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By Dan Turchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aeroprise. Follow Dan on Twitter.

 

 

Earth Day, once an annual grassroots protest by long-hairs, celebrated its 41st birthday this week. The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 and was the brainchild of [green-beyond-his-time] Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. We've all been Gore-ified since then but here's the (grossly over-simplified) reality: today, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is 392 PPB (parts per billion). In 1970, that level was 328. That's a 20% increase in 41 years, shocking given that the previous 20% increase took 500 years. More disturbing: anything above 350 is unhealthy and the rate of change is increasing.

 

global_warming.jpgWhich is why Greenpeace's railing against Facebook and Apple for building coal-dependent data centers and the California legislature's passage two weeks back of a landmark clean energy bill mandating 33% of the state's energy to be generated from renewable resources by 2020 are more than hippie-era social unrest. We in IT are responsible for emitting massive quantities of CO2 and can do much more to address the problem. Consider: 1.5% of global energy consumption is from power-hungry data centers and that will only increase as cloud computing mushrooms. Oh, and it is: lately, new data centers are cropping up in rural everywhere like paparazzi descending on a royal wedding.

 

We're not helping but there's hope. As with so many social ills (poverty, famine, war, ...) the antidote is mobile technology. No, really. Mobile employees have a lower carbon footprint and exercise disproportionate influence over everyone else. We're technology's aristocracy and others look to us for guidance. Why do we have a lower carbon footprint? It's tough to accurately measure [sidenote: the best way I've seen is with the excellent "My Carbon Footprint" app from Proctor & Gamble] but here are a few things we know:

 

Mobile employees...

 

  1. Rely on data in the cloud which requires fewer physical, local servers. Cloud-based apps are up to 95% more efficient than on premise ones (and public clouds are up to 64% more efficient than private clouds) according to WSP Environment & Energy.
  2. Spend less time on PCs. On average, smartphones and tablets consume 8-26 times less power than PCs (the low end of the range is a comparison with laptops, the high end is with desktops).
  3. Don't commute as much. As long as those fewer car miles don't mean more frequent flier miles virtual work is significantly more eco-friendly.

 

But how can we green ourselves further? It's going to get easier. Better battery technology (think fuel cells that last ten times as long as today's lithium-ion batteries) will soon eliminate the cord-to-outlet mambo (for the record, I spend half my life doing that in airports - hasn't anybody solved that problem?). Smarter mobile social tools, better virtualization technology, and ubiquitous access to apps in the cloud will make it easier to be more productive with fewer physical servers and no PCs. Plus, telepresence technology will finally eliminate the ridiculousness of cross-continent travel for two-hour meetings.

 

So even if it's shoot 'em up games keeping you glued to the iPad, fire away. Because all eyes are looking at you for technology advice and your smartphone or tablet just may be the best answer we've got for undoing generations of neglect.

 

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't necessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.

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This is one of the best articles and thoughts The ITSMguy has run across in a while.  We talk a lot of innovation and creating new services, but this is the first time this author has seen the subject boiled down to the interaction of people vs process. This was written by Laura Smith and is featured on SearchCIO.com. The question for the day is; What are you doing to bring your best people together to come up with new ideas? How are you unlockingthe  intellectual capital or are you still wrapped around the axle of intellectual property?


IT innovation is a great idea, but how does one get from here to there? CIOs say it has more to do with information than with technology, at least in the beginning. Information not only is the key to designing better products, but also results in better business processes. What's required is that departmental, line-of-business and IT teams work together. teamwork.jpg

 

Creating a culture of innovation begins with bringing these different groups to the table to document existing processes and discover where they overlap or could make use of shared efficiencies. The trend is toward lean operations, which are made possible by a shared consciousness of how best to get there. Lean principles even dictate that representatives of the various organizational limbs meet in the same room.

 

Lean operations can reduce costs by identifying redundancies in business processes and potential interactions that could delay progress, but innovation is achieved when those collective minds come up with a better way to deliver what the customers want -- or what the business requires.

Consider, for example, the weeds growing around the transmission towers owned by American Transmission Co. (ATC), which transmits power to five states including Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Its CIO, Steve Dykstra, is responsible for not only information and technology, but asset management and compliance with government regulations as well.

 

"We have over $2.5 billion worth of assets in the field," Dykstra said: "There is a lot of maintenance. … Vegetation management is a unique niche of that process, where we can't allow anything to grow into the lines and short-circuit the lines," or else ATC will have to pay steep fines to the government.

