Guest Post: How to Manage Your IT Ecosystem– or ITIL v7

The ITSMguy is proud to have this guest post from Dennis Drogseth, VP of Research at EMA Associates. Enjoy 

ddrogseth.pngBy Dennis Drogseth-   Maybe the 21st Century is the Age o fEcosystems.  I suppose the largest for now is our planet.   Taken abstractly, the term “ecosystem” can apply well beyond natural and man made interdependencies,to political, religious and business- and organizational-driven ecosystems.  And while the concept is a good one, and in some senses a cause for optimism— suggesting that we might finally learn to step beyond tribal, national, and other parochial boundaries—of course the reality is quite different.   Just as the we realize the need for managing at the ecosystem level, we seem to be cut off at the ankles by recidivismmoving in just the opposite direction—at least if American and for that matter global politics are any examples.


In any case, it’s not surprising that the term“cloud” and “ecosystem” are beginning to be more actively linked across the industry—although  few people seem to realize that cloud is in itself not the only ecosystem that IT organizations have been involved with of  late.   For instance, about 18 months ago EMA did some research with Neustar on Web Ecosystems – which include supply chains,partners and service providers.  And I could argue that from a business perspective, Web Ecosystems are at least as important as Cloud Ecosystems which extend the options for Web Ecosystems considerably. 


So I’m going to be neutral for now and talk about an IT Ecosystem.   This might also be rephrased as an IT Business Ecosystem – except that there are public sector organizational IT ecosystems as well – all of which have common issues when it comes to best practices.  Across all these flavors of IT ecosystems (Web/Cloud, business/public sector or even regional) the fundamental questions are:

  • Whois accountable when change management, performance, data management and security issues may be spread out across multiple organizations – many of whichmay actually compete with each other?
  • What level of governance is possible?
  • What level of governance is needed?
  • Howdo I even know what’s relevant any more?
  • And how do I get the information I need to know that everyone across my business ecosystem is behaving as they should in order to live up to my best practice standards?

I jokingly like to call the volumes of best practices recommendations that might spin out of these questions — “ITIL v7.”


The issues facing any IT executive willing to accept the fact that he or she and their organization is “ecosystem interdependent”are so numerous that they could and probably will soon fill volumes and volumes of industry narrative.  Just for one thing—all service provider relationships are to some degree governed by lawyers seeking to protect their clients and themselves by drawing hard and fast  (aka “rigid”) boundaries of responsibility.  I haven’t read much in ITIL about lawyers, but I’m waiting for v7 when I’m sure ITIL will have a lot to say about holding the legal profession accountable to service delivery requirements.


Nonetheless, I’d like to point out that there are some bright signs.  The world these days is dark enough, so here are some positives you might want to consider.

  • In April of 2010 Akamai joined in apartnership with Coradiant to provide User Experience Monitoring for its customers in order to optimizetheir investments on Akamai’s global overlay network for application acceleration.  After BMC acquired Coradiant earlier this year, the partnership was renewed and reinvigorated under the Edgeviewbrand just last week  (July 19th).   This to me is still the single most compelling example of a “cloud” provider taking a partnership versus commodity approach to supporting its mid-tier and enterprise clients.
  • Keynote is pursuing more internal monitoring via internal development and multiple partnerships to extend its global presence to target ecosystem interdependencies.

And the list goes on. 


There are other technologies to consider.  Agents placed inside cloud providers to monitor performance from inside the cloud without actually needing their blessing.

Service Catalogs that can combine internal and external cloud and other ecosystem options.  CMDB/CMS initiatives forcing multiple hosted data centers from competing vendors to allow visibility and control for change and performance management.   In all cases, the objective was to optimize virtualization and data center transformation initiatives.  (I once encountered three of these in the space of two weeks).   


Data sharing and communication are also critical.  In the research we did with Neustar for Web Ecosystems, for instance, we found that while the top three categories for data sharing were not surprisingly internal—across IT, or between IT and the business, or between IT and on-line operations—meaningful percentages  (between 25% and 35%) were actively sharing information with partners, customers and suppliers (in that order) with projected rates of growth at on average a little under 10% within 12 months.

CanI have a word with you?

The value of dialog – face to face or over the phone- -in my opinion still remains high. ( See my prior blog on Living Conversations.)   So I’m going to go way out on a limb and project that there will be an emerging role for an active ECOSYSTEM BROKER to engage with IT organizations.  These brokers will represent single or multiple providers, partners or suppliers.  And of course to some degree this already exists—although I haven’t seen it done yet out of full Ecosystem Awareness. 


Just as cloud is moving IT itself more towards a broker role, the need to be resilient and adaptive could easily be enhanced by having an Ecosystem Broker on the other side.


I can just imagine the phone call.  And probably some of the e-mail SPAM.  But still the phenomenon is overall needed,and a good thing insofar as it effectively materializes.


Last night, for instance, I was called to participate in what turned out to be an interminable interview about my satisfaction with my investment broker—which I had to approach with a certain amount of latent humor given my tattered history with the markets and quite modest portfolio.


Some of the questions were just silly—e.g. on ascale of 1 to 5 with 5 being high – “Do you feel that (let’s call them Bentley Bank) actively puts its interests before your own?”  (I gave that a 1 and said no one does that.  No Ecosystem broker would do that either.)  I was also asked about how strongly I agreed with the statement, “I can’t imagine a world without Bentley Bank.”   (I tried to give that a 0 but was forced togive that a 1).


Nonetheless, there were some relevant questions that might as well have applied to a future Ecosystem Broker.

  • Does your broker provide a good proactive account of the services available?
  • Does your broker leverage other experts to support you in your needs and tailor your portfolio of services to your requirements?
  • Does your broker treat you with respect?
  • Is he or she accountable when services don’t meet your expectations?
  • Is he or she active in helping you plan for future requirements?


I would frankly welcome such a role for cloud, Web,and any complex ecosystem.  Of course the Ecosystem Broker would be competing with the Age of Internet information,Social Networking, and a whole host of other resources—much like financial brokers and wealth management professionals do today.  And if they don’t earn their keep, then that’s just fine.  But a human touch in an era of lightning speed electronic interconnectedness and constantlyexpanding choice might just be what the doctor ordered—at least for those of us who are old enough to remember Lassie.


About DennisDrogseth; VicePresident of Research, EMA Associates. Dennis brings over thirty years of experience in various aspects of marketing and business planning for service management solutions. He supports EMA through leadership in Business Service Management (BSM), CMDB Systems,automation systems and service-centric financial optimization. Dennis alsoworks across practice areas to promote dialogs across critical areas of technology and market interdependencies. Prior to this, Dennis helped to build the network management practice area at EMA.

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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