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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The State of ESM in 2009

With our feet now firmly in the year 2009 it's time for a look back - way back - to see where we've come from. I like to use a looking back segment like this as a checkpoint on our way as an industry, as organisations, and as individuals, to see if we're on target with our goals we set.

ESM has matured in the past few years with the popular adoption of ITIL/ITSM to move from Enterprise Server Management, to Enterprise Systems Management, and today; Enterprise Service Management. My opinion is that we're on track here at the highest levels and intentions of ESM because the understanding and adoption of ITIL/ITSM principles into ESM gets us where we've always intended to be - managing and monitoring the services that our IT infrastructure provides to our various customer groups.

The challenge is that the software developers providing ESM software solution have gone off in three directions; one group moving too quickly toward monstrous "ideal" solutions, another focusing on very niche solutions, and the third (where I think they have it right) scoping out existing & proven point solutions to become more mature and process-oriented products.

It's always interesting to me that the big software manufacturers and Gartner (et al) feel that they are setting the direction for ESM through their acquisitions and marketing. The reality is that a lot of what they are providing is just irrelevant for 90% of the organisations trying to put an efficient ESM solution in place. It's great stuff for that top ten percent of customers who are process-mature and cash rich. But for the rest of us, we need more focus on the practical and less on where those in their ivory towers feel that the industry should be heading.

From my experience, most people are still just trying to get ESM right, and get it to fit into their processes. The tools, people, and processes (of course) must go hand-in-hand - but just like you need the right number of people (not too many, and with the right skills) and processes that are tailored to fit the way your organisation operates, you need ESM applications (the tools) that fit the people and processes. Ideally you start with the processes that fit the vision; get the right people the skills they need, and then find the right tools. There are SO MANY choices for ESm products these days that doing the tools last shouldn't be a problem, yet, ironically, it seems so often to be the starting position.

Another gap I've found with the ESM industry in 2009 is that there's a lack of information out there on trends in network management. It's not sexy anymore so it's become the red-headed step child of ESM. More's the pity because it's still a critical aspect and great starting point.

With all the hoopla and focus on (not undeserved, but distracting) ITIL, ITSM, and the federated, unified, CMDB attention has been diverted from interesting things that have been going on in the OpenSource ESM world.

Upcoming ITManageCast posts are going to focus on these areas: trends in network management and trends in open source ESM.

Have a fantastic summer.

1 comment:

Tracy Avent said...

I tend to agree with Jason: there are a lot of products whose positioning seems to be about defining the direction that ESM is moving, but it is likely that the smaller and medium-sized businesses using the ITIL principles actually aim low on the target. The time and money investment behind serious ITIL, requires years of commitment and right now almost nobody can afford to make such a commitment. It is an open question whether those who already have done so, can keep to their original plans. Government agencies who face huge budget cuts, are a case in point.

And I do detect some frustration among those primarily focused upon network infrastructure management, that their facet of the job seems to be ignored by the marketing hype. It is possible that this pheomenon is a reflection of Merger and Acquisition politics and also of the reality that network infrastructure is much more reliable than it was twenty years ago when the ESM world began to form into something worth talking about.