An Interview with Novell's Michele Hudnall
July 31, 2010
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In BSMdigest's exclusive interview, Michele Hudnall, Novell Solution Marketing Manager - BSM discusses the move from IT performance management to Business Service Management, and where integration fits in.

BSM: What specific Novell products do you manage?

MH: I manage the Business Service Management portfolio of products at Novell. We have a tool called Novell Operations Center that we use to deliver Business Service Management. Business Service Manager, Business Experience Manager, and Business Service Level Manager are all features of Novell Operations Center.

BSM: What does Novell Operations Center do?

MH: It is an integration engine - that is the easiest way to think of it. It sits on top of all the monitoring tools, because they have good metrics about the silo, but just need to be brought together with business data. Our solution accesses the data at its source and brings it into a real-time service model so the user can see the true service impact. The user can very easily see a multi-dimensional set of metrics to derive the relevance of events occurring as individual IT metrics.

BSM: Can you differentiate between SLAs that are meaningful to the business versus SLAs that would only have meaning to IT?

MH: Meaningful SLAs include service levels for availability and performance of the overall service, not the individual components. Those service levels aggregate the components to see if the service was available and performing as expected.

Industry leaders will also measure the technology against growing revenue. Those are the more valuable SLAs to me. The after the fact reporting is like reporting on the score of the game. IT organizations should be illustrating what they are spending in terms of value. Are you driving revenue or just driving out cost? IT is pretty good at driving out costs, but to switch the thinking to using technology to be able to drive the top line is even better. When IT organizations can measure to that, and the SLA takes that into consideration, that is when they become more valuable SLAs - and Business Service Management tools provide the opportunity to do that.

BSM: Do you feel that most IT organizations understand the difference between IT performance management and Business Service Management?

MH: No. I don’t think they understand. Many IT organizations are still thinking in terms of technology silos and view BSM as discretionary or reporting. But I believe we’re in an interesting time with the growth of technology around cloud and virtualization. Technology organizations will come around to thinking of managing to a true service, to a true business impact.

BSM: Why do they still have technology silos? Is it about corporate politics and territorial attitudes?

MH: When you start talking about managing as a service, this needs to be done horizontally across the silos. It’s an organizational barrier, and maybe somewhat political, but making that link to services takes more of a business manager leader versus a technology leader.

BSM: Is that the solution then, to get a different perspective, to get a businessperson to manage the process of change?

MH: The organizations I have seen that are successful typically have someone with more of a business focus versus a pure technology focus, leading those organizations so they can manage horizontally cross those technology silos. As a vendor, when we talk about Business Service Management, we typically have to start with a senior manager or CIO level to have the big picture vision. They are the ones who get it.

When you report after the fact, you’re reporting the score after the game is over. It’s a lot of statistics about IT without bringing in the business aspect of it. You need to bring in the business data and examine it in real-time so you can do something actionable as a service. You also need to manage the true service impact, and so you need a person who is above those technology silos and has more of a business background. I am not saying the technologist can’t do it, but they typically think in terms of their specific silos.

BSM: You brought up real-time. How real is real-time? When you monitor a SLA in real-time, what does that mean? Is it seconds or minutes?

MH: Seconds. The events from a monitoring tool are typically seconds. But it is configurable. You want to think about the volume of events. Some tools are very chatty and send out a lot of alerts. The user needs to configure it based on what makes the most sense.

You can filter what gets sent into our tool, which is more like an aggregator, so that it is meaningful, and it’s data you can take action on within the service model.

BSM: You mentioned cloud earlier. How do you manage business services when you’re outsourcing to the cloud?

MH: It depends on what the cloud provider makes available. We have an integration module to Amazon and they are supplying monitoring metrics, but not all outsourcers are going to give you that kind of access.

You have outsourced the management of the infrastructure, so you don’t really care what they are doing. You want to define and manage the service levels, because the service levels are going to drive the service providers into good management practices.

BSM: Do you recommend looking for a provider that will give more visibility, like the Amazon example?

MH: I believe that visibility is going to be a differentiator for those organizations because it shows they have management maturity in their organization. If they’re providing some level of monitoring and reporting outbound to their subscribers, it will definitely make them stand out over others who are not providing data or who are not providing good service levels.

BSM: What impact do you see Novell making in the changing Business Service Management market?

MH: I find this to be an interesting time for a tool such as ours. I just returned from the Gartner conference and each of the sessions talked about integration. There was a lot of discussion about the convergence of technologies and creating a fabric of services within your organization. There is a great need for integration across these platforms. So a tool like ours can be the glue that brings those components together to provide a live service view by which to take action proactively.

About Michele Hudnall

Michele Hudnall is the BSM solution marketing manager for Novell. In her 25 years of IT experience, she's developed software, consulted with global 2000 organizations, and defined, designed and implemented solutions across all facets of technology. Prior to Novell, she was a Senior Research Analyst for the META Group. She also held prominent systems management and sourcing positions at EDS, IBM/Tivoli and Managed
Objects.

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