There are three common but divergent choices taken by organizations when determining their management tool strategy.
The first direction is a single vendor approach, which largely frees the enterprise from the cost of creating their own integrations if their current business use cases are covered by a vendor’s monolithic toolset. However, this path also incurs the cost and disruption of replacing all existing management tools during this implementation as well as negating the investment in any automation content that had been created to support those in-place tools. IT automation options are now limited to that vendor’s offerings, along with their supported use cases and accompanying integrations. In the future, as business requirements evolve, building or customizing content to support any newly arising use cases may be costly and make upgrading to new tool editions much more costly - locking the IT organization into continuing the use of the current, customized revision of the toolset.
The second approach involves purchasing many individual point management tools from a variety of vendors where each tool has a narrow focus or is hybrid-environment specific. This approach is called “best of breed” and can lead to the implementation of a diverse but fragmented set of software tools to provide coverage across broad enterprise IT automation requirements. The goal of this strategy is to provide the best automation for each narrow requirement but may lead to having an automation toolset that is optimized at the individual team-member level as opposed to elevating the overall IT effort. Additionally, in this case, the overall management software license spend may increase.
The primary challenge arising from a best-of-breed strategy is the need for the creation and maintenance of many separate tool-to-tool integrations that are required to stitch these disparate tools into semi-automated processes. In addition, since these tools do not share a common development approach, aligning and coordinating data and automation content along each process adds to the integration complexity. Achieving data coordination across multiple vendors will be difficult, limiting the value of any analytics or machine learning capabilities contained in separate tools. Scripted integrations become brittle over time, as tool revisions constantly diverge. Finally, only a few senior, expert IT staff are able to maintain these integrations.
Hybrid IT Management as a Third Option
The third alternative strategy is represented by a Hybrid IT Management approach. Here, a set of proven, enterprise-scale IT operations management solutions are employed that can integrate with, and work alongside, existing legacy and cloud tools. This middle-ground approach avoids the disruption of a ‘rip and replace’ approach while providing the opportunity to employ broad, end-to-end automation value streams that work to minimize disruption, maximize IT effectiveness, and reduce the need for creating custom integrations.
Successful hybrid IT management requires the adoption of a consistent business process and collaborative approach between separate silo management teams. Different teams will have different objectives and measurements that will direct their actions, but they can work better together when using a common set of management tools. The intention is not to force a merger of cloud teams, but to standardize how automation works across each silo, enabling a consistent business system approach for IT. In this way, adopting a hybrid IT management mindset will help drive IT cultural change and technology evolution.
One key value of hybrid IT management is the ability to view processes in a more abstracted way. When IT adopts a hybrid but business-architecture aligned process to create services, tools or technologies can be changed or inserted as needed and become replaceable building blocks in a well-functioning tool chain. This allows automation content and workflows to be leveraged across teams, allowing best practices to be shared and instantiated within different parts of the IT organization. In this way, a hybrid IT management strategy allows a single toolset to support teams who are responsible for different technologies at different levels of maturity – and allow each team to progress at their own pace toward new technologies – without the need to retool the management automation framework.