Control and Agility in IT: An Interview with Evolven's Sasha Gilenson
BSM Review's Rick Berzle interviews Sasha Gilenson, CEO of Evolven, a relatively new entrant to the BSM space. Although focused on IT operations and serving companies at level 1 and 2 of the BSM Maturity model, Sasha offers some interesting insights into how Evolven's configuration analytics solution supports companies trying to move to level 3 by balancing IT’s agility to meet business requirements with control to ensure stability.
What is you professional background and experience, and can you tell us about Evolven and how you describe your target market??
Our buyer is VP of Operations in large organizations and CIO/CTO in smaller organizations. However, our product is used by numerous teams including; infrastructure management, operations management, application support, devops, change and configuration management, release management and Q/A.
What are the key challenges your customers are facing?
The challenge manifests itself in operational stability issues (i.e. growing number of performance and availability incidents, increasing mean-time-to-resolution), slowing time-to-market and increasing cost of operations. Our customers need to find a way to support the high pace of changes demanded by the business while maximizing operational stability of the critical business environments.
So Evolven is delivering tools to IT Operations. How do you see the tie to Business Service Management?
I see the challenge of IT today is to meet rapidly changing business requirements, so IT must be agile. That is what we see with our customers. The pace of change, the pace for demand for new requirements is accelerating. Ten year ago customers would put out new releases annually and updates quarterly. Now we see customers putting out new releases quarterly and updates weekly if not daily. These are not simply infrastructure changes, but changes in business applications.
Now when you have the situation to meet the need for agility, the question for IT is how do you deliver agility while maintaining a high level control. You still need to make sure it is safe, that you are meeting your SLAs and meeting the quality and stability requirements to support the business. So, there is a conflict between the need for agility and the requirement for control and stability.
How does Evolven’s solution address these challenges?
Evolven provides configuration analytics that deliver actionable information to support IT operational decisions that are derived from the complex and dynamic state of the IT configuration.
How does IT make the business case for new investments tools and infrastructure?
How do your customers think about BSM?
Is it a challenge getting IT to sell your value proposition to the business?
I see IT often frustrated with the demand that comes from business. They often state that the business just doesn’trealize what it takes to meet the demand. And the frustration from the business is that they just don’t get from IT what they are asking for.
Why do you think this exists? IT certainly has a strategy and it must be accepted at the executive level.
In my experience, CIO’s have a strategy and formulate it in the right terms, but when it gets translated it loses its meaning. I believe this is because of a combination of things. On the people side I think it is people skills and education. If you look at a web or system administrator or DBA they don’t talk BSM at all. And on the process side, nobody pushes them in the business direction. Their view is all rolled up in the dashboard that is part of service level management and they are totally accustomed to communicating a service level back to the business. But, again this infrastructure operations expert only sees his specific KPI – for example, my server was up 99.5% of the time. And the tools are a similar story. You have the capabilities for IT governance and financial management used by the CIO, but they get translated in very technical terms to the rank and file and, as such, lose the connection to BSM.
We think the industry needs to develop a common vocabulary and a set of KPI’s that work for both IT and Business to address this gap. Do you see this as a requirement for BSM?
Finally, how do you see the CIO role changing in the context of delivering IT-as-a-Service?
In mature organization where technology is viewed as strategic, we are seeing the reporting relationship of the CIO moving from the CFO to CEO – in at least one case that I am aware of the CIO sitting as a board member and still holding CIO responsibilities.
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