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August 4, 2016

Can increasingly complex IT be solved with a single pane of glass?

Analysis: More technology is creating more IT management complexity.

By James Nunns

In the complex world of IT there are a diverse number of systems, applications, and services that need to be managed.

While moving off premises aims to offer a world of new functionality that breeds speed and agility, the downside is that IT is more complex than ever.

The world has opened up and suddenly everything is flooding in without really too many options for managing it all.

The idea of a single pane of glass to manage systems is an important one. In theory, it would help businesses to manage their existing IT services, and also help them to grow in an organised fashion that won’t lead to siloed systems and a hodgepodge of applications dotted around.

Mark Furness, founder & CEO, essensys told CBR: “A single pane of glass that manages systems is very important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s the only way to keep a handle on everything that takes place within a company’s IT estate.

“Generally speaking, IT is becoming more complex than ever. And although there’s a shift away from on premise hardware, there’s still a large number of services that the average company has to manage, even if they are increasingly cloud based. And if there’s a feasible way to avoid a headache that comes with running a busy IT department, it’s worth investigating it.”

Even companies that do offer a single pane of glass have struggled to get it right, particularly in the cloud industry where hundreds are available from some service providers.

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Essentially the idea is that products such as an Azure Management Library, which is a collection of REST wrapper assemblies, will help to increase the simplicity of management. As cloud is pitched as helping to increase simplicity, then some of that value is lost of the service is more complex than what the business already had.

A path around this could be using a managed cloud provider like a Rackspace which would take away the hassle.

The CEO of goHenry, Alex Zivoder, told CBR that previous issues experienced disappeared when they moved to a managed service from Rackspace:” They became invisible, which for me is the best that technology can do because here if the technology works there are no problems,” said the CEO.

Part of the problem is that many of the cloud offerings are still immature, at least in comparison with software systems that have been around for decades, cloud hasn’t really been around that long and it remains a hotbed for new features and capabilities. So it is understandable that managing it all is still a little bit complex.

For companies that are looking to grow, a single pane of glass that manages systems is important. Furness said:  “Having one single self-service platform not only helps businesses to manage their existing IT services, it also helps them to scale up and provision additional services when they need them.

“This is particularly useful for the growing numbers of companies working within flexible workspaces where the priority is placed on getting up and running quickly. Companies should look to automate as many processes as possible in order to create a seamless experience for both IT teams and users alike.”

The need for this style of management isn’t likely to go away any time soon, especially as cloud continues to become more widely adopted and more systems and applications move to it. Another factor that needs to be considered is the growth of the Internet of Things.

Furness said: “The growing presence of IoT within the enterprise will also have a bearing on the need for an integrated IT self-service platform that orchestrates the complete ecosystem. IoT will bring a number of productivity and efficiency benefits to companies but they will quickly be outweighed by management costs if not properly monitored.

“IT innovation is only deemed a success if it is implemented and managed well. Having one reference point, instead of many, will go a long way in reaching that goal.”

As areas of technology such as cloud, IoT, and big data continue to grow so will the need to have a single pane of glass in which to manage everything.

In the big data space there is already an effort underway to simplify with converged systems such as MapR’s Converged Data Platform and it could be why large platform deployments are becoming more popular, but these may not be suitable for all organisations.

Efforts are underway but the complexity of IT is a burden which needs to be solved quickly.   

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