Welcome to the last edition of the Unified IT newsletter for 2019!
Our cover story in this edition is related to the IT Asset Management (ITAM) branch of Unified IT. A lot of our recent customer conversations and incoming demand is around hardware and software asset intelligence. This is no surprise to us as there is a direct relationship between security and asset management, when security is in the spotlight by association the assets customers are trying to secure gains focus as well. In response to this trend this newsletter is ITAM flavoured including our upcoming webinar and special offer. Enjoy!
Finally, as 2019 draws to a close, we wish you the merriest of season’s greetings from the entire team to you all and your families and we hope to see you again in 2020!
Did you know that Fusion5 is a managed service provider with over 400K (and rising) monthly consumption on Azure? Well now you do 😊 We host a smorgasbord of solutions and applications for our customers including mission critical applications like HR and payroll. Put simply if things go wrong, our customer’s employees do not get onboarded or paid, can you imagine that?! I share this with you to express our empathy to our readers in the DevOps, security, infrastructure and cloud teams and to inform them that we understand what keeps them awake at night.
You can talk to us anytime about either your current managed service provider, your own managed services processes and technologies or even if you haven’t gone SaaS or cloud yet and are considering it. We have a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert on our team and are continuously helping customers make that leap of faith into the cloud.
Below we have a case study hot off the press for you from Ross Cosmetics
Founded in 1921 by James Ross as J & H Ross, Ross Cosmetics started life as a cosmetics importer. However, by the 1930s, the company was manufacturing its own cosmetic products from its Flinders Lane premises in Melbourne.
Today, Ross Cosmetics is one of the largest personal care, skincare and cosmetics manufacturers in Australia. It’s still family-owned and operated, with the 4th generation of the Ross family leading the business into the future.
Ross Cosmetics’ purpose-built facility in Melbourne provides its customers with a complete contract manufacturing solution including R&D, product development, regulatory support, quality assurance and control, warehousing, and local and international distribution.
For the last decade, all aspects of the business have been running on JD Edwards software. Around 70 of the company’s 100 staff use the application on a daily basis, with some 30 to 40 doing so simultaneously.
Although JD Edwards supported the business perfectly, crunch time had arrived for the ageing technology environment which hosted their business-critical application.
“The lifecycle of our in-house servers had actually come to an end,” says Jay Centeno, IT Manager for Ross Cosmetics. “It was going to cost us $150-180k to physically refresh the server environment. On top of that, our version of JDE was quite old and on extended support.”
From discussions with Fusion5, it was clear to Centeno and Ross Cosmetics that the logical (and much more affordable) step forward was to move JD Edwards to the cloud. Fusion5 projected that changing to Azure would save the business a staggering $235,000 in operating and capital costs in just three years.
Savings included leveraging the Azure Hybrid Benefit offer so Ross Cosmetics could still use their on-premise licenses within the cloud, thus avoiding the need to purchase additional licences.
It was a compelling argument for change, and the decision was made to embrace the cloud.
Clear, Azure skies ahead
The move to Azure was smooth and stress-free, says Centeno.
“From my point of view, it was very easy. Fusion5 did all the heavy lifting, so to speak, from the architecture end and in setting it all up. The implementation was very smooth and fast – it only took about two weeks and there was no interruption to business at all. We couldn’t have been happier.”
After two weeks of preparation, Fusion5 moved JD Edwards from Ross Cosmetics’ physical servers to Azure on a Friday night. Centeno carried out some testing over the weekend, and on Monday morning it was business as usual.
JD Edwards is critical to Ross Cosmetics’ operations, and Centeno holds front line responsibility for its availability. And as Centeno is a one-man IT team, it makes him all the more appreciative of his relationship with Fusion5 and their ongoing support . “If the server or system is down, or no-one can get access, getting it back online is my absolute priority.”
The move to Azure is Centeno’s first direct experience with a cloud environment, and he has noted some significant improvements in performance.
“The decision to move JDE to Azure was the right one,” says Centeno. “We have a faster operating environment, better security, and we know that future JDE upgrades will be easy. I would say certain aspects of performance are probably three to four times better than on our servers.”
“With Azure, Fusion5’s JDE developers can create a virtual server for testing. Before, they’d have to work in our office on the onsite servers, which added to the cost of making changes.”
By continuously optimising Ross Cosmetics’ Azure resources through analysing current workloads, and moving predictable and persistent workloads to Azure Reserved Instance, Fusion5 has helped drive down the company’s technology costs by a further 30%.
Looking to the future
To provide an easier platform for change, Ross Cosmetics had Fusion5 move their existing 8.12 version of JD Edwards to Azure with a view to upgrading to the latest 9.2 version in the near future. While 8.12 isn’t really built for the cloud, says Centeno, the decaying servers made the move top priority.
“Our next step is to move to Version 9, and we can now do that without investing in physical servers. Upgrading after the move to Azure makes it an easier and less expensive process.”
Given the gaps between the existing solution and the new version, Centeno anticipates a reimplementation. He’s excited about a fresh start, as many of the business process automations in the old version are no longer best practice. “It gives us the opportunity to question every modification we made, and ask ourselves ‘why?’,” he says. “Removing unnecessary or obsolete customisations will allow us to move smoothly from one version to the next.”
