Category Archives: IT operations

What’s New with VMware vRealize

What’s new with vRealize?

Today VMware announced updates to 4 major products with vRealize branding (3 within the suite and 1 not). Even though the version increments are small, the features they bring are not! vRealize Operations, Log Insight, Network Insight, and Business for Cloud have all received updates. So let’s get started, shall we?

vRealize Operations 6.6

Right out of the gate, you will notice something very different in this build of vRealize Operations (lovingly known as vROps). That’s right, they’ve embraced HTML5! If you’ve been using the HTML5 client for vSphere, you’ll see this looks very familiar (it’s the same underlying engine in both). It is great to see VMware continuing to phase out flash and embrace something everyone can use. Also in this build is a revised “Getting Started” page. More and more people are just starting out with adding vROps into their environment, and making the product easier to newcomers is always welcome, just make sure there is an easy way to dismiss all the getting started notifications for the power users. These new dashboards are based on types of rolls (Operations, Troubleshooting, Compliance, etc…). Combine these with greater out of the box integrations with things like vSAN, Log Insight, Automation, and you’ve got a pretty powerful tool to get started with.

vRealize VMware












One of the other big new features arriving in this update revolves around DRS. Imagine, if you would, that you could enhance DRS with the power of vROps. While by itself DRS is fantastic for load balancing in a cluster, now you can load balance across the entire data center. This new combination will allow you to automatically move workloads to different clusters and different datastores. Now, take it one step further. While DRS by itself is a reaction based process (it only kicks in once there is resource contention) when you can utilize the analytic engine of vROps you can get ahead of the curve. Spotting patterns in workloads will allow DRS to move things ahead of time to ensure that your VMs have the resources available before the increase in load. They call this Predictive DRS (pDRS). I’ll be looking into this further in a later post, but this has the potential to be a real game changer for VMware.

Predictive DRS












And finally, one last thing, and I thought this was a bit interesting. There has also been development around hardening/compliance. There is a new dashboard that will tell you how hardened your components are (based on VMware’s hardening guide) and how compliant things are. This even goes so far as to checking your environment against HCL.

vRealize Operations 6.6












vRealize Log Insight 4.5

This update is a bit smaller than the vROps one and it revolves around vROps as well. In this update, they’ve added closer integration with vROps. In fact, now you can launch Log Insight directly from the vROps dashboard. You can auto initiate log management to get to the bottom of the alerts you are seeing in vROps. Now to achieve this, they had to make more enhancements to the single sign-on support, so it would seem this is working better.

vRealize Business for Cloud 7.3

Now I’ll admit, this is the product that I’m the least familiar with. For those of you not familiar with this tool, its great for larger environments that want to get a handle on hybrid cloud. You can break down your costs of your VMs and map them against various providers to get a cost analysis. In this update, Azure has been recognized as a major player in the cloud market and has been promoted to that status within the analytics engine. The AWS integration has also been improved with enhanced VM level statistics. There are also some new out of the box reporting capabilities. One of the best ones is a new Daily Pricing Report. Administrators can configure a daily email (or spreadsheet) that will itemize your data center costs so that you can keep better track of costs.





Sean’s Take

It’s great to see more enhancements to these products. It’s clear that vROps is getting a long-needed overhaul and being placed in the center of things, with its ability to reach into every product and maximize its benefit. If you haven’t had the chance, I urge you to give it a try and see what it can do for you. As VMware embraces Amazon and Azure, they want to make sure you also get the most out of it, which is why we see these additional enhancements in that space as well.

On a related subject, check out our recent webinar, “Harnessing Lightning: DevOps + ITOM for Secure & Compliant Hybrid Cloud Ops

By Sean Thulin, Advanced Virtualization Consultant

Dish Network is Thriving Because of Transformation

Today I was working from home and waiting on the repair of a recalled Samsung washer (if you don’t know about the recall the washer can “explode” under heavy load on fast spin cycle, click here). When the repair technician arrived in a Dish Network van and sporting natty Dish Network attire, you can imagine my head was spinning (get it? washer humor!).  Of course, the first thing I did was ask the technician why Dish Network was performing this service.  His answer is the reason for this post.

Home pay network television delivered by traditional cable or satellite is on a downturn with the advent of internet streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Go.  Dish Network has built a large field services capability that today is under-utilized due to slowdown in their core services.  While many organizations may have scaled back on their services and cut their teams to only what was necessary to service current customers, Dish saw an opportunity to expand their value and brand by instead leveraging what they had spent millions building.

