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Monday, July 10, 2017

Get Acquainted with James

By Bill Moran and Rich Ptak


Image courtesy of dinCloud 

James is a robot. Actually, he is a virtual robot that provides 24x7 monitoring and alerting services. James is the creation of dinCloud. Why should you be interested in James?  Because James can solve many problems that companies face. For instance, early detection and warning of anomalies and failures that disrupt operations.

What is driving this need? Competition is the norm today. Customer service is critical to success, and as a result, numerous companies are transforming themselves into digital enterprises. Practically, this means business-customer interactions occur 24x7 thru mobile and computing devices. Even companies not undertaking a business transformation are subject to intense competitive pressures to provide on-line access. The result is that IT services end up with a direct link to revenue generation.

What does this mean to IT staff, and how does a robot come into play? With a significant amount of company revenue flowing from online sources, a slowdown or interference with that flow directly impacts the bottom line. Any application glitch is taken very seriously by management. Therefore, IT closely monitors applications to quickly detect problems so they can take corrective action as soon as possible.

However, most companies use third party software in their critical applications. Often, these are not integrated into a single monitoring/management system. A problem cannot be fixed if it isn’t known. Without monitoring, significant time may elapse before IT staff are aware that a problem exists. This time lag can increase both the problem’s severity and revenue loss. It is critical that the process of problem identification, analysis and resolution, or workaround be started as early as possible. Further, disruptions that upset customers, operations staff, and IT can escalate to involve senior company management. An unwelcome situation that robotic monitoring helps to avoid.

Finally, increasingly critical applications are operating online across time zones 24x7. A problem can occur at any hour[1]. If it occurs in the middle of the night, it may not be discovered until hours later.  Again, James makes a real contribution. As a robot, he is continually on watch. He never sleeps. He does not get distracted or take coffee breaks. Thus, when James monitors an application, IT will be notified of any failure as quickly as it appears.

In this note, we provided an overview of James’ activities. His basic abilities include monitoring, alerting, and reporting on the status of any app that the customer desires. Find out more about James by going to this website.[2] There is one important additional design feature. James executes in a virtual machine residing in the cloud. We will discuss the importance of this feature a little later.

Evaluation

The design and operation of James impressed us. However, we have not had direct hands-on experience with James; our actual experience is limited. Keep that in mind as you read further.

We believe that dinCloud has identified a real market requirement. They provide a very innovative way to address it. The technology appears solid. One note, dinCloud identifies a number of companies using the robot today. However, none will speak publicly, so there are no customer references. We believe they are aggressively seeking such references.

Suggested Actions

Enterprises should carefully review any applications/services that might benefit from James’ services. Ask yourself the following: Are there any apps that went down, or where customer service degraded during the recent past? How quickly did you find out about it? Did a delay in awareness increase the problem severity or impact? Are there any apps that will upset C-level executives when a problem occurs? How important is it that IT be aware of a problem coincident or before the customer is aware of it? Your answers can help identify the potential of James’ benefit to you.

You can also decide to look at James again when there are customer references. Cautious customers will choose to wait. However, the downside is the risk of enduring, for 6 months or a year, some of the situations that James could alleviate.  We believe that the risk of installing James now is very small.

One reason we think this is because dinCloud will do the work of tailoring James for your installation. This minimizes the risk of installation difficulties[3]. Another risk that James’ design minimizes is when the robot runs in a virtual machine and the cloud. With this design, a flaw in James that crashes the virtual machine leaves the rest of the system operational. Thus, the risk of the robot causing system problems appears very small.

Finally, there may well be other benefits of being an early user because you should get some special attention from dinCloud. We will not attempt to describe what this might mean since we are not in a position to make commitments for dinCloud, but savvy users will understand what we are saying.

In summary, if your company has experienced the type of problems where James is able to assist, we think that you should investigate this situation carefully and discuss your situation with dinCloud. By the way, we do not benefit financially in any way if you decide to do business with dinCloud. We would be interested in hearing about your experiences. You can reach us at: associates@ptakassociates.com.




[1] For instance, many sales-oriented, SAP and Salesforce installations operate continuously.
[3] dinCloud estimates it will take on the order of 6 weeks total time to prepare James for a production environment. That includes the tailoring, as well as learning time.