Diversified Software: Enterprise Operability - The Key To Managing Complexity And Risk

Globalization and the "information economy" are driving the need to exploit the power of technology in order to maintain competitive advantage. Nowhere is this more evident than the world of e-business where technology is the catalyst for creating entirely new business models.

This accelerating dependence upon information and technology, however, comes with significant challenges and risks. Complexity management, the understanding and control of interdependent platforms, systems and applications, is critical in order to maximize business continuity and to minimize the impact of business outages.

Enterprise application integration, the arrival of new (and relatively immature) technologies, the need to support a heterogeneous IT infrastructure, and the declining availability of skilled IT resources, all contribute to an environment of high risk and high reward. A place where the value of managing IT centrally is now essential, but the challenges to doing so have become significant.

Gartner Group estimates that today, the principal causes of application outages are in fact not hardware-related (only 20%) but principally due to operator error (40%) and application failure (40%). Interestingly their research also indicates that, despite significant improvements in IT management practices, by 2003 little will change. Although application failures will increase slightly to 45%, operator error will remain at 40% of all causes of IT-related business outages.

Given the intense industry focus around application development, testing and quality assurance practices, how could so many failures be attributable to operational error? Particularly considering that operational requirements and procedures are driven to a large degree by the application development process?

The answer to this question lies within the notion of "operability." It is one thing for an application or system to be developed, tested and considered functionally working, but it is an entirely different proposition for that application or system to be deployed in an "operable" status. That is, capable of being operated by someone other than the original developer or consultant.

A case in point is the trend towards large-scale outsourcing of complex systems integration projects. A significant proportion of new application development now takes place outside of corporate IT. In many cases, systems integrators work closely with user organizations to build complex applications under strict budgetary and time guidelines. The challenge comes when these applications become ready for deployment.

As many organizations have begun to experience with new client/server and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, "operability" is more than just an issue of moving executable code onto a production server, or handing it over to a centralized operations group to deal with. The complexity of these applications, simply in terms of the number of servers, application components and platform interdependencies, means that now, more than ever, application operations knowledge needs to be captured and shared with those who need it.

If organizations intend to fully leverage the value of new, advanced technology, then the achievement of business continuity is critically dependent upon Enterprise Operability - the organization's ability to capture, store and make available application operations knowledge to personnel who need it when they need it.

Solutions for Enterprise Operability

Diversified Software's proprietary approach to Enterprise Operability comprises a set of technology and services to enable organizations to implement an integrated, best practices approach to production systems management.

Enterprise Operability is founded upon the principle of achieving successively higher levels of operability through the carefully planned, combined implementation of Asset Management, Knowledge Management and Best Practices.

Asset Management describes the principle that software is both valuable and critical to the successful execution of business processes. It is therefore worthy of being qualitatively managed, maintained and protected in the same way as other corporate assets. Diversified Software's approach to asset management recognizes the importance of formally establishing policies, procedures and standards, and enforcing their value through automation.

Best Practices describes the principle that the optimum approach to any given process is characterized by its recognition and use as a general convention, and as a guide or template for new adopters. Best practices are typically validated by some form of measurement that highlights the capture and analysis of metrics which are used as feedback to initiate further process improvement.

Knowledge Management describes the principle that business process optimization is achieved through the reuse of information supported by best practices. The difference between information and knowledge is experience. By capturing and making available production systems experience, or knowledge, organizations not only raise the level of operability and responsiveness to change, but also optimize their internal resources by eliminating the tendency to "reinvent the wheel."The concepts of Asset Management and Knowl-edge Management tie to-gether in two very important ways. Firstly, knowledge is a form of intellectual capital, and is now considered a vital corporate asset in this new era of the "knowledge worker." Within IT, the combination of a widely recognized skills shortage, high employee turnover, and the rapid rate of technological change, all place experience, and the knowledge that comes with experience at a very high premium. It is therefore an imperative for IT organizations to be able to capture the knowledge and experience of those that have it, and to make it available to those that do not.

The second important way in which Asset Management is related to Knowledge Management is that in order to effectively manage an asset there is a need to determine the impact of change upon it, as well as other related and dependent elements. Knowledge provides this mechanism which means that, at the enterprise level, knowledge must be captured and made available if standards and procedures are to be enforced, responsiveness to change is to be rapid, and operability is to be gained at all levels and across all platforms.

Achieving Enterprise Operability

Diversified Software offers organizations a comprehensive range of technology and services to support the goal of achieving Enterprise Operability. Diversified Software's proprietary process guides organizations through successively higher levels of operational capability, while stressing the value of defined procedures supported by powerful technology.

Enterprise Operability is gained through an iterative, cyclical process of assessment, planning, implementation and post-implementation assessment. Diversified Software provides a full range of consulting, planning, systems integration, implementation and training services to help organizations throughout their Enterprise Operability project lifecycle.

About Diversified Software

Diversified Software has been helping organizations achieve Enterprise Operability for over 20 years and is the leading provider of products and services to support production systems management. Diversified Software's products, which include INFO/X Enterpriseª, PRO/JCLª, DOCU/TEXT¨ and JOB/SCANª have become industry standards and are used throughout the world in businesses and many branches of national, state and local government.

Diversified Software is headquartered in Morgan Hill, California, and operates in over 30 countries worldwide through a network of subsidiary offices, distributors and partners. For more information about Enterprise Operability and Diversified Software visit our Web site at www.diversifiedsoftware.com. Alternatively, call Toll Free 1-877-265-2675, or +1 408-778-9914 outside the United States and Canada.