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Running towards the ITOM challenge


Continuous adaptability is what separates market leaders from cautionary footnotes. There is a rapidly accelerating confluence of deep, pervasive currents in the ITOM ecosystem, which itself is evolving very rapidly. Unless companies are willing to run towards these challenges head-on, they will never harness the waves of change on which they ride.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” —inspiration from Charles Darwin.

Major vendors such as HPE and ServiceNow recognize both the challenge and opportunity being presented and are aggressively moving towards providing more comprehensive and integrated end-to-end ITOM solution set, with the strategic intent of covering the entire range of operations and business methodologies integration. ITOM is comprised of disparate process elements that pivot off complex technology dependencies that all need to work seamlessly.

Having spent my entire career in this space, I’ve never seen technology challenges this complicated (which is what makes it fun and interesting). The high level ITOM challenge breaks down into three primary areas:

Development: Planning for new features or services delivered by ITOM needs to be triggered by an iterative feedback loop built into the process workflow. An increase in the number of entities entering the IT system (“things”) makes the ability to track and optimize new features while managing them at scale critical. This is where technology capabilities like Feature Flagging begin to show true value-add at the DevOps end of the process – enabling more rapid iteration. However, the challenge here is not only technical but also cultural, since Sales and BizDev functions rarely interact with Development teams, a strong Product Marketing/Product Management function becomes an essential bridge across organizational divides.

Deployment: Software in development is very different from the software being deployed.  Once the software is out in the real world, mistakes have an impact that can not only affect perception but the bottom line as well. This is another instance where Feature Flagging can be used to lower the risk of changes by enabling the deployment team to test out new features in a tightly controlled setting and quietly roll them back if there are any surprises.

Most importantly, this needs to be an integrated part of the entire end-to-end effort, this type of capability cannot operate in a siloed fashion. Sounds complicated? It is, and much more than you think when you  factor in that most deployments are delivered in a hybrid environment. Cloud? On-premise? Virtual? Most deployments are likely to include all three and tracking performance across very different environments is likely to keep ITOM folks on their toes for a long time.

Operational optimization: Technology implementations out in the real world (that is, operational or production systems) aren’t static, they change.  They are subject to stress and unplanned contingencies that are not normally part of the development environment or a controlled release process. This is where adaptability becomes essential for success.  Any data that can be used to optimized performance and/or identify unexpected dependencies (which are even more likely to occur in an IoT- centric ecosystem) needs to have a tightly coupled feedback loop for subsequent iterations – particularly with development teams moving towards embracing a continuous release methodology.

Consider for a moment the dynamic end-to-end integrations that occur as companies embrace hybrid systems and open the floodgates toll allow IoT devices into their technology ecosystem.  It is the adaptability of culture, processes and technology which will determine whether you are destined for success or at risk of being overwhelmed.  Are you someone who run towards a challenge when others freeze in fear and run away? If so, then you will find ITOM an exciting and rewarding place to be these days.

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