Building a Stronger IT Organization
By Samuel Greengard
Over the last few years, business executives have recognized that it's critical to address IT issues proactively and strategically. The ability to streamline a vast array of systems—while avoiding breakdowns and service-level degradation—is frequently the difference between flourishing and floundering.
This concept hasn't been lost on Mentor Graphics, a publicly traded firm with revenue of more than $1 billion in 2012 and more than 70 offices worldwide. The Wilsonville, Ore., company has established itself as a leader in the electronic design automation software field.
About five years ago, Mentor Graphics recognized a need to become more proactive in managing IT resources. The firm needed to ratchet up support for its internal engineering staff, product development teams and support personnel, all while building a highly efficient infrastructure that provides a foundation for best-practice business and IT.
"We had more than 30 data centers scattered around the world, and we wanted to consolidate to two locations—one in Oregon and the other in Ireland," explains CIO Ananthan Thandri.
The company turned to business services management (BSM) software from Hewlett-Packard. Among other things, it provides automated monitoring and detection of incidents, along with the ability to resolve problems without any service disruption.
The software also assists in optimizing system performance and offers predictive analysis tools that help Mentor Graphics make better IT decisions. In addition, employees can tap into an internal social networking application, Yammer, to communicate and collaborate around the globe.
Thandri says that the BSM software has provided a window into IT operations, enabling IT to instantly determine which systems are working effectively and which are delivering subpar performance. "We can understand when a transaction is taking longer than it should to perform and what the underlying reason is," he explains.
Today, the firm monitors about 60 separate applications using the software. "We also have the ability to understand what is happening within different countries and different locations," Thandri explains. "If we reach a set performance degradation threshold, we can take immediate steps to address the problem."
In fact, the BSM system provides performance information and analysis that extends beyond the scope of the IT department. End users can view the length of time required to complete a transaction, and business executives can see what the customer experience looks like.
"In most cases, we are aware of a problem and taking steps to address it before it ever hits the help desk," he points out.
Overall, Thandri estimates that BSM has boosted efficiency by upward of 25 percent and trimmed IT administration costs by around 30 percent. Equally important, he says, Mentor Graphics has built a more strategic bridge between business and IT functions.
"We have become a far more efficient company," Thandri concludes, "and we have reduced finger-pointing and boosted business confidence."