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Run Book is what IT data centre managers understand as the Application Run Book. This is the IT Department “to do” list of problems to fix and the projects to deliver. This is a long and complex list, and keeping everything in sync, well co-ordinated, and efficiently using IT resources is a nightmare. Over 80% of IT-related problems are attributed to changes made to the IT environment. In addition, many IT department operations such as IT Support Helpdesks and Competence Centres are often activity silos, and true IT Department-wide business processes are few.
According to Todd DeLaughter, CEO of Opalis, Run Book Automation (RBA) is the answer. Pre-configured templates ‘orchestrate’, integrate, and automate IT Operations providing visibility into incidents, problems, configurations, changes, and release processes. The advantage of RBA over traditional custom coding and scripts is that RBA includes best practices, change management and documentation to manage changes in business rules and configuration settings. RBA is also transparent and is not concealed behind the workflow.
Opalis’ RBA offers out-of-the-box systems integration with leading management systems, for the IT Department’s internal use to automate IT process management. This is ideal for large companies—hence Opalis has more than 750 global customers including Toyota, Harley Davidson, Nokia, Xerox, BlueCross BlueShield, and Woolworths.
The IT Department is currently being discredited in the market in general. IT is seen as slow, unresponsive, and difficult to work with, lacking urgency and knowledge of the business. Software sales reps talk of circumventing IT to engage directly with the CFO with the message “you can implement this software yourselves—without IT ever having to be involved!”
Just last week (February 20th 2007) a Wall Street Journal article suggested that the remit of CIOs had changed. CEOs now want CIOs to focus on IT for strategic competitive advantage, rather than managing IT technical support. CIOs might delegate some of this to Run Book software.
Run Book Automation re-empowers the CIO. By better managing IT workloads, and by delivering more quality in IT operations, CIOs can potentially win back the hearts and minds of users. In addition, it can give the CIO more time to focus on providing strategic solutions for the business that form the IT backbone of delivering sustainable competitive advantage.
Other players in the RBA platform space include RealOps and iConclude. Point solution RBA vendors such as LanDesk, Enigmatic, BladeLogic and Opsware offer RBA for specific tasks such as server provisioning. You may ask “where are the ‘Big Four’ management software vendors: IBM, HP, CA and BMC?” Opalis has strategic industry partnerships with all the big players, and points to its vendor agnostic approach and out-of-the box capabilities as to why large vendors choose to partner with them.
The reality is that the large vendors have not got their RBA products and go-to-market execution plans together yet. RBA products probably won’t be a long time coming, at least for the large vendors’ own proprietary technology stacks. But to offer integration with other vendor IT management product portfolios might encourage competitive encroachment, so may not be forthcoming. In which case, Opalis and other RBA specialists should enjoy continued high growth.