 

IT innovation solves an age-old problem

With hundreds of miles to cover, it's difficult -- if not impossible -- for ATC's field technicians to keep tabs on the brush surrounding every tower. One potential solution, Dykstra noted, is a mobile device -- perhaps a tablet -- equipped with ATC's network applications as well as global positioning satellite technology and a camera. With this setup, a technician could take a picture of the weeds, or just point the tablet at them and see whether the landscape is in compliance on that day.

 

How are we going to … allow our employees to actually generate good ideas, and how are we going to make them happen within the company itself?

To develop such innovative ideas, Dykstra brought together what ATC calls a tiger team: three individuals who look to improve the asset side of ATC's business. Most of the company's growth will be in new transmission tower construction as its territory expands. This particular IT team, which reports up through the construction department, includes a corporate cybersecurity consultant, an enterprise architect and "kind of an unusual third person in the mix," he said: a person who manages the asset data and geographic information systems' records.  "He tends to think more outside the box, more innovatively -- the type of  mind-set that really brings value to the organization," Dykstra said of the data manager, who also is closer to the construction side of the business than IT is.  "Without a creative mind-set, I think you limit yourself sometimes to a less effective contribution, because you tend to get myopic in regard to what you're really trying to accomplish from a pure technological solutions standpoint, rather than listening again to the business," Dykstra said.

 

Manulife puts everyone on the innovation team

Some teams are larger than others. Whereas Dykstra is going with a trusted trio, Manulife Financial Corp. has created centers of excellence to innovate across 17 major lines of business. The company's IT budget is between $850 million and $1 billion, according to Harry Pickett, executive vice president and chief technology officer at the Toronto-based insurance and financial services company.

 

Pickett's plan is to create an environment that allows everyone in the organization to be innovative. "I don't believe that an innovation team or somebody's going to have a monopoly on good ideas," he said. The question is, "How are we going to make that whole experience in Manulife to allow our employees to actually generate good ideas, and how are we going to make them happen within the company itself?"

Pickett now is focused on setting up the underpinnings for that to happen. Manulife has a Notes email platform, and has formed its centers of excellence around certain disciplines, such as outsourcing.

 

"We have core skills in our company around outsourcing management because about 90% of our infrastructure is outsourced," Pickett said. That outsourced infrastructure includes networks and application development. "I'm using that as an example where we bring people together, and we're pretty innovative around how we do contract management, actually brainstorming what things should go in the contracts."

 

As such organizations as Manulife come to realize that whatever industry they're in, they're really information technology companies, it makes sense to bring a broad spectrum to the table for some innovative IT teamwork. Large or small, such groups inevitably show that more brains are better than one.

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One of the biggest challenges that face most small and medium businesses is competing against larger firms while having a much smaller budget. In a smaller organization, the IT staff must constantly juggle routine day-to-day problems while also rolling out new applications and services.

 

To effectively match larger rivals, you need efficient service management and help desk tools and processes to reduce incident response time and costs — without incurring the expense and complexity of implementing a service desk solution yourself.

 

Choosing a SaaS service management and help desk solution can eliminate the headaches of buying and maintaining servers and software, allowing you to “manage services, not servers.”


However, not all SaaS service desk solutions are created equal. By selecting a solution based on the ITIL® (IT Infrastructure Library®) standard, you get field-proven best practices that speed problem resolution, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your staff, and document the value IT is delivering to the business.

 

Here are nine important criteria to look for in a SaaS service desk solution that will help increase user satisfaction, the morale of your IT staff, and the success of your business.

 

  • User Request Portal; The least expensive help desk call is the one that’s never made because users can instantly see the status of their requests or problems online — or better still, solve them on their own. That’s why your solution should include a portal that allows users to easily enter and track requests.

 

  • Problem Management; A problem management system helps IT analysts understand the root causes of incidents and prevent them in the future.

 

  • IT Service Management Automation; IT service management automation reduces costs and cycle times, and helps assure quality through the standardization of common functions.

 

  • Integrate d Change Management; Change can mean anything from upgrading a user’s PC to installing a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. Performing changes is one of the most common functions performed by an IT organization, and can cause the most problems if not done correctly.

 

  • IT Asset Tracking and Management; Proper management is critical to making the most effective use of your most expensive assets —your hardware, your software, and the skilled staff to manage them.  Not having a clear picture of your IT assets can lead to expensive purchases of hardware or software you already own but may not be aware of. It can also expose you to liability if you own the wrong type of licenses or fewer software licenses than you need.

