Serena Software, a leader in the ALM space according to Forrester Research, made three predictions about enterprise computing for 2013 at the turn of the New Year. I had a chance to revisit Serena’s predictions in collaboration with David Hurwitz, Serena’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, now that 2013 is fully underway and the cloud landscape is witnessing its first major burst of new product releases and announcements. Serena’s predictions engage questions related to the emerging emphasis on building efficiency into deployment and application lifecycle management processes. Poised at the cusp of the DevOps revolution with 4000 enterprise customers that leverage Serena’s “orchestration” solutions for maximizing the business value of IT, Serena’s predictions engage the transformation of enterprise operations in relation to cloud-based SDLC infrastructures.
I asked David Hurwitz to elaborate on the first two of Serena’s three predictions as illustrated below:
Prediction #1: Large Enterprises Exploit the Cloud Primarily to Speed Development Cycles
The cloud has emerged as a dominant and powerful software development and deployment platform. In 2013, even the largest and most conservative enterprises will move to the cloud for the development phases of their overall delivery lifecycles. These were the companies that resisted cloud computing in the past. Their use of the cloud will be quite considered, as they will use a hybrid approach, exploiting the public cloud for testing and staging, but a private cloud or on-premise resources for production delivery. Keeping software production instances within private resources supports the enterprise need for security and control.
Arnal Dayaratna: Most cloud vendors, Amazon Web Services included, have yet to fully grapple with regulatory constraints on sensitive data such as PHI and government-related, classified data. Do you think the cloud industry is sufficiently prepared to deal with regulations regarding the transmission and storage of sensitive data in order to accommodate the movement of large, conservative enterprises to cloud-based development?
David Hurwitz: No, the cloud industry isn’t fully prepared and aren’t even close to changing perceptions about being prepared. The issue of data domiciling is going to take awhile for them to surmount, and it’s not just when dealing with classified data. Commercial data that includes European Union customers, for instance, has to be handled according to their mandates. Thus, the use of the cloud for financial services and public sector applications is going to lag, other than perhaps for pre-production environments.
Prediction #2: Help Desk Evolves from Technical Support to Business Support
In 2013, Help Desks will grow in importance from their present position as an IT function into a business support function. This “Business Desk” will handle both traditional technical support along with the non-traditional role of business support. The Business Support Desk will support customer-facing personnel with understanding new marketing offers, product offerings and the exploitation of other app-powered revenue features.
A companion trend is being driven by Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) activity. BYOD, for instance, has created more of a ‘do it yourself help desk’ for office workers since enterprise IT teams have their hands full with more pressing tasks and don’t always have the time for the everyday maintenance issues that BYOD creates.
Arnal Dayaratna: What factors suggest the evolution of help desks from technical support to business support? Has the success of specific software applications/platforms led you to this prediction? Or are there other reasons underlying the genesis of this observation?
David Hurwitz: The reason that help desks are evolving to include customer support functions is because online businesses are using applications to deliver revenue generating capabilities. This leads to a merging of the technical with the commercial. In other words, internal and external users increasingly need assistance in navigating new product offerings that are conveyed by apps, including getting assistance with technical issues in using those apps. Savvy online businesses only ask customers to reach out once for this assistance. Stagnant businesses ask them to reach out twice – once to tech support and again to customer support.
Prediction #3: The Cost of Rework Drives a Rethink of IT Processes
Research firm voke released data showing that 40-50 percent of the work IT performs falls in to the rework category, a huge tax on their ability to deliver new functionality. Further validating that claim, one large IT shop reported 17 percent of its total work had to be redone at some point. Better software delivery processes will combine in 2013 to help IT deliver software right the first time, with the large companion benefit that much more software can be delivered by development organizations that are dramatically less burdened by rework.
Serena’s predictions about the evolution of the help desk and the growing attention to the rework of IT processes are both profound and highly original.
As SaaS applications proliferate throughout enterprises, application support staff manage the responsibility not only of administering specific applications and providing help-desk type support, but also of defining and reinforcing best practices for software usage in the context of business problems. In the case of requirements management software that provides a unified online interface for documenting business requirements for SDLC, for example, application support staff respond to user questions about best practices for writing textual business requirements, defining process flows and creating use cases and test cases in addition to functionality questions about the software itself.
The line between help desk and business support has truly blurred as more and more applications precipitate a need for the help desk to evolve to optimally support revenue generating business units. Correspondingly, the rise of DevOps and SaaS applications for managing the intersection of development and operations permits (1) the development of metrics for tracking and optimizing IT operations; and (2) the measurement of data that allows for the tracking the achievement of those metrics. The industry should expect a revolution not only at the level of hosting but also in the arena of DevOps related to the increased availability of data about the efficiency of IT processes.