Software & Technology Innovation Award 2016
CTO of Transitional Data Services (TDS) Craig Macfarlane talks to us about how companies can increase the velocity of IT migrations through the use of TDS methodology, services and their exciting, software TransitionManager, the industry benchmark for managing complex IT transitions and transformations.
CIOs face tremendous challenges. They are trying to become more agile in supporting the business while under constant pressure to contain costs. To achieve long term flexibility, Enterprises have come to realize that a hybrid computing approach is optimal – one that balances the benefits and trade-offs of conventional data centre, cloud and SaaS services. We have selected TransitionManager for our annual Software and Technology Award for 2016 based on its unique capabilities in accelerating successful IT migrations in this complex hybrid environment.
Founded in 2002, TDS has deep technical experience in all facets of IT, including application software life cycle management (development, deployment and operations), hybrid computing environments (conventional, virtual, cloud and SaaS), dev ops and business resiliency. This broad experience is crucial in developing a methodology for executing complex IT migrations that are on-time, on budget and ultimately support the business goals of the organization.
At TDS, there are two key parts of the business that feed each other. Firstly, TDS provides comprehensive services to help companies deploy, transform and manage hybrid IT environments (including a mixture of conventional data centre, cloud and SaaS services). And more importantly, TDS has created an enabling software tool TransitionManager, to better manage the end to end migration process - including discovery, analysis, planning and execution. TransitionManager is unique in the industry as the only IT planning and orchestration system that spans all operating silos (server, storage, network, applications).
TransitionManager was developed specifically to fill a void so organizations could complete migration projects faster, with less disruption to users and with a tremendous success rate. TDS software tackles head on many of the challenges that contribute to a typical failure rate of 80-90% as cited by Gartner. TransitionManager has been deployed by many well-known Fortune 500 companies in financial services, manufacturing, health care, energy and web/internet. It has also been deployed in the US government and has been selected by some of the largest integrators in the world to help them improve the velocity of projects with their clients.
“We definitely see benefits in aligning with the business and allowing IT to better support digital business transformation initiatives,” said Craig Macfarlane, TDS CTO. “IT transformation does not occur in a vacuum - change management must be done in a way that aligns with the business needs and controls whether it be the need to increase revenue, reduce cost or mitigate risk,” Macfarlane continued.
Additional factors such as compliance, security and business resiliency must be tracked and managed throughout the process. For example, you cannot migrate a hospital IT workload or facility without considering HIPAA and protecting ePHI, just as you cannot move a consumer facing business without addressing PCI or personal data concerns. This is another example of how companies need to look beyond the physical facility and devices when planning transitions and transformations.
So as you transform your data centre and IT operations, you must always keep in mind the bigger picture which certainly includes security and compliance, as well as other business risk factors such as business continuity and disaster recovery.
TransitionManager from TDS is unique in how it addresses these business challenges. This software tool integrates the collective knowledge of teams and systems, provides a framework for planning and orchestration, and manages the transition process through dashboards, and task lists all controlled by auto-generated runbooks specific to the client environment.
TDS recommends their clients begin transformation initiatives with an accurate inventory of all assets and cross-silo interdependencies that can will have an impact on the transformation. It is not possible to predict and account for the full impact of each change in IT / data centre without a full understanding of the interdependencies among applications and infrastructure – servers, database, storage and network. Companies can leverage available sources of information to accelerate the inventory and dependency mapping which would generally be validated with a physical inventory and short interviews with the subject matter experts (SMEs) of infrastructure and applications.
Transition planning must be broken down into realistic sub-groups based on complex interdependent relationships. As you go through the planning process, you need to address any interdependencies that will be affected, broken or interrupted through the process of change. The visual dependency map in TransitionManager is instrumental to this planning process. TransitionManager can then be used to automatically generate a detailed step by step execution plan (known as a runbook) to move from your current state to your future state. The runbook is generated automatically by applying transition scripts (recipes) to the inventory to be migrated to result in an integrated plan to execute the migration effort. This can be incrementally refined and improved along the way until it is time to execute the plan.
