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Discover Hardware Oriented Applications for SEER-IT

SEER-IT is a versatile application that enables you to estimate IT infrastructure deployment as well as operations. It is easy to see how SEER-IT can be used to estimate deployment and support of enterprise IT systems. However, SEER-IT can be very effective in estimating the deployment and operations of systems that use custom hardware interconnected by IT based technologies.

This presentation will show:

  • How SEER-IT can be used to estimate the deployment and operations of the IT based technologies prevalent in network centric systems (NCS)
  • How to estimate the required systems engineering needed to bring estimating
  • Where and when to use SEER-SEM, SEER-H and SEER-IT for different components of a NCS
  • Examples of a SEER-IT estimate for NCS and hardware oriented systems are included
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Government IT Acquisition Reform has been in the news and analyzed many times by Galorath and others. Galorath’s Conclusions encompassing and IT failures, in general, were consistent with others.

The Air Force scrapped a system that was supposed to improve supply management after seven years and more than $1 billion. Afterward, a review team found s major issue was “simply an underestimation of the sophistication needed in tackling the enormous and complex effort.”

Estimation.. that word many people don’t want to think about is the basis for viable plans and successful programs.

Gov exec did an excellent summary of IT acquisition reform, The Big Fix.


Congress surprised many in the federal information technology community last December when it put its stamp of approval on the biggest legislative overhaul in nearly 20 years to the way the federal government procures, budgets and manages IT.

The bipartisan Federal Information Technology Reform Act which aims to upgrade the government’s creaky process for purchasing and building IT systems made it past intense House-Senate negotiations to be included in a compromise version of Fiscal 2015.”

National Defense Authorization Act.” The Big Fix 2015  This will give CIOS much more say so in budgets, risk, and other items.

Unfortunately, complex systems suffer from a high rate of failure. The success rate for all IT projects is only 39 percent, according to the Standish Group, and just 10 percent for projects with budgets over $10 million.

In a 2012 report McKinsey found half of IT projects, bot government and commercial with budgets of over $15 million run 45 percent over budget, are 7 percent behind schedule and deliver 56 percent less functionality than expected.

This can and must change.  Estimation is a key component of such change.

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SEER for IT Managed Services

The task of a managed service provider (MSP) is to quickly and efficiently deliver top-notch IT services to customers at the lowest possible prices, while still making a profit.

However, many MSPs struggle when it comes to determining exactly how to price their offerings to meet those two goals. The easy part is finding the right technology, the right tools, to get the job done. More difficult, though, for MSPs is defining strong business strategies to help them implement their visions.

The fact is that every managed services provider must figure out how to price deals and put together quotes for prospective customers.

One of the most challenging tasks MSPs must face when they’re managing systems is forecasting the required staffing levels to meet contractual SLAs (service level agreements) while remaining competitive and profitable.

In other words, the MSP must determine what support staff levels are needed so that IT systems run effectively, and users get the required support, but they must also operate profitably and minimize excess costs.

The MSP has to be able to estimate and customize its SLA pricing based on its risk as well as on what ongoing support services it is assuming on behalf of each customer.

Furthermore, the MSP must often justify staffing expenditures so cost estimates must be accurate, transparent, reliable, and need to account for risk and uncertainty in the operational environment.

For example: Say two customers each have similar data centers and number of users supported, but customer A requires round the clock support and has more business-critical applications being supported. As a result, customer A will need staff available around the clock and potentially more specialized application support.  The ability to compute effort for different scenarios must consider such differentiators.

Using effective estimating techniques to calculate costs, MSPs can competitively bid on managed services contracts; plan the right levels of resources given the required service levels; factor in change over time in terms of user growth and refresh/update requirements; consider risk and uncertainty; and rapidly evaluate the impacts of changes.

In addition, consumers of managed services understand what the costs of the services should be so they can independently evaluate and compare the bids of multiple managed services providers.

Estimating software like SEER for IT (SEER-IT) from Galorath Incorporated provides resource and cost estimates for running managed IT services.

