Heat Software Event 2015 Review

Heat Software hosted their annual Heat event in London this week. The event is especially for users of the software, giving them access to subject matter experts, industry partners & consultants and a “preview of forthcoming attractions” for exciting new toolset functionality.

The event was held at the Crystal building in central London and was completely packed out. Not even a DLR strike could dampen the enthusiasm for Heat users with most people attending the day by cable car – which yes was exactly as glamorous & James Bond like as it sounds!

The Conference

Roberto Casetta, Snr. Vice President International kicked off the proceedings by welcoming everyone to the event and setting out the agenda for the day. He then welcomed the first speaker, Jonathan Temple.

Software Update, Vision & Strategy – Jonathan Temple, President & CEO Heat Software

Jonathan introduced his session by sharing Heat’s vision – telling us all to “pay attention, there’ll be a test later.” Heat’s vision is “to deliver superior business performance through the relentless improvement of security & service quality”.

Jonathan continued by talking about the challenges that CIOs are now facing: “nowadays the CIO is not just tasked with improving service quality across IT but improving it across the entire enterprise.” Jonathan also said that in this day and age, it’s simply not good enough to keep buying ITSM toolsets stating “ we need an IT operations management mini suite”. Jonathan explained that the mini suite should contain ITSM functionality, asset (both hardware & software) functionality, customisable management dashboards and discovery tools.

The next part of Jonathan’s presentation focused on the future of Heat. He gave an overview of the Absolute acquisition which will strengthen Heat’s mobility offerings and gave examples of how Heat could be used in non IT situations like tracking facilities issues or managing HR queries.

The final part of Jonathan’s session summarised what Heat users could expect from the product in the near future; the new Heat online community which will be much more user friendly to “allow for global social collaboration” and a sparkly new App store to make it easier to download software components & updates.

Product Strategy & Roadmap – Udo Waibel, Chief Product Officer, Heat Software

Udo followed Jonathan’s session and opened by talking about the overriding product design principles for Heat and how they are underpinned by their customer for life ethos.

Udo explained that Heat set out to provide software that “focused on end user performance, fit for purpose & easy to install, configure, maintain & upgrade”.  Udo continued by saying “we must simplify the complex, password re-sets should not require human intervention”. After working for a company in a previous life where password resets required multiple calls to the Service Desk, an e-mail from your manager and endless faffing around trying to prove your identity, I couldn’t agree more. To be fair, after seeing my colleague’s experience, I never forgot my password but still, a fantastic example of what not to do and I agree with Udo’s stance on password resets whole heartedly.

Udo explained the complexity of the recent release cycle for Heat stating “each Release had over 25,000 line items or lots of stuff” and talked about the plan to work with Pink Elephant UK to increase the Pink Verified number of ITIL process to 13.

From Chaos to Consolidation with HEAT Service Management – John Ireland, Director of Customer Services, University of Oxford IT Services

Next up we had John Ireland from Oxford University. John opened by explaining the complexity of his live environment: “35,000 users on site, 100 autonomous IT teams & 140,000 central IT calls”. Certainly not a job for the faint hearted. John wanted to streamline IT by consolidating the Service Desk and brought in the expertise from both Heat & Pink Elephant.

John explained the key thing he learned about the project was not about processes or technology but by driving business change. “We mitigated the pain by giving people large quantities of cake!” Brilliant plan John!

John continued by saying that by really paying attention to the people, they were able to complete the project with a grand total of zero end user complaints! That’s awesome John and also probably some sort of record!

John finished up his session by sharing 2 final top tips:

  1. Stop techies rejecting your tasks by giving them cake
  2. You can’t make an Incident a P1 just because you like the user

Wise words indeed John.

Raise your shields, the enterprise is under attack! Graham Cluley, Security Analyst

@gcluley concluded the morning’s fun by introducing his fab session on security. Graham started by explaining how easy it is to build trust even when it might not be genuine or deserved:

Graham talked about the need to be vigilant using the example of the attempted theft of the crown jewels in 1671 by Thomas Blood.

Graham explained just how easy it is to be taken in my cyber criminals; it’s not just about looking out for suspicious attachments or links, e-mail headers can be faked or legitimate websites can be hacked meaning that simply clicking a link can put your entire organisation at risk. The ramifications can be huge, people can lose their jobs (Graham used the Target example in the US to explain this) not to mention the threat to personal and corporate data.

In recent times, the Talk Talk attack resulted in 1.2 million email addresses, names and phone numbers and 21,000 unique bank account numbers and sort codes being accessed and the Dow Jones dropped 130 points after the Associated Press news agency’s @AP Twitter account was hacked posting a fake story about an attack on Barack Obama. Scary stuff indeed.

