If you've been managing a service desk for a while, you've always thought the end users were the key to your day-to-day operations. But if you've been running the service desk while also managing the IT configuration, you probably tend to think of hardware as your central concern and end users as a secondary consideration. Well, get ready for your world to be shattered because the reality of contemporary enterprise IT departments is increasingly built around software, not hardware or users.
Of course, this move toward emphasizing software has come in response to end-user requirements, so if you want somebody to blame, you have a scapegoat. Regardless, you need to make sure you are ready to support more complex and diverse software practices, and a good IT service desk is absolutely critical in this area.
Considering the large-scale move toward software
You may hear claims about software becoming dominant and initially jump to thinking about widespread mobile application use and cloud computing. Those trends are a part of this movement, but it goes deeper. A recent InformationWeek report explained that an emphasis on software has become so predominant across IT that it has begun to change the way people talk about their resources. Instead of focusing on hardware-centric terms and metrics, more IT leaders end up discussing DevOps, scrum cycles and continuous delivery as they try to get the job done.
Software development is becoming agile, the news source explained, but agile isn't just a development principle, it is a way of thinking that is increasingly being applied to every phase of IT functionality. If we are going to use agile processes to improve software development, we need to become more agile in our release management, change operations, support processes and other IT tasks. This has led to a focus on DevOps, and also contributed to software playing such a large role in operations.
However, adapting all of IT to software is only one part of the issue. The other component is the increased emphasis on using software to alleviate many of the traditional hardware burdens facing IT teams. The software-defined data center movement is central to this situation, the report explained. Many organizations have begun virtualizing every phase of their data center operations, creating an environment in which hardware is even further marginalized.
While software's dominance is clear, the news source also noted that businesses can ill-afford to neglect hardware entirely. To do so would be inviting fiscal and operational problems when all of the software layers cannot sustain functionality without new servers, storage systems and network solutions to add resources to the configuration.
Looking at how all this impacts the service desk
IT service desk teams need to deal with more complexity in this software-defined IT world. Virtualization adds layers of complexity, potential glitches, configuration items and points of failure to the IT configuration. At the same time, the need to adapt agile principles in every phase of operations, including the service desk, creates an environment in which business process automation and user knowledge centers are necessary components of any solution.
Service desk teams trying to deal with a software-focused IT climate need to become more responsive, they need to communicate more effectively and they need to be able to document their operations to ensure there is a clear audit trail in the event of any problems. A homegrown help desk isn't going to get the job done here. Instead, businesses need to be focused on finding a service desk that is capable of meeting their needs now while creating value through flexibility and scalability over time.