The business IT environment is changing rapidly as more enterprises move to the cloud. The resulting dependence on bought-in applications will make service assurance a key issue for both enterprises and service providers.
Enterprise managers and service providers alike need a service assurance tool that is easy to use and accepted as an industry standard.
Therefore, just as enterprises have long outsourced business functions such as fleet management, building maintenance and training, they are now increasingly happy -doubtless in many cases deeply relieved – to outsource their IT systems. As a strategy it’s entirely consistent with the general imperative to make businesses leaner, more efficient and less burdened with overhead.
So as IT comes of age, it leaves home. The situation changes from:“Our business is successful because we control our own applications running on our own servers’ to: “Our business is successful because top-quality service providers deliver all our IT.”
Once the basic need for service assurance is recognised, the next logical step is to look at the scope for standardising it. Because without a standard service assurance platform, an enterprise customer could end up with as many reporting formats as it has service providers. This is already happening, as service providers agree on the need to give customers a service monitoring facility but don’t agree – or haven’t yet agreed – on the need for all customers to use the same reporting format.
From the customer’s point of view this is a messy and increasingly unacceptable situation. They find themselves having to learn to use several different tools, all with different login procedures, all with different reporting formats, and probably none of them directly comparable with any other provider’s reports. And to cap it all, most reports are in technical language that enterprise managers may not be able to interpret without help from their own IT engineers – if they have any, with many of their services in the cloud.
An unsurprising outcome is that in practice, enterprise managers have access to service assurance tools but don’t use them as much as they should. And given that the data is largely incomprehensible anyway, there may be a strong sense that they’re not missing much. This isn’t good for either enterprises or service providers, and it doesn’t help the cause of service assurance or the cloud.
It’s a compelling argument for a single service assurance tool that everyone can use. Not just IT engineers, but also – primarily, in fact – enterprise managers who want information in a format they can use to make management decisions. They want a tool that is actually helping them to run and improve their business, and isn’t just paying lip service to a clause in an SLA about providing service assurance data.