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Artificial Intelligence - Neural Nets

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the move and the race is on.    In previous years, and for the most part even today, AI has been dominated by the worlds high tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon.  Regardless of where you work or the size of your business, the industry is starving for more information and true knowledge management.  AI goes beyond knowledge management and moves us into knowledge engineering. As found in an  MIT Technology Review article , Microsoft has its own AI-powered cloud platform.  You may have heard of Azure.  This team is joining with Amazon to offer Gluon.  It is an interesting name. I don’t know its origin, but it is essentially an open-source deep-learning library. Gluon is supposed to make building neural nets – a key technology for AI that crudely mimics how the human brain learns – as easy as building a smartphone app. It is no longer just a high-tech game.   With the onslaught of cloud services, any/all service providers (includ

ITSM for DevOps - Development “Divas”

What is your biggest challenge when trying to increase the flow of work through your DevOps or Continuous Delivery Pipeline?   In a recent conversation an IT Director laughingly said that his greatest challenge was that they can not get the development “Divas” to recognize that change approval and compliance requirements are necessary and that it takes time. I chuckled as I thought to myself what those development “Divas” were thinking.   Maybe their thoughts were that those paranoid risk adverse Change and Compliance process people do not understand that we need to get this work to the finish line and we need to go fast.  Sound familiar? This is not an uncommon issue.   The us-vs-them environment, if not corrected, will continue to disrupt IT service delivery and therefore, business performance. We must recognize that DevOps and Continuous Delivery (CD) do not stand alone.   It is not just the tools and automation and, although it is more about culture, it is not just cu

DevOps Testing vs Traditional Testing

Appropriate testing is THE differentiator for high performing IT organizations. What is the Same? Tests need to be classified according to the attributes of the system or the product that is to be tested.  Test types include: Unit Test - This is a method that validates that the code statements satisfy assertions. Static Code Analysis – Testing that checks source code logic and consistency.  Static testing evaluates code against development standards and guidelines. Code execution is not required. Dynamic Analysis – This type of testing might also be referred to as “Functional Testing”. In this type of test, code is executed against positive and negative functional scenarios. Code Coverage – Measures the percentage of relevant lines of code tested. Integration Test – This form of testing will help to determine if code changes work after a code merge.   Integration testing may also be referred to as smoke test, sanity test or build test. Compatibility T

DevOps Test Monitoring Strategy

The combination of continuous monitoring with continuous testing and analytic tools can provide a broader strategic view of test results.  This view is necessary to collect, aggregate and organize test data that enables a gain in confidence for each release.  Key Concepts for Realizing Your Test Monitoring Strategy: Determine continuous test monitoring priorities: Some examples of problems that continuous test monitoring can help with include intermittent failures caused by marginal designs, marginal test designs, environmental condition changes not detected by individual tests, memory leaks, varying starting conditions, interactions with other systems, system topologies and performance degradation within the margin of a test. These can and will accumulate over time. The best practice for continuous monitoring indicates that the problems of most concern to a specific product or DevOps environment will be monitored. Regression test product areas even though there were no expe

DevOps Metrics – Time vs. Cost

There are three main principles that will help to optimize your DevOps initiative.  You may have heard them referred to as The Three Ways . All three of the principles will have a role to play but for the purpose of Time vs. Cost, I would like to focus on the first way which is “The Flow of Work from Left to Right”.  When considering this flow of work think of the value stream from left to right as being from the time the request is made until the time that value is realized. Using LEAN methods and applying techniques like the Theory of Constraints we can increase velocity to apply just the right cadence to meet the evolving business demand.  These practices along with our DevOps integration, Continuous Delivery Pipelines and automation will radically increase the time to value for products and services.  Time is a key metric.  DevOps organizations use “time” as the primary measurement tool.   Why time is a better metric than cost: Time is used to set goals beyon

Flow of Work

Agile Software Development is very well known and practiced in most organizations today in order to respond quickly to the ever increase in demand for IT Services.  Many of these organizations, while making some improvement, are not seeing the outcomes they had expected.  Why is this?   We are applying Lean methods, cycle time is increasing and yet, unplanned work, delays in deployment and unstable production environments remain. Consider the time from idea to delivery as the “ Value Stream ”.  Through this Value Stream, we want to increase the “Flow of Work”.   We will never see the type of optimization that is required unless we look at this Value Stream as a whole.  Applying Agile, Lean, and even tools in development without integrating Change, Security and Operations will break down and decrease the Flow of Work. DevOps helps with this idea.  Many companies, both large and small, are attempting to integrate the development and operations teams.  We have cloud services an

CPDE - Process Design Considerations

S o who should consider becoming a Certified Process Design Engineer (CPDE)?  Well anyone can consider it.  Is your organization engaged in some type of certification, working to reach some optimized level of maturity, trying to improve the processes you already have or create a process to meet some new customer requirement? All of these scenarios would employ the skills of a CPDE. To start with, no matter which framework or standard you are utilizing processes must be: Defined Documented Managed via performance metrics Continually improved  Undertaking this effort is not as simple as it may appear and having a staff member with the necessary skills and capabilities (a CPDE) ensures that clear and measurable improvement targets, along with a process design approach, can and will be carried out.   You first must understand the factors that are triggering a process improvement initiative.  These are just a few factors, but understanding why an initiative is needed is an ex