 

  • Team Communication and Collaboration; Especially for an overstretched IT team, collaboration is essential to increasing productivity, sharing knowledge, and reducing response times. Look for collaboration capabilities that reduce the wasted time and effort as staff trade phone calls or emails to find the status of projects, the delivery of parts, the answers to common questions, or information on any new problems that may have arisen since their arrival at a remote site.

 

  • Information to Guide Management Decisions; To provide the best service at the lowest cost, you need to know what assets you have and how they are performing. You also need to know how many service requests you are handling, how quickly you are handling them, how many issues remain unresolved, and what systems and business units generate the most service requests.

 

  • A Plat form for Growth; Because your requirements are changing constantly, you can’t afford to get locked into a SaaS service desk platform that is too small and limited for your needs. Look for a dynamic platform that can quickly and easily scale to the number of users and scope of capabilities you need.

 

  • Security and Reliability; Look for security features, such as encryption, access control, and proper segregation of data, which protect your organization’s information in a multi-tenant environment. Insist on platforms that comply with rigorous security certifications, such as ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, and SysTrust, as well as granular security and sharing rules to let customers decide which users see which information.

 

Read the entire paper

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By Dan Turchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Aeroprise. Follow Dan on Twitter.

 

 

Here's something you can only say with a straight face in the bowels of geekdom: I had a conversation about SAML 2 authentication and IPv6 with my new friend Ollie, Chief Security Officer of a technology customer, this week and it inspired me. We were like two giggly school girls having a Bieber moment. Why?

bieber.jpg

 

He has an enlightened attitude toward mobile device security at a time when I'm down on enterprise infosec for holding back mobile innovation. Here's how I define enlightened:

  1. Taking proactive measures to partner with the business.
  2. Questioning PC-era policies applied to mobile devices.
  3. Redefining the role of security to be more door and less wall.

 

Let's face it: in an age when data lives in the cloud, physical assets walk out the door daily, and everyone but the neighbor's pet has access to your network, pretending infosec is the omnipotent immovable force it once was is futile. And yet what I see every day is political battles escalating to the CIO when security teams don't yield to the mobile requirements of the business.

 

Yes, enforce remote wipe policies. Yes, educate employees about locking devices. But no no NO, don't limit access to third-party apps and don't even think about limiting use of personal iOS and Android devices for business because YOU don't have a way to manage them.

 

CSOs, compliance officers, and security architects everywhere listen carefully and heal thyself: stop confusing "progress" with "threat". If you don't want to hear it from me take it from experts like JR Raphael (@jr_raphael), well-respected mobile tech pundit, who writes:

 

"...it's a big, bad, scary world out there. But the answer isn't locking it down and having some panel preapprove everything before it gets uploaded. The answer is exercising a little caution and common sense."

 

Amen. To be relevant twelve months from now get out of your lair, meet the twenty-somethings who are Facebooking your sacred policies (or read their tweets), then go re-invent yourself. Or just talk to my friend Ollie. He's way ahead of you.

 

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't necessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.

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File this one under “request and support” and best practices for Incident Management and just in case you need a laugh.  This taken from the Airline pilots forum and these are better than the snippets you hear from the pc manufacturers call centers.

These are some of the actual responses to “help tickets” submitted by pilots.

After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a "gripe sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems; document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers. By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.

S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit

S: Something tightened in cockpit

P: Dead bugs on windshield.

S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent

S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.


P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

S: Evidence removed.


P: DME volume unbelievably loud.

S: DME volume set to more believable level.


P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.

S: That's what friction locks are for.


P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.

S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.


P: Suspected crack in windshield.

S: Suspect you're right.


P: Number 3 engine missing.

S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.


P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)

S: Aircraft warned to: straighten up, fly right, and be serious.


P: Target radar hums.

S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.


P: Mouse in cockpit.

S: Cat installed.


And the best one for last..................


P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget

pounding on something with a hammer.


S: Took hammer away from midget.

 

Enjoy- The ITSMguy

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Guest contributor Ron Hill- Rightstar Systems. 

