Automating Configuration in a Multi-Sourced Environment
The landscape of IT has changed. The single-source provider era is quickly coming to an end as more companies embrace the world of multi-sourcing. In a 2014 report by IAOP & Information Services Group (ISG) Annual State of the Industry1, it stated that the number of enterprise IT organizations using multi-sourcing as a strategy increased by 75% in that year and predictions for 2015 shows continued growth.
Companies are moving more rapidly to a multi-sourcing strategy to achieve greater agility and improved customer satisfaction, and it’s paying off. Effective multi-sourcing companies are experiencing improved performance, reduced IT costs, acquiring best-in-class expertise while freeing up time and resources so personnel can focus on the company’s core business.
Automation Is at the Forefront of IT Change
The speed of change in IT is getting faster and innovation via automation is at the forefront of this change. FAST IT is helping enterprises keep up with this accelerated pace.
Fast IT simplifies operations at a time when complexity is mounting — and IT budgets are flat. By offering automated, programmable, and agile infrastructure, Fast IT frees IT organizations from manual configuration, changes, and maintenance.2
In my January blog post, Building Innovation: Achieve Fast IT with Customers, I shared with you that if companies are going to deliver new solutions at a more rapid pace, IT needs to be able to integrate and automate all support interactions that it is responsible for delivering.
There Are Challenges
Just as there are benefits with multi-sourcing, there are some challenges. Multi-sourcing creates new complexities that can stand in the way of business progress. Forward-thinking, proactive companies can address these challenges head-on by answering crucial questions such as:
- How do we implement end-to-end delivery methods in a multi-vendor environment?
- How do we manage the configuration of our devices when changes are being made by multiple outsource providers?
- How do we onboard new providers with minimal effort and impact on the ecosystem?
Changes made within the ecosystem can easily disrupt and fragment service delivery causing your company and other service providers to be out of policy, SLA or regulatory compliance.
Case in Point
We recently saw a situation at a large financial institution where the customer was facing a security audit that they were most likely going to fail. They called us for help. In just two-and-a-half weeks following service activation we had updated nearly 2,000 configurations and the company passed their security audit. They were so pleased with our performance they gave us 23,000 devices to manage for policy, configuration, and change.
But, that’s not the end of the story. The bank wanted to benchmark the effectiveness of their service providers against their established service level agreements (SLAs). Immediately we knew an automated closed loop process was needed. Our Compliance Management and Configuration Service (CMCS) coupled with ServiceGrid fit the bill.
When this project goes live, ServiceGrid, a tool that gets the right data to the right place and person, will be used to connect the customer and their service providers ticketing systems to one another as well as to CMCS. In turn, CMCS will perform a baseline analysis of all connected network devices and elements and automatically stabilize and upgrade them to Corporate Standards. This improves communication among all connected parties. It also gives the bank greater transparency into their vendor management activities and provides real-time compliance monitoring.
Combining ServiceGrid and CMCS enables us to automate multi-vendor network configuration and compliance while giving the customer higher value and a better outcome than if we offered either one of the services alone. The bank’s desire to build a robust, elegant, secure, and seamless multi-party network became an opportunity to let two of our premier services shine, making the future brighter for our customer and Cisco Services.
What about you? How is your organization addressing configuration management in a multi-sourced environment?
- Annual State of the Industry Jagdish R. Dalal, IAOP
- Fast IT: Accelerating Innovation in the Internet of Everything Era