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Kaitlin Brunsden

Decluttering IT: Talking with OpTier

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What follows is my podcast with Colin Rowland, Senior Vice President of Operations at OpTier. Colin will offer guidance on the growing complexity of IT departments.

Listen to or download the 7:35 podcast below:

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OpTier related news.

KB: Hello ebizQ listeners, this is Kaitlin Brunsden, Associate Editor at ebizQ. Today, I am speaking with Colin Rowland, Senior Vice President of Operations at OpTier. Colin thank you for joining me today.

CR: Pleasure.

KB: Today we will be discussing Decluttering IT through the Growing Complexity of the IT Departments. Colin will offer guidance on what businesses need for their IT departments to be able to access quickly where problems are and how to avoid them. So Colin, I'm just going to dive right in. What are the big challenges facing IT departments today?

CR: Well, that's a big question but cost is the obvious answer. I think everybody's seen the continuous need to tighten the belt against a backdrop of needing to deliver new and improved services there's no doubt about that, of course, driven by mostly by the economy. But another great challenge we see is agility. But let's step back and think about what IT is in its purest form and I'll explain why agility is an issue.

So if we think about what IT delivers, its responsible for delivering automated business processes. These business processes are built on applications, which underpin everything the business does, it could be trading, customer interaction, online retailing, accounting. In fact, all the areas the business have, have an IT function to support it. So the business needs to be agile, they need grow, they need to innovate, they need to take new services to market to continue to be competitive or even just to improve the way they operate. IT's in the critical path and therefore needs to be agile to keep up with the pace. An example here would be a bank or a Telco looking to bring new products to market. The faster they bring them to market the more valuable they are and thus the need for agility within IT.

KB: Why is agility such an issue for IT?

CR: Simply because IT has been built up over the years with layers upon layer of technology. They've never had really the chance to completely have a green field and start all over again. The technology that they have in place has been built up over years is as deep as it is wide. There's a depth in technology, for example, your networking, mainframes, servers, middleware, applications, security. On top of all this, there's a plethora of management tools through all the silos mentioned. Because these silos are so deep and so technical, organizations have been structured in a way to support them making the organizations themselves very siloed in their nature. This causes immense problems when things fail and organizations need to find where the issues are.

If they have this siloed approach, they don't see things across the organizations and what happens is all (indiscernible) are a regular occurrence in IT organizations. People from multiple silos meet. They'll dial-into a number to try and isolate where a problem is and all these people are is concerned with their own domain and quite often, it's a blame game of trying to determine where the problem is. All (indiscernible) are a regular occurrence in IT organizations. People from multiple silos meet or dial-in to isolate issues to a particular domain and this is a very expensive process. I speak to many organizations who have no visibility of how a transaction, which in effect is the customer experience travels through their organization. Many of these organizations have stitched multiple applications together thus compounding the problem.

KB: How can IT departments cut through the clutter and resolve problems more effectively? Is there another approach to this siloed approach you discussed?

CR: Absolutely there is. So by monitoring all transactions across all tiers all the time, organizations can now understand the real performance of their business applications. This is the only way to breakdown the silos is to follow the path of the transaction. It's the transaction that crosses all of these silos and gives a real picture of the customer experience down to detail of what's actually happening. In doing so, they have a much better understanding of the systems, the architecture, the application, how its deployed and thus, that helps them to be more agile by having a true understanding. I've been to customers before now who have tried to look at how they've got their end-to-end visibility and I've seen organizations putting Post-Its on walls, posting it together, showing pictures of how they think it hangs together.

And of course, if they do that, a couple of weeks later when changes are made is all out-of-date so they've never really had this ongoing ability to see end-to-end transaction performance. Of course, using this technology will also allow them to avoid outages because you're able to see issues before they actually happen. Then of course, remove this expensive process that we talked about before with all (indiscernible). And of course, have the ability to improve the ongoing performance, which is very critical. This type of technology will also breathe new life into SLAs. I think every company has had SLAs in the past and if you know most of them if they were honest would say we wrote up the SLAs and then they went in the drawer never to come out again. Why is that? Because generally, the SLAs was to have good intentions and some of them have numbers on them, for example, 99.99% availability.

But those availability numbers are based on meaningless metrics to the business so it might be that it's based on the network (indiscernible) given in the information and that doesn't give them the real performance of their application experience. So the business is interested in transactions, IT is interested in transactions, so now SLAs can be made about transaction performance. For example, how long should it take for a customer to login to account? How long will it take to move money from A to B? These are real business metrics that IT needs to deliver so business transaction in effect is bringing features that deliver real business benefit.

KB: Can you please tell us a little bit about OpTier?

CR: Of course, I'd be delighted to. So OpTier is a fast growing software company delivering business transaction management solutions that allow IT application owners to take control over service availability. We do this manage in every step of every transaction along the way. This gives organizations insight that they've never had before. It's a big statement to say but many of our customers deploy business transactions. Outages are a thing of the past so this all hands (indiscernible) are a thing of the past. We're able to really help them improve these service levels.

Our customers continue to tell us that the visibility and control they have with OpTier BTM is unparalleled to anything they've seen before and boy, do I like hearing that. Expanding on that, well, we've recently introduced a market entry solution for BTM. We're calling the EM-Plus meaning end user management plus some extra capability. Let me tell you a little more about that. With the EM-Plus, in a matter of days IT organizations can gain the visibility of end user experience in this first stage (indiscernible) into the data center. Really, I mean, just in days you can get the picture of the experience of the end user and what's happening and what's going on.

Benefits is obviously an early warning of issues. You want to hear about these issues before the customers are calling you tell you that there are issues. And in doing that, you're getting an understanding of the overall application behavior. So in summary, business transaction management is the way forward to assist in IT agility and service delivery.

KB: Well, I think that sounds like a very useful product and I would like to thank Colin Rowland, Senior Vice President of Operations at OpTier for today's podcast. Thank you Colin.

CR: Oh, you're very welcome; it's been a pleasure.

KB: And thank you ebizQ listeners for joining us.

1 Comment

I found Kaitlin and Colin's conversation intriguing, I wasn't aware of OpTier or their Business Transaction Management approach but it seems promising. Having since spoken with Russell Rothstein VP at OpTier I think it is more than that, it offers a way to bring business and IT into greater alignment by building a common understanding of user experience and will allow both, as Colin points out, to redefine service in a more meaningful way. BTM is an evolution on silo based performance monitoring that may be about to have its day. If more for less is an organisational goal then this may be an essential new tool in the box.
My initial view is at - http://bit.ly/bngpbr

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Jayaprakash Kannoth

Jayaprakash Kannoth is Software Engineer at TechTarget. His areas of interest include business process management, enterprise architecture, business intelligence , cloud/infrastructure computing and technology in business.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent my employer’s views in any way.

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