 

 

I recently was working with one of our longtime customers. They wanted to use Service Desk Express for their facilities group. They needed a solution that would allow them to track repairs, work requests, and assets. As I was talking to the manager of the group he said, “We want to treat this project as if we were constructing a new building.” I must admit, at first I was a little puzzled, but I quickly grew fond of the analogy. Many times organizations want to buy a Service Management application and tell the vendor all the things they want over the course of a few conference calls. Then they expect the product to be implemented in a week or two according to how they imagine it should work. If a construction company were to take this approach, I think we would all agree this would be pretty scary; what would the structure look like and how functional would it truly be? How would a “Service Management” project turn out if it were handled like the construction of a new building? The next few paragraphs give an idea of what this might look like.

The Design Process

We would not expect any builder to start construction without a good set of plans, right? A functional and efficient structure starts with a good plan. Likewise, shouldn’t we expect to have a good Service Management implementation only if we have well-defined and documented processes? The only way to get those plans is to meet with an architect so that they understand the purpose, style, and size of the structure. Usually this is obtained through a series of meetings with the customer. This approach should also be applied when implementing Service Management. It is not enough to have an internal meeting to determine these needs. Internal meetings are necessary for everyone to agree on what is needed. The requirements still have to be clearly communicated to the consulting firm that is going to help the organization implement the Service Management application. During these meetings, the customer organization can leverage the experience of the consulting firm. After all, firms like RightStar have implemented Remedy and SDE for hundreds of customers. We can share insights into the things that have worked and, probably more importantly, the things that did not work so well. In short, learn from the success and failure of other customers. This is one of the themes of the final ITIL IT Service Management framework phase, Continual Service Improvement.

Have a Good Set of Plans

The next logical step in the building process is to develop the plans and refine the design. The same would apply to the service management implementation. After gathering the requirements, the consulting firm should be able to develop a Scope of Work to define the breakdown of work that will happen during the implementation. This should also outline the customer organization’s responsibilities as well. Remember that involvement in this process is critical. The customer should be sure to review the Scope of Work, ask questions, and request more detail. These documents, like a blueprint, are in place to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Groundbreaking Ceremony

Now that everyone knows what the building is going to be used for (also referred to as its utility) and how it is going to look, construction can start. At this point the organization needs to make sure all the key players are in place and that the right data is available. This is where project management is critical, typically for both parties involved. Most customers think that because their project is small, project management is not needed. I would argue that some coordination is needed for any size project. This is also a time when someone within the organization should work side-by-side with the consulting firm. This is really where organizations begin to take ownership of not only the product, but the processes that are employed. The organization should now have a vested interest in the project, and committing a resource to receive maximum transfer of knowledge from the working consultant is key.

Grand Opening

The structure is now built and we are ready to hand over the keys. At this point the organization is ready to use the new Service Management system and now needs to manage and maintain it. Unless processes or needs change dramatically, maintenance is usually minimal. We all know that change does happen and improvements should be continual, so you need to be prepared. There is a saying that many vendors have: “A trained customer is a happy customer.” It may be a cliché, but it’s still true. So the organization should ensure that their system administrators and support staff are trained to properly maintain and use the system. It is recommended to employ the “train-the-trainer” concept for some of this training. This will verify depth of understanding on behalf of the internal trainers and will also utilize consultants’ time most effectively.

 

One of the most important things organizations can do during this transition is to prepare staff for the cultural change. This really should start early. Staff members need to understand the change was made to drive better service to customers and to drive efficiency within the support organization. Upper management needs to be active in this exercise and committed to the plan.

 

In closing, some might question the aims of a consulting firm advocating for more time to be spent on planning and assessment activities. However, I believe that, “If it is worth doing, do it right!” When organizations spend a little time up front to create and document a plan, the result is a better solution with a solid foundation.

 

Ron Hill is an Architect level Software Consultant at Rightstar Systems. Both his knowledge and technical capability are highly regarded by a host of customers.

 

About Rightstar systems

 

RightStar Systems is a leading provider of ITIL-based service management solutions for upper-middle market firms and government agencies. Throughout a longtime partnership with BMC Software, RightStar has completed hundreds of projects helping customers design, deploy, and maintain IT service management and support systems.

 

Support organizations are driven by the need to integrate people, processes, and technologies to deliver services more efficiently. RightStar creates value by helping customers improve the quality of IT services delivered while reducing the overall cost of service provisioning. At many different types of organizations, RightStar has consistently demonstrated an ability to deliver single-source service management solutions that enable customers to thrive.

 

http://www.rightstarsystems.com/

blog; http://dick1stark.com/

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