Xtreme Velocity - Accelerating Change Management

Although Agile, DevOps and automation for Continuous Delivery (CD) techniques are on the rise, service providers are still at risk for not having the necessary velocity to meet demand.  In the same way that we recognize that we can NOT silo our IT teams, we must also recognize that as providers of services we must not silo our processes. ITSM processes, including Event Monitoring, Problem Management, Release and Deployment Management, Test and more, are not going away. The integration of ITSM process must be considered throughout the entire value stream and CD pipeline.  None more so than “Change Management”.  Certainly the need for Change Management is increasing not decreasing. What must go away are over engineered, bureaucratic and outdated process activities.  We must begin to radically rethink the way we incorporate change into the CD pipeline.  Our mission overall is to deliver a “Quality” product or service. Ok then, what is “Quality”?  Quality not only infers that the

DevOps - The Basics

“Change sticks when it becomes the way we do things around here.” ~  John P. Kotter DevOps benefits the business by improving communication, collaboration and the integration of people, processes and technologies across the IT value stream. Ultimately, DevOps enables companies to deliver better software faster and more reliably by… Improving communication, collaboration and the integration of processes and tools across the IT value stream Automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes Leveraging Agile, Lean, ITSM and evolving DevOps practices DevOps – The Basics Get Involved! DevOps practices will continue to evolve through communities of practice. Seek out opportunities to collaborate with others and to share what you’ve learned. Change related to DevOps initiatives will affect organizational culture. Effective communication plans, training, and clear policies and procedures are all needed to achieve the desired performance outcome

Process Design

I looked up “Process Design” and found: “The activity of determining the workflow , equipment needs and implementation requirements for a particular process . Process design typically uses a number of tools including flowcharting, process simulation software and scale models.”  Hmm… that is good but “So What”?  Why should a service provider care about process?  I have heard some say that process is secondary to automation.  Okay, sounds good, but then we have to consider, “What are we going to automate?” Every Certified Process Design Engineer knows that when it comes to process we are talking about activity.  The key is that we need just enough process and just enough governance to meet requirements.  Process design contributes to our ability to balance speed and agility with stability.   Having good process design allows for a smooth service belt that delivers value to customers and also gives a service provider the ability to meet business and customer demand at a

Agile / DevOps: Value Stream Mapping for IT Services – Some Thoughts

Value stream mapping  originated a s a   lean -management method.  Today this method along with Agile, ITSM and other LEAN practices is utilized to understand and improve the delivery of products or services for all industries.  Being able to analyze the current state for the series of events that take a product or service from concept all the way through to value realization by the customer is a powerful tool. A tool necessary for designing an efficient future state and for strategizing continual service improvement.  Below are some thoughts on how the approach to value stream mapping can be applied to service management. Getting Started: Beginning with the formal proposal or request from the customer and then documenting what takes place throughout the lifecycle is always a good starting point.  Value Stream Mapping requires a gradient approach including the following elements: ·          Define physical flow of events – If you are just starting out, it might prove helpfu

It’s Not Just a Digital Transformation…

The structure of an organization sets the hierarchy for responsibility and creates the various levels of communication within an organization. Organizational structure has a huge impact on how work gets done and can have a direct effect on productivity. Traditional IT teams are typically organized in silos which lead to a number of problems and are generally not conducive to the success of transformation. This is the year to shatter the silo’s. Service providers want to do bigger, better, more… faster than ever before while producing quality services and responding to ever changing business dynamics. Organizations adopting DevOps strive to break down the silos.  Why? Overall this is an effort to reduce bureaucracy, improve communication and collaboration, and provide people opportunity to grow.   Objectives are achieved in a variety of ways ranging from assigning Ops liaisons to Dev Teams to creating cross-functional product (vs. project) teams. Initiatives including those for Con

Dimensions for Transformation Leadership

If you are involved in helping your organization to incorporate Agile, DevOps or any type of Digital Transformation it will become very clear that “Leadership” will have a powerful impact on the success of your effort. Transformational Leadership is a model in which leaders inspire and motivate followers to achieve greater performance by appealing to their values and sense of purpose.  This helps to facilitate wide scale organizational change.  That type of wide scale change is required. Required Dimensions for every Transformational Leader that will promote positive results include: Vision – Leaders must understand the organizational and team direction and shape them accordingly. People will follow an individual who inspires them, a person with vision and passion can achieve great things.  Leaders need to inspire followers to motivate the results they wish to see. Personal Recognition – Includes but is not exclusive to recognizing and commending the team for better than

Digital Transformation – Pro ITIL?

