Al Zollar, general manager of IBM Tivoli
Al Zollar, general manager of IBM Tivoli
About a year ago, IBM began a global conversation about how the planet is becoming smarter. Here at IBM, we realized that intelligence was, and is, being infused into the systems and processes that enable services to be delivered, touching every facet of our daily experiences; our finances, the movement of people and money to water and food, the heating and cooling of our homes, traffic in our cities, and even how we shop for goods and services.

Computing power is now being built into things we would never recognize as a computer, creating an explosion of digital devices soon to number in the trillions, giving us the opportunity to turn massive amounts of computing data into intelligence. In these next 10 years, more than ever before, we will find ways to make the analysis of the information we collect actionable to change the way people live for the better. These changes will be driven by the development of leading edge software, because on our smarter planet, software is already changing the way people live. We call this the Decade of Smart.

In the Decade of Smart, we will be able to anticipate, forecast and predict changes like never before. Businesses, governments and industries are already utilizing leading edge software to analyze information to create smarter transportation systems, waterways, workplaces and energy grids. These new services are drastically changing the way we work and live. The work force has moved well beyond physical branch offices and onto virtual platforms providing dispersed workers a place to collaborate.

With these capabilities come new challenges for people like you and me, who are charged with maintaining the privacy and security of our IT environments. The risk and complexity of operating our organizations has grown. Regardless of the industry, your infrastructure must be ready to handle a flood of data while maintaining the security controls of how and when information is accessed, and by whom. People are becoming more dependent on security in everyday life as it is progressively viewed as every individual's right.

The complexity of the smarter planet is here to stay and it creates “dark” areas, where people with bad intensions can do bad things. We must ensure that our organizations are pro-actively identifying all types of business risks, and have the security and resiliency plans in place to address any threat or disruption. Whether you are dealing with cybersecurity, protecting a critical infrastructure or dealing with the issues of privacy and identity, it is universal, we always have to be ahead of the bad guys.

To stay ahead of the bad guys, you have to be able to see what's happening with the infrastructure from a service operations and security operations perspective. You have to be in control. In a controlled environment, we strive to have everything in a desired state. You have to be able to visualize what is happening right now in that desired state and you have to make sure that you stay within the control limits and understand the risks that are associated with moving in and out of that desired state. Control also requires automation, because we've seen in our work with clients worldwide that vulnerability surfaces from people choosing not to follow repeatable defined processes. This is a very powerful value proposition and it resonates with businesses, industries and governments across our smarter planet; it's called Service Management.

We talk about this notion of Integrated Service Management with our clients because it's a client value proposition based on a core premise; the most important thing our clients do with technology infrastructures they deploy, is deliver a service which supports a business process that is important to a business outcome. The prime piece of importance is that the service, from a security perspective, is built on a set of physical assets with built-in intelligence, storing, processing or collecting huge amounts of information, that are network connected. It is important to note that these intelligent and connected assets span multiple classes; they can be transportation vehicles, they can be traffic control devices, they can be buildings and they could be digital assets, like graphic images or software that supports composite applications. All of these things can now be part of the Smarter Planet-part of the service that you deliver. A key element in the Smarter Decade will be the capability to manage all of the assets across this spectrum with one set of software capabilities, because you have to be able to see what's happening with the entire infrastructure from a service operations and a security operations perspective.

Integrated Service Management also includes the integration of processes and best practices from different sources, like ITIL, COBIT and ISO 27001. The integration of these best practices allows organizations to make sure that they are functioning properly within a set control limit, to deliver the services that are expected or mandated. We have found that adherence to the disciplines of Integrated Service Management sets the highest performers in the area of security management apart. So, at IBM we talk to our clients about this idea of Integrated Service Management as the “operating system” for the Smarter Planet. It drives down the cost of implementing and maintaining service infrastructure, it minimizes human error, and it provides the data and insights to measure and prove compliance. It is also integral to the creation of software and development processes, resulting in the security that is built into the software applications we use to create new services for the smarter planet. Every business and every government, regardless of their industry or home continent, will need strong integrated service management capabilities to deliver the Smarter Bridges, Smarter Utility Grids, Smarter Farms, and Smarter Banks of our future.


Al Zollar is general manager of IBM Tivoli