Thursday, January 19, 2012

Expert Chat on How HP Ecosystem Provides Holistic Support for VMware Virtualized IT Environments

Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with an HP Expert Chat series on the best practices for service and support of highly virtualized environments.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Redefine the potential of your virtualization investments.
View the full Expert Chat presentation on VMware support best practices.

Dana Gardner: Welcome to a special BriefingsDirect presentation, a sponsored podcast created from a recent HP Expert Chat discussion on best practices for VMware environment support.

Advanced and pervasive virtualization and cloud computing trends are driving the need for a better holistic approach to IT support remediation. That’s why HP has made the service and support of global virtualization market leader VMware a top priority.

And while the technology to support and fix these virtualized environments is essential, it’s the people, skills, and knowledge to manage these systems that provide the most decisive determinants of ongoing performance success.

This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. To learn more, I recently moderated a discussion with Cindy Manderson, Technical Solutions Consultant for Complex Problem Resolution and Quality for VMware Products at HP. Cindy has 27-plus years of experience with HP and 8-plus years supporting VMware specifically. [Disclosure: HP and VMware are both sponsors of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

In our discussion, you’ll hear the latest recommendations for how IT support should be done. As part of our chat, we’re also be joined by two other HP experts: Pat Lampert, Critical Service Senior Technical Account Manager and Team Leader, as well as Sumithra Reddy, HP Virtualization Engineer. Our discussion begins with an overview from me of the virtualization market and user adoption trends.

Virtualization isn’t just server-by-server, but really impacts the entire data center. You need to think about it more holistically, particularly in regard to things like security, performance and how your brands and businesses are perceived across the globe. Many of the companies that I deal with day in and day out are up at 80 percent and even 90 percent virtualized.

When they think about virtualization, they go beyond just server virtualization. It’s really now looking at storage, applications, networks and even the end-user desktop experience, or desktop as a service (VDI).

These are all reasons why it’s no longer just about servers, but has to be something that includes how you're looking at IT in general. It’s also a cultural issue. It’s about managing complexity when you get to that 20 percent or 30 percent level, and not letting the value and benefits for virtualization be eroded by a management issue, or complexity around management.

So how to take advantage of the best things about virtualization? Part of that means allowing your IT team to have access to other experienced support teams, from HP and VMware, around the world, 24×7, to help keep systems up and running. Such support also allows your IT team to progress, to learn as they go, and to be able to take advantage of more virtualization benefits over time.

Another thing to consider is that the way your organizations is perceived, not only your IT organization, but your total company, is so dependent now on how your systems perform. It’s really impossible to separate a business from its IT performance. In many cases, your applications are the business. How you present on performance is, in fact, how you present your sense of competency, capability, and your overall brand.

We encourage people, as they pursue more virtualization, to recognize that their web applications, their mobile applications or e-commerce activities all are running on a combination of virtual and a physical infrastructure. These need to be tuned, and performance needs to be considered on an ongoing basis.

Expert panel

So how do you go about attaining such benefits? How do you keep the positive side of virtualization on track? And how do you put in place an insurance policy around service and support? That’s what the HP experts are going to help us understand.

I’d like to introduce one of our chief experts: Cindy Manderson, a consultant for complex problem resolution at HP with 27 years of experience. She’s been supporting VMware products and the ecosystem of VMware for eight years, when VMware came on the scene in a big way.

Cindy is going to provide more insights into how mission critical support works in virtualization, how HP and VMware are working together, and what the synergy between their products amounts to. Cindy, tell us about yourself.

Manderson: Thanks, Dana. I've been in the multi-vendor space for many, many years -- from applications to operating systems -- all with HP.

In 2002, when VMware came on the scene, HP actually became alliance partners with them. In 2003, we became a reseller, and thus began our support partnership with them. It would only extend recent in 2005, we also became an OEM.

We have the largest number of VMware-certified professionals. We're also the largest global VMware off-site training center

We have thousands of trained and certified Microsoft engineers and Linux professionals, too.

But we have the largest number of VMware-certified professionals. We're also have the largest global VMware off-site training center. So HP also does education on these technologies as well. We’ve trained over 20,000 students in the VMware space alone.

And we have had this very strong collaboration with VMware for many years and have support teams around the globe. In addition, we also offer the same level of training that VMware support engineers do. We actually go to their facilities and train right alongside them, too.

We further do this training virtually. The training is then recorded and made available on demand for reference, for folks who are not able to attend a scheduled course. There's definitely a very strong partnership, and as you see from our history with the other vendors as well as VMware, we are no strangers to multi-vendor support.

With all of the VMware products that HP sells, we do provide support across them all. It runs the gamut from the vSphere operating system that will install on the x86 server, through the enterprise management to the vCenter, and virtual desktop infrastructure products like VMware ThinApp. We also support the converter product getting into vCloud Director.

In addition to that, we have the ability to access our peers on the other teams across HP hardware support. This includes servers and storage, and our networking chain. We are quickly able to collaborate with them and pull together a virtual team in to focus on the customer's whole environment, to provide a one-stop shop.

Expertise across technologies

Additionally, you saw that we’ve been in this multi-vendor support business for so many years, with many experts across the other technologies, such as Microsoft and Linux. Of course, the virtual machines (VMs) are running these operating systems. So if the contract is also with them, we can easily pull them in to help us work an end-to-end solution and support it.

Gardner: Let’s think about what happens when there are different levels of support at work. How does that shake-out?

Manderson: We're in a reactive support business. If the customer has a problem, they can either call in at their local region telephone number -- whether they are in America, Europe, or Asia Pacific. There are different phone numbers for them to call.

They can also log in via the web, and they'll get to our next developer Level 1 engineer. They're a great organization and have solved over 85 percent of their cases.

If they have issues where they have to escalate, first they will be collaborating with us. We also have an online chat tool, where we are all in a virtual room, the Level 1 engineers, Level 2 engineers, etc. So we’ll be consulting and collaborating with them before they even get to a point of escalation.

If the case does end up needing escalation, chances are this person that they're already collaborating with will end up taking that case.



If the case does end up needing escalation, chances are they're already collaborating with the first person, and will then end up taking the case. That saves a lot of information transfer, as far as what type of server you have, what’s the firmware, what build level, and what’s the problem there, etc.

Once it reaches Level 2 support, as far as we can continue to collaborate, we can reach our teammates and the hardware teams, too, so we can look at the server and make sure that the environment is what we need it to be. If we can't resolve it, we can also go to Level 3 with VMware at an offline service-partner level.

We have a great relationship with the folks that we work alongside with and would escalate calls to at VMware. We’re obviously not going into Level 1 at VMware because we’ve already done all that work, and we are a service partner. They'll go right up to our peers over at VMware and then we work together, while always owning the solution that we provide back to the customer.

Gardner: And let’s look at this also from the perspective of globalization. So many organizations now just don’t stop in the afternoon and go home. The ongoing problems can’t just be left until the next day. How does it work on a continuity basis, time zone to time zone, region to region?

Manderson: Another part of our infrastructure-as-a-support-organization is that we have a single customer database. I can give an example. A call came into our Level 1 French engineer. When this call came in, for the European folks, it was already the end of their day, and the French engineer could not speak English. It was a critical down, their VMs were offline.