All this leads up to an execution plan that is refined, adaptive and orchestrated in real time. The migration team manages their discrete activities in the proper sequence. Command and control is exception based since most activities are automated. Full visibility and transparency is available to the team so everyone can see the collective progress though dashboards and detailed drill–down if necessary.
And of course, things will change along the way. It is a fact of life with IT – change is inevitable. TransitionManager is built with this in mind. Late changes or disruptions to the plan can be addressed on the fly without major concerns. Record the changes, regenerate your runbook and move on. This balancing of structure with adaptability and flexibility is why TransitionManager is vital to transition and transformation success.
TransitionManager was built to solve very specific transition and transformation problems that are not addressed by general purpose operational tools or silo management tools. TransitionManager is used directly by TDS end customers, TDS migration consultants and by large partners like IBM and EMC who use TransitionManager with their own delivery teams.
The primary attributes that make TDS successful are in balancing flexibility with repeatable best practices, which is vital for successful transitions and migrations. This agile and application oriented approach built into TransitionManager is essential to achieve transformation success. Many companies attempt to address these complex challenges by assuming the environment is static, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Such approaches are doomed and contribute to a high project failure rate as cited by Gartner.
The fact is that all IT organisations face constant change and project execution planning must accept this dynamic reality. Most failures in transformations are caused by break downs in planning, methodology and tools. The longer the project takes to complete, the greater the likelihood of failure. This is precisely what TransitionManager solves, allowing transitions to occur at a faster pace, with less risk and while being more flexible and adaptive to a constantly changing environment.
The requirement for orchestration, visibility and control offered by TransitionManager is an ongoing and perpetual need within the organisation. “With broadened acceptance of hybrid computing and the need for constant alignment with ongoing digital business transformation initiatives, the work is really never finished,” said Macfarlane. The starting point to all transition and transformation projects is the same – to begin with a cross-silo view of the entire environment, including infrastructure and application availability as it evolves over time. In addition, every change also has an impact to the disaster recovery approach are how the goals of business resiliency are maintained.
From this, there is the need to better orchestrate change across all IT silos of operation. TDS has found that taking an application-centric view is essential in accounting for the critical relationships between infrastructure components and for assuring application availability while implementing changes and for ongoing, steady state operations. Since companies have become more aware of these challenges and needs, TDS has seen increased interest in using the TransitionManager platform to manage perpetual change in their environment.
Since TransitionManager transcends silos, stacks and hosting environments, it provides additional value to organisations. Any IT operations that demand cross silo cooperation will gain similar benefits from TransitionManager regarding inventory assessment, orchestration and execution, whether it be data center migrations, cloud migrations, application migrations, business resiliency and dev ops.
TransitionManager was originally developed so that TDS could compete, win and thrive against some of the largest tech companies in the world. It has been further optimised and honed over the years as TDS continue to release new features and enhancements every quarter. “We continue to extend TransitionManager in two dimensions,” said Macfarlane. “First, we gain direct feedback from practitioners including our employees, partners and end customers, this is what purpose built is all about. Secondly, we always consider how to implement features so they cover multiple use cases in IT transformation, dev ops and resiliency,” Macfarlane concluded.
It is very important to TDS that their products are enhanced based on real world feedback by their own migration experts/practitioners, their customers and the strategic partners who have standardised on TDS methodology and TransitionManager functionality. It is this direct involvement with leading partners and innovative customers that allows TDS to continue to differentiate and extend their solution portfolio.
“We are proud to receive this this recognition from Corporate Vision,” said Macfarlane. “Our goal is simple – we will continue to be the leading collaboration tool for planning and executing IT transitions and transformations and perpetual use in dev ops and business resiliency,” he concluded.
Company: Transitional Data Services, Inc.
Name: Craig Macfarlane
Web Address: www.transitionaldata.com
Address: 1700 West Park Drive, Suite 350
Westborough, MA, 01748