Once again it’s all go in Lapland. Avid readers will recall that last year I interviewed Elf Tietokone, the CIO of SantaSystems, the IT division of SantaPrise. Since our interview, I’ve been in regular contact with Elf and others at SantaSystems, following developments during the year and in the run-up to this year’s peak. It’s been an interesting time.
Like many other organisations, SantaSystems has been feeling a bit of a cold draft from the world’s economic conditions. (Perhaps SantaPrise is better equipped than most to deal with a cold draft…) This has caused some discussions in the board about cost. Even Santa, the CEO, had a few grumpy moments (less of the Ho! Ho! Ho! than usual).
SantaPrise has also been looking at the effects of the increasing use of mobile devices. The trend is not totally new of course, as SantaSystems has been very progressive but the take-up of such devices for ordering, order confirmation, and sales and delivery monitoring has been remarkable. But increasing use of mobile devices brings concerns as well as benefits – what about security?
There is also the threat of cheaper competition – is SantaPrise exposed on that front? There isn’t a lot of obvious competition, especially following the failure of a rival group at the other end of the world – penguins, it seems, are less productive than elves. But competition can emerge at any time.
The upshot of a lot of discussions was a recommendation from Unisys for the new ClearPath Advisory Services to help establish a clear view of the current situation and the required strategic direction. We decided to run an Appraisal service in parallel with a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) assessment.
The Appraisal service is designed to find out the current state of an IT system and where it should be headed to meet its business requirements. The output from the process includes recommendations for getting to the desired state. To gather the facts, Unisys held a workshop with SantaPrise, with Elf Tietokone taking the lead for the client and Santa himself attending for much of the time.
The results for SantaPrise were pretty good. We measure state in two dimensions – how agile are the systems and how resilient. SantaSystems scored well on agility because of its well-defined service architecture (SPA – SantaPrise Architecture), built around the SantaPrise Service Bus (SSB). SPA and SSB make for great flexibility. There was, though, some concern about programmer productivity because of the tools used.
Resilience also scored well, although we found that a full DR required the presence of three particular operational elves. Security is another side of resilience. While good, there was clearly a need for more in view of the increased risks from mobile devices and suspected threats from troll hackers in the forests just across the border from Lapland.
Before making any recommendations, we considered the TCO assessment we prepared in parallel with the Appraisal. The TCO model includes all the cost components including hardware, software, people, power and other facilities. As well as the total cost, the model shows the distribution of the cost among the various components.
SantaPrise benchmarked favourably for IT costs per toy against other suppliers. We also looked at the costs compared with other IT installations and again SantaPrise’s ClearPath systems looked good in terms of cost per MIPS. There was however an indication that the people costs for operations could be improved, reinforcing a similar view from the Appraisal.
The final recommendations were designed to ensure SantaSystems stays world-class. An automation assessment was recommended, focusing on enhancing DR automation to remove the people dependency, accelerate the process and reduce costs. Security recommendations included looking at using StealthTM to increase protection of critical data. And – good news – the DR automation was in place ready for the seasonal rush!
On the agility side, while SPA and SSB got high marks, development processes could be improved. Recommendations include proof-of-concept projects for Eclipse, AB Suite and Java, the latter using the JProcessors available for both OS 2200 and MCP.
All in all, the Appraisal and TCO represented time well-spent!
Hyvää Joulua ja Onnelista Uutta Vuotta from Santa, Elf Tietokone and all at SantaPrise!