As a contractor and solution architect, my involvement in most BMC Discovery deployments has usually come long after the business case has been determined, agreed and approved. By the time I’m on the scene, there should already be a PM, a statement of work with agreed deliverables, and a project plan – it’s then in my hands to deliver on what was promised. If the sales team and the executive have not been cutthroat about prices and scope, then this gives me plenty of time and budget to not only deliver on objectives, but also provide some value add.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case – cost and time factors will affect executive decisions, and pressure to make a sale will also cause vendors to over-promise. I’ve witnessed this at almost all stages in the project lifecycle – from presales to run, and with the exception of projects I’ve been brought in specifically to ‘rescue’, it’s not pleasant to be sitting at the end of the process having to explain to the customer why they’re not getting what they expected.
With this in mind, I want to share, from my experience, what factors need to be considered when putting together a Use Case for BMC Discovery. I have always considered BMC Discovery is a best-in-class tool with a lot to offer in terms of both revenue opportunities and savings. I hope this will help you to see the same, and avoid false expectations, unexpected costs and unworkable timescales.
Conducting the Cost/Benefits Analysis
…it’s not enough to simply list a number of benefits – they need to be applicable in some way to your organisation; many stated benefits may not be suited to your company… climate control and parking sensors are nice benefits for a car, but there’s little benefit to be had installing them on a motorbike.
First and foremost, it’s important to get your objectives clear, and linked to measurable financial benefits. This sounds a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised how much of this is lost when it filters down to those in your company whom this solution is foisted upon. In order to determine these benefits you need to consider whether your main goal of using BMC Discovery is to realise revenue opportunities (such as billing in a managed service), make efficiency savings (such as data centre migration), avoid risk and penalty (such as software audits), or a combination of all three.
It’s quite likely that you have been sold on all three benefits with a couple of dozen additional benefits thrown in. However it’s not enough to simply list a number of benefits – they need to be applicable in some way to your organisation; many stated benefits may not be suited to your company. For example, your company may be similar in many ways to others benefiting from Discovery, like a car is similar in many ways to a motorbike – both have a engines, pedals, speedometer, seating and similar purposes. Add-ons like climate control and parking sensors are nice benefits for a car, but there’s little benefit to be had installing them on a motorbike.
There are several factors to consider that should not be ignored in assessing the costs and benefits for your business case, not least these:
- Resourcing (Project and Operations)
- Data Quality
Up to, and as of version 11.x, BMC Discovery is licensed primarily on server count, with additional option of purchasing storage discovery and extended data pack (including End-of-Life and hardware reference data). When considering licensing, the obvious question is going to be a ballpark figure of how many servers are in your estate; but in determining viability of the Business Case, you also need to ask the following questions:
- If part of managed service, how are you billing your customers? Can the costs be recuperated from server count alone? If you bill based on service, server count cannot be guaranteed to meet your revenue objectives and you would be better to focus on cost reduction.
- How is your company structured? Is it one entity with centralised management, or a federation of accounts or companies, with separate financial structures and billing methods?
- Will the licensing, project, support and or hosting cost be covered in a central budget, or distributed along lines of business?
- Do you require data segregation for regulatory compliance, customer or cyber-security policies? This is critical to determining hosting and resourcing costs – ignoring this question could lead to major adjustments to the business case further down the road.
- Is your infrastructure hosted in one or two places (physical, logical) or is it sparse and unconnected? Similar to the question above, this needs to be considered in estimating hosting requirements. It could mean the difference between 2 and 20 appliances!
- What is your target infrastructure beyond servers? What percentage of discovery have you agreed on? What attributes are critical? In my experience 85% is realistic, 95% is optimistic, 100% is fantasy – just like anti-virus software, you’re only as good as your last scan and your environment is constantly evolving, not to mention there are always exceptions that can’t be discovered due to various reasons.
- Is your infrastructure managed in-house, offshore, or it is outsourced? If outsourced, will existing contracts cover the obligations of a successful deployment? If you use offshoring, the cost may be cheaper, but be prepared to extend your timelines anything up to 6 times for effort involved. If outsourcing, make sure the contract covers all prerequisites of deployment or be prepared to sacrifice some success criteria.
- Does your team, or department have the prerequisite skills for Discovery and data quality analysis? This is going to affect your resourcing costs, particularly if you find 3 months into the project that you have to hire relevant subject matter experts (SME) because the team you assembled doesn’t know what they are doing. If you are using an offshore model double your due diligence efforts!
Finally, after assessing all the questions above and risks that they represent, it’s worth considering if there are any other projects that may benefit, or be impacted by, the deployment of BMC Discovery. There may even be some projects that will impact Discovery itself.
- Are there projects involving the existing CMDB that will impact the sync timescales?
- Are there tools or projects that can be replaced by functionality from Discovery?
- Are there tools or policies that will have an effect on the timescales or functionality of Discovery?
Arguably, some of these questions can be addressed by vendor Proof of Concept and workshops before the project plan is developed, but in many cases I’ve seen spend commitments and project plans made before many of these questions are answered (or answered insufficiently), well before a qualified SME is hired and by then it’s too late.
There are other considerations that I hope to go into in future posts, but addressing these questions at the outset will give you a good firm foundation to base your Business Case on, and avoid even more expensive adjustments later where the reality on the ground hits.