Software Usage Monitoring and Optimization

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Introduction: Why metering matters

By Signe Marie Stenseth, Vice President, Open iT, Inc.

The focus of this paper is to examine how usage monitoring in an E&P IT environment can be beneficial for many stakeholders; executives and IT management, individual users, and also providers to the industry.

Many of you are asked to do more with less: Invest in new technology with a shrinking software budget or cover more tasks with fewer resources. Many of you have a security focus. All of you are high-end users of technology, with little tolerance for denials and bad performance of your systems. And finally, many of you provide software or services and you want the end-users to have as much value from your delivery as possible. In that way they will be your long term customer.

The proposition of this paper is the following: You should all benefit from monitoring information technology resource usage in your environment or at your customer site. Regardless of your position, being the CIO, a team leader, a portfolio manager, a support person, an account executive or a high-end technical user, my claim is that all of you would be more successful in your job if you had an overview of how critical IT resources are in use. A few key reports on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, would add a lot of value to you all as stakeholders.

The structure of this paper first will be to explain why metering matters and what you can expect to accomplish with metering. Secondly, we will go through business cases where E&P organizations have introduced monitoring of IT usage and where they have clearly benefited from it. The last part of the paper has a practical aim to it: We will discuss the common obstacles of getting started and give you some advice on what to look for and how to move forward with usage monitoring.

Why IT management becomes increasingly more complex and demanding

According to Gartner Group, the IT market analysis company, there are four forces that have increased in strength over the last year – and are squeezing you as a manager or provider of IT services:

  • Growing demand from the business – Users ask for more
  • Expanding internal coordination responsibilities – Your organization has become more global!
  • Increased technical complexity

Regulatory issues such as compliance with agreements and laws can be added to this list. All of this creates a case for better documenting what you have and how it is in use, to be able to base discussion on facts rather than assumptions. It can easily be felt as a burden that you have to keep an account of IT resource usage, but my point is that usage information is strategic knowledge that can be used proactively. Having an overview of usage is similar to financial accounting when it is used as a planning tool – and it benefits the organization. Usage metrics are a critical part of this documentation – information that stakeholders can act on to improve operations and innovations.

The reason usage monitoring is often challenging is that there is no unified way of reporting on this aspect of technology. There might be some reporting and monitoring processes in place, but it is an immature science with no common format, and there is no unified interface that makes it easily accessible for different stakeholders. Getting the right reports when you need them is often done on an “ad hoc” basis, and requires manual work importing data into Excel spreadsheets. It is a process that is too time-consuming to undertake on a regular basis.

The ideal scenario is to have a reporting and optimization solution that can automatically collect and generate usage reports tailored for each stakeholder giving you accurate facts by which to navigate and control the direction of your IT operations. The optimization task can partly be automated based on your own business rules, and for some situations may need a more thorough business analysis before action is taken.

Gartner Group publishes each year a survey of the main executive IT concerns, and the results are also applicable to E&P IT environments. For some years now these concerns have been (not ranked): - Security and Risk, Costs and Accountability, Service and Performance and – looking into the future: IT is becoming a support for Business Process Improvements. IT is playing a critical role – not only supporting the business, but also suggesting improvements to drive business goals. With these concerns in mind, I will go through some business cases that illustrate how some of these issues can be addressed by monitoring usage of IT resources.