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Kentik 2016 Prediction: ITOM Will Grow Up and Integrate

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2016.  Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Jim Frey, the VP of Product Management at Kentik

ITOM Will Grow Up and Integrate

One of the sectors of the IT industry that has been least touched by cloud computing is IT Operations Management (ITOM) tools.  Beyond Application Performance Management (APM) and wireless LAN management, most ITOM practices are highly siloed, engineer-centric, and based on-premises enterprise software and appliance tools.  This is starting to change, and we'll see that change continue and accelerate in 2016.

Cloud computing has made an indelible mark on IT practices.  That IT will operate hybrid clouds with a heavy and perhaps dominant dose of public IaaS and SaaS is unquestioned at this point.  Gartner reports that most net new applications are being developed for public cloud deployment.  API-friendliness is de rigueur in this new reality.  Accordingly, provisioning and configuration management has moved towards API automation model. Chef, Puppet, Ansible and Saltstack are great example of this movement.

Accompanying this cloud trend is a DevOps movement with roots in agile development and Lean IT.  DevOps largely presumes both an API-driven infrastructure and high degrees of automation.  It adds to that an organizational culture value for cross-team collaboration.  From development through deployment, App Dev and IT Ops teams are expected to work in tandem to practice continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment.

Compared to the progressiveness of the cloud and DevOps trends, ITOM is a bit of a laggard.  Most ITOM practices are still built on organizational hierarchies and "throw it over the wall" ways of doing problem escalation.  Tools are still primarily deployed as point solutions or as monolithic enterprise software.  Most of today's dominant legacy ITOM tools were architected in an older, scale-up model rather than a cloud, scale-out model.  As a result, in many cases, the high volume of analytics and diagnostics data that IT infrastructure produces can't be stored, so much of it is thrown out and only summary snapshots of the data are retained. And while some tools can handle the load, deploying enough hard infrastructure to get there becomes prohibitively costly to deploy and maintain.  Tool interfaces and practices are still primarily GUI-based, and it can be argued that a lot of ITOM institutional knowledge consists of "muscle memory"-knowing where to click a mouse on a screen.  APIs in the ITOM space have not been used for direct end-user interaction so much as vendor and custom software integration, commonly at high services costs and commonly resulting in a brittle architecture that is difficult to move forward when new releases (and new feature capabilities) arrive.  As a result, valuable analytics data is often trapped inside these tools, severely limiting or effectively halting cross-team collaboration, automation and efforts to achieve continuous process improvement.  The focus is on survival.

This model is clearly unsustainable in a cloud and DevOps world.  We've already seen a movement towards new, open-source tools like the ELK stack.  We've also seen more open, API-lead ITOM SaaS startups, and 2016 should bring more.  These are healthy developments and we're rapidly approaching a tipping point where it will no longer be justifiable to continue to invest in legacy tools and build siloed practices around their rigid GUIs.  The major ITOM vendors have seen the writing on the wall and are working to shift their solutions to a hybrid cloud model.  APM will continue its already significant shift into the cloud.  Systems management cloudification has started, and will ramp.  Catalyzed by interest in software-defined architecture, network management, often the last to join every phase of IT modernization, will cloudify rapidly starting in 2016.

Cloud is a disruptive force, because it upends a key piece of IT's historical identity-which is owning, configuring and maintaining infrastructure and applications.  Cloud is also inevitable.  ITOM is a latecomer to the cloud game, but as it starts down that road, we'll see similar kinds of disruption in practices, tools and vendor ecosystem as we've seen in other sectors.  2016 promises to be an interesting year for ITOM!

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About the Author

Jim Frey, VP Product Management

Jim has worked at the forefront of IT and network management technology for over twenty years.  His experience includes work as an industry analyst at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), executive roles at NetScout and Micromuse, and product marketing roles at Agilent and Cabletron.  As VP of Research for EMA, Jim covered the changing demand landscape for enterprise network and infrastructure management tools, technologies, and practices via direct primary research, practitioner dialogue, and technical product studies. As VP of Marketing at NetScout, Jim also played a key role in planning and executing joint marketing projects with NetScout's major alliance partners, including HP, Mercury, Riverbed, and OPNET. He also acted as communications director for NetScout's acquisition and integration of Network General and the Sniffer line of performance management and troubleshooting products.  Throughout his years in the infrastructure and network management sector, Jim has been a regular speaker at industry events around the globe and has been published in several journals, proceedings, magazines, and textbooks.
Published Wednesday, October 21, 2015 6:30 AM by David Marshall
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