Arguably the hottest topic within most IT departments today isting, asks why NSM is failing our firms. network and systems management (NSM). With independent studies forecasting a five-fold increase in NSM implementations over the next two years, the fact that up to 70 per cent of implementations have failed is a significant cause for concern.
So who do we blame? Badly specified systems are a problem and usually arise from poorly defined requirements. You can't point the finger at the marketing and sales departments, though. Companies will rightly sell their product on the features that it can deliver - not the ones it can't.
The technical department's role in evaluating, implementing and supporting products is invariably biased by its own prejudices and IT background. Just because the network department is a particular computer house doesn't necessarily mean its package will meet your requirements. It can affect the decision, but unfortunately it far too often makes it.
And finally, from the underlying operating system to the actual NSM application, people with insufficient knowledge or exposure are being used to design and implement systems. This situation may be due to the lack of technically capable people in the industry. However, should it be accepted?
Arguments can be made that any or all of the reasons outlined above are to blame for poorly selected and implemented systems. Yet I believe that the problem is due to three outstanding issues.
Let's take the first one: product evolution. The reality of NSM is that the products are changing, from tools that support technical departments, to products that support the business. Remember, it was only three years ago that the NSM battle was fought at the network layer, with protocols and industry standards being the battleground. Now service level management with defined service level agreements are forming the ideal, with products designed to truly support the business profile.
Next comes the need to clearly define measurable objectives and aims.
NSM products alone do not change the way an IT department or business functions - it is the processes that surround them that offer the best chance of success.
In the past, a consultant's involvement after the products have been selected was fine. Yet that method does not sit well with the business-orientated products of today.
However, while well-defined processes are invaluable, they do require resources, which leads us finally to available personnel. With NSM moving into a wider range of industries, the shortage of quality IT personnel is incapable of quenching the insatiable thirst that NSM demands.
Even if the product has been successfully selected and implemented, projects will fail in varying degrees due to a lack of post-implementation resources. I have seen a pattern recently where good IT personnel have become trained, only to leave to go to a rival or join the ever-increasing army of contractors. While this problem is surmountable for the large corporate, it is often fatal for others.
To conclude, NSM is a rapidly changing market that requires greater input from the business to define its requirements. It is vital that companies look at the available processes and, most importantly, the people to support projects. It is inevitable that outsourcing will become more prevalent in supporting NSM packages, as it not only provides dedicated personnel, but also guards against the IT department going AWOL.
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