Process Automation

Significant Trends

The market space for IT service support management (ITSSM) tools is evolving rapidly in 2015.

The Rise of AXELOS

In 2013 the UK Cabinet Office and outsourcing firm Capita announced the formation of AXELOS Limited in order to oversee and promote the development of ITIL® and PRINCE2® certifications and adoption by industry. In 2015 AXELOS announced a new certification level, the ITIL Practitioner. They also unveiled RESILIA®, a good practice library in Cyber Resilience and its accompanying certifications.

AXELOS has stopped producing detailed and meaningful certification statistics, from which the industry is inferring that interest in ITIL® certification is declining. Meanwhile, ITIL® 2011 has grown long in the tooth as the industry awaits the announcement of updates to the venerable library of good operations practices.

The Rise of DevOps

DevOps is a grass-roots off-shoot of the Agile movement that took root in 2009 for the purpose of bridging the cultural and technical gaps between development and operations in IT organizations. Organizations that invoke DevOps may experience an acceleration of releases from several days or weeks between releases to several releases per day. While DevOps is a bottom-up, experiential based movement that often integrated and glued together existing tools with custom scripting, it also stoked interest in configuration management tools such as Puppet® or Chef® that automate the configuration of dozens or hundreds of nodes with programmable interfaces.

Meanwhile, the continued adoption of server and desktop virtualization, Docker® style containers, and Software Defined Networks, and cloud based platforms has drastically changed what comprises a “production” infrastructure. In many cases the programmatic automation of what goes into or comes out of production has proceeded faster than traditional process architectures can keep up.

Traditional ITSSM vendors also repositioned their marketing messages and tools in order to take advantage of these trends, especially around the term DevOps. DevOps has also forced ITSM practitioners to acknowledge the uncomfortable fact that Configuration Management, as espoused by ITIL®, is not a “widely adopted good practice” but is, in fact, an area of operations that very immature and evolving rapidly.

ITSSM Vendor Evolution

The vendors of ITSSM products have continued to develop advance and develop their products with new capabilities and features. BMC Software, which privatized in 2013, has re-branded its asset management product, FootPrints Asset Core®, to BMC Client Management® (BCM) and made it a more central part of its enterprise sales mix. Its venerable FootPrints Service Core product has undergone a significant refactoring v12 in order to improve performance update its interface. BMC Software has also released a major, new version of Remedy.

ServiceNow has replaced BMC Remedy as the 800 lbs. gorilla in ITSSM. In many cases its has become the de-facto tool for risk-averse decision-makers. ServiceNow is expanding its product offerings outside its traditional area of IT operations into the operations of other operations functions, including Human Resources, field services, Facilities, Legal, Finance, and Marketing.

Cherwell Software has continued to grow and expand its presence in North America, by focusing on taking market share from ServiceNow with “codeless” configuration and faster adoption rates. Cherwell Software is also proceeding with the integration of its Express Metrics acquisition.

Finally, the France-based EasyVista has stabilized its presence in North America by revamping its marketing and operations. It has become a regular in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant®, and announced the Neo Technology orchestration platform for creating dashboards and customer portals that integrate a variety of data sources using code-less configurations. It has expanded its technical support and professional services capabilities in North America, and is now experiencing rapid adoption across a variety of sectors, particularly due to its web-based architecture, its support for the entire ITIL® lifecycle, and its historic strengths in asset management, which is experiencing a renaissance of interest.

Strengths of Ayearon

Ayearon staff maintain industry credentials, such as the ITIL® V3 Expert and PMP®. Rapid evolution of both standards and technology means that process-orientation alone is insufficient. Hands-on capability with modern technologies and tools is necessary in order recommend, architect, design, plan, and build effective solutions. At Ayearon we stress an understanding of the big picture while developing practical, custom solutions for customers. Although process knowledge and framework expertise are important, lack of tool-specific knowledge often leads to solutions that are impractical, unworkable, or not aligned with organizational capabilities.

Configuration and Customization

Configurations are changes made within the tools that are specified and designed by the vendor to be made by the customer. In general configurations are forward compatible and will survive upgrades with minimal reconfiguration. All else being equal, configurations are the default assumption for Ayearon professional services engagements.

Customizations are changes that extend the traditional or designed capabilities of the tool. Customizations may include modification of underlying code, the introduction of Javascript elements into the interface, access or modifications to the underlying database, or integration using the API’s. In general customizations take more time and will require more testing and refactoring for product upgrades.

Ayearon develops effective solutions that maximize the configuration capabilities of the tools, and expands them where necessary with customizations that are based on customer requirements. These may include:

  • Integration with third party systems
  • SOAP or REST based integrations
  • CMDB planning and implementation
    — CMDB schema for data and relationships
    — Data integration
    — SQL query building for data importing
  • Social Media integration
  • Asset Management tool implementation for hardware and software inventory, Patch Management, and Software Deployment

ITIL® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.