The Failed Promise of IT Operations Management (ITOM) Mega-Suites

Posted by on June 01, 2016


For decades, enterprise IT leaders have been chasing the dream of a single architecture that provides a service-based view of their IT infrastructure. The desire for seamless integration of IT operations management (ITOM) tools across different domains (i.e. IT service desk, client management, network management, event monitoring, server provisioning, etc.) from a single provider is strong. It positions IT leaders to leverage automation and virtualization to map the demand for services to the supply of resources. The pursuit of this vision often lacks a clear understanding of whether it makes sense for your IT organization and the business you support.

Large, monolithic vendors have made a killing selling this vision. They have acquired many point ITOM tools over time and packaged them as suites under a single brand. On paper, it’s a beautiful concept: a single-pane-of-glass ITOM model that works because all the point products “snap together.” Plus, they play up the value of having just one hand to shake to get favorable discounts on licensing, services, and support across the portfolio. On paper, the vision of a single provider positioned to meet all of your IT management needs is compelling.

As an IT leader, you’re placed in a difficult situation when the vision you were sold doesn’t pan out.

Yet large, monolithic legacy vendors continue to prosper. The on-paper vision fails to help IT leaders manage critical applications and IT services. When a major incident adversely impacts the business’ ability to achieve the goals and objectives of the day, the vision becomes a failed promise, particularly when a call to the vendor results in pitches for more solutions and services.

Tweet This: When integrating IT management tools across domains, leaders, philosophy and chemistry matters #LegacyNoMore

While some might choose to debate the impact, few would challenge the fact it hasn’t worked at scale. Successful single vendor ITOM deployments are few and far between. I believe this is the case for two reasons:

  1. Integration Across Tool Sets Is Not Guaranteed: The single vendor ITOM suite is built in-organically, whereby vendors who have achieved enough market momentum would seek to earn higher revenues by purchasing adjacent technologies, with the goal of pricing and packaging solutions together. In almost all cases, solutions are built with different programming languages, and while crude forms of data integration are a given, it requires care and feeding over time. Often the solutions don’t “play well” or even effectively communicate with each other, and when solution A in the portfolio needs a version upgrade, it will adversely impact adjacent solutions A, B, C and D, and the vision falls apart.
  1. I&O Maturity Is a Prerequisite: Very few IT organizations have the people, process, and technology maturity levels to fully optimize these solutions. It is important for IT organizations to have honest conversations with themselves and the business in order to not just determine the practicality and the feasibility of implementing 12 ITIL processes and standing up 10 new ITOM solutions in a 12-month period, but also whether or not this is what the business actually needs. Not coincidentally, the large, monolithic legacy vendors are quick to sell the implementation and consulting services alongside the software.

IT organizations are starting to recognize the single vendor model is not providing adequate value, as evidenced in a recent Gartner poll showed 80 percent of customers want a “mini-suite” approach. Gartner describes mini-suites as, “a small number of tools that address a defined need, or specific IT operations processes, or that are aimed at a specific user or buying center.” The notion that IT organizations will make “anchor” purchases of a mini-suite, and supplement it with integration of stand-alone best-of-breed tools makes sense, as it recognizes the role API’s and SaaS-based solutions play within a portfolio, providing them higher levels of choice and flexibility.

Tweet This: The failed promise of the legacy, single vendor ITOM suite has cost too much time, money and jobs. #LegacyNoMore

3 Tips for Your ITOM Strategy

So, what should IT organizations in search of ITOM tool sets consider? 

  1. Do your homework. Ask to speak with references of a similar size and structure to your organization that have actually achieved the vision the vendor is selling you. Verify the vendor can do what they promise. If the monolithic vendor promises you they integrate, understand their definition of what “integration” means and what their version of integration requires (i.e. custom development, professional services, middleware, etc.). 
  2. Do what's best for your organization. Focus on the real requirements of the IT operations centers specifically affected by a potential switch. If their solutions meet your organizational requirements and enable them to meet the goals and objectives of the IT organization, is forcing them to switch—or even evaluate—potential replacement solutions feasible? Service desk software should easily integrate with the solutions your organization currently derives value from and encourage best-of breed approaches as opposed to land-and-expand portfolios.
  3. Make your choice based on current and future needs. Evaluate the product road maps for each solution in the portfolio and watch for anomalies. Are the resources devoted to each solution dispersed in a way that allow them to continue offering a portfolio solution at the same level of quality of a point solution? Is the vendor delivering on the enhancements as promised, or are all the development resources tied to the flagship product?

When integrating IT management tools across domains, look for the solution that is flexible enough to meet the needs of your team now and in the future. Enterprise IT leaders deserve the ITOM products and toolsets that benefit their organizations, not the ones that large monolithic vendors promise them will do the job.

Tweet This: 3 Things to ask the legacy ITOM vendors who promise success with a suite-based approach #LegacyNoMore

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