Cliff Saran is the managing editor (technology) on Computer Weekly magazine responsible for commissioning, writing and overseeing the magazine strategy concerning all matters relating to technology from up-and-coming research and development to systems management challenges and legacy support and maintenance.
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Cliff has been writing about these subjects since the early 1990s. In his current role, he writes a regular blog called Cliff Saran’s IT FUD blog which aims to unravel the hype, weed out the fear uncertainty and doubt spun by the massive marketing machinery in the IT industry.
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Kaiser Permanente, a supplier of electronic patient records to US clinicians, has re-engineered its IT service delivery to split high availability and performance. This will allow it to streamline support and maintain a life-critical medical system.
Kaiser Permanente runs a seven-mainframe environment with 15,000 servers and 20 petabytes of storage. It runs 300 IT management tools. Speaking at VMworld Copenhagen, Ian Todd, director of services delivery at Kaiser Permanente, said his goal is to reduce this number to 30, to make it easier to manage the IT environment.
The challenge for the organisation, according to Todd, was that its support desk was overloaded with helpdesk tickets. With 120,000 clinicians on the system, sometimes an entire hospital would slow down, he said. "We cannot firefight when it involves people's lives."
Traditional systems administrators are tasked with resolving helpdesk issues, while a separate team of 50 focus on performance.
The IT management tools had 4,000 thresholds, which was far too high, he said. IBM, which runs operations for Kaiser Permanente, was tasked with reworking the IT metrics and thresholds collected by the company's numerous system monitoring tools to prevent over-burdening the helpdesk. For instance, SQL Server now has 100 threshold, he said.
By simplifying the metrics used to monitor the health of the company's IT systems, Todd said he could ensure that there was someone in Kaiser Permanente's IT who understood the metric if a given threshold was breached, raising a helpdesk ticket. "I wanted to make every ticket actionable."
Feedback of how well a problem has been resolved is fed into the Remedy helpdesk system, allowing the IT team to understand how well the problem was fixed.
More from VMworld 2011:
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