10 Steps to Simplifying Systems Management

As IT departments have matured over the years, many of their organization charts have sprouted into weeping willows of hierarchies that can flummox even the most organized CIO. Each branch waves in the winds of technology on its own, with its group of specialized technologists acting individually to work on very specific problems. There are merits to such a system, but one big disadvantage is that it makes high-level management of IT systems a real pain, says Roy Illsley, senior research analyst with Butler Group.

Each group has its own unique sets of servers, desktops, appliances and more to help them serve the business. They also often share systems with other groups, and even the systems unique to a specific group have the potential to greatly affect another group’s systems. Unfortunately, many IT departments are not equipped to efficiently manage all of these systems from the top. Systems management duties and roles are rarely delineated with a big-picture strategy in mind, and many enterprises fail to utilize tools that can give them a window into systems across the IT department and the business at large, says Illsley, who co-wrote a recent Butler Group report titled, “IT Systems Management Technology Comparison.”

 “This approach has created tensions between the requirements of the business users and the capabilities to manage the technology of the IT department. The result of this siloed approach is that IT resources are locked into technologies, and organizations face expensive retraining or new hiring costs if technologies new to the organization are selected,” Illsley wrote in the report. “The new, more holistic approach to systems management is that of simplification, so that the IT department can manage the technology stack at a higher level, and therefore enable it to manage a wider range of technologies more efficiently.”

Recently, Baseline chatted with Illsley and asked him to offer some no-nonsense advice for implementing holistic systems management practices and tools in an organization. The first five are organizational changes, while the last five deal with tool selection.