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RIM route to effective biz

The advent of remote network operations centre (NOC) services had heralded the arrival of Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM) in India during the year 2000. Though it had been a slow starter, the adoption of RIM has picked up by enterprises during the past two years. This may be attributed to the rise in demand with companies such as HCL Comnet ushering in a new RIM that held within itself globally benchmarked solutions and processes.

There used to be a time when Indian companies had resorted to managing their IT infrastructure internally. This used to be much before infrastructure management outsourcing got noticed and started being adopted. As IT infrastructure management became more complex, outsourcing of IT infrastructure management had to be brought to the fore.

However, it was facilities management that gained currency during the initial years.  It worked in such a manner that the company would itself build its own infrastructure and the service provider would allocate resources to run it. Ownership of all assets and exclusive resources to administer them were vested with the enterprise and remained more or less unused. IT ops began to lose out as skill to budget matrix became a complex affair to manage and domain expertise went lacking.

Such a situation warranted the ushering in of the shared model of remote infrastructure management, where in service providers like HCL gave the choice to enterprises to take recourse to its remote centralized IMS services on a shared basis along with other enterprises. When this came about, the customer was able to get value for money with additional benefits such as tool based thresholding, performance dashboards, process based management, alerting and automated trouble ticketing and finally domain expertise on tap.

What needs to be noted is that the benefits of the RIM service provided by companies are enjoyed over the whole value life-cycle and are not merely one-time cost savings.

Taking into consideration the pre-emptive problem resolution, RIM makes it possible for a CIO to put in place an IT operations fabric which can anticipate a problem before the user can. This becomes real via integrated monitoring and advanced correlation tools that can be used by the administrators. They can, in turn, resolve problems in a faster, structured manner.

At the same time, RIM makes visible the availability, performance and utilization of each component of IT landscape and gives historical trend reports for capacity planning, root-cause reports for problem diagnosis and flash-check feedback for availability status. Online reporting tools help provide companies with real-time control and visibility into their IT operations. The historical reporting aids capacity planning and investment needs.

It may also be seen that enterprises currently deploy the best tools to manage infrastructure, eliminating the need to evaluate, manage and implement complex EMS technologies. HCL, for instance, offers an integrated tooling architecture spanning across networks, security, data centre (Windows and UNIX) systems, end-user computing and applications. All an enterprise needs thereafter is to connect and jump-start their monitoring and management.

Shortage of skills in IT brings to the fore a problem of unavailability of trained systems administrators. This is something that could hurt functionalities at a time when server farms are getting larger and complex. IT infrastructure management requires UNIX and Windows experts for systems, database experts, messaging experts, Web administrators and ERP experts. They're expensive to recruit and retain. Training them to stay in sync with technology developments is an additional cost becomes a must. The gaps here can be filled by resorting to outsourcing to a specialist vendor.

An enterprise may not be well charted out when comes to processes. It may be seen that many a company fails to define escalation processes, and herein lies the problem. Remote data-center management is one area in IT where the standards have preceded widespread adoption. The most popular being the IT infrastructure library (ITIL). ITIL provides enterprises with a common framework to implement the management processes and ensures de-skilling. It also protects outsourcing investment. RIM ensures operations comply with processes defined by ITIL and IS0 27,000 for security. And these well-defined ITIL-based processes ensure faster problem resolution.

RIM may be of use when it comes to increasing the utilization of operational staff. Appropriate utilization of resources gives enterprises added time on problem management. RIM also has the capabilities to offer customers multiple avenues to reduce costs through reduction of under-utilized resources, leveraging operations improvements from working with multiple customers and cross-pollination of best practices, and increased automation by the use of tools that are integrated to provide a common framework.

Further, with the help of a help desk, tracking calls and faults become possible as it has proved to be a vital component in managing IT operations. It allows effective and timely responses; prioritization and management of all incoming and outgoing responses. End-user in today’s world wants instant access to their questions and many expect and rely upon 24-hour support. RIM provides you with a fully functional ITIL compliant Help desk, integrated with automated alerting from the IT infrastructure. It also provides the knowledgebase which can compile a list of the most frequently asked questions so that end users can find solutions to their problems without contacting a technician.

Mission critical operations can bank on remote access. For highly integrated supply chains, movement of product may be less important than the movement of information. It is important that about 70-80% of all IT tasks can be remotely managed. The need of the hour could be that Indian organizations should understand this so that they can begin to chalk out a business plan that begins to outline how RIMs can be leveraged better.

Excerpted from an article by Kamal Nath, Head-India sales, strategic sourcing business, HCL Technologies (Infrastructure Services Division).

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