Today, we have the pleasure of talking with Rich Lane from Forrester. Rich, tell us a little bit about your role.
I’ve been a Forrester analyst almost two years now. I cover all things monitoring, be it APM [application performance monitoring], network monitoring, infrastructure monitoring, and any other type of IT monitoring that’s out there.
I specialize in the artificial intelligence-machine learning [AI/ML] layer that goes across monitoring products. My focus is on how we can use AI/ML to make the jobs of operations folks easier and to give them really good insights on the massive amounts of data they’re seeing every day.
Given the environment of uncertainty, and all the challenges that IT operations teams are dealing with right now, what conversations are you having with enterprises and the people that are in operations seat? What are their biggest concerns?
First, people spent a lot of money and a lot of time running business continuity planning contingencies, but nothing prepared them for a global pandemic.
A “black swan” event.
Right. The planning was for an event like a flood or fire where ten percent of the workforce goes to a disaster recovery center, but the disruption will be for just a few days and we’ll figure it out in the meantime. The pandemic lockdown, however, is uncharted territory. It has shown that a lot of companies aren’t prepared to have an entire workforce working from home. Enterprise infrastructure was architected primarily for on-premises with people accessing the same applications remotely over home connections. But, with everyone at home, what they’re finding is that the applications just aren’t performing to expectations.
It’s even harder for IT operations, and especially for teams running legacy monitoring tools. You can’t go to the data center; you have to manage everything remotely, but a lot of those old toolsets weren’t made to work over a VPN or to have their dashboards forwarded. It has shown the need for a long-term strategy. And while some organizations have put new investments on hold, others I’m talking with say this has reaffirmed the need for a complete digital transformation, not just around the edges.
How do you get started? Rather than investing in a technology refresh, you need to rethink your approach with the lessons learned during this time. Use your budget to shore up infrastructure, data centers, and cloud strategy. Don’t put a Band-Aid on it. Fix it. Then, when we get back to a “normalish” way of living, you’ll be in a much better position to accelerate your pace of innovation and modernization.
What happens to IT organizations under pressure and struggling with budget give-backs in response to dramatic changes in top-line revenue outlook? Are there strategies for dealing with that?
A lot of organizations are not making capital expenditures right now. Budgets are being cut and will be reevaluated in six months. That makes some sense. You should be cautious. But I was just talking to a large bank and they said, “Actually we’re taking all that budget and we’re accelerating our digital transformation. What we discovered was that, when everybody’s working from home, our online business increases because more people are logging in, checking their accounts, making purchases, and paying bills remotely.”
That increased activity tested their readiness. They know what needs to be addressed, and so not only are they continuing with a number of big tech initiatives, they’re adding budget and people to make sure they fix the things that need fixing.
Are there any strategies you’re hearing from those enterprise customers that are worth sharing to our larger community?
One of the big things that comes up is around remote management systems. The legacy tools they’re using have become a major pain point. That’s when we’ll have a talk about modern enterprise monitoring platforms. They’re agnostic and have the ability to understand your system’s behavior, seasonal trends, and how it’s performing under different circumstances. It helps you to know your system isn’t failing, it’s just operating differently because everyone’s working from home. Don’t worry about it; move on to something else.
Modern monitoring platforms provide better insights that enable IT operations teams to react much quicker and to be better able to respond to extraordinary circumstances with confidence.
There are two schools of thought. You can hunker down, ride the wave, let it pass and then take action. Or you can follow the John Chambers School of Thought and accelerate out of the downturn. That’s what set Cisco apart. Competitors would fall behind because they were not prepared to invest. We know the pandemic will end, so it’s important to make investments that will enable increased efficiencies, better insights, and more responsiveness.
Rich, thank you for sharing your insights and thoughts with us and our community.
Thank you very much for having me.