The SEERIT estimate includes:

  • Labor Hours: The work hours required to complete ongoing support tasks.
  • Labor Cost: The cost associated with the labor hours.
  • Material Cost: The cost of purchased hardware, software and other nonlabor items.
  • Staffing: Required staffing or headcounts over time.

SEER-IT also provides MSPs with the resource and cost estimates for the ongoing support services required by IT systems. Ongoing support estimates include all the labor costs associated with running an IT system including service desk (tier 1 support), system administration, technology refresh and updates, system monitoring, troubleshooting, elevated problem management (tier 2 support) and backup and recovery activities.

SEER-IT can be used to project the total number of resources required for a managed services contract, significantly improving an MSP’s success rate based on the science of parametric modeling.

Parametric/predictive modeling was can be used to accurately assess what is known about ongoing services and to model or simulate what is unknown, based on meaningful comparative data. A formula is developed for estimating the effort and/or resources needed to perform a managed services activity. Parametric modeling provides “fact-based” estimating techniques including mathematical equations as well as interpretation of historical data.

Based on this sophisticated modeling technology, SEER-IT helps MSPs objectively estimate the time and resources needed to perform each managed services activity.

SEER-IT consists of a collection of estimation elements, or process models that MSPs can use to build breakdown structures.  Each element has a set of inputs, calculations, rates and factors (used to compute costs) and a set of outputs. Elements/process models provide logical groupings for managed services activities and can be used to fully define those activities.  Process models built into SEER-IT cover such key IT services associated with infrastructure hardware, end user hardware, enterprise applications, databases, middleware, software services, virtual machines, training, and user documentation. Metrics such as number of servers, network devices, applications, databases, users, and virtual machines are used as inputs into the process models.

There are numerous things that MSPs must worry about including the number of employees available, the infrastructure, the server, network devices and systems, the levels of security, and whether they’re using virtual systems or not.

MSPs must determine all the elements they need to consider, then based on those elements the SEER-IT tool will build accurate cost estimates.

MSPs can quickly develop SEER-IT estimates using SEER’s intuitive interface. They can generate new estimates from existing “templates” or by adding and defining these individual estimation elements. The SEER-IT estimation engine replicates real-world outcomes by combining sophisticated modeling technology with a database of industry and user-defined metrics.

Initially, SEER-IT computes a normalized estimate based on labor standards and material costs. Cost estimating relationships are applied to the normalized estimate to address organization-specific factors such as experience levels, system complexity, reliability requirements, and service level agreement as well as specific factors such as quantities, labor rates, and number of users.

Galorath’s SEER-IT estimation tool provides MSPs with realistic estimates, increasing the probability of the success of their managed services contracts and increasing their profits.

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Data Center Consolidation

Data center consolidation is a hot topic in today’s IT world.  Considerations for saving power and money are key to the survival of any organization.  Data center consolidation can aid an organization with corporate green initiatives, can be an opportunity to bring in new technology and, in the long run, and can save the organization money.

Organizations are finding that IT vendors are making amazing claims and projections regarding how data center consolidation can benefit and save money for the consumer.  While there is definitely some truth to the benefits of data center consolidation, some claims are not always backed up by a solid, objective cost analysis. Fortunately, Galorath’s SEER for IT can help you objectively and effectively evaluate the cost and financial impacts of data center consolidation.

A prime consideration for data center consolidation is that organizations are looking to reduce the overall size of a facility or to merge multiple facilities into one, thus reducing both costs and the overall IT footprint.  But organizations have to ask if this is the best use of their available funding. Likewise, they have to assess whether the vendor is providing accurate estimates.

Dan Galorath writes that, “Studies show that about 21% use consultants and about 17 use ROI calculators from vendors.”  Galorath says that, “Hopefully, these analyses provide accurate costs and savings.”

Data centers gather and store database information that is necessary for an organization to function and make informed decisions.  Management of the data center can include computer and server operations, data entry, data security, data quality control and management of the applications and services that are used in data processing.