Dish branched into services areas that they had no direct expertise in.  You could say that at the time they had the core ability to perform these services but no specific knowledge of how to complete the tasks.  What they did have was capacity in the form of people, trucks, equipment, and customer service and logistics experience.  And by combining that ability with capacity you get a new capability

Ok, but what does this have to do with IT?  It’s simple, really.  The type of transformation that Dish services are undertaking is in response to market demands and a need to optimize the investments they have made in their core service delivery.  IT can learn a valuable lesson from this by creating new ways for their delivery capabilities to service their constituents.  For example, if you have an IT help desk that is manned 24/7, why wouldn’t you enable that team to perform infrastructure tasks or administration duties during down time?  This can be achieved via development of Knowledge Centric Services (KCS) methodologies and has the added benefit of averaging down the costs of performing those tasks.  Or, maybe, because the help desk has the soft skills necessary to interface with users, they can become a vehicle for advancing user training or community adoption of policies such as security awareness.

Likewise, in the operations teams, if the user community (“market”) is consuming cloud services (“shadow IT”), what really is the lift for IT to regain control of these new compute and service assets?  With today’s service platforms such as Vistara and on-demand, consumption based services for SysOps and DevOps, the old traditional barriers for IT operations, are greatly reduced.  The teams you have invested in can acquire new delivery skills through service brokerage without giving up control or governance.  Sometimes, all it takes is finding the right partner to do that delivery on your behalf.

And that is the story here.  Samsung had a need to fix 3 million washers in the US, therefore they brokered the service to Dish Network because of that company’s capability.  Not because Dish is known as the appliance repair mecca of the free world, but because they had all the tools and resources necessary and could be educated to perform the actual task.  And while a Dish service technician may not have gotten into his career to fix washers, he recognized an opportunity to expand his skills and retain his value to his employer.

You can now have your smartphone screen repaired in your home via a Dish technician, and soon, Dish might be installing your homes solar panels.  By expanding their vision of what it means to be valuable to their customers, and leveraging what they already had invested in, they have expanded their market and created new revenue streams.  IT can do this too, by taking off the traditional operational blinders and re-imagining a future state where all of the business technology requirements can be fulfilled simply and effectively through an expanded services portfolio.

With the advent of next-gen technologies, aaS offerings, and self-healing infrastructures, many in IT operations may feel that their days are numbered, and that their value is slipping.  However, it doesn’t need to be this way.  The future of IT operations is bright, as long as you are willing to expand your horizons and adapt to the “new normal” of information technologies consumption, and just as importantly user expectations.


Click here to learn about how modern IT Help Desk approaches and how cloud platforms and a tech-savvy workforce have fundamentally changed the support game

By Geoff Smith, Director of MS Business Development


Running Effective Help Desks: Focus on Financial Productivity

Many help desks focus on volume as a metric. How much volume do I have? How long does it take to get through it? How does that translate to headcount for the number of staff I need to handle the call volume? Those are important, but only half of the battle. The other half of the battle is how successful you are in resolving issues at the first level without escalating to the second level.

The reason the first call is so important:

  • Cheaper – fix with one resource instead of two
  • Time – focus should be on financial productivity. How do we get users up and running as quickly as possible?

Your overall key to success is establishing high first call resolutions and identifying opportunities to reduce or remove call volumes from the environment.


Watch on YouTube

Are you interested in learning more about GreenPages’ Help Desk services? Feel free to reach out!


Balancing Control and Agility in Today’s IT Operational Reality

How can IT Departments balance control and agility in today’s IT operational reality? For decades, IT Operations has viewed itself as the controlling influence on the “wild west” of business influences. We have had to create our own culture of control in order to extend our influence beyond the four hardened walls of the datacenter, and now the diaphanous boundaries of the Cloud. Control was synonymous with good IT hygiene, and we prided ourselves in this. It’s not by accident that outside of the IT circles, we were viewed as gatekeepers and traffic cops, regulating the use (and hopefully abuse) of valuable IT resources and critical data sets. Many of us built our careers on a foundation of saying “no,” or, for those of us with less tact, “are you crazy?”

That was then, when we were the all-seeing, god-like nocturnal creatures operating in the dark of server rooms and wiring closets. Our IT worlds have changed dramatically since those heady days of power and ultimate dominion over our domain(s). I mean, really, we actually created something called Domains so the non-IT peasant-class could work in our world easier, and we even have our own Internet Hall of Fame!