Graham concluded his session by talking about the need to be security aware.

The Story Behind The Crystal – Pete Daw, Cities Urban Developer Siemens Plc

Straight after lunch we had an overview of the Crystal landmark and how groundbreaking it is in terms of sustainability:

At this point, the day split into 3 tracks, Service Management, Endpoint Management & IT Security and Service Automation.

Track 1: What’s New in HEAT Service Management? – Christopher Powell, Senior Engineer, Heat Software

Chris used his session to give us a quick run through of some exciting new functionality. First up was the news that quick actions have been expanded to include Export to Excel, Run from Workflow and Insert Object functionality.

Chris then took the audience through the updated master Major Incident module showcasing the quicker linkage and closure options and also talked about the new discovery functionality meaning that you can now return CI info straight into your CMDB from registry keys.

Chris concluded with the exciting news that links to external systems and tools from Microsoft to other ITSM tools would be supported. It’s great to see a software vendor recognise that other tools & solutions exist and taking positive action to enable linkage between multiple services enabling them to talk to each other. Nicely done Chris!

Track 1: Service Catalog: The Service Enabler – Peter Coote, Solutions Manager, Heat Software

The final session we attended was a whistle stop tour by Peter Coote on Service Catalogues, Knowledge Management and Voice automation.

Peter ran through the Service Catalogue Management functionality in Heat, taking us on the journey from Service Offering, to Service Request via the Service Catalogue explaining that a Service Catalogue is “a list of everything you need”.

Next up was the Knowledge Management module. Peter explained that it had been revamped to be driven by the side bar making navigation across multiple devices for example from phone to iPad to laptop much easier. Peter also gave us his take on the difference between FAQs and Knowledge Management “FAQs are small, simple pieces of information that you can probably get from Google. Knowledge is usually much more specific & detailed with attachments & supporting information”. Good rule of thumb Peter but this is my favourite definition:

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 09.50.08

 

The final minutes of Peter’s session were spent explaining the Voice functionality included in the software. Incidents can be raised directly from end users calls using automation making the Service Desk analyst’s life a hell of a lot easier. Speaking as an ex techie (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when it was still called the Helpdesk) anything that makes it easier for the Service Desk to log Incidents rocks.

A Really Useful Event

For my money, this was a really useful event. It’s always nice to see the big software companies give something back and the day was a really good mix of brand, customer and partner presentations & end user experiences. The customers I spoke to were all really engaged and a great day was had by all. Thank you to Heat Software for inviting us along and we hope to be back next year.

Met Office reduces (software) forecast errors

The Met Office has to implemented a new software release and deployment automation solution to reduce the number of software planning, delivery, deployment and execution errors it needs to handle on a day to day basis.

A weather
Image credit: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

The UK national weather and climate services authority has worked with specialist partner in release and deployment management solutions Cachet Software to implement the XebiaLabs Deployit product.

This installation is intended to enable the Met Office to save time, with tests already showing a substantial reduction in deployment times compared to their in-house solution.

It will also help reduce errors and increase efficiency of preparation and deployment.

Overall, the solution is hoped to increase accuracy, speed and scale for the Met Office’s deployments of new applications and services — the organisation had previously confirmed that it needed a flexible solution that could better scale and support continuous delivery of primarily web-facing services to millions of customers.

NOTE: The team at the Met Office manage hundreds of projects and services across dozens of servers — until recently, release preparations were manual, meaning each step would be subject to time-consuming checks to ensure it was planned and executed properly.

By applying deployment automation best practices with Deployit, the Met Office will be able to reduce the risk of deployment errors whilst enabling an increase in the number of deployments. Deployit will also ensure more efficient performance and deliver the ability to keep track of deployments and report on deployment results, leading to a substantial improvement in efficiency of the service delivery process.

Alan Morbey, Configuration Management Team Leader at Met Office, commented: “At the Met Office our deployments were both increasing in volume and complexity whilst staff resources were limited.   Deployment automation using Deployit has allowed us to cope with both of these issues, minimise deployment errors and helped us to further safeguard our production environment, key to delivering services to our customers. Deployit is  already showing some very encouraging results, with deployment times being substantially reduced .”

NOTE: The Met Office uses more than 10 million weather observations and a supercomputer to create 3,000 tailored forecasts daily. These briefings are delivered to the general public, Government, businesses, the armed forces and other organisations.

Stuart Kenley, MD at Cachet Software Solutions, added: “Customers today expect up-to-date services at all times, which means IT departments need to deploy more, faster and accurately. Continuous delivery is becoming a must-have for all companies. We are delighted to be working with the Met Office, having been able to help them through the process of selection by conducting a due diligence to choose the best fit for their specific requirements.”