I’ve been in tech for over 30 years and a recurring discussion I’ve had to listen to every now and then is the idea of a single pane of glass (SPG) – a management console that presents data from multiple sources in a unified display. Such a dashboard would in theory allow for the user to make sense of the myriad of data coming at him or her and take appropriate action.
However, coming up with one SPG gets complicated because most organizations would have different departments employ similar tools to accomplish the same task. Rationale includes fit-for-purpose, familiarity with the technology, compliance to name a few.
A 2020 360Suite Business Intelligence Survey revealed that on average an organization uses 3.8 different BI solutions. Managing user adoption and data quality control become very challenging tasks for organizations.
In the area of infrastructure, competition, innovation and user demands have resulted in the preponderance of technologies, and management tools that sit on top of these, to the growing need for more computing resources.
Matthew Oostveen, chief technology officer and VP for Pure Storage, observed that despite this growth in the number and types of technologies used to power businesses, the number of people to manage these have gone in the opposite direction.
“The gap is so large today that I wouldn't so much say that people are being asked to do more with less, I would say that they're being asked to do much more with much less,” he added.
“A lot has changed. And we really do need those management tools in place if we're going to be able to manage the complexity of the infrastructure ecosystem today.”
One tool to rule them all – not happening soon
Gartner noted that as infrastructure and operations (I&O) move toward integration and operations, various management and monitoring tools need to be brought under one comprehensive tool to better drive agility and business value.
Challenge for CIOs
Oostveen acknowledged that in the current environment CIOs are grappling with a lot of complexity inside the environment. He argued however that the CIO should not shoulder all the responsibility. Vendors have a role to play in reducing the management complexity.
“There needs to be a balance between the two,” he posited. “And there is an enormous number of tools that are available to do this, including many bundled with the hardware – be it computing, networking or storage.”
On the supply side, Oostveen said that vendors need to be cognizant that in the data centre, their technology is not going to be deployed in isolation. He cited the example of Pure Storage that its technology will need to co-exist with servers, networking, other storage products, and the management layer that sits on top of that.
“It is incumbent upon us to make simple and easy to manage infrastructure. We also need to ensure that the management capability of our infrastructure ties in very neatly through, in our case, open APIs with the other infrastructure that we're likely to be deployed with,” he continued.
Gartner recommends that IT leaders build, integrate, broker and govern technology platforms that balance resilience and agility to enhance customer experiences and solutions while delivering optimal business outcomes and growth.
Key considerations of a unified management tool
Asked to identify key benefits of a unified management tool, Oostveen was quick to acknowledge that benefits abound. However, he suggested looking specifically at benefits like uptime or availability.
“You cannot afford for your application to go down. By ensuring that your management tool is correct, and you've got visibility of the underlying systems, then you are going to have better uptime. You are going to have better performance,” he continued.
He went on to posit that a slow infrastructure will impact productivity.
“There are security implementations and implications where there might be gaps and vulnerabilities because you haven't patched or had the full situational awareness to say nothing of the utilisation of the infrastructure as well, which of course, we want to keep as close to possible as 100% so that we're not wasting power,” he elaborated.
Finally, he reminded us that the staff managing the infrastructure are an important resource, and they should not be focused on just managing the infrastructure.
“We want them focused on more important tasks – not so much the infrastructure – but the operational systems and processes that IT supports,” he continued.
Click on the PodChats player to hear Oostveen share his perspective on how organizations can achieve some sense of control over the expanding universe of technologies available to businesses in 2022 and beyond.
- Compared to a decade ago, what is the state of the IT infrastructure today?
- One of Gartner’s predictions for 2022 is the need for a comprehensive management tool to reduce costs and produce better ROIs.
a. For the CIO and I&O leaders, how easy or challenging is this call for a comprehensive management tool by Gartner? Is this even possible given the complexity of technology and the diversity in needs and priorities within a business?
b. Vendors will create unique features best accessed using their proprietary software. Does open API allow for a third-party management tool to harness these unique features?
c. What are the challenges organizations must grapple with to realize this call-to-action?
d. What would be the key benefits of adopting a unified management tool?
- What is your advice to CIOs and I&O leaders as they look to adopt a unified management tool?
- Coming into 2022, what is your expectation of this quest Towards a single pane of glass?