A concrete partnership
After 4 months of using their new Azure environment, Centeno says they’ve experienced over 99% uptime of their JDE environment.
And while he’s no less busy, Centeno’s focus has shifted from nursing ageing technology to managing other IT projects and achieving other strategic business technology goals – and everything in between. One thing, however, remains constant: Centeno’s strong relationship with Fusion5.
“Given my responsibilities, once I get to know a company and its support staff, I tend to stay with them. First with Myriad IT and continuing over to Fusion5 once the companies merged, it’s been a very good relationship.”
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a deep and broad topic and like a lot of terms in our industry, they can mean different things to different people, so it is important to draw a line in the sand and establish a common denominator for the discussions by understanding what aspects are important to your organisation and more importantly why?
Today we are sharing with you a point of view that we have developed which seems to resonate well with our audience in helping clarify and prioritise the different aspects of ITAM. We then established an execution framework around it to help our customers achieve successful ITAM outcomes.
Let us start by looking at any ITAM transformation / modernisation initiative in a linear and phased approach:
1. UNDERSTAND what and why
2. Assess RISK and prepare for next audit
3. Establish GOVERNANCE through relevant process automation
4. Achieve software license COMPLIANCE
5. OPTIMISE your ITAM spend
Everyone appreciates quick wins and low hanging fruit analogies, so we will focus today on the second phase of the framework which is designed to defer process for a later phase and focuses on giving the people involved (stakeholders) what they need using some effective technology.
One of the challenges is identifying the stakeholders, ITAM responsibilities differ from one organisation to another and best practice does suggest commonly accepted roles and responsibilities but, in most businesses, departments are constantly being stretched to do more with less and as a direct result these lines get blurred. Having said that, there is one fact that is common across all organisations and that is there are 3 types of stakeholders:
- Users of the assets (consumers)
- Owners of the assets (business and financial owners) and
- People who support the assets
They all have different needs and it is almost impossible to have a one size fits all tool to the support those personas. Our solution to this problem is to have a single and integrated technology platform for ITAM (powered by Ivanti) and have different user interfaces with specifically built and configured capabilities to support the view they need of the assets and more importantly, the actions related to their day to day activity around asset management.
A key pre-requisite to achieving this is to slightly change how an organisation views a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and start understanding the value of having an Asset Management Database (AMDB) as well, a data services layer. They both serve different purposes but should be fully integrated because trying to achieve a greater maturity in ITAM with just a CMDB is problematic and is the main reason why many CMDB projects are expensive or are put into the ‘too hard’ basket or abandoned before completion.
Being able to continuously assess your asset risk and having the accurate data required to conduct a hardware and/or software audit at any time is the business outcome of Phase 2 of our framework. Asset Intelligence is the deliverable functionality that provides all stakeholders a view they never had before of the assets, the AMDB is where the continuous discovery and the new and existing inventory data sources in your organisation are connected and form a data services layer, it is also where data translation services are configured to reconcile all the data. Then and only then, should the golden copy of the assets be automatically populated into the CMDB for the ITIL and ITAM processes to consume it, and see it through to disposal / end of life.
If you are interested in discussing this further, please reach out to us to organise a 90 minute session to cover this framework in greater detail to help you identify your ITAM priorities, establish next steps and also demonstrate the facilitating pieces of technology that we would be delivered during project execution.
Since our last newsletter we have successfully connected our Ivanti Cloud and Ivanti License Optimiser environments. In the context of the cover story, Ivanti cloud provides a cloud based and real-time view for our Internal IT folks of everything in our AMDB with the ability to proactively identify problems, which is part of Phase 2 of our ITAM framework. Over the coming months we will be looking to standardise and automate our Microsoft software license compliance (Phase 4 of our ITAM framework) this is powered by Ivanti License Optimiser. It is where all our contracts, vendor legal / license SKUs and software titles will reside and maintained automatically, all this data will be reconciled with the real-time asset hardware and software information which will result in achieving an Effective License Position for usage of all Microsoft products.
On the security and ASD top 4 front, we entered the final phase of our patch automation solution across both desktops and servers and we will share the end results with you in our next newsletter! We also entered the solution design phase of our application whitelisting initiative and started conducting workshops to identify the key use cases relevant to the different business units in our organisation.
Known to our customers and his peers as just Ed, Ed has been with Fusion5 and the Enterprise Service Management pillar for almost 7 years. Prior to that and since 2002 Ed has been working in enterprise software vendor land in various departments around business solution consulting, engineering and product management and has acquired unique skills in translating complex technology into business outcome driven solutions. An evangelist at heart, he helps our customers make informed decisions regarding their current and future software investments and develops our Unified IT frameworks that are being used as a benchmark in guiding organisations on their individual journeys.
A typical day for Ed consists of internal and external interactions around standardisation and optimisation of Unified IT processes and their building blocks (People + Technology). He works closely with our sales and marketing team, account managers, practice managers and consultants, managed services, internal IT and customer success team to provide input where relevant, which helps create consistency and synergy when interacting with our organisation in this space.
Any customer can request Ed’s time to conduct either technical (specific branch of Unified IT) or strategic (Complete Unified IT) onsite workshops. The output of such workshops is a technical concept document that details a prioritised list of recommendations based on best practice and customer experience and can be included in any business case, IT budget plan, project canvas or maturity gap analysis.