HP Virtual Room


So we worked in a virtual room and they talked to us, and brought the case to us here in America’s time zone. We worked with this case and another tool called HP Virtual Room, where we could actually all look at the customers' desktops in real time. They happened to have EVA storage, and we quickly got an EVA engineer engaged. Of course, we had to find a resource in the Americas because the European folks had already left. So we're all looking in real-time at the customer’s environment and found out that they had locked the storage.

The EVA engineer helped to get back online, while we all watched and the French engineer was translating in French for the customer in order to get it all resolved. We got it back online, and the customers were ready to home.

We gave instructions on getting log files and we placed a call for follow-up for the daytime hours in Europe the next day. So our counterparts in European support teams picked that up and worked with the customers to resolution, to analyze exactly what happened and prevent it in the future.

Gardner: You have a lot of examples at your disposal, I can tell. You've been through a lot with different customers. What sticks out in your mind as a particularly complex engagement that ended up turning out pretty well that might illustrate a bit more about what this takes and what’s involved?

Manderson: A lot of examples I've given have all been involved with the Level 2 support organizations, the HP server storage hardware, and also engaging VMware. There was another case.

Many of the examples that I've given so far are pretty much based on individual incidents. You call in and you get connected to the next available resource.



We have another process in HP that can actually go with top organizations, our escalation manager process. I was lead source for a particular case where we had a field team assisting a customer deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) design. They had a third-party VDI vendor. They had HP hardware, servers, and virtual connects. They had our storage, and we didn’t quite know where the bottleneck was. They were having performance issues by trying to have this VDI at two different locations with the hardware at one site.

The escalation manager was able to get the local office to borrow equipment, and then try to get performance and network traces. They had the Engineering Problem Management Resource (EPMR) lab in Houston trying to duplicate the problems.

Our escalation manager was able to drive the issue to completion across not only the solution standards, but the local office, to owning the actual escalation with all the action items to keep this all on track. We knew where we were going to go. That was about a six-month case, but we did finally find was that the customer was on the technological edge, and the "pipe" to have that performance just did not exist.

Many of the examples that I've given so far are pretty much based on individual incidents. You call in and you get connected to the next available resource.

We have another level, mission-critical support, and we have several offerings in this phase. Essentially, it’s more personalized. We know who you are. We already know your environment. You’re going to find a technical account manager.

Redefine the potential of your virtualization investments.
View the full Expert Chat presentation on VMware support best practices.

Site visits

For example, Pat Lampert is a technical account manager and does site visits. The technical account managers do go out on site. So we’re aware of the environment. We have the information of your environment documented into the database. When you call, we’re not saying, "Now what kind of server is this? What’s the firmware?" We know this because we already have it documented. We could be calling them to say, "Server 3 is running a little off." We already which know VMware version this is on, because we have that information.

And because we have that, we can also offer proactive advice. We can know that there's a new firmware update, or VMware just came out with a new build, and we have a place where you can go find the latest that's specific to your environment. So this helps to reduce further incidents, because we can be more proactive to help you maintain your business.

Gardner: Okay, none of these organizations are the same. They have difference legacy, different installations, and different physical-virtualization mixes. How do you manage that sort of complex combination, as well as customize the service delivery, too?

Manderson: Actually, we have a team, our customer service team. Anything that's been not already in our pre-packaged service offerings, we can add. For example, a customer may need their own 800 number for when they log cases. And they may need just an email sent out.

Pat Lampert is one of our our custom technical account managers. He does have additional requirements and possibilities for some of the customers that he is assigned. This way, we can personalize the businesses even more and focus on choosing that business model.

Our critical and independent support includes onsite resources from HP that also include a lot of proactive support.



Gardner: Tell me about the mission critical offerings, and then the whole portfolio.

Manderson: We have several different packages. Our highest level is the mission-critical. In this particular process, you're assigned a team that are across the technology that you have in your environment. But you also get a set of folks who would actually look at not just the reactive support and even some of the proactive, but how actually your entire business is running according to the ITIL standard.

That is coupled with keeping you up and running, and we also can work with you on a type that would be best suited for your environment.

Our critical and independent support includes onsite resources from HP that also include a lot of proactive support. In addition, they're more focused on specific management, but that would be more of an ITSM technology. We can look at that for you.

One of our most creative services would be Proactive Select, a core product series of credits. You can use these credits for maybe planning on migration and upgrade. You can say you need some consulting time. You can use these credits and work with upgrade and migration. You may need some performance or you may need some type of environmental assessment, and these credits can be used for that.

Gardner: When people do employ these services, how do they measure what the payoff is, the value of these services?

IDC study

Manderson: In 2010, IDC did a study. They went out and looked at the methodology, and this is out on our website. They saw that the customers who have the mission-critical services, reduce their downtime by over 70 percent, and increase their return on investment (ROI) quite high, over 400 percent. The main benefit was in problem management as well as help desk calls, because these were alleviated due to the proactive nature, a lot of looking at the entire environment, and looking at the business processes.

So take a look at the study. It shows IDC's methodology. So looking at things proactively and these support processes can certainly help you reduce that downtime.

Gardner: This support extends across a variety of different areas. We looked at the mission critical, we looked at those complex issues, the need for customization. Can you give a quick overview of some of the additional support services?

Manderson: We have the hardware and software support. One of the cool things we have with our hardware support is support automation, our Insight for remote support. That can notify HP that you're having a disk drive failure. Or we will call you and say that we know that disk drive is failing, or something on a buffer server and storage is about to.

You can even take that a step further to look inside at the Windows operating system. We're hardware agnostic on that operating system. We don't care about the vendor -- and I believe we are looking at expanding that automation to other operating systems. We have installation and startup services that we can actually go out and set up and configure the hardware and software at a site.

We're hardware agnostic on that operating system. We don't care about the vendor.



So we definitely integrate across all the multi-vendor services. We run the gamut between all the x86 operating systems, as well as our proprietary operating systems, our servers and storage. Again, we're no stranger to multi-vendor support and keeping the entire environment up and running.

Gardner: We've talked about the need for ecosystem-level view on virtualization. We looked at how HP and VMware have been working together very closely for a number of years, talked about some of the services available, why the experts’ personal experience and knowledge is essential, and the ability then for them to react toward something that’s unique that they haven’t seen before, bring in the expertise when they need it, act as a adjunct to the teams at the sites of these organizations.

And we have heard a little bit about some of the payback, 400 percent ROI, according to IDC. Now let's take this back to the experts themselves. We've heard from Cindy, but there are others involved. Hi, Sumithra.

Reddy: Dana, I'll address two questions that are frequently showing up. One is, what is the difference between the VMware ESXi image and an HP ESXi image?

Basically, HP takes the same ESXi image that VMware provides to the customers. It then adds HP thin components for hardware management, and it also adds any latest fibre channel and network drivers. Once it's tested and certified, it's available for download both from HP and VMware websites.

Major differences

A
nd one of the major difference between the two images is that VMware image is disk installable only, whereas HP image can be installed on a disk, USB key, or a SD card.

The other question we're getting nowadays is how to upgrade from VCA4 to VCA5. As with any major upgrades, planning helps. The first thing I would do is understand the difference between ESX 4 and ESX 5, because starting with ESX 5, we have no service console. So we need to understand what the architectural differences are.

Also learn about the new licensing policies. Then, use the System Analyzer that VMware provides to evaluate the current environments, and download, check, and complete the checklist. Once this is done, hopefully the upgrade will go smoothly.

Gardner: Pat, tell us about some of the other questions and your answers please.

