by Carol Baroudi, Partner
We’re all too familiar with the difficulties of supporting complex IT systems. With new devices being deployed all the time, new software, new markets, new customers, and new partners, it is increasingly difficult to keep up with all the information needed to support heterogeneous systems. Enterprises try various strategies and employ countless workers to try to contain the problem, but we all know that the complexity is here to stay and managing our complicated environments is only getting harder.
You may remember when systems seemed simpler to support. Certainly many vendors would still like you to believe that if you buy everything from them, your support problems will vanish and you’ll live happily ever after. However, you (or your predecessors) have made choices to buy applications and devices from various vendors and you’re likely to continue to. And certainly if your company acquires or merges with another you have the happy circumstance of integrating all their technologies with yours. Let’s face it – there is no longer such a thing as a homogeneous (everything from a single source) IT environment. In IT, heterogeneity is here to stay.
What you may not be aware of is that the difficulty in supporting heterogeneous systems that stymies IT is surfacing in other industries as well. In the medical devices arena similar scenarios arise – different vendors supply unique devices that may or may not play nicely with the other technologies vying for scarce space in the exam room, emergency room or operating room. Industrial trucks are built from component parts from various vendors put together under one hood by truck manufacturers that are closer to systems integrators than what we might once have thought of as a vehicle manufacturer. Take a look at a Penske or a Ryder and you might find an engine from Detroit Diesel, a clutch from Dana and casino online poland a transmission from Eaton. That’s the way trucks are built today and herein lies the problem.
Traditional customer support is built by and integral to brand. Remember “Maytag is there”? The brand is ultimately held responsible for service. Yet how does one service something composed of different complex systems that are forced to interoperate? Detroit Diesel may guarantee their engine, Dana their clutch, and Eaton their transmission. Yet no one entity holds all the information necessary to support the combined entity – a new kind of heterogeneous environment. There is no central location that pools knowledge from various suppliers. Beyond that there’s nothing that addresses the interoperability, compatibility, or even viability of a component mix.
Hurwitz & Associates believes there’s a strong need not only for the aggregation of knowledge bases, but the building of collective knowledge that crosses vendor lines. What a perfect application of a service oriented architecture – expose each vendor’s knowledge bases as information as a service and build the composite applications that leverage the disparate sources thereby making an extensible, dynamic ecosystem. Kaidara Software, which has already created knowledge systems for the likes of Daimler Chrysler and Cisco Systems, has the perfect platform for this kind of undertaking. Their deep experience with expert systems that dramatically change the economics and dynamics of customer support has been proven for retail and for electronic and medical equipment as well.