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Automating Complexity Out, Efficiency In

Automating Complexity Out, Efficiency In

Automating business services can free up staff resources to concentrate on other matters, such as building new services, not to mention the labor cost savings involved. For Savvis, using business services automation lower costs and increase efficiency, said Art Sanderson, the company's senior manager of enterprise tools.

By Dana Gardner E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
10/01/12 5:00 AM PT

Cloud infrastructure Visit the VMware Tech Center and hosted IT services provider Savvis has been able to automate out complexity and add deep efficiency to its operations using a range of performance, operations orchestration and Business Service Automation (BSA) solutions from HP. Savvis has improved its incident resolution and sped the delivery of new cloud services to its enterprise clients.

To learn more about how they did it, listen to today's podcast featuring Art Sanderson, senior manager of enterprise management tools at Savvis. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.


Download the podcast (11:32 minutes) or use the player:

Here are some excerpts:

Dana Gardner: What are the main drivers in your infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market?

Art Sanderson: Savvis is recognized as a global IT leader in providing IT as a service (ITaaS) to many of today's most recognizable enterprise customers around the world. We offer cloud services and hosting infrastructure services to those customers.

Being an IT department of IT departments, or a dynamic service provider, has a lot of unique challenges that you don't face in every IT shop that you run into. In fact, we have thousands of customers that we have to support with their own IT departments. So our solutions have to be able to scale beyond what you would find in a typical IT organization.

Gardner: And I should think that efficiency is super-important. It's all margin to you, when you can save and do things efficiently?

Better SLAs

Sanderson: Absolutely. There are just the efficiencies alone for operational cost, as well as the value that we provide to our customers, being able to provide better service-level agreements (SLAs), so their businesses are up and running and available to them to service their own customers. There are definitely some economies of scale there.

Our premier services are our Symphony cloud offerings, our Symphony VPDC, Symphony Open and Dedicated cloud, as well as Symphony Database. All, in some form or fashion in various degrees, use the BSA tools on the back end to do their own offerings, and their own automations that we offer our customers.

Gardner: Tell me what you've done in terms of management for better automation, orchestration, and then, how those benefits get passed on.

Sanderson: Sure. We've adopted the HP BSA set of tools as our automation platform and we've used that in a number of different ways and areas within Savvis. It's been quite a journey. We've been using the tools for approximately three to four years now.

We started out with some of our operational uses, and they've matured to the point now where a lot of our automation-type monitoring is solved by automation rather than by our operational staff.

There is definitely labor saving there, as well as time savings in mean time to resolution values that we're adding to our customers. That's just one of the benefits that we're seeing from the automation tools, not to mention the fact that we build a lot of our own key product offerings for the marketplace that we service, using the BSA offerings on the back end as well.

Gardner: How do you measure performance benefits? Is there a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) or some benchmarks?

Sanderson: From an operational perspective, we do monitor the number of automations that we run that we can capture from the operational side of the house. For example, on a typical day we run anywhere from 10,000-20,000 types of automations through our systems, and that would actually add value back to the business from a labor-savings perspective.

In just this first quarter of 2012 alone, we recognized somewhere in the neighborhood of US$250,000 in labor savings just from the automations from an operational perspective. Again, it's hard to quantify the value of adding to the business side, because those are solutions that we're offering to the market space that are generating new value back to the organization as a whole.

Mature Process

From the people and process side, we didn't start out necessarily doing it the right way from the operations side of the house. But we have matured the process to where we're now delivering solutions in a much more rapid fashion. The business is driving the priorities from an operational perspective as far as what we're spending our time on.

Then, we can typically turn around automations in a very short time. In some cases, we've built frameworks using these tools where we can turn around an automation that used to take two to three weeks. Now, it can take less than an hour to turn around that same automation.

So we've gotten really smart at what we're doing with the tools, not just building something net new every time, but also making the tools more reusable themselves.

From the value to the organization, we've also had many groups within the product engineering side of the house take on and learn tools like HP Operations Orchestration (HPOO) and HP Service Activator (HPSA), and leverage their own domain knowledge as network engineers or storage engineers to build net new solutions that we then turn around and offer to our customers.

That eliminates a lot of the business analyst type of work and things like that would typically go into the normal systems development lifecycle (SDLC)-type process that you would see. We're able to cut the time to market for the offerings that we're producing for our customers.


Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: HP sponsored this podcast.


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