Lampert: Another question that has come up from customers has to do with the added value of getting support directly from HP. It was partly addressed during the presentation we just gave. First of all, VMware does have a fine support organization. I have a couple of friends who work in VMware Support, and they do a good job of supporting their product.

HP, in addition to a similar level of expertise in the product, also offers our expertise in HP hardware, especially if you have systems based on HP Blades. The infrastructure behind that often is tied very closely to the performance and availability of your ESX host. So when you call us, you will have not only someone who is very familiar with the VMware product, but also is familiar with the HP hardware and able to pull in the proper resourced results, problems you might encounter with running vSphere on HP hardware especially.

In addition to that, we have a partnership agreement with VMware, and when you call in for support through HP, you're getting that same level of service when we have to go to VMware to get answers to questions or fixes.

One other question that has come up is about our lab ability to reproduce problems. We have two global labs, one in India and one in the United States. We have several static vSphere cluster configurations with a number of different types of servers already in those configurations, and the ability, when needed, to add specific models, if there is a problem that’s specific to a particular Blade or rack-mounted server model, or a particular card or something like that. So we're quite able to reproduce most problems that come in. We even have some Dell and IBM equipment in our lab also.

Gardner: Back to you Sumithra. Do you have any thoughts on some of the questions that really caught your attention that you think are representative of what our audience is thinking and feeling today?

Reddy: One little question I can answer is how to troubleshoot server crashes. When something goes wrong in ESX, we call it the "Purple Screen of Death." Often, these are results of hardware failure, but we still need to rule out the software. So we collect all the logs, and look at it to see if it's a software issue. If it's not a software issue, then we engage the hardware team to see how we can get to the root cause and fix the issue.

Lampert: To dovetail with Sumithra’s comment there, one of the questions I get frequently is what to do if you don’t have a dump. Say the host hangs, and that seems to be almost more common than the Purple Screen of Death. Some customers are't aware that through HP’s Integrated Lights-Out Management, there is the ability to generate a non-maskable interrupt (NMI) just by pressing a button, and by saving a certain environment variable ahead of time in your ESX host.

KB article

There is a KB article on this, by the way, if you just search on NMI and core dumping in VMware. But with that setup, you can force a dump while a system is in a hung state, and that will assist us usually in troubleshooting and isolating what caused the hang, whether it be hardware or a problem with the ESX host software.

Gardner: Pat, we have time for one more.

Lampert: One question that came up ahead of time is what HP suggests as far as getting a handle on our inventory of VMs? I happened to be involved in field testing some new tools from HP that will be available in January and February regarding vSphere.

One of them is a Holistic Blade and Firmware Analysis that takes into account the VMware environment on our Blade systems which we are working on having ready soon. We have just completed field tests.

And the second is a really nifty Inventory Report HP has just put together. We're just completing field tests on that now. It will be available soon. Basically, we install a small Perl script in the customer environment on any machine that has access to the vCenter host and has a vSphere CLI installed.

This Perl Script crawls through the VMware environment and builds an XML file, which we then feed into a report generator here at HP. This can be used for us to gather information on customers, so we have ahead of time a clear picture of the environment. But also it will be sold as a service to customers.

This Perl Script crawls through the VMware environment and builds an XML file, which we then feed into a report generator here at HP.



The report is really quite nice, with all sorts of charts and showing availability of machines and availability of memory and also disk space. It's a very nice report. You should be able to get a sample, if you're interested.

Gardner: Well, that about wraps up our hour. I really want to thank our audience for joining us. I hope you found it valuable.

This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You've been listening to a special BriefingsDirect presentation, a sponsored podcast created from a recent HP expert chat discussion on best practices for VMware environment support.

I would like to also thank our guests, Cindy Manderson, Technical Solutions Consultant for Complex Problem Resolution & Quality for VMware Products at HP; Pat Lampert, Critical Service Senior Technical Account Manager and Team Leader at HP, as well as Sumithra Reddy, HP Virtualization Engineer. And to our audience, again, thanks to you all for listening and come back next time.

Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion in conjunction with an HP Expert Chat series on the best practices for service and support of highly virtualized environments. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Redefine the potential of your virtualization investments.
View the full Expert Chat presentation on VMware support best practices.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Capgemini's CTO on Why Cloud Computing Exposes the Duality Between IT and Business

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast in conjunction with latest The Open Group Conference in San Francisco. Capgemini CTO Andy Mulholland discusses the transformed enterprise.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Register for The Open Group Conference
Jan. 30 - Feb. 3 in San Francisco.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview series coming to you in conjunction with The Open Group Conference this January in San Francisco. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions and I will be your host throughout these discussions.

The conference will focus on how IT and enterprise architecture support enterprise transformation. Speakers in conference events will also explore the latest in service oriented architecture (SOA), cloud computing, and security.

We’re here now with one of the main speakers of the conference, Andy Mulholland, the Global Chief Technology Officer and Corporate Vice President at Capgemini. In 2009, Andy was voted one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world by InfoWorld. And in 2010, his CTO Blog was voted best blog for business managers and CIOs for the third year running by Computer Weekly.

As a lead-in to his Open Group conference presentation on the transformed enterprise, Andy and I drill down on one of the year’s hottest technology and business trends: cloud computing.

Capgemini has published a white paper on cloud computing. It draws distinctions between what cloud means to IT, and what it means to business -- while examining the complex dual relationship between the two.

To find out more about these two cloud imperatives, please join me now in welcoming Andy Mulholland, Global Chief Technology Officer at Capgemini. Welcome back to BriefingsDirect, Andy. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Andy Mulholland: Hi, and thank you very much for inviting me.

Gardner: My pleasure. I really enjoyed reading a preview of this white paper. I read it with great interest, and what jumps out at me this duality. Why do business people think they have a revolution on their hands, and yet IT people look at as an evolution, something about efficiency of infrastructure?

Mulholland: Well, that’s because we define the role of IT and give it the responsibility and the accountability in the business in a way that is quite strongly related to internal practice. It’s all about how we manage the company’s transactions, how we reduce the cost, how we automate business process, and generally try to make our company a more efficient internal operator.

When you look at cloud computing through that set of lenses, what you’re going to see is how I can use it in that model. Some of the technologies from cloud computing, principally virtualization, give you ways to improve how you deliver the current cloud server-centric, application-centric environment.

So you see there’s an evolution, and you start asking questions about how far can we go: Would I go outside and put enterprise applications on the cloud? Would I maybe run a private cloud internally? Etc.

However, when the business people want to talk about that subject, they tend to talk about it and reflect on it in terms of the change in society and the business world, which we all ought to recognize because that is our world, around the way we choose what we buy, how we choose to do business with people, how we search more, and how we’ve even changed that attitude.

Changed our ways

There's a whole list of things that we simply just don’t do anymore because we’ve changed the way we choose to buy a book, the way we choose and listen to music and lots of other things.

So we see this as a revolution in the market or, more particularly, a revolution in how cloud can serve in the market, because everybody uses some form of technology.

So then the question is not the role of the IT department and the enterprise -- it’s the role technology should be playing in their extended enterprise in doing business.

Gardner: In the paper, it describes the IT view of cloud as "inside-out" -- so their IT-centric world, their legacy, their requirements, what they view as their mission, and how to project that outward. And then the term it uses for the business side that you just described is "outside-in." That is to say, beyond the perimeter of IT, beyond the perimeter of the business.

