Analysts speak positively of Russian IT outsourcing, and we are sure we will pass the development stage faster than the USA and Europe once did. Today, Russian companies can be supported by best practices and processes. That is why it is possible to raise maturity level of customers and suppliers more efficiently and much faster using experience of international IT outsourcing and a skilled service provider. And if best practice is supplemented by innovations, we can get the turbo mode of development in mature services.
Let’s review three IT trends that are worth to be implemented by Russian companies whatever field they belong to.
Change of approach to IT infrastructure lifecycle
All industries pass through such stages as they grow: from handicraft industry to mass production. IT sector is not an exception. IT routine automation is an inevitable stepping stone to efficiency and productivity improvement of IT services, i.e., of the whole company. To reduce IT operational cost and the time of task fulfilment by IT department, the following technology can be used.
Server Automation Tool (SAT) is a solution for servers infrastructure management developed by ICL Services in order to provide customers with an efficient adaptive support tool without changing their IT environments.
SAT includes SaltStack that is the most efficient automation tool coupled with in-house elements and integrated with other tools in order to provide the required functionality. The tool works with all basic aspects of infrastructure management: deployment, maintenance, refresh, and modification.
Tasks can be started both on separate and on multiple (thousands) hosts. Moreover, it can be a hybrid infrastructure and contain parts based on various public cloud services (Amazon Webservices, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform), private clouds (on the basis of OpenStack, VMWare vCloud). In addition, SAT supports the currently trendy “Infrastructure as Code” approach.
State is a basic term; this is a description of the desired state of your infrastructure. Declarative description of states is the fundamental difference between SaltStack (and SAT) and traditional (imperative) automation tools that determine “what should be done and how” instead of “what do we want to obtain.”
Another key distinction — event-triggered responses. In particular, they enable to implement automatic incident response. SAT can be integrated with monitoring and IT services management (ITSM) solutions. Mainly, such integration leads to waiting time reduction and improvement of the infrastructure maintenance personnel performance.
SAT supports the most popular server platforms, e.g., Linux (without limitation to a certain distribution kit) and Windows Server. More exotic variants include Solaris and AIX.
Therefore, Server Automation Tool implementation helps not only to reduce task time and manage IT infrastructures states, but also to put into action the automated response to events. For example, a customer had to fulfill the same tasks on each of hundreds of servers. This work always took several working days of an engineer. After SAT implementation, these tasks take no more than half an hour (including preliminary setting of parameters) and as a result, the company could reduce services cost and gain an advantage in highly competitive market.
Release and workflow management
The next innovation is a solution that can help companies maintain application and operating system (OS, image) management processes.
From 2009, Solutions and Software Development Department of ICL Services started elaboration of tasks and business processes management solution for ОS image, a service for application packaging and corporate identities development.
Colibri tracker solution allows to manage application packaging and deployment process, as well as to support projects of migration of operating systems, applications, etc. Besides tasks (applications / packages / images) tracking through the life-cycle, this utility has a conveyor automation and integration with ITSM systems, deployment systems (SCCM / Altiris), and other software, which allows to reduce temporary costs by 45% and offer optimal prices for customers thanks to coherent, flexible, and synergetic tasks management.
Colibri Tracker is a qualitative product specially made for release management needs, developed by specialists who participated in various roles for years in processes as users, managers, and customers.
One of key benefit of the product from competitors is the possibility to promptly customize the system, as well as embedded automation tools.
Using this innovative solution you can minimize workflow setup time to 2 days, which considerably reduces overall mobilization time. Moreover, the solution has a powerful reporting and notification subsystem, a wide range of automation tools and, more importantly, a high level of system availability, security and reliability.
Thus, this suite helped ICL Services to implement processes and automate them in end user computing area for all factories in Europe of one of the largest European tyres manufacturers and application migration project fora tobacco company over the world. Both companies are in the list of world TOP 3 in related areas. This toolset helps ICL Services to promptly mobilize projects and process for globally distributes teams, as well as to automate operations from the first days of project phase which is important for project success.
Lean for benefit of customers
For a company to become a leader in its business segment, it needs to employ continuous improvement approach. One of the most efficient and innovative approaches, without the need for big implementation investments, is Lean (Lean Production).
December 2013, ICL Services started implementation of Lean Production tools for continuous improvement of comprehension and fulfilment of customers’ requirements through involvement of all employees in this process. During this period, the process proved to be efficient and currently it undergoes the phase of support, development and accumulation of experience of its successful implementation in service industry.
Lean does not require big investments for implementation and further maintenance. It activates employees’ potential, but permanent participation of managers is also important for positive estimation of contribution made by each employee. It is also obvious that the approach will give good results if Lean implementation activity will be focused on long-term perspective. Lean does not show immediate results, because the approach is based on “small steps” improvements (“kaizen”).
Lean approach, being a standard business practice, allows a company to guarantee high-quality service. Upon two years of Lean implementation and development, the following benefits appear:
* each month, a company has up to 7 achievements of teams in terms of service performance improvement;
* over 30% of high estimates of service quality from customers are directly associated with Lean tools use;
* over 80% of employees will appreciate Lean approach efficiency for service level improvement.
As a result, it can be said with confidence that Lean tools help organize efficient progressive environment, which allows a company to provide qualitative services for its customers. This is an important requirement for survival and stable progress in highly competitive markets.
The term “innovation” is often used as a synonym for the word “novelty”, but this is not always true. Novelty can be considered as an innovation if only it provides the qualitative growth of process efficiency. That is, when a company chooses the innovation, it needs to choose only those innovations which provide increased efficiency of your business to a qualitatively higher level.