Building a Customer-Centric, Service-Oriented Command Center: IT Service Operations Has a Plan!

Director of EMC IT Service Operations and Global Command Center

If you’ve ever wished that IT Service Operations had a stronger customer focus, I have good news for you – this is our focus. We are constantly working on it and making good progress!

As EMC IT strives to better serve its business users with newly packaged and more agile services, those of us who monitor and support those services are evolving our focus as well.

IT Service Operations and Global Command Center:Who are we?  

The IT Service Operations team is tasked with “running” EMC’s IT services. There are two teams that work hand in hand–the command center team, which is responsible for “back-office/data-center,” 24×7 services, and the process team which is driving measurable improvements and best practices for Global IT.

In the spirit of EMC IT’s new IT-as-a-Service model, EMC IT Service Operations is on a journey to become not only technology-driven but more collaborative, communicative and responsive to our customers’ needs. That means looking at IT from the customer’s point of view rather than our longstanding focus on ”stovepipe”  IT technologies.

To accomplish this, we are focusing on three main initiatives:

  • Being the core of information for EMC IT
  • Evolving  information and experience into knowledge
  • Leveraging knowledge for command and control of EMC’s critical assets

Information management

To manage information, you first need to acquire it from various sources, organize it and analyze it so you can act on what you know. To accomplish this we are working to obtain a consolidated view of EMC’s cloud infrastructure, applications and services to pro-actively address issues before they impact our customers.

The Global Command Center (GCC), based in Southborough, MA and Bangalore,India has become substantially more coordinated in its follow-the-sun approach to monitoring and tracking service-related issues. We are not there yet, but we are making steady progress towards our goal of complete visibility across different technologies and service areas.

The co-located Command Center means that IT Service Operations (ITSO) staff members can collaborate on the status of a service issue and, to a certain degree, look at the same screen of information to track its progress. We have been marshaling EMC technologies such as Ionix IT Operations Intelligence and VMware vCenter Operations Management to create this real-time global view and are still in the process of aligning tools and processes to fully achieve it. The challenges for this initiative are great, particularly in a complex and rapidly changing environment, but we are up for the challenge!

Knowledge at our fingertips

Our second initiative is knowledge management (KM). This is an effort to identify and document the tools and information our people need to accelerate triage and troubleshooting for rapid service restoration.

When the Global Command Center was built, it was combined with Process Operations to ensure we were leveraging best practices for IT Operations.  We also combined resources from seven different technology groups with a single focus–to monitor and support EMC’s technology environment.

For us to achieve maximum success from this operating model, we need to identify knowledge across all of these groups to create cross-functional access, facilitate collaboration and create an environment conducive to cross-functional training.  Whether the knowledge is embodied in individuals or embedded into process, it is critical that it is rapidly available across functions. We are now in the process of pulling all the knowledge together, identifying gaps and utilizing standardized tools to consolidate our knowledge and help us to manage the process in general.

Communication, command and control

To make the most of improved collaboration and information sharing, we need strong leaders at the helm of the day-to-day Command Center operations. So we are grooming our Command Center Event Coordinators to become leaders and facilitators of critical incidents.

We’ve had an Event Coordinator (EC) team in place to coordinate the handling of critical incidents for some time, but now we are expanding that role to have such coordinators step up and manage the critical incident process and be accountable for outcomes. These new leaders will be responsible for mobilizing the Command Centerand IT resources to resolve issues, communicating across teams and promoting collaboration.

They will not only manage the critical incident response process, but they will also spend time with our technology subject matter experts assessing responses and driving improvements.

Finally, we have formed a Global Communications Committee to create a communications and marketing strategy promoting our new focus and services. From making sure that every email counts to offering subscription-based technical news to targeted audiences, this effort will help us socialize our new approach and stay in touch with our customers.

Like IT in general, our journey is a complex one. Our evolution must continue while maintaining and supporting an environment that is becoming increasingly complex. The new world of services EMC IT has and will continue to design and build warrants transformation. We in IT Service Ops are committed to implementing the technologies and processes we need for increased efficiency, obtaining the training and certifications required for updating our skills and changing roles and responsibilities to meet our customers’ needs.

How does it all come together?

Let me give you a simple analogy–the LEGO Agents Mobile Command Center.

In this cool game (for ages 8+), the secret agents have different skills, tools and gadgets which, combined, make them a strong and agile unit.

Similarly, when ITSO combines the different skills of our teams in a package that is agile, mobile and can be virtually moved between Southborough, MA and Bangalore, India multiple times a day, now you are talking about tactical, powerful tools that can significantly “move the needle” in the right direction.

So there you have it–the “IT Service Operations Mobile Command Center”–different tools, different skills, and motivated IT professionals working as a team.

About the Author: Dan Inbar

Dan has over 20 years of experience in managing technology companies. Before joining EMC in 2016, he served as CEO of N-trig until its acquisition by Microsoft. Prior to this, Dan served ten years at SanDisk and M-Systems in a number of key positions, including General Manager of SanDisk Israel. He has also held marketing and management positions with e-Mobilis, Top Image Systems Ltd. and NICE Systems Ltd. Dan holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Institut Europeacuteen d’Administration des Affairs (INSEAD), France.