How is it these seemingly disjointed and confusing approaches can come together? Is there a need for them to somehow mesh and be aligned?

Mulholland: Most businesses ought to be aligned in their operations or it becomes quickly quite a problem. But if we just pick up the terms, which we used as ways to define the first word, the function inside is the primary function, and out is the secondary function, and the other way around.

Most businesses ought to be aligned in their operations or it becomes quickly quite a problem.



IT is clearly internally focused. When we look at what we do outside the firewall, we define it on the governance, security, and the risk structure of inside IT. In other words, we're worried about the exported information. We're worried about who comes through the firewall and under what circumstance. And we’re worried that when you go out with your corporate machine in the big wide world, someone might steal it with data on it.

Alternatively, you might be unfortunate enough on the Internet to pick up some nasty malware that could have some bad effects. For all of those reasons, we put very heavy governance and restrictions on PCs. They usually lock down more than only one control, but when we go outside, we’d like to hear there’s a virtual private network (VPN) to reincorporate inside the firewall for safety.

By definition, we have a way around outside-in. People are saying, well no, actually, I require very little about the internal world. I'm very focused on the external world. Obviously, that serves people, service engineers, but actually it’s quite a lot of people.

The small joke there is that people don’t buy iPads in order to get better use of enterprise IT. They buy iPads to escape the limitations of enterprise IT, because that's fundamentally working on the web outside, with very limited internal links.

When I’m out on the road, there are four services I use from Capgemini. All of them are web-mounted. I simply don’t use a VPN connection, and I don’t use a lock-down machine during the day. I tend to do it in the evenings or in the early mornings, when I have to do things that are about the more sensitive side of our operations.

The rest of the day, web-based, push email works really well on my iPad. Not to give particularly advert for that, but I also use a Windows phone. I also use social networking system, and I use a knowledge management system, and I use time and expenses recording systems.

The outside world

A
ll of them enable me to function in the outside world without a number of restrictions. Why? Because the primary task I have is to work with industry partners, clients, and various teams based on other people’s sites. All of that is about how I function in the outside world.

Now when we take an interesting example of that: customer relationship management (CRM). You can see very clearly CRM has meant how the company keeps its sales funnel, its clients, and other things inside its IT, transacts it, secures it, and grinds it into business information so it knows where it is.

Today, we talk about social CRM and when we talk about social CRM, we mean it's outside-in. We mean it's sales people using packages that can look at the person they’re selling to, find all the information about them by looking at various social sites. They can exchange through collaboration and knowledge, and share in social networks with their colleagues, any information about the account that's known or whatever is happening. In other words, it becomes an external task.

Now the two sides clearly exist together because you must keep your funnel up. You must know what’s happening. You must keep the internal clients. The other way around, the sales people want to exploit insights of what’s happening that they can gain from very different directions than classic internal structured information.

Gardner: So there are some significant advantages to users like yourself to pursue outside services, recognizing that they can get process innovation, data sharing or transference. There's an opportunity to engage with partners. At the same time, IT still needs to be mindful of its mission around security and protection.

They slowly, but surely, destroyed the business integrity of the data by all having different versions.



So I'm wondering again, not so much alignment, but somebody has to bend. Does IT need to go thinking more "outside," or do the folks who are doing these outside activities need to think more about IT? How can they meet up in the middle somewhere?

Mulholland: Now we’re back to your point about enterprise transformation and what that really means. I'm always very conscious of the fact that the phrase has been used for a long time in a variety of ways, as have many of the other buzzwords that go with it.

But this time, what we actually mean is that -- as with the last wave of where the big technology changed in late 80s and early '90s, when we brought in the PC, there is almost a direct correlation between the two [trends]. Business people brought in PCs, because they could use spreadsheet and could be more insightful in their use of information, such as it was at that time.

But what happened was that they slowly, but surely, destroyed the business integrity of the data by all having different versions. Where we went to with that was two things. We went to enterprise resource planning (ERP), which was one version of the truth. But the really important point was that we started to redesign around business process reengineering to flow all the process across the organization. Not that we had separate isolated departments, but the question was how do we flow across.

That was quite difficult at that time because it presented a lot of command and control problems. In fact, email was brought in as the answer, because you needed the names of the people along the process and you could do command and communication along the process, even if in the previous structure, department organization hadn’t fit.

Business transformation

T
hat was a business transformation at that time. It was a transformation around the way we organized our business to do business. From that, we organized our business model to be based on that.

So we use phrases like "do more with less," "concentrate on one or two or three lines where you're the number one or two in the market," etc. That was a very clear business transformation in the way we do business, the way we organize our business, and our business models.

Two of the most popular books recently, include Seizing the White Space, which argues that in the past, it was difficult to transfer your business model too far. I use an example, Amazon. If they sold books, they could sell DVDs, because fundamentally the same business process supported both. But in Seizing the White Space, a popular book on Harvard Business Press, it defines for a lot of people 19 new business models that their enterprise could adopt.

It defined the idea that actually they could do something like Amazon Web Services, where how they service the market was distinctly different from how they ran their business process and created an invoice.

A more popular book more recently has been The Power of Pull, and in all of these, the idea is that we’re really seeing a decentralization of the front office in order to respond to and follow the market and the opportunities and the events in very different ways.

That was a very clear business transformation in the way we do business, the way we organize our business, and our business models.



The Power of Pull says that I do what my market is asking me and I design business process or capabilities to be rapidly orchestrated through the front office around where things want to go, and I have linkage points, application programming interface (API) points, where I take anything significant and transfer it back.

Most of the major technology players in the software industry are pretty advanced with this in the way that they're supporting their current application-centric IT environment, developing a new environment in front of that, and offering middleware and mix the two together.

But the real challenge is -- and it was put to me today in a client discussion -- that their business was designed around 1970 computer systems, augmented slowly around that, and they still felt that. Today, their market and their expectations of the industry that they're in were that they would be designed around the way people were using their products and services and the events and that they had to make that change.

To do that, they're transformed in the organization, and that's where we start to spot the difference. We start to spot the idea that your own staff, your customers, and other suppliers are all working externally in information, process, and services accessible to all on an Internet market or architecture.

So when we talk about business architecture, it’s as relevant today as it ever was in terms of interpreting a business.

Set of methodologies

But when we start talking about architecture, The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) is a set of methodologies on the IT side -- the closed-coupled state for a designed set of principles to client-server type systems. In this new model, when we talk about clouds, mobility, and people traveling around and connecting by wireless, etc., we have a stateless loosely coupled environment.

The whole purpose of The Open Group is, in fact, to help devise new ways for being able to architect methods to deliver that. That's what stands behind the phrase, "a transformed enterprise."

Gardner: All right. So we certainly have a strong case for transformation being necessary and pressing, especially as organizations try to react to their very dynamic markets, accommodate them, and then to try to tool the means of orchestrating the processes and supporting those new market requirements.

At the same time, Andy, there's some added complexity in that, the external landscape has shifted when we think about things like mobility, which means any connection, any device, any service. Also, when we think about cloud, which is compute and development resources, as well as past and present IT resources on demand, and then we think about big data -- so real-time information and intelligence as well as greatly improved efficiencies around storage and search.

Then, I suppose, the last big variable to consider in this mix is the external economic environment. The timing is that most organizations are still facing reduced spending. They have also expectations from the customers that are more demanding.

Most organizations are still facing reduced spending. They have also expectations from the customers that are more demanding.



