Sunrise engaged journalist John Sanders, to examine the technical and business implications of Sostenuto. The following article was published in ITServicesUK, February 2005.
In less than a year since it was launched, Sostenuto ITSM has shown that it will make your business more efficient, adapt as you grow and probably save you money too. But that is only the start. Version 2, to be unveiled at the HITS Show in April, demonstrates that Sunrise has plenty of ideas for taking this ground-breaking, web-based IT service management tool a lot further yet.
Sostenuto is far more than just a system for running an IT help desk. Within 12 months of hitting the market, a diverse range of organisations has shown that the product can be used as a platform for streamlining and transforming large parts of their radically different operations and business models.
In that short period, Sostenuto has already shown its versatility and agility. It has helped to bring together functions within organisations and during merger transactions. It has supported change and configuration management. It has enabled the introduction of unified standards across organisations. It has managed a range of services. And it has substantially reduced costs.
Birmingham City Council, for example, is looking to save 500,000 in the first year after using Sostenuto to merge 10 help desks into one. In terms of quality, those changes have contributed to the rate of abandoned calls being slashed to around six per cent from as high as 43 per cent.
The Council, the largest local authority in Europe, also sees the product as a corner-stone of its change management plans. It is upgrading to web-based Sostenuto from Sunrise’s client server solution Enterprise because of the advantages the new system offers in terms of adding users, more versatile access and integration with other web services.
Another early adopter, a global bank with an active M&A strategy, is using Sostenuto to integrate new acquisitions and ensure a seamless flow of data within its expanding empire. In addition, the bank is using a single implementation of Sostenuto to manage its switchboard, post room, contracts, facilities and external helpdesk as well as IT, showing just how agile and versatile the product is.
For another financial services client, Jersey based wealth management company Abacus, Sostenuto offers the potential for best practice implementation and improved performance across the board. The product will help the financial services group introduce ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library and BS15000, maximise its resources and unify practices throughout the organisation.
Jersey based financial services group Abacus is already reaping the benefits of Sostenuto’s web-based flexibility. Neil Merritt, Service Delivery Manager at Abacus, says the system “offers a solution that steals a march on its competitors because it is not only specifically built around the ITIL framework, but it also offers configurability and a browser based architecture.”
A quite different client is the Pensions Trust, which has bought Sostenuto to implement its strategy for change and configuration management. Other clients include utility company Anglian Water, the British Heart Foundation charity and computer games developer Eidos Technologies.
COMING OF AGE
The latest version – Sostenuto 2 – will be unveiled at HITS stand 610 between 26 and 28 April and includes several new features. The three main upgrades are the addition of a mobile interface, tools for interacting with other applications and improved attachment handling. That’s on top of a range of smaller changes — based on client feedback – aimed at making Sostenuto ITSM easier to use.
Sunrise Chairman Tom Weston comments: “With Version 2, Sostenuto’s fully web based technology is set to come into its own even more and this is only the beginning.” Sostenuto 2 is the first of four releases planned over the next 18 months. All four will focus on the core issues of accessibility, usability and capability.
Sostenuto is ahead of most of the ITSM market in that it has been developed from scratch in the last five years as an applications building tool configured to meet the principles of ITIL. Its service-oriented framework guarantees its long term development potential and makes it easy for Sunrise to adapt the product to meet individual client needs.
Sunrise Marketing Director Neil Penny explains that as a framework based application: “you have the benefit of an out of the box, easy to install and easy to tailor configuration of a best practice IT service management tool.” Alternatively, customers can take the rawest form of Sostenuto and build configurations based around their own requirements.
INTEGRATION AND MOBILITY
The advantages of this framework approach are evident in Sostenuto 2, as visitors to HITS will see in the product’s new web service integration features. These include an application programming interface (API) offering new ways of combining open level integration through both an outbound and an inbound applications integration module.
The outbound module allows functions within Sostenuto to interact with external applications, which also use web services, such as post-code systems or SMS gateways. That unlocks huge advantage in terms of integration potential, says Penny, “because, without any programming, new functions can be created which are just configured to interact with another applications’ web service based API.”
Equally, once Sunrise publishes Sostenuto 2’s web service based API, other companies will be able to write applications or middleware so that their products can interact with Sostenuto, allowing it to be fully integrated into much larger solutions. “Information re-use and manipulating that data is one of the key parts of Sostenuto,” says Penny.
The second big improvement in Sostenuto 2 is the addition of a more versatile interface, via its Chameleon tools, which makes the system available on Windows Mobile devices. Chameleon 2, which will also be launched at HITS, enables a company’s field service employees, for example, to update incident logs over the Internet.
The third area singled out for enhancement in Sostenuto 2 is its ability to handle attachments. A lot of work has gone into this important function with the result that the potential for working with email and other attachments, including those from external systems, has been considerably improved.
This level of versatility and agility is integral to Sostenuto and will continue to grow, says Penny, because of the way it has been designed: “We recognised that Sostenuto has to be able to change and be unique, because customers are unique and they change. Sostenuto hides a lot of the inner workings and removes the necessity for complex programming and configurations, making it significantly easier for the end user.”
One of the keys to Sostenuto’s agility is that it holds information centrally, rather than in separate modules. This has several advantages. Firstly, it means that once a change is made it immediately applies across the whole system.
Secondly, changes can be implemented with comparatively little effort and often without recourse to a programmer. “Consultants or customers can add new functions, build new fields, new screens, create the logic behind the applications and tailor it specifically to their own needs as their business changes,” says Penny.
Thirdly, unlike traditional applications, Sostenuto’s design means that changes can be introduced quickly – usually in days rather than weeks. “Clients don’t necessarily need to raise a development enhancement request for us to build new facilities in the system for them,” he says, noting that this gives them protection over their investment as well.
10 YEAR PLATFORM
Although Sunrise is firmly rooted in the ITSM market, Sostenuto offers more than basic IT service management. Clients can use the system to increase efficiency by reducing the number of point solutions they support, says Penny, adding that once Sunrise develops a new application for one client, it can often be made available to others too.
Other areas Sostenuto can handle in many organisations include:
- Contact Management
- Incident Management
- Change Management
- Asset Management
- Partner Management
- Knowledge Management
And more are likely to be added to that list. For example, Sunrise is currently developing a procurement tracking component for the public sector.
“We have development going on all the time to add more flexibility and keep Sostenuto up to date with new technologies. We’re also configuring and releasing new applications to market,” he says, adding: “From Sunrise’s perspective, Sostenuto gives us a platform which should take us on for the next 10 years.”
About John Sanders
John Sanders has over 20 years experience as a journalist, writer and translator. From 1990 to 1998 he worked for the Reuters news agency in London as a business reporter and sub-editor.
Since going freelance in 1998, his clients include the FT, Unilever, Norwich Union, Accenture, PwC, Lloyd’s of London and the Welsh Assembly Government, plus a clutch of specialist business magazines.
His main subjects are insurance, technology and personal finance. He also writes about management, education and charities and once interviewed a retired armed robber.