With the priorities of CIOs now focused on methods for intimately linking business and IT, vendors sensing opportunity are gunning for the burgeoning market for next-generation management tools that do just that. One of the leading vendors is Mercury Interactive, also one of the fastest growing software companies today and a leader in the business technology optimization (BTO) space. Mercury’s flamboyant CMO, Christopher Lochhead, spoke this week with ZDNet about the company’s latest approach, how it differs from competitors, and advice to IT managers who may not know where to start. "The mega-trend in technology right now is a shift in how IT works; we are seeing the businessing of IT," Lochhead said. This transition is a complex and involving process, but it can be viewed as a series of layers, he explained.
First, an organization needs to gain control and visibility over IT costs, risks, resources, and initiatives which can be done through IT governance. "This will provide the visibility and transparency needed to automate how you decide priorities and handle initiatives," Lochhead said. Governance also replaces the inefficiency of "spreadsheet Kung Fu" and the rampant use of email for managing IT projects, he added.
The next layer is application design and development, which is the province of large software vendors like SAP and Microsoft and pretty much out of the hands of Mercury. On top of that, Lochhead said, is the third layer--application delivery and management. "This is where you can optimize the way IT works." He claimed that around 80 percent of applications go untested before they're deployed which is quite alarming given that today most businesses are run on applications (you’ll recall the same "applications are the business" message in a recent ZDNet Whiteboard video, Mercury’s Priority: BTO)
When asked about how the approach compares to vendors offering business service management (BSM), Lochhead said that BSM is a component of BTO and it's integrated into Mercury's Business Availability Center. He said that vendors pitching BSM have simply reframed their network Service management (NSM) solutions by adding a layer of management code and a dashboard to boot.
Mercury's BTO approach also addresses the growing SOA trend. "If you are not doing BTO for SOA then you are SOL," said Lochhead. With the decoupling and reusable aspects of service-oriented architectures, businesses are shifting from a small number of large applications to a large number of small applications, which heightens the need for management. "If you don’t have monitors, then one person can modify a SOA component and cause an entire application to come down," he said.
The talk ended with some tips for IT managers looking to start "running IT like a business:"
- Measure IT in the way business measures IT—look at the end results of IT processes
- Put a set of business metrics around new IT initiatives and existing applications
- "Never eat anything bigger than your head"—start small and do it incrementally