So, given the fact that we’ve identified the need, how can we leverage these changes in the market -- things like mobility, cloud, big data, and the requirements around efficiency and productivity -- to spur the enterprise forward?

What do we need to start doing differently that was not the same as in the early 90s with business process reengineering?

Mulholland: Let’s go back again to the conversation this morning with a client. It’s always interesting to touch reality. This particular client is looking at the front end of a complex ecosystem around travel, and was asked this standard question by our account director: Do you have a business case for the work we’re discussing?

The reply from the CEO is very interesting. He fixed him with a very cold glare and he said, "If you were able to have 20 percent more billable hours without increasing your cost structure, would you be bothered to even think about the business case?"

The answer in that particular case was they were talking about 10,000 more travel instances or more a year -- with no increase in their cost structure. In other words, their whole idea was there was nothing to do with cost in it. Their argument was in revenue increase, market share increase, and they thought that they would make better margins, because it would actually decrease their cost base or spread it more widely.

That's the whole purpose of this revolution and that's the purpose the business schools are always pushing, when they talk about innovative business models. It means innovate your business model to look at the market again from the perspective of getting into new markets, getting increased revenue, and maybe designing things that make more money.

Using technology externally

We're always hooked on this idea that we’ve used technology very successfully internally, but now we should be asking the question about how we’re using technology externally when the population as a whole uses that as their primary method of deciding what they’re going to buy, how they’re going to buy it, when they’re going to buy it, and lots of other questions.

If we go back to the basic mission of The Open Group, which is boundarylessness of this information flow, the boundary has previously been defined by a computer system updating another computer system in another company around traditional IT type procedural business flow.

Now, we’re talking about the idea that the information flow is around an ecosystem in an unstructured way. Not a structured file-to-file type transfer, not a structured architecture of who does what, when, and how, but the whole change model in this is unstructured.

It’s a model around big data, saying that there is information everywhere. How do I get the insight I want from it? And when I’ve got the insight I want from it, which is more driven by search than ever was driven by queries in the old landscape, how and where do I use it? In other words, how do I start to evoke a process between different companies?

Let’s just reiterate this whole theme about clouds, mobility, and so on, in a very simple way. It is actually the fourth generation of the Internet. Some people will talk about it being the third because they will miss out one of the stages. I would say it’s the fourth for the following reason.

Web 2 is quite important, because it showed us that actually we are focused upon people making insightful decisions, as much or more than we've ever been focused previously around the computer.



The first generation was universal connectivity. That’s what underpins mobility. The second generation was universal shared content. We could read and look at content, the beginnings of the big data model that we know today, the beginnings of the shift to the search engine model, and the way we used the big data model of the web.

The third one is sometimes not included by one or two other people. One or two of my colleagues, friends, and companies don’t always include Web 2. I think Web 2 is quite important, because it showed us that actually we are focused upon people making insightful decisions, as much or more than we've ever been focused previously around the computer.

The fourth one is that if I can connect to you, if I can see the content, if I can interact to find out that, that really is what I want to do. I ought to be able to trigger shared process. I ought to be able to trigger something that the process is from the various parties in that model. Travel, as I just said this morning, are actually able to come together to give me my version of what I want, and that includes other comments people hear about open data, etc.

If you want to see a classic example of this it's from Apple. I appreciate that I'm using Apple a lot, but I'm using it because this is relatively mature at the moment and it's pretty easy to demonstrate. Go to the Apple App Store and load iFly. If you're a frequent airline flyer, you're going to thank me a lot for this.

It takes the information which is published all the time in an open data format by various airports, airlines, etc., and consolidates it to give it a polarized view for you of the travel you're about to do. It tells you about the airport you're going to go through, you can find out what restaurants are by the gate you're going to travel from. It tells you whether the aircraft is on time/off time, how it synchronizes with the next flight you're going to make, etc.

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Transformation model

That is a transformation. When we talk about these elements, if we recombine them around this loose structured coupling to give different polarizations to the person, the situation, or the event, by combining those four factors, that’s what’s leading to the business transformation model.

Gardner: I guess it's important to point out here, Andy, that the stakes are relatively high. If you look at these issues and you think that it's a perfect storm that these are things that are too complicated, difficult to manage, you're just going to hunker down, reinforce your firewall, then this could be an existential decision.

On the other hand, like the CEO that you mentioned this morning, if you look at this as a game changing opportunity, 20 percent improvement in revenue and share, but at no additional cost, well, then this could be a game-changing beneficial approach.

How do organizations make sure they're the latter, and not the former? Who in the organization can be the change agent that can make that leap between the duality view of cloud that IT has, and these business opportunists?

Mulholland: Frankly, it's happening in most organizations already in much the same way as I said earlier. There's a direct correlation with what happened with the PC. If you go into many organizations today, and the advice I usually offer is go through the corporate credit cards and find out who is spending money with places like Amazon or Google or something like that, the answer is usually pretty shocking. It's much more than people realize.

CEOs are quite noticeably reading the right articles, hearing the right information from business schools, etc., and they're getting this picture that they're going to have new business models and new capabilities.



My point about that exercise is that the business managers on these systems -- which are relatively easy to do something quick around, like a quick spreadsheet was -- are actually already implementing and getting good results.

The other way around, the CEOs are quite noticeably reading the right articles, hearing the right information from business schools, etc., and they're getting this picture that they're going to have new business models and new capabilities. So the drive end is not hard. The problem that is usually encountered is that the IT department’s definition and role interferes with them being able to play the role they want.

What we're actually looking for is the idea that IT, as we define it today, is some place else. You have to accept that it exists, it will exist, and it’s hugely important. So please don’t take those principles and try to apply them outside.

The real question here is when you find those people who are doing the work outside -- and I've yet to find any company where it hasn’t been the case -- and the question should be how can we actually encourage and manage that innovation sensibly and successfully?

What I mean by that is that if everybody goes off and does their own thing, once again, we'll end up with a broken company. Why? Because their whole purpose as an enterprises is to leverage success rapidly. If someone is very successful over there, you really need to know, and you need to leverage that again as rapidly as you can to run the rest of the organization. If it doesn’t work, you need to stop it quickly.

Changing roles

I
n models of the capabilities of that, the question is where is the government structure? So we hear titles like Chief Innovation Officer, again, slightly surprising how it may come up. But we see the model coming both ways. There are reforming CIOs for sure, who have recognized this and are changing their role and position accordingly, sometimes formally, sometimes informally.

The other way around, there are people coming from other parts of the business, taking the title and driving them. I’ve seen Chief Strategy Officers taking the role. I’ve seen the head of sales and marketing taking the role.

I recognize also that there are a lot of companies where they have actually formed a whole new business division to behave differently. Again, the real example is a global company in desking systems recognizing the number of people in offices at desks is finite at best, and possibly going down, starting a division around virtual offices and supporting their employees to work away from a fixed office.

It's the same clients they're dealing with, the same customers, the same core competences. They're just reinventing a new business model to get them new revenue as there are uncertainties about the other one.

Now the question behind that was that it's clearly a business strategic decision, but there was the possibility of recognizing that it could be done, the technology existed, and the customers were changing their mind.

They're just reinventing a new business model to get them new revenue as there are uncertainties about the other one.



Certainly, recognizing the technology possibilities should be coming from the direction of the technology capabilities within the current IT department. The capability of what that means might be coming differently. So it’s a very interesting balance at the moment, and we don’t know quite the right answer.

