IT Documentation Solutions

Interview with Axel Weese, Managing Director, CSO at FNT

Professional IT documentation solutions are standard for larger companies but not widely used by smaller ones. Why do you think this is, and do you see this changing?

Larger companies have historically been better positioned to take advantage of professional IT documentation solutions because of their size and availability of resources. These solutions tend to come with a high price tag, require expertise to operate and maintain, and need a high volume of assets to justify the cost. Advances in these solutions are a game-changer for smaller businesses, which can now benefit from the increased efficiency and cost optimization that professional IT documentation make possible. Now there are cloud-based and standardized solutions with rich out-of-the-box functionality. These commercial off the shelf tools have a significantly lower cost than previous solutions and do not require specific expertise to use. For these reasons, I believe that smaller companies will adopt professional IT documentation solutions.

One of the most often cited reasons for not using a professional IT documentation solution is that they are just too complex. Is this an accurate perception? Please set the record straight.
In the past, isolated CMDBs had complicated in- and output processes. Getting data into a system, keeping it up-to-date and making it actionable were difficult and time consuming. So, I understand that perception. However, modern documentation solutions use a highly integrated approach that includes process integration for planning and changes, open interfaces for data exchange, and auto discovery functionalities to detect changes. All reduce complexity and simplify managing IT documentation.

Having a Cloud-First strategy is another frequent reason given for not using professional IT documentation. Is that a valid reason, in your opinion?
You should care about your IT documentation even when your resources are in the cloud. Plus, in our experience, no one runs their IT completely in the cloud. Everyone therefore needs something to manage the physical elements of the infrastructure and to support service processes. Furthermore, hybrid cloud architectures increase the dependencies and ways to run applications and business-critical services, so it’s a good idea to integrate the important cloud infrastructures into a comprehensive IT documentation. While you do not need the same level of information for cloud-based resources, they are integral to critical processes so you should be able to account for them.

Regardless of perceptions about professional IT documentation, many companies are adopting solutions for this purpose. What are the most compelling factors that push businesses to do so?
The reduction of financial barriers to entry is a big factor. Newer, standard off-the-shelf solutions significantly reduces the cost. The availability of cloud-based solutions, which also feature low operating and deployment costs, is another great option for businesses looking to improve IT infrastructure management but have budget constraints. The growth in hybrid infrastructure deployments is another significant factor. These require documentation of both physical and virtual resources and their logical dependencies, so holistic management of both on-premise and cloud-based components is needed. A third driving factor is digitization initiatives. These require a solution that automates updating of documentation through process integration and interfaces and consolidates data for an overall view.

There are many different applications for professional IT documentation. Are there significant benefits to be gained by focusing on some areas over others?
The two most common uses for a documentation solution are asset and configuration management, and as part of the ITSM. This is true across all segments. Interestingly, the simultaneous use of the tool for DCIM, cable management and network management in the WAN is on the rise. The biggest benefit to be gained in all these scenarios is the standardization and automation of IT service processes. Automation increases efficiency. This speeds up service processes, so you can provide faster services to customers and improve customer satisfaction. It also reduces operating costs to improve the bottom line.

Q&A based on January 2021 Survey

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