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November 11, 2014

IT Insanity: Batteries Not Included

Tony Thomas
Vice President, Strategy
ConnectWise, Inc.

One morning, I get a press release from my software vendor promising massive benefits with a new integration between my remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution and another mission critical product. I get excited by the potential for more efficiency and less frustration, so I get my account manager to walk me through a PowerPoint of the features and advantages of this new integration. I can see all the streamlining I could add, and there’s a special promotion going on that means I can add those additional seats I’ve been holding off on. It all sounds perfect…until I start trying to install.

The installation process is anything but intuitive, and I end up spending hours troubleshooting and talking to support. I’m already worrying about the hassle of updates and new product releases. Once it’s up and running, I immediately see that some common indicators aren’t being captured, which means I have to go back to the other product interface to get to those. I’m knee-deep in the integration, but I’m still doing everything one task at a time. In the end, I abandon this new integration, write off the lost time, and go back to the old process. This is not a meaningful integration, it’s another form of IT Insanity.

Integrations must solve for a complete lifecycle. After countless stories like this one from our partners, we learned some important lessons about how to avoid useless franken-integrations. Here are the signs you’ve stumbled on a franken-integration:

  • A press release creates a lot of hype, but the integration under-delivers
  • No live demonstration of the integration in action
  • Non-intuitive integration design and/or dense and confusing documentation
  • Hours spent talking to support just to get the integration up and running
  • Critical indicators are missing, so you’re left without visual indicators of health, alerts and action oriented steps for important status changes
  • The integration doesn’t enable you to work through a single-pane-of-glass, so you waste time jumping from one interface to another
  • Actions can’t be performed globally or at the group level, so you must do them one by one
  • Data collected isn’t reportable
  • The integration stops working through product upgrades
  • Integration performance is impacted as your use of the solution grows

Avoid the wasted time and mounting frustration of a franken-integration. To help you do that, we’ve reinvented the way integrations are developed to make them truly meaningful for our partners.

We talk to partners about building their own IT solutions through the ICMMR model, which we refer to as “I See More.” This model is focused on solving problems within a single-pane-of-glass interface that minimizes the steps required to get the most out of an integration. ICMMR defines five points that solve for your needs as an IT service provider.

Installation: Integrations with third party applications must allow the software installation, licensing and activation to be done from your management console.

Configuration: The console should allow you to configure common settings to minimize your configuration time and eliminate the need to remote in to another server or switch back and forth between applications.

Monitoring: Monitoring needs to raise alerts only when your intervention is required. For example, with an integration into backup software, if you’re running continuous incremental backups every 15 minutes, you don’t need to know when each job fails; you only need to know when the recovery point objective (RPO) is beyond acceptable limits.

Management: The management interface should look and work the same way the integrated application works so you can use an interface you’re already familiar with. You should be able to handle the top 5-10 management tasks within the integration.

Reporting: While you don’t need alerts for everything, you do need to be able to identify underlying trends that could impact your client networks. Reporting and dashboards are a must in every integration.

By focusing on these five points, you can easily differentiate between integrations that will really make a difference for your IT business and those that that will just waste your time.

Stop the Insanity with Platform Thinking

Start from the beginning of our IT Insanity series to see what platform thinking really means, and how it can change your business for the better.

Read the Series

Tony Thomas Vice President, Strategy
ConnectWise, Inc.

Tony is passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation, so he’s always searching for new ways LabTech can help unlock innovation and potential in your IT business.


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