We had CIOs who were not sure what was the right answer. Some of them came in with the PCs themselves, and some of them were business managers who took over the role and started to look to see what they could do.

So right now, I don’t know that there is a single, fixed answer. What I do know is that it’s happening and the quick-witted CIOs are understanding that it’s a huge opportunity for them to fix their role and embrace a new area, and a new sense of value that they can bring to their organization.

Gardner: So perhaps it’s going to be some organic or combination of organic and structured approaches. It could be any number of people that are the drivers in these different companies and in different verticals. I suppose what’s really important then is identifying successes, and then making them repeatable.

How do the roles, the traditional roles of the enterprise architect and the business architect come to bear on this ability to recognize successes -- the inside-out, the outside-in successes, some combination? Make them repeatable and perhaps move toward this cloud opportunity, rather than cloud as a handicap, to your company’s success?

Issuing invoices

Mulholland: Well, this goes prominently about the new world and the transformed environment, but we should never forget that all sorts of business are actually about the issuing of an invoice and proving that it was a valid invoice to an auditor.

So, that puts us firmly back in the old world. What we're really talking about is how do you move through three different recognizable layers in an organization, while remaining compliant -- the world that says we have to able to show to an auditor procedures and processes and data and methods that are all clean and good.

Then if we look above that, we have our core competencies. What is the industry we're in, and, if I put it in business jargon, what is the value that the shareholders are buying from us.

Motorcars might be an example. We have factories, skilled staff, and every detail. But in that layer, we see a very rich set of applications that enable us to, if we stick to automotives, design CAD, do things with them, etc. All we're talking about is in front of that is a new layer that asks how we differentiate.

Classic differentiation has been around brand. There's Volkswagen, Audi, Fiat and Škoda. If we take a European respective of a very successful car company, each of those brands reaches a different marketplace, and that gives them more reach than if they only had one brand.

At the back, it's very focused on the procedure, application, and data. At the front, it's very focused on orchestration of clusters of different services to seek different environments.



But that differentiation is built on the same chassis in each one of those cars. So their core competency actually gives them a core base ordered to express differentiation. Beyond that, how do the people map to the layers?

If you start looking at the business that way, you actually start this top-down. You ask where we differentiate, how do we engage with a market in a different way, or is our new business model where you look bottom up? You ask how we make sure we're issuing valid invoices?

If you check that through, that use of thread in a process that runs through from the front to the back, always has to be. At the back, it's very focused on the procedure, application, and data. At the front, it's very focused on orchestration of clusters of different services to seek different environments.

Each of those services is a definable entity with a definable task. Success starts from SOA, which frankly we didn’t do very well as an industry. It starts from the idea that we know and define each web services properly, and we define the rules in terms of how the orchestration of those can work. That’s why there is a lot of interest at the moment in business process management.

Redesigning process

W
hat we’ve eventually done is say at the back we’ve bolted the clusters together in a monolithic application and how we integrate those together, whereas at the front, our task is actually to identify spectacular small business service elements in a very well-defined manner, so that they can be clicked together to give us the freedom to redesign process on the fly in order to adjust to this new market.

So the clarity of thinking about business, the transition of that into technology architecture has not decreased at all. In fact, if anything, it’s gotten more complicated and more interesting as we now add this new layer of business to technology architecture.

Gardner: Returning to the upcoming Capgemini white paper, it adds a sense of urgency at the end on how to get started. It suggests that you appoint a leader, but a leader first for the inside-out element of cloud and transformation and then a second leader, a separate leader perhaps, for that outside-in or reflecting the business transformation and the opportunity for what’s going on in the external business and markets. It also suggests a strategic road map that involves both business and technology, and then it suggests getting a pilot going.

We're about out of time Andy, but on this sense of urgency in getting started, as you say, a lot of these things are happening already. How does it become something that you can manage, something that you can measure that becomes something that is lower risk and more comfortable for the leadership in these organizations?

Mulholland: I usually reply to most challenges I'm given about the complexity of trying to keep everybody going in the same direction in Capgemini with one very simple answer. The question is do you know who is responsible. If you don’t, you'd better figure out how you're going to make someone responsible, because in any situation, someone has to be deciding what we're going to do and how we're going to do it.

No business can survive by going off in half-a-dozen directions at once. You won't have the money. You won't have the brand. You won't have anything you’d like.



Having defined that, there are very different business drivers, as well as different technology drivers, between the two. Clearly, whoever takes those roles will reflect a very different way that they will have to run that element. So a duality is recognized in that comment.

On the other hand, no business can survive by going off in half-a-dozen directions at once. You won't have the money. You won't have the brand. You won't have anything you’d like. It's simply not feasible.

So, the object of the strategic roadmap is to reaffirm the idea of what kind of business we're trying to be and do. That’s the glimpse of what we want to achieve. In other words, do we want to go from books into DVDs or do we want to go from DVDs into web services -- the example I gave earlier.

There has to be a strategy. Otherwise, you’ll end up with way too much decentralization and people making up their own version of the strategy, which they can fairly easily do and fairly easily mount from someone else’s cloud to go and do it today.

So the purpose of the duality is to make sure that the two roles, the two different groups of technology, the two different capabilities they reflect to the organization, are properly addressed, properly managed, and properly have a key authority figure in charge of them.

Enablement model

T
he business strategy is to make sure that the business knows how the enablement model that these two offer them is capable of being directed to where the shareholders will make money out of the business, because that is ultimately that success factor they're looking for to drive them forward.

Gardner: Very good. We’ve been talking with Andy Mulholland, the global chief technology officer at Capgemini. As a lead-in to his opening group presentation on the transformed enterprise, Andy and I have been exploring some of the major concepts from an upcoming Capgemini white paper on the intriguing dualities of cloud computing.

This special BriefingsDirect discussion comes to you in conjunction with The Open Group conference from January 30 to February 3 in San Francisco. You’ll hear more from Andy and many other global leaders on the ways that IT and enterprise architecture support enterprise transformation.

So thank you very much, Andy, for joining us. It's been a fascinating discussion.

Mulholland: Thank you, very much indeed. I’ve enjoyed it.

Gardner: And I look forward to your presentation in San Francisco. I also encourage our readers and listeners to register, explore, and attend the conference.

This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst and Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator throughout these series of thought leadership interviews in association with the conference. Thanks to you for listening, and come back next time.

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Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast in conjunction with latest The Open Group Conference in San Francisco. Capgemini CTO Andy Mulholland discusses the transformed enterprise. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Case Study: How Portfolio Management Helped Nottingham Trent University Transform IT

Sponsored podcast discussion on how one of the UK's largest universities gained better control of project management with an HP Transformation Experience Workshop.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how Nottingham Trent University has sought and gained strategic operational efficiency and improved IT management.

In this case study discussion, we hear how a combination of professional services and portfolio management technologies allowed this 25,000-student university, one of the UK’s largest, to improve end-user satisfaction while freeing up IT resources to pursue additional innovation.

To understand how, we're joined by Ian Griffiths, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Nottingham Trent University. Welcome to the show, Ian.

Ian Griffiths: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Gardner: We’re also here with Michael Garrett, Vice President of Professional Services for HP EMEA. Welcome to the show, Michael. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Michael Garrett: Thank you Dana.

Gardner: Now, Ian, the first question goes to you. When you began to think about improving how you did IT there, in your mind what was the one glaring thing that needed to be changed?

