IT Efficiency through ITSM25/01/12

The following article was posted in The Green IT Review and contains some interesting observations, facts and figures in relation to power consumption and efficiency in IT. IT Service Management (ITSM) and use of best practice processes could address most of the issues raised in this article. I have left the article as written by Sumir Karayi intact but have taken the liberty of inserting commentary to illustrate where ITSM has the answers.



Moving Beyond Power to Efficiency

A guest post from Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E.

Power management is en vogue and everyone’s talking about it, particularly as energy costs are rising in tandem with increases in consumption. There is also a general acceptance about environmental change and the need that we have to reduce our impact on the environment. Many IT folks are well aware of the importance of power management and the part it plays in reducing energy consumption and cutting costs (although how much they do about it is another matter).

The problem with power is that it isn’t a discrete component of IT. The best way to measure its impact is to look at overall efficiency. It is important to measure whether IT is doing useful work or not. If it is not, you can not only save power but see a whole host of other benefits, including reducing hardware costs (by decommissioning servers); software (by finding and eliminating applications that are not used); as well as associated maintenance. Another factor to consider is the cost of the time that people spend on managing IT. These extra costs can amount to 10x the value of power itself. So if you save £10 on power you could save £100+ in terms of total IT running costs.

Karen’s comment: Effective Service Asset and Configuration Management will enable identification of servers that can be decommissioned. It will also reveal servers that have low usage and should be subjected to a consolidation exercise. It will also assist in determining the benefits to be achieved from virtualization. All of this, of course, assumes a comprehensive and accurate configuration management system (CMS). The savings to be achieved from the identification of (a) redundant hardware which is switched on and consuming power and (b) applications that are running for no reason but consuming energy and incurring license and maintenance costs, can in itself pay for a project to establish a configuration management system and a supporting Service Asset and Configuration Management process. Change Management (in conjunction with Release and Deployment Management) should ensure that hardware which becomes redundant as the result of a change is either redeployed or recycled.

Service Portfolio Management should ensure that new services and associated applications are not introduced into the organisation if there is already a service in place that provides (or more or less provides) the same functionality and benefits proposed by the new service. Change Management should ensure that applications which become redundant as the result of changes are removed from the environment. An audit through Service Asset and Configuration Management should identify applications and the business services they support. If they do not support a business service then they should be candidates for decommission.

So while we started the debate with power, an area that 1E pioneered 13 years ago, what we have since found is that the debate has slowly but surely shifted to one around efficiency. Improving IT Efficiency tops the list for enterprises as they go into 2012, according to independent research firm Forrester Research, Inc.: “While 2011 started with a more robust IT spending environment, many organisations began to pull back midyear, and 2012 plans are expected to be more conservative given the high degree of uncertainty. […] Efficiency and consolidation are top IT priorities.(1)

As an example, one in six servers – 15% in any single data centre at any one time – are not doing anything useful. It’s not about utilisation levels but about the business value that the server delivers; whether your servers are doing anything useful at all. If there’s no useful activity, then your investment is giving you absolutely no return.

Karen’s comment: As mentioned in my earlier comment the answer to this problem is Service Asset and Configuration Management combined with effective and efficient Change Management and Service Portfolio Management. The key is to start with an audit of the servers in the data centre and determine what is running on each server. The questions to be asked are whether the server is being effectively utilized and whether the applications running on the servers are providing business value. The only services (and associated applications) in the Service Portfolio should be those providing value to the business.

Other thought-provoking statistics include:

  • A typical UK company with 1,000 PCs wastes £16,800 a year through not shutting down PCs.(2)
  • 22% of purchased software globally is never deployed.(3)
  • Between £650 and £1300 ($1000 and $2000) is spent on Windows 7 migrations per user – this could be saved if automated
  • 12% of IT help desk tickets are requests for new software. User self-service could save organisations in the UK and US over £5.6bn ($8.6bn) a year in IT help desk costs.(4)

All of these costs and waste are avoidable. In the quickly-evolving world of IT, efficiency is the next evolutionary step.

Karen’s comment: The service management activity of ‘Desktop and Mobile Device Support’ should be driving the installation of power management systems on the desktop fleet to power down PCs overnight. In the first instance the activity should identify the PCs that are candidates for being powered down as in some organisations not all PCs can be switched off over night e.g. those running mission critical applications required 24 x 7.

Service Catalogue Management and supporting technology can automate requests for software including the approvals and authorisations that may be required as well as the deployment and installation of the software. The Service Catalogue can provide the user with a self-service shopping cart experience. The request can be automatically passed to a manager for approval and following approval automatically installed (if the software is certified for use within the organisation). The CMS can be automatically updated following deployment. All of this can occur without any required intervention from the Service Desk or support personnel.

In regards to automation of migrations, the Release and Deployment Management process should ensure that the most effective and efficient method of migrating users from one operating system to another is in place.

I recommend that IT service managers take a look at some of the industry figures both in this report and others and determine the savings that could be made from effective and efficient IT Service Management processes. I suggest that the savings will justify the investment in time and resources to execute a service improvement programme.

(1) Forrester Research, 2012 IT Budget Planning Guide for CIOs (October 27, 2011) (2) 1E/Alliance to Save Energy, PC Energy Report (3) 1E, Software Efficiency Report (4) 1E, Help Desk Efficiency Report