In the previous post I talked about the analysts perspective, about identifying the best vendor and about localized needs. What other aspects should you consider when evaluating workload automation solutions?
Operator, I need an exit! Fast!
Now let’s talk about support. There is no doubt that such a mission critical element of your business must have 24/7/365 support, but ask yourself (and your vendor) the following questions:
- How many support analysts are actually available when you need them?
- How good is the service they offer?
- What level of service do they provide (SLA)?
- How well do they collaborate with R&D ado they have an escalation process that works?
- Will you have some face-to-face time with R&D managers so they fully understand your implementation, challenges and needs?
Try to understand how the vendor’s support organization works and how effective it is. There are ways to measure that. CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) is one way and NPS (Net Promoter Score) is another. CSI measures customer satisfaction based on the service they receive from customer support in response to a support ticket. NPS measures how likely customers are to recommend a vendor to their colleagues or other companies. The former is usually based on how customer support handled specific support cases, while the latter considers a broader level of satisfaction based on the vendor’s performance as a whole.
Bottom line – the level of support you receive from a vendor has direct implication on how quickly you will recover from failures and what type of exposure (positive or negative) you as the product owner will have with your managers.
Oh my god Persephone, how could you do this?
There are different methods to measure capacity and to bundle add-ons. Each vendor has a unique way to handle this, and it isn’t always easy to compare them if they measure or package their solutions differently. Below are few common methods used to measure capacity:
- The number of workloads automated each day or the peak number of workloads over a period of time (usually a year)
- The capacity of the servers running the workloads (CPU on the distributed side and MIPS on the mainframe)
- The number of component instances deployed.
You should plan for growth. Ask the sales rep how increases in capacity within the license term will be handled, and what level of flexibility does the vendor offer. Ask your rep about the different pricing methods available and determine which one fits your current needs and is best suited for future growth considerations.
Neo… nobody has ever done this before. That’s why it’s going to work.
Last but not least is the product perspective. This is probably the most straightforward consideration when it comes to functionality (can the product do what you need it to do?). But you should also take into consideration the following aspects:
• The investment required to maintain and administer it over time including:
- Installing new components
- Upgrading to new versions
- Integrating with company IT standards such as LDAP/Active Directory, your Helpdesk system or monitoring framework.
You should check how the workload automation solution integrates with various applications you have such as:
- ERPs (SAP, Oracle eBusiness Suite, PeopleSoft, etc.)
- Business Intelligence/Analytics tools (SAP Business Objects, Cognos, Oracle BI, etc.)
- Data Integration (ETL) tools
- Databases (Oracle, DB2, Sybase, MSSQL, etc.)
- File transfers (FTP, SFTP, etc.)
- Backup solutions (Netbackup, IBM TSM, etc.)
- Technologies such as WebServices, messaging and Java applications.
Identify advanced product capabilities such as:
- Alerting on missed SLA’s in the event that batch services are late and will not meet their deadline.
- Self Service offering that allows application developers to access their own workloads without requiring them to call the operator or to generate expensive helpdesk tickets
- Forecasting how workloads will run across dates in the future and allowing you to plan maintenance activities accordingly.
Ask your vendor about their offering and vision regarding emerging technologies/market trends such Social, Cloud, Mobile and BigData.
Make sure you understand what the product release cycle looks like (major releases, maintenances, patches, etc.) and their track record over the past few years
That’s the closest I can get you, you better grow some wings..
We’ve talked about the vendor, the ecosystem, support, pricing and product capabilities. All of these should be taken into account along with analysts’ input and customer references. Ask your sales rep for this information but make sure to also check it yourself using online communities, social media and any other resources available to you.
The postings in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of BMC Software