We were very, very good at moving forward and doing lots and lots of things, but delivering products at the end of that period was more difficult.



Griffiths: We were very, very good at moving forward and doing lots and lots of things, but delivering products at the end of that period was more difficult. We seemed to be running around in circles and didn’t quite meet customers’ expectations. So, we were doing a lot, working really hard, but not really delivering the last mile.

Gardner: When you started to peel away the layers and tried to figure out why that was the case, what did you discover and why did something like a professional services involvement become a priority for you?

Griffiths: We found that our processes were not really defined well enough. We really weren’t getting sign-off from the business, and the expectations were never really met. So it was clear that we were not doing something well, and we didn’t quite know what that was. And our teams within the department weren’t gelling that well together either.

Gardner: So perhaps having some outside additional authority and experience seemed to work for you?

Earlier attempt

Griffiths: Yes. That worked really well. We had had another attempt about 18 months before and had some consultants in, but it didn’t really gel. We were aware that we had a partnership with HP, and HP Professional Services seemed a sensible way to go. But we were still doubtful as a management team within the IS Department whether it was really going to work. And we are very pleased with the outcome.

Gardner: Let’s learn about Nottingham Trent University, one of the largest. You’re in Nottinghamshire and you have 25,000 students. Tell us a bit more.

Griffiths: We’ve been a higher education establishment for about 160 years. We’re one of the biggest providers of "sandwich education," which means that students have two years at the university, a year in industry, and then a year at the university.

We're seen as a popular university that has good reputation for placing students at the end of their courses, and we got top of The Green Agenda twice in the last three years within the U.K. We've got about 150 people working in the Information Services (IS) Department on three campuses and nine academic schools.

Gardner: Tell us about your responsibilities. What is it that you’re involved with in terms of helping these 150 people do their jobs better?

It’s often imagined that these organizations look to pure play consulting organizations for that advisory activity.



Griffiths: I have responsibility for the strategic partnership we have with companies and with firms. I have responsibility for the regional network within the East Midlands of the U.K., which is connecting all the universities in that region and all the further education colleges. And I also manage relationships with key suppliers, such as HP.

Gardner: Let’s go to Michael Garrett. Michael. It sounds as if Ian has had a relationship with HP, but looked for something bigger, and they were even doubtful that you could help them at first.

Garrett: It’s often imagined that these organizations look to pure play consulting organizations for that advisory activity. In Nottingham Trent’s situation they were willing to listen to a different type of vendor or organization in that space as to what they could offer in their approach. What’s different for HP Professional Services is that it forms part of HP’s Software organization. Our consulting capability is very focused on IT transformation, operations, organizations, and applications.

But it’s about bringing that into real practical use quickly with the support of technology. That's the real differentiator we wanted to bring to customers like Nottingham Trent, and hopefully that’s true with what we've seen in the practical implementation and the work we've done with them.

Gardner: Ian, tell me a bit about the journey. How has this worked out for you? When you began to try to determine what was wrong and what you needed to do, how did that unfold? It sounds as if you had a forest, but the trees somehow weren’t working in a capacity that allowed you to achieve your requirements.

Initial workshops

Griffiths: That's correct. We had some initial workshops where all the senior management team of the IS Department worked with HP and looked at what we wanted to achieve and looked at what the journey might look like to get there. I have to congratulate HP. They were able to get that team to gel together within IS in a way that we hadn’t before.

We spent a lot of time working together and working through the structure, the plan of the department, and what we called the tube map of the department. Everything, in a sense, was allowed. HP was very good at giving us a straw man to look at. In other words, giving those examples of what other companies have done, but forcing us to discuss them in detail and change them into what was right for Nottingham Trent.

They weren’t trying to sell the straw man, but were using the straw man as an example to move us forward, and it worked extremely well. Although there were some heated discussions amongst IS staff, HP was very good at facilitating those discussions.

Gardner: Typically we hear about the need to address people, process, and technology, when it comes to these sorts of projects. But it also sounds as if you needed to have a high level of customization, that it needed to be recognized that you are your own organization with your own variables, and that a cookie-cutter approach or a too general or methodological approach wouldn’t really be right.

Griffiths: That's correct. We had to go back to the rest of the department to try not to force something new on people that, as far as they could see, had no relevance to the situations they were in. We had to find a way as well of getting the business to buy into our new methodology, getting the business to feel some ownership, and getting the business to make some decisions during the planning of projects and the ending of projects.

We had to find a way as well of getting the business to buy into our new methodology.



Gardner: Michael Garrett, the need to customize, is that something that you valued? Do you think that this is an example of an area where HP is differentiated?

Garrett: It’s that level of being able to bring the input, the straw man, and then guide organizations around that model. To customize from scratch takes a great deal of time and can take too much energy and cost. What we’re trying to do is bring our method and models at the start point and then work in a very collaborative, but directed, way to get clients to a point, although, a configured approach rather than a completely dispersed approach.

Therefore, we get to things more quickly, but absolutely meet the requirement of the individual organization. We’ve got to appreciate they are different across different industries and different areas, and strong cultural alignment is critically important. We certainly saw that in this program.

Griffiths: The important thing again was that we were producing our outline, and that outline allowed us to go away and do a lot more detail later. In other words, we got the big picture agreed upon and then all the details were passed back to teams within the department to build up details in the areas where they had real knowledge of what happened.

Gardner: It also seems important, when you’re going about such a large-scale activity, to be able to measure along the way how things are going and perhaps offer feedback. Incentives were necessary or even helped a few more heated discussions, as you said, but you can’t measure where you’re going if you don’t know where you are.

Was there a point at some time, where you needed to get a state, an understanding of where and what’s going on in order to know how to measure, and what did you to do to get that?

Define projects

Griffiths: An important step early on in this was beginning to define how many projects we were running as a department and to categorize work into projects that were developmental and projects that were more of the business-as-usual type.

We found in the end that we had over 100 projects running simultaneously. Some of those projects had been running for more than a year, some had no real defined endpoint, and the customer requirements weren’t documented in a thorough way.

It’s important to measure how many projects you’ve actually got, and actually have a start date and a planned finish date for them. One thing we learned was that 100 was too many for us to run, and we were able to cut down by finishing some off, to less than 50 that we have now.

Gardner: So by rationalizing this, getting some visibility, exercising triage and prioritization, you've been able to cut your active projects in half. Is that correct?

Griffiths: That's correct.

Gardner: And what has that done now? What are some of the metrics of success by getting more of a handle over your portfolio and managing it?

We were actually delivering something that the customer was expecting.



Griffiths: Probably the biggest one is that projects are getting completed and the project didn’t become the be all and end all and continue running forever. We were actually delivering something that the customer was expecting. And the customer, the student or the staff department, had a glow that they have had something delivered to them.

Gardner: And what have been some of the educational benefits at a larger perspective beyond the strict technology benefits? Has this improved in any way in which you can measure your success and your basic mission in life of educating students?

Griffiths: The student satisfaction with IS has gone up over the last two to three years. They're very happy with our technology and technology moving forward. But again, we found that people were happier with the delivery of an item, rather than as IS was before, striving for technical perfection.

Gardner: So you were really understanding your requirements and what was necessary to get these goals.

Griffiths: If I have to give advice to other people, it is about the 80/20 rule that 80 percent can be delivered in 20 percent of the time. Most people are happier with something delivered that matches the expectations, but perhaps not all the bells and whistles, and then move onto the next project.

