CA boosts ITIL automation with new tools, training

Companies link ITIL best practices to better control over IT systems

CA Inc. announced new software, services and training programs yesterday to help customers implement best practices for managing an IT shop under the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a framework for improving IT systems efficiency and, eventually, return on investment (ROI).

The new package is called CA Service Management Accelerator and is CA's attempt to formalize and expand its current ITIL-related products and services, said David Hurwitz, vice president of product marketing for business service optimization.

CA software to automate ITIL functions is "very profitable for us, and CA customers want to move up the ITIL maturity curve more than ever. ITIL is very hot right now," he said.

The U.K. Office of Government Commerce developed the ITIL model in the mid-1980s, following the quality management trends of the time led by quality guru W. Edwards Deming and others who created the quality improvement cycle called PDCA, for "plan, do, check and act," said Rob Stroud, director of brand strategy at CA.

ITIL contains many standard descriptions for key processes needed to improve IT service management, but it does not say how to deploy the processes, Hurwitz said. "The approach at CA is that automating ITIL is the quickest route to ROI," he added.

CA Service Management Accelerator includes a new software product, Configuration Management Database r11, which ships in August, Hurwitz said. Pricing has not been announced. It will work within the existing CA Management Database r11 to consolidate disparate sources of IT-related data and present graphical views of configuration information on servers, switches and even applications.

In addition, CA will provide customers with new three-dimensional diagrams or "subway maps" to track IT service support and service delivery functions so that an entire organization has a common reference point, Hurwitz said. Also, CA is adding 14 ITIL courses to its existing four and is prepared to do an assessment for a customer that evaluates the need for up to a dozen CA systems management products, Hurwitz said.

Two current CA customers said they have embraced ITIL best practices and were glad to see CA try to further the ITIL philosophy, but neither said there was anything specific within the announced Accelerator portfolio they plan to implement immediately.

"It's exciting. We have 'ITIL fever' here, including with upper IT management, and the CA platform has been successful" working within ITIL, said Robyn Brooks, an IT manager at MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Wash. MultiCare, with three hospitals and 60 clinics, has deployed more than $100,000 in CA software in the past three years, including CA UniCenter Service Desk, she said.

Fran Findley, a project management analyst at MultiCare, said picking CA's software three years ago was "the perfect time to change the culture around IT in line with ITIL." The health system evolved from using the CA tools to be able to justify requests for more help desk workers when needed to recently being able to track whether service-level agreements for network and application performance are being met, Brooks and Findley said.

"But we're still in our infancy," Brooks said. Eventually, cost savings in IT investments will be a byproduct of the ITIL effort, she said.

The other customer, MyFamily.com Inc. in Provo, Utah, has used CA tools to help manage about 4,000 servers that provide digital census information to the public for a fee, said Eric Martineau, vice president of Web operations.

Recently, the site announced that every single U.S. census document ever released to the public was available on its site, which totals about 600TB in size. About half of the 4,000 servers operate in a grid configuration to allow automatic reconfiguration in the event of a hard drive failure, he said.

Trouble tickets in the complex system have been tracked through CA products such as UniCenter Service Desk and the CA Management Database that MyFamily.com started bringing on board a year ago. CA's software correlates multiple system problems to find the root cause of a problem, Martineau said.

In general, the ITIL framework has been hard for companies to implement, and CA's Accelerator will help companies "do things themselves" rather than rely on consultants, said Rich Ptak, an analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates in Amherst, N.H. Ptak said CA and BMC Software Inc. have been the market leaders in providing ITIL implementation aids, but BMC is the dominant player in offering a configuration management database (CMDB) product.

BMC embeds its CMDB in its management products for no additional cost, he said. The other major management vendors, IBM Tivoli Software and Hewlett-Packard Co., makers of OpenView products, are still in the process of rolling out similar tools, he said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon