote support is a critical piece of establishing the next-generation data center. HP has defined six enablers to build this next generation data center, and HP Remote Service Pack (RSP) can definitely contribute to these enablers. ... We're really looking at this one foundation to enable consolidation and modernization of data centers, and also to be able to transition between the two, using a common management system.

If you think about Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and the fact that we have a lifecycle that includes strategy, design, transition, operation, and continued service improvement, this is going to help to automate many of those support processes that you need on an ongoing operational basis and incident management. They can assist with help desk management and asset management.

What we have found with customers is that, when they are using these remote support tools, they're actually able to reduce the amount of time they spend in troubleshooting by 20 percent and they're also able to increase the accuracy of the diagnosis by over 99 percent. So, with these remote support tools, if they're monitoring the heterogeneous environment that will actually speed up the process of troubleshooting and isolating the problem.
Read complete transcript of the discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.