What do organizations need to look at when considering data center consolidation?

Each organization will begin the process of data center consolidation at a different point.  The need for data center consolidation is not necessarily an annual or even semi-annual consideration.  In fact, for most organizations, data center consolidation will happen once or twice every ten years or so.  Because data center consolidation can cause disruption in the normal day-to-day business process, it’s natural for executives and management to have a lot of questions.

Here are several reasons to consider data center consolidation.

  • The organization may no longer be able to support the growing business with regard to space, power needs, or cooling needs for the system.  Data center consolidation can help with the reduction of power usage. This is not only a cost saving measure but also important for those companies who are trying to go green.
  • The organization is being restructured or merging with or acquiring additional business.  Data center consolidation can be used when newly acquired business is being moved into the company or likewise when certain units are being sold or divested from the business.
  • The data center(s) may simply be aging and need to be updated or replaced.  Data center consolidation can be the best option when new technology is being introduced into the system.  Consolidation can help boost system performance with improved technology.
  • Data center consolidation can lead to more profitability as well as improve efficiency.  Consolidation can reduce costs by introducing energy efficient equipment as well as streamlined operations.

So, you’ve made the decision to move ahead with data center consolidation.  What points do you need to consider in defining the process?

  • ROI: It’s important to look at both the investments for the change as well as the cost of current operations.  In order to do the kind of evaluations you need, you have to have a good assessment as to what the costs are as well as what it’s going to cost once you have the new configuration.
  • Consideration of training and documentation of new procedures.
  • Decommissioning of the existing data center or programs.
  • Risk Analysis: What are the costs and time associated with completion of the project?
  • Service desk: Is first tier support part of your data center operations?
  • Cloud computing is becoming more viable and is a great tool when applicable.
  • 3rd Party considerations:  Will you be using 3rd party providers for SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS?
  • Upgrades: Are upgrades to the system a part of the consolidation effort?

The first place to begin answering these questions, and where Galorath’s SEER for IT (or SEER-IT) can help, is to begin with an inventory of IT assets.  SEER for IT can provide your organization with the answers you need to avoid project delays and cost overruns.

SEER-IT provides IT managers with better cost control and planning for IT projects and the ongoing support and maintenance of IT infrastructure and services. SEER-IT uses high level attributes such as the number of users, servers, applications, or databases.  With this information, SEER-IT allows IT managers to evaluate the cost and schedule trade-offs before committing to a project.

SEER-IT uses parametric modeling to replicate real-world scenarios and outcomes.  Combining sophisticated cost modeling technology with an easy-to-use interface, databases of industry and user inputs and rates and factors, SEER-IT brings best practices to the planning and estimation of IT projects.

SEER-IT estimates have been proven to be within a targeted range of plus or minus five percent on some of the most complex projects.  In addition, SEER-IT can accurately gauge nearly all aspects of projects that are needed to support an organization’s major IT initiatives.

When SEER for IT was released, Dan Galorath said, “We envisioned SEER for IT as a response to new compliance regulations, tighter budgets and calls by senior IT manager for help in running their departments more like a business.  CIOs tell us that inaccurate estimates account for almost all IT project cost overruns and delays and that the larger the project the more likely it is to be late and exceed budget – SEER for IT aims to change that.”

Components of SEER-IT include:

  •  IT Project Estimating Software: SEER-IT supports planning efforts throughout the entire project lifecycle, from the beginning conceptual stage through design completion, testing, implemention and ongoing support.
  • IT Project Planning Software: SEER-IT can provide detailed analysis into the risks, uncertainty and costs that are associated with the development and management of an IT project.

So, when looking at data center consolidation, SEER-IT can help IT organizations work well beyond just the management of routers, disks and servers.  SEER-IT can help IT orchestrate complex disciplines into effective business delivery systems, as well as helping to reconfigure IT systems as needed.