Now, life is a little different. IT awareness has become more mainstream, and innovation is actually happening at a faster pace in the consumer market.  We are continually being challenged by the business, but in a different and more informed manner than in our old glory days. We need to adapt our approach, and adjust our perspective in order to stay valued by the business. My colleague John Dixon has a quality ebook around the evolution of the corporate IT department that I would highly recommend taking a look at.

This is where Agility comes into play. Think of what it takes to become agile.  It takes both a measure of control, and a measure of flexibility. They seem to be odd roommates. But in actuality, they feed off each other, balance one-another. Control is how you keep chaos out of agility, and agility is how you keep control from becoming too restraining.

Mario Andretti has a great quote about control: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” And this is where the rub is in today’s business climate. We are operating at faster speeds and shorter times-to-market than ever before. Competition is global and not always above-board or out in the open. The raw number of influences in our customer base have exponentially increased.  We have less “control” over our markets now, and by nature have to become more “agile” in our progress.

IT operations must become more agile to support this new reality. Gone are the days of saying “not on my platform”, or calling the CIO the CI-NO. To become more agile, we need to enable our teams to spend more time on innovation than on maintenance.

So what needs to change? Well, first, we need to give our teams back some of the Time and Energy they are spending in maintenance and management functions. To do this, we need to drive innovations in that space, and think about lowest cost of delivery for routine IT functions. To some this means outsourcing, to others it’s about better automation and collaboration. If we can offload 50-70% of the current maintenance workload from our teams, our teams can then turn their attention away from the rear-view mirror and start looking for the next strategic challenge. A few months back I did a webinar around how IT departments can modernize their IT operations by killing the transactional treadmill.

Once we have accomplished this, we then need to re-focus their attention to innovating for the business.  This could be in the form of completing strategic projects or enhancing applications and services that drive revenue. Beyond the obvious benefits for the business, this re-focus on innovation will create a more valuable IT organization, and generally more invested team members.

With more time and energy focused on innovation, we need to now create new culture within IT around sharing and educating. IT teams can no longer operate in silos effectively if they are truly to innovate.  We have to remove the boundaries between the IT layers and share the knowledge our teams gather with the business overall.  Only then can the business truly see and appreciate the advances IT is making in supporting their initiatives.

To keep this going long term you need to adjust your alignment towards shared success, both within IT and between IT and the rest of the organization. And don’t forget your partners, those that are now assisting with your foundational operations and management functions. By tying all of them together to a single set of success criteria and metrics, you will enforce good behavior and focus on the ultimate objective – delivery of world class IT applications and services that enable business growth and profitability.

Or, you could just stay in your proverbial server room, scanning error logs and scheduling patch updates.  You probably will survive.  But is survival all you want?


By Geoff Smith, Senior Manager, Managed Services Business Development

The Evolution of Your Corporate IT Department

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne


Corporate IT departments have progressed from keepers of technology to providers of complex solutions that businesses truly rely on. Even a business with an especially strong core competency simply cannot compete without information systems to provide key pieces of technology such as communication and collaboration systems (e.g., email). Many corporate IT departments have become adept providers of technology solutions. We, at GreenPages, think that corporate IT departments should be recognized as providers of services. Also, we think that emerging technology and management techniques are creating an especially competitive market of IT service providers. Professional business managers will no doubt recognize that their internal IT department is perhaps another competitor in this market for IT services. Could the business choose to source their systems to a provider of services other than internal corporate IT?

IT departments large and small already have services deployed to the cloud. We think that organizations should prepare to deploy services to the cloud provider that meets their requirements most efficiently, and eventually, move services between providers to continually optimize the environment. As we’ll show, one of the first steps to enabling this Cloud Management is to use a tool that can manage resources in different environments as if they are running on the same platform. Corporate IT departments can prepare for cloud computing without taking the risk of moving infrastructure or changing any applications.

In this piece, I will describe the market for IT service providers, the progression of corporate IT departments from technology providers to brokers of IT services, and how organizations can take advantage of behavior emerging in the market for IT services. This is not a cookbook of how to build a private cloud for your company—this instead offers a perspective on how tools and management techniques, namely Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS), can be adopted to take advantage of cloud computing, whatever it turns out to become. In the following pages, we’ll answer these questions:

  1. Why choose a single cloud provider? Why not position your IT department to take advantage of any of them?
  2. Why not manage your internal IT department as if it is already a cloud environment?
  3. Can your corporate IT department compete with a firm whose core competency is providing infrastructure?
  4. When should your company seriously evaluate an application for deployment to an external cloud service provider? Which applications are suitable to deploy to the cloud?


To finish reading, download John’s free ebook