This week, the BMC Exchange VIP conference in Miami spotlighted various parts of the BMC portfolio and provided successes from multiple customers. But the primary message was the evolution of a solution the company calls Predictive Service Operations.
Jason Andrew, Chief Revenue Officer at BMC, explained that Predictive Service Operations is all about using artificial intelligence to automate service management and the many other applications used to manage IT. The goal is for the system to learn how to identify, provision, set permissions, monitor the entire infrastructure, and remediate any bugs.
Eric Anderson, Executive Vice President of Innovation at BMC, added that it solves a major skillset problem experienced by a great many customers.
“Customers kept saying that they couldn’t keep up with skillsets required for changing technology stacks,” said Anderson.
The pace of DevOps teams in application development and adding new applications to the enterprise was outstripping the ability of operations teams to hire and train people to run everything.
“Instead of relying on people to set up, configure and run everything, we are using AI to do that work and close the skills gap,” said Anderson.
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Service Management Evolution
Service management and operations management have traditionally been separate teams. Here is how it used to work: Users come into work on Monday morning and report problems. The service desk people figure out what’s going on. That usually meant talking to operations. They finally track it down to, for instance, a change made on Friday night that impacted business servers.
The term ServiceOps emerged more recently as the convergence of service management and operations management. It made it easier to solve those Monday morning bugs much more rapidly. ServiceOps deals with organizational culture, processes, and technology platforms to enable improved user experiences via real-time visibility, automation, and intelligent collaboration. A big part of that is eliminating the silos that exist between departments that impede effective change management, particularly in highly complex IT environments.
“While modern IT teams have made strides in delivering business value through greater automation, observability, and execution, there is still a need to change organizational culture, process, and technology to enable improved user and customer experiences,” said Stephen Elliot, Group Vice President, I&O, Cloud Operations and DevOps, IDC. “By proactively breaking down silos, cross-departmental teams can deliver highly effective, incident-free services across their cloud technologies.”
BMC addressed these needs with the release of BMC Helix ServiceOps. It brought service and operations management together. The benefits include protecting the business from the risk of outages and slow performance: Incidents, alerts, and data from operations and service requests are correlated to help cross-functional teams pinpoint root causes faster. It also highlights problems related to business services in their entirety as well as by individual component.
Simplification was another goal: deliver consumer-like, personalized service experience across traditional IT and business functions such as HR and customer service management through virtual agents, knowledge bases, live chat, and tickets. Everything should align so that it is easy for customers and employees to request and get help.
Predictive ServiceOps takes it a stage further by folding AIOps into the process. Capabilities include identifying performance and root cause outages by applying pre-trained AI and machine learning to observability data and dynamic service models. This adds the ability to assess service health, look for future service impacts, and provide proactive responses. Thus, teams have a better chance of keeping pace with the volume of metrics, events, and alerts.
“We added a service insights capability to BMC Helix to be able to spot patterns of data and provide IT with predictive capabilities,” said Joseph George, Vice President of Product Management for IT Operations Management at BMC. “It can detect those ‘Monday morning problems’ in advance and prevent them from happening.”
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Another big announcement at the show was a major update to BMC’s SaaS platform that manages and automates complex IT operations and orchestrates application and data workflows across hybrid environments. Known as BMC Helix Control-M, it can support decentralized product teams and disparate technologies while ensuring SLAs.
The key changes are:
- Self-service interfaces to improve collaboration between IT operations, developers, data engineers, and business users.
- Integration with Apache Airflow and cloud data services including AWS Glue, Azure Data Factory, GCP Dataflow.
- Databricks orchestration of application and data workflows.
- A unified user view for all workflows and interfaces.
“The complexity and scale of today’s IT environments require businesses to seek the highest level of integration and automation from their cloud tools to receive the information needed to prevent and resolve issues quickly,” said Ali Siddiqui, Chief product Officer at BMC.
Tim Perkins, Director of Tech Services at Walgreens, is a user of BMC Control-M SaaS. He said the company is using it to transition legacy mainframe applications to the cloud, to eliminate single points of failure, and to add greater flexibility.
“Our developers use BMC Control-M to speed the testing process, to bring new apps market faster,” said Perkins.
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Further Show Highlights
Jason Andrew of BMC discussed key trends impacting the industry. He touched upon supply chain challenges, cybersecurity (how to stay secure while staying flexible for customers and personnel), unlocking the value of data via analytics, the evolution of the workplace, the difficulties in attracting talent, and the major economic shifts happening across the globe.
“We all need to be more flexible and agile, and be supplied with actionable insights,” said Andrews. “The death of growth is complexity – it kills customer engagement.”
He introduced Otto Contreras, CTO of the City of Miami, a user of BMC software. Contreras explained how various government regulations and traditional processes made collaboration and work-from-home difficult. Everything changed once the pandemic hit.
“Although we were working on improved collaboration prior to the pandemic, it was difficult to boost adoption,” said Contreras.
Fortunately, the preparation work on collaboration paid off. In less than two weeks from the start of the lock-down, all employees were productively working from home.
To his mind, the pandemic drove digital transformation. Beforehand, there were too many rules and reasons why people couldn’t work from anywhere. Now that WFH is both accepted and technically feasible, the city has been able to expand its reach into talent pools beyond its metropolitan area.
Similarly, electronic document signing was prohibited prior to the pandemic. The legal department wouldn’t allow it. But once their work ground to a halt, it was the legal department that paved the way for broad acceptance of electronic document signing throughout city operations.
The city is using BMC and other tools to establish a digital city where it is easy for consumers and businesses to transact with the city using a smartphone. A whole lot of red tape has been eliminated. And processes have been streamlined such as various kinds of permitting.
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Guidance for IT
Contreras ended with a couple of tips for others in IT:
- Don’t let management set strategy and then try to figure out how to align IT to that strategy. Instead, IT must be involved during the creation of strategic plans and become embedded in those plans.
- To maximize the benefits of technology it is best to begin with process. Closely examine your processes. Streamline and enhance them and then add technology to help you do that even better.