Studies have shown that more than 50% of IT projects will significantly exceed budgets or time schedules.  Many are abandoned before they’re even fully implemented. SEER-IT will help to avoid those pitfalls and waste of time and resources.

SEER-IT uses parametric modeling to improve success rates on IT projects.  Parametric modeling was developed to accurately assess what is known or unknown about a project using meaningful comparative data.

This is what SEER-IT can do for you and your organization:

  •      Estimate the effort and cost of IT projects and ongoing support
  •      Build project plans
  •      Objectively estimate costs
  •      Provide a consistent framework for estimating and planning IT projects
  •      Help with the understanding of project cost drivers
  •      Develop a realistic plan, which in turn increases the probability of success

IT professionals are constantly under pressure to deliver more to their company or organization, but often they have to do this without an increase in budget.  What they are faced with is finding ways to reduce costs without limiting, or instead actually improving systems. Data center consolidation is one way of reducing costs in the organization. SEER-IT is an effective, and cost friendly tool that can help IT managers meet those challenges.

Organizations can confidently rely on Galorath to provide accurate costs and savings projections.  In estimating data center consolidation, Galorath models the system as it currently is, then estimates what it could be including a risk analysis.  Galorath wants to make sure that the customer understands all available options. SEER-IT is the tool for gathering and providing that information.

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When Five Minus Four Costs Three The Hidden Costs of Data Center Consolidation

David DeWitt, Senior Consultant, Galorath Inc.,

Michael J. Dunbar, Independent Technology Consultant

It sounds so simple.  Shut down two or three data centers and consolidate them into one virtualized, cost efficient facility, then watch the savings role in… if life was only that easy!

For most companies, the incentive for data center consolidation is the shear cost of maintaining multiple facilities.  Power, networking, and staffing for each center are often the first consolidation considerations. But migration also becomes a necessity when companies outgrow or over power existing facilities or has acquired another company.  Trying to streamline multiple compatible systems and reduce redundancy (equipment and processes) becomes a priority. And so should taking a moment to recognize some hidden cost of that consolidation.

Let’s start with the most common reason to consolidate, Scalability.   This is often a factor that is underestimated and underpriced.  The driving force is that equipment has become archaic and unable to support the growing demands.   But, can a simple networking and power upgrade be performed without major prohibitive costs? While the footprint is less a concern than previous years due to newer equipment designs, and the ability to collapse several machines into one with virtualization, it’s still essential to eliminate or consolidate duplicate processes and systems.  Failure to remove redundant process can vastly defeat the benefit of consolidated hardware. Bad practices are still bad practices – albeit more efficient – but bad – and costly.

Optimization of a datacenter is often the underlying goal in migration and consolidation, but it’s not always treated as such.  Too often IT departments have developed internal solutions to shortcomings of the tools they have at hand. These “workarounds” can often become standard procedure because no one has the time to address them.  This should be built into the project scope. Persistent workarounds are much more expensive than a proper solution.

It seems logical that if the capability of five servers or networks can be consolidated into one via Virtualization then the savings will roll in.  “This one was the low hanging fruit because of the real potential to save on capital expense,” says John Sloan, lead analyst at Info Tech. “but …managing a consolidated and virtualized infrastructure is more complex.”   With more complexity comes more cost. Additionally, the benefit of having several virtual machines on one piece of hardware generates a risk of a single point of failure – not to mention Security risks. “How difficult would it be to pick up and walk out of your shop with one box?” adds Sloan.

Housekeeping is often the toughest part of the consolidation and migration effort – especially to price.   The goal is to minimize cost by eliminating servers and/or storage that are no longer used or to collapse them into another server or storage array that can handle the extra weight.   This means there is stuff that’s no longer needed; try to sell that to disparate users. Often, the capabilities are the same or similar, but stakeholders will be resistant to move towards one or another.  If they don’t, you fail. Price that.