Gardner: A lot of times in organizations, the budgets are not growing rapidly and nowadays that's clearly the case. I imagine you had to be thinking about cost consciousness and energy conservation. Is that true that you’ve been able to keep your cost level, but increase satisfaction and allocate your IT resources more efficiently?

Aiming at 50/50

Griffiths: Yeah, it’s correct. Before, we’ve had the figures of, again, 80 percent being used in the areas of business-as-usual and only 20 percent in project and development work. We quickly moved to a 70/30 split and our target is to move towards 50 percent. We're not quite there yet, but we’re a lot more like 60 percent business as usual, 40 percent new development work.

Gardner: So all things being equal, you've been able to take your operating, maintenance-level budgeting, reduce the percentage there and put it more into innovation, creating more productivity, and developing therefore even higher satisfaction. It sounds like a virtuous cycle of adoption.

Griffiths: It’s a virtuous cycle and the other thing that is gained from that is appreciation amongst other departments within the university and with senior management with what IS was delivering, and getting them to prioritize what we did.

There was a problem, if we look back two or three years. IS very much decided what the priorities were. Now, the business is deciding and even deciding in the case that a project that was a favorite of a senior member of staff, he or she may decide that it no longer is a top priority, compared with other projects that needed to be delivered.

Gardner: Is there something about the products themselves, the portfolio management approach, that now allows the business side of the organization, the leadership in this case, to have more visibility or input? How were you able to get it?

There was a problem, if we look back two or three years. IS very much decided what the priorities were.



Griffiths: More visibility and more input. The example we always give is of a jam jar. You can keep putting rocks into a jam jar, but in the end, it becomes full. Unless you allow something to come out of that, nothing happens. So you’ve got to be able to allow things to finish and give you some capacity.

The other thing that I talked about was looking at the business benefits of everything we were doing and deciding the nice-to-haves probably weren't going to get prioritized at this stage.

Gardner: You mentioned earlier the tube map. Has that also provided visibility across the IT and leadership or organizational divide, or is this something you’re strictly using within the IS or IT organization?

Griffiths: We're using it outside the department to make people realize that we are working to an operational framework. As such, we have them stuck up round the department. And in the rooms where we have project meetings, they exist as well. As to vocabulary, we have senior staff using the phrase "the gate," where approval has to be given. The business has to be involved in the approval and deciding what priorities it has at that stage.

Gardner: Michael Garrett, the way that Ian is describing this, being able to double their innovation budget, cut their project numbers in half, get buy-in from leadership, a sense of cooperation across the organizational boundaries, is this typical? How would you describe this in terms of the industry at large?

Typical situation

Garrett: It's a typical situation that we see in a lot of organizations, even in very mature, even global and enterprise organizations that struggle with these challenges of organizational alignment and processes to support that. Project selection identification and transitioning to survey is the common problem we see.

With Nottingham Trent, we regulated it very quickly through that organizational design, then into the process to support that, and then working out what are the catalog and services that they offer. How do we then build that into projects and programs and then manage that into service transition?

It's very common. We see it in a lot of places. More mature organizations believe they do this very effectively. Nottingham Trent acknowledged that they needed help. It probably put them ahead of a lot of other organizations, especially in university space, which is a fast moving sector in UK, to be able to do something that many other large organizations just can't do.

Gardner: And clearly, the need to understand the software, the technology, the culture, really is a comprehensive holistic activity. Hitting one or two of those alone won't do it.

Garrett: It's important that it's continuous. If you build the right organizational relationship and engagement model, you take the workshop approach that we have up front and take your organization through that, right through to something tangible that’s delivering the real outcome in the business that’s very visible and usable. I think that’s very different than having different organizations do different types of consulting.

There aren’t many organizations that have that breadth and scope of capability to take someone from conceptual situation right through to practical implementation of technology to support that problem.



There aren’t many organizations that have that breadth and scope of capability to take someone from conceptual situation right through to practical implementation of technology to support that problem, and that’s where we like working with organizations like Nottingham Trent, that’s a great model.

Gardner: And Ian, is this something now that you’re building on? You mentioned that virtuous effect, the adoption effect. Are you able now to move toward working at service-level-agreement (SLA) levels or with key performance metrics and indicators. Is there a broadening of how you’re rationalizing and even professionalizing how you go about these processes?

Griffiths: That's correct. We produced a lot of what we call Level 3 processes from this and we looked at what our customers felt. We found that we’re having regular discussions about how we can tweak the diagrams and the systems that we’ve got in place. We see it very much as a live document, a live methodology and we’re looking at ways we can improve as time goes on.

Gardner: In wrapping up, I was hoping, Ian, that you might be able to share some 20/20 hindsight. If you were to offer some advice to an organization that was beginning to move more towards a comprehensive portfolio management, project management approach, looking at this more holistically and from the process level, what might you offer them in terms of lessons learned?

Griffiths: It's important that you have all your senior staff together designing the system from the start. We found that if people miss the early workshop, we tended to go back around the loop again. So I would say get your staff together and devote enough energy to it.

Feeling ownership

But don’t go into all the detail. Leave your staff on the ground, who’ve got more knowledge of the details inner workings of some elements of it, to do some work so they feel some ownership. And very quickly get an appreciation with your senior staff within your organization, not within IS, but from outside the IS department, of what you're doing and what you're trying to achieve.

But in the end, you need a few quick wins. In other words, if you can get a couple of projects working through the scheme quickly, people begin to think it's going to work.

Gardner: They'll see the success and they'll double down on that. Michael Garrett, we've come back to this workshop concept several times in discussion, I think that it's called the Transformation Experience Workshop. Why is that so powerful? Why does that seem to really work in terms of coalescing and getting these larger projects under way?

Garrett: It's something we've used for a few years now, something we developed in-house and we see as a really effective mechanism. It starts off in a fairly classic way of where are we, the current state, looking at future state, and workshop of the organization through that. But it's done in a very live, interactive way.

Leave your staff on the ground, who’ve got more knowledge of the details inner workings of some elements of it, to do some work so they feel some ownership.



So it's not a classic style workshop. We walk people around the room. We take them on a journey, and we bring them together through that process. As Ian said, if you didn’t attend the early workshop process, then you struggle sometimes to buy into it. It takes more time, and we end up reiterating things later on. The Transformation Experience Workshop is a way of bringing people together and bringing them around their own problems in a very active physical way.

We can do it in a small period of time, but usually people dedicate a day or so to that process. What they get out of it is that they bring themselves together around the challenges, the problems, and as Ian said, the quick wins, the things we can then go and address quickly. So it has a very different feel and a very different outcome than a classic workshop approach that many consulting firms have.

Gardner: Very good. I'm afraid we have to leave it there. You’ve been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion on how Nottingham Trent University has sought and gained strategic operational efficiency and improved their information technology management. I'd like to thank our guests. We've been joined by Ian Griffiths, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Nottingham Trent. Thanks so much, Ian.

Griffiths: Thanks very much, and it's a delight to pass on our experiences to others.

Gardner: And we've also been hearing from Michael Garrett, Vice President of Professional Services for HP EMEA. Thank you so much, Michael.

Garrett: Thank you and thank you, Ian, for the great partnership and work.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks again for listening and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Sponsored podcast discussion on how on the UK's largest universities gained control over project management with a transformation workshop. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.

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