Managing the IT estate has never been so important

IT Estate Management expert specialist

Simon Ellis, Director Estate Management Solutions and Services EMEA

Following Avnet Technology Solutions acquisition of Mattelli during the summer, we caught up with Simon Ellis to understand the Estate Management solutions that form a cornerstone of Avnet’s comprehensive services portfolio.

Today’s CIO is under attack. Business demands new offerings and improved service levels but all within a reduced budget. Now, more than ever, organisations have to maximise the value of existing IT investments. When new investment is called for, a clear understanding of the entire IT landscape and return on investment (ROI) is an absolute requirement. Add to that, the question of compliance and regulation and it’s no wonder the CIO and IT managers are under so much pressure.

Understanding how to ‘sweat the assets’ is increasingly difficult to do in a mixed hardware and software estate. Various commercial agreements and deployment measures, different replacement lifecycles and a variety of deployment and commercial opportunities add to the complexity.

At Avnet we believe in complete lifecycle estate management, supporting our channels partners and end customers from ‘cradle to grave’ with their IT estates. Avnet’s solution allows IT managers to begin with today’s pain points whether that’s coming from a commercial or a deployment focal point.

Estate Management services offer Avnet’s channel new incremental opportunities and revenue streams by building closer and deeper relationships with their existing customer base while also offering new services to the market to gain new clients.

So, what is Estate Management?

Estate Management allows IT and business managers to manage all aspects of their IT estate: from contracts, renewals, compliance, deployment and staff through to future purchasing. Making critical data readily available in this way means IT managers can easily spot potential opportunities for savings, consolidation and optimisation. More importantly, end of life products and those ‘out of support’ are identified and therefore more easily actioned. Not having good visibility of IT hardware and software that’s no longer supported by the vendor can be a substantial risk to the business.

Overall, effective estate management solutions puts information directly into the hands of the IT managers to allow them to make smarter, more informed decisions to meet tight budgets.

What are the key benefits?

From specific project needs through to complete management of an IT estate, Estate Management solutions available today can cover a range of areas which can be used in isolation or together to form a comprehensive overview of a company’s IT infrastructure.

These benefits include:

Contracts and renewals

  • Contracts and renewals are assets to an organisation. They define the ‘rights to use and consume’ products and services from vendors and resellers. By enabling proactive management of contracts and renewals applicable to your estate you can improve commercial management and identify new opportunities.

Discovery and estate baseline

  • Identifying what hardware and software is deployed in an estate is critical to defining your ‘as-is’ position and provides detailed knowledge to optimise the estate for the future. Managing your estate correctly requires a solid baseline from which the user can understand, govern and assess changes, new deployments and opportunities as they arise.

Common language and visualisation

  • Bring a common language to all your assets enabling you to ask questions such as: ‘show me all databases,’ ‘show me all servers,’ ‘show me all virtualization’ in your estate. Visualise where assets are located and how they relate to each other which allows deeper insight into your estate.

Modelling

  • Managing an estate also means planning for the future, looking how existing estates can be transformed, scaled up, removed from and augmented. Implementing an effective estate management solution can help the user to model changes in the estate and to look at the commercial impact.

Opportunity identification

  • Analysis of contract and discovered estate uncovers areas of opportunity and pin-points issues. This can help to highlight product and service cross sell and upsell where applicable.

What does this have to do with the channel?

Customer spend is getting tighter, the mantra ‘to do more with less’ applies to CIOs, IT managers and also to channel partners who manage their customer estates today.

Estate Management solutions provide the channel with new opportunities for incremental revenue from their existing customers by providing tools to gain deeper insight into existing customer estates, helping to identify new service opportunities thus enabling the channel to offer improved services and value to their customer base.

Posted under Estate Management, IT infrastructure

Five steps to delivering agile development and testing in the Cloud

HP cloud specialist

Andrew Stuart, HP Business Unit Manager, Avnet Technology Solutions UK

How ‘agile’ is your agile development?

  Software development cycles have become compressed over the years. This is true in terms of both pure software development and the implementation of package software applications. There has been a significant shift from historic waterfall development methodologies, which consisted of long planning cycles with a limited number of releases per year, to agile development techniques with continuous rapid delivery of incremental improvements. As a result of the larger number of release cycles there is need for increased testing and provisioning of controlled test environments which means a different set of challenges.

Some would say the development bottleneck has simply moved to the complex task of configuring and administering the hardware and software stack required for testing new applications. Modern composite applications rely on a complex stack of interdependent software programs. Changes in any one of the applications that contribute to the overall solution can have unanticipated consequences.

Here are five steps to avoid those consequences, break the bottleneck and test the cloud:

1) Automated deployment in a Private Cloud

Software development and testing is an ideal environment to exploit cloud automation software. It solves the issue of provisioning delays, inaccuracy and system administration costs without adding risk to production systems. With initiatives such as Avnet’s Cloud-in-a-Box organisations can implement a private cloud and populate it with advanced test management software to allow developers and testers to work together in a streamlined environment that fully supports agile methodologies without creating a testing bottleneck.

2) Beating the provisioning challenge

In order to keep up with agile development testing there is a need to stand up complex software and hardware environments quickly, accurately and reliably. Precise environment descriptions are required to ensure that the exact version of every contributing element is consistent between development, testing and production. On average each fresh install of components in a ‘sandbox’ can take 12-man hours of system administration per server, followed by six hours to configure and verify the complete environment. Assuming 80 ‘sandbox’ requests per year and the average request requires five servers to be built this gives an annual cost in excess of £290K. The beauty of using private cloud automation tools means this cost can be reduced by as much as 75 percent and even better it can be paid out of operational expense (OPEX) instead of capital expense (CAPEX).

3) Saving time on test planning and execution

Applications go through a predictable lifecycle and developers and testers need a systematic approach underpinned by tools that enforce the methodology in a productive manner. For example, there should be a Requirement Tree that displays the hierarchical relationship among requirements and ties them to tests and defects; a Test Plan Tree with defect and requirements association, risk-based prioritisation and test execution. By managing the scheduling and running of tests and organising them into test sets designed to achieve specific goals and business processes, time and expense can be saved by using the cloud.

4) Speeding production deployment

Server automation tools form the basis of production cloud deployments. By gaining familiarity with server automation tools during development and testing, IT departments become well-placed to evaluate their production for migration to the cloud. The precise software stack identified by the development team and verified by the quality testing team can then be deployed to a production environment for example running HP’s Server Automation tools.

5) Risk-based quality management

Risk-based, automated quality testing controls IT costs by reducing the number and duration of business critical application outages. This means less time and effort spent on problem identification, resolution and reworking. Centralised and rigorous risk-based testing should include three-way traceability between requirements, tests and defects to facilitate reduced outages and time spent on resolving them.

Following these five steps and taking advantage of a fully automated cloud environment spanning development, testing and production organisations can benefit from faster time-to-market, the elimination of production outages arising from software deployment errors and vast improvements in hardware and software license utilisation.

So just how agile are your agile developments and could the testing in the cloud make all the difference? For more information please click here.

Posted under Agile Development, Cloud Computing