The latest buzzword around boardrooms is “The Cloud.”  Cloud providers pride themselves in high-availability and redundancy, the latter of which can be a real challenge for smaller companies that don’t have the means to maintain their own disaster recovery site.  Sounds great, yet aside from security, some others issues you may encounter include (as discovered in a quick web search): Assured access, browser compatibility, host financial and platform stability, and legal issues such as jurisdiction over data location; to name a few.   “The Cloud is just another implementation of architecture. Use it when it makes sense,” says Mike Kavis of the Social Computing Journal. He also defines Cloud Insanity as “To repeat the same behaviors that caused SOA to fail and expect a different result.” Are you?

Application hosting can be a real money and time saver for IT Departments.  Vital systems that previously required installation on a desktop machine can be easily and seamlessly delivered using Citrix or any other thin-client technology.   This can free up IT staff from troubleshooting problems on hundreds of machines to perform more critical tasks. From a migration and consolidation perspective this can make the move much easier; unless, of course, it’s an application with a particularly large graphical and memory footprint like a video editing application. These applications can be hosted remotely however performance can suffer and quickly become a negative for the end user community. Not all applications are equal.  It’s expensive to assume they can all be migrated equally.

Calling the experts is regrettably, for many organizations, a cost that must be considered.  Companies often underestimate the level of difficulty for configuring and using virtualization, application hosting, and data migration tools.  It only takes a couple of failed attempts before you seek out help anyway, why not get the experts involved at the beginning, it will most certainly save man hours.   Hiring consultants and contractors to fill labor gaps may also be necessary. If IT Staff is dedicated to the migration project, temporary staff can assist in handling daily maintenance and other duties during the migration.  Assuming it can all be done in house is not only costly, it’s frightfully foolish!

The list can go on.  But seven flares should be enough to warn any company venturing into a data center consolidation, especially smaller multi-location companies, that there are lots of hidden costs.  The best due diligence is to discover what costs are less obvious, but more critical, and ultimately more expensive. Just because it seems logical to go from five to three, or three to one data centers, it’s certainly not linear, nor that simple.

David DeWitt is a Senior Consultant at Galorath Inc. and a prolific contributor on Software Cost Estimation topics.  He can be reached at [email protected].

Michael J. Dunbar is a world traveled and seasoned IT consultant who has witnessed firsthand the perils of data center consolidation. He can be reached at [email protected].

References cited:

Should you Virtualize Your Data Center, Experts Weigh In, Pro & Con, Rod Scher, PC Today, January 2001 edition, Vol 9 Issue 1

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The IRS: Using SEER-IT to Modernize Complex IT Processes

Anticipating extensive growth in their software and Information Technology (IT) estimating requirements, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sought a parametric modeling tool that would help them increase productivity without adding personnel. For some time, they had been having difficulty in accurately estimating the amount of money, time and other resources to allocate for development and modernization.   

The Challenge

Faced with oversight by the Treasury Department, GSA (General Services Administration) and Congress, the IRS was tasked with providing specific information about their varied and numerous projects and initiatives. Their in-house project office had been using Excel spreadsheets as an estimating tool—but to little effect: cost and scheduling overruns persisted.

Our Solution

After evaluating all available estimating software, the IRS selected SEER products from Galorath Incorporated, whose other government clients include the Social Security Administration, NASA, the U.S. Armed Forces and others. Galorath consultants met with the IRS team and began an analysis of their business processes, reporting procedures, organizational structures and historical data, including all existing hardware, software and facilities. They proposed that the IRS use two Galorath applications: SEER for Software and SEER for IT.

During the next year, Galorath’s on site consultants helped the IRS develop and integrate processes, establishing a database of historical projects as a reference for future ones; trained a core group of employees to use the software; taught estimating techniques, and assisted in the development of an estimation process that would begin with a requirements definition and end with a final Basis of Estimate (BOE) document.

The Result

As the introduction of SEER for Software and SEER for IT took hold, the initial grouping of 12 projects selected for estimation grew to over 70+. For the first time IRS management had a portfolio view of multiple projects—including proposed projects and those already in development—and were able to make better informed decisions.

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