The Problem with Manual Reports
At a Fortune 100 financial services company that provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through thousands of stores and tens of thousands of ATMs and the Internet across North America and internationally, management wanted IT to give simple answers to complex questions... immediately.
The IT manager at this company needed a solution. The company analyzes massive amounts of information from more than 30,000 servers and virtual machines. Data is sourced from servers through various tools, such as BMC, HP OpenView, a CMDB, and the Service Desk. The company has dozens of data centers and a large mainframe installation, along with petabytes upon petabytes of storage.
In such a complex environment, tracking capacity and performance risk is critical. “Being a financial services organization, we get audited moment to moment,” he said. “We need to have evidence, for example, that a capacity risk was identified on time, remediated, and accepted.” This, along with the need to answer business question and the IT department’s need for a flexible tool with repeatable processes, initiated the search for an automated analytics tool.
“One of my problems was I didn’t want to take data from one tool and copy and paste it in Excel to go into another tool, only to correlate it and throw it out there,” he said. “I wanted no-nonsense, one-stop shopping.”
He found that the automated analytics built into Vityl Capacity Management would help him provide context to the capacity questions asked by the business leaders.
The organization quickly realized the power of Vityl’s automated analytics after optimizing its existing footprint by virtualizing underutilized systems and physical servers. They reduced VM configurations to match the true workload and conducted a massive server consolidation project. The IT team integrated performance, capacity, and asset data into a single, unified analysis tool. The capacity planners created repeatable processes that reduced errors, reduced senior staff time, made new staff effective from day one, and made junior staff productive without years of training. “An impressive 70% of analysis is now completed automatically and delivered in a human-readable report.”
This huge amount of automated analysis meant that staff spent 95% less time per report. Gone are the days of cutting and pasting data into Microsoft Excel to build charts. Analysts spend their time analyzing reports instead of creating them. And staffing is flat over the last several years while massively increasing what the group can achieve.
While the organization uses many tools for configuring information, change records and trouble ticketing, Vityl pulls that information together into a single, analytical report. It integrates data sets from BMC Performance Assurance, HP OpenView, VMware Virtual Center, EMC Control Center, Remedy, and custom capacity tools, yet is smart enough to adjust reporting to reflect the differences between platforms, data types and metrics.
For example, the same report that analyzes a physical server’s CPU activity can also analyze a VMware virtual server’s CPU activity. None of this requires copying and pasting or data replication of any kind. Data from tens of thousands of servers and thousands of applications is pulled together and analyzed with a staff of only a few capacity planners. Automated monthly reports identify capacity risks for specific applications and contain only the actionable information, not pages and pages of irrelevant details.
In one project, this team quickly analyzed tens of thousands of servers to determine what could be virtualized. They automatically generated a report that tested a server for virtual candidacy, providing an understanding of its resource consumption, and determining what size of VM was required.
Give the Business Context
Using IT terminology doesn’t help business leaders or customers understand what’s happening in the organization. So, to give the business a better understanding of the environment in their own terms, the IT manager translated his IT information into fixed costs, variable costs, and other business vernacular.
“I’m a U.S.-based financial institution. Most of our work is during bankers’ hours, so just before and just after business hours are our lowest, quietest times. Those are my fixed costs,” he explained. “Variable costs are the change from that line to the peak of the day. How busy did we get that day and what’s that difference between fixed and variable? I compute headroom based on how much that change can increase before I run out, before I hit a threshold or some other rule that I’ve determined. And then I jam all that into a Vityl automated analytics report.” So now he has a repeatable, automated forecasting method inside a single tool. His team simply selects the server or set of servers, selects a time period, starts the reports, and Vityl generates all the answers the business and IT could ever want.
The organization’s capacity management team has successfully delivered on its mission to reduce, optimize, consolidate, and virtualize across the enterprise. “We now have powerful, repeatable processes and analyze faster and easier,” he said. They found that Vityl provides tremendous flexibility, seamlessly integrates data from existing sources, and automatically delivers actionable information in reports – and accomplished their mission.
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