Some IT executives and practitioners still believe that Agile is the way to success for transformation. Some IT executives and practitioners will argue that ITIL is the way to go. Some will say LEAN should be the approach to ensure success. Oh, you say, “they are all wrong?”  Perhaps you think DevOps and Continuous Delivery is the silver bullet? Well guess what?    You are all right.  The truth of the matter is that no one best practice or method stands alone.  There are far too many examples of how this trinity of LEAN, Agile, and ITSM enable DevOps for digital transformation.  ITIL’s Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Approach - Iterative ongoing continual service improvement is at the core of every Service Management Principle. The concept of ‘adopt and adapt’ involves adapting best practices to an organization's circumstances, needs, goals and objectives . Using Agile and Scrum will help increase your velocity. LEAN will help to remove waste to help w

Metrics That Matter to Customers

I was recently asked to elaborate on a previous blog that discussed reducing metrics and reporting on those that matter to customers. In terms of any metrics, especially those that are important to customers, you should always think about or add the phrase “with quality”. Remember that the term “quality” is defined as “conformance to customer requirements”. So all metrics and measurements should ensure the work or actions you perform remains focused on the customer and their needs. Also in terms of how you phrase a metric it can often be more beneficial to measure in terms of increases and decreases rather than specific quantities. Given that, here some metrics that you might think about using: Increased Customer Quality Satisfaction %--perhaps the most important of all metrics Increase First Line Call Resolution [with quality] %--helps reduce costs but also builds perception of preparedness and knowledge in the eyes of the customer Decreased Mean Time to Restore Serv

Align IT with the Changing Business Requirements – IT “IS” the Business

Service Management Best Practice is as relevant today as it was a decade ago.  Some would argue that it is even more relevant.   Increase in demand, dynamic requirements and varied silo’s and cultures within an organization demand some semblance of management control.  Failure to do so results in just that …..“Failure”.   Following ITIL Best Practice allows service providers to align IT with the changing business requirements.  Sounds Great!  What does that mean exactly? Business requirements are consistently evolving and changing.  This creates a DEMAND that generates a workload for capacity.   The service provider must anticipate this demand and gear their service assets accordingly or consumers will not receive the value that they have paid for and expect.   We can anticipate demand by monitoring and measuring specified patterns of business activity and then adjust accordingly.  Think of a NEST thermostat.  A NEST thermostat learns what temperature you like by learning

Demings 7 Deadly Quality Diseases

Often, when we talk about implementing IT Service Management we refer to one of the Founding Fathers of the Quality Management movement, Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Most people focus on the Deming Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act. Perhaps lesser known but just as important is the fact that Dr. Deming spoke of the changes needed within an organization’s culture to make the Deming Cycle work to its greatest effectiveness. Dr. Deming wrote and spoke of Seven Deadly Diseases that infect an organization’s culture and prohibit it from truly succeeding in achieving quality for the customer. Lack of constancy of purpose: You must remain focused on doing the right things because they are the right things to do for your customer and to achieve quality. ITSM is not a fad it is a way of behaving. Emphasis on short-term profits: Cutting costs can bring short-term profits and are easy to achieve. But cutting costs can only go on for so long, before you have cut to the bone and have nothing left to cut.

Digital Ingenuity

It is official.  All service providers are or soon will be going through some form of digital transformation. As you begin to transform be sure to take into consideration the Values of DevOps, Agile Service Management, Lean and ITSM.  They each have beneficial results and each dovetail together to ensure that the service provider can move fast, change on a dime to meet dynamic requirements, and also be able to deploy into an antifragile stable environment.  Business transformation can appear to be daunting.  Sometimes it is somewhat of a labyrinth, involving a constant need for collaboration and engagement between customers, business partners and Information Technology functions. All are required for proper strategic vision and operational execution. That is likely not news to you.  We KNOW that is required and yet there are many service providers that still today need to bridge the gap between Business, Development and Operational teams.  When setting expectations for a Digital tran

WARNING! The Titanic is Sinking! Service Providers… Stay CALM & Share!

(DevOps VALUES revisited) We used to talk about the rate of demand for change and how that was forcing service providers to change course.  Service Providers are the current Titanic.  Many believe that they are invincible.  The iceberg today is multifaceted. It is not only speed and quality but the challenge of dynamic business requirements, complexity of new services and rigid silo’s. These all add to the depth and potential threat of this new iceberg.  To avoid sinking, Service Providers must consider the DevOps values and stay C A L M and Share!  There are five DevOps values that will help us avoid the iceberg.  These values include: C - Culture A rigid, “We have always done it this way” culture will break your capability to steer the ship in the direction that you must go to avoid the iceberg.  A Cultural shift will steer your ship in the right direction.  Those shifts include Shift Left Culture – Getting representation for change, compliance, security and operations

The Top Benefits of ITIL

Stronger alignment between IT and the business: Historically IT has not been a participant in helping to create business strategies, it was normally in the role of supporting them. Recently, with the speed of innovation impacting businesses position in the marketplace, IT has been playing a greater role in helping to develop that business strategy. The ITIL framework enables IT to act as a service provider and become a core and more strategic part of the business. Pre-defined processes and best practices from the ITIL framework enable businesses to react quickly to today's rapidly changing technology landscape, focus on innovation and ultimately keep customers satisfied. Improved service delivery and customer satisfaction: Event, incident and problem management processes included within the ITIL framework enable businesses to review performance, perform root cause analysis, resolve issues and through problem management, prevent future incidents from occurring and allows us