Case study: Managing the ASX

Naturally, security is also a very important element of the ASX's overall management strategy. In fact, it's so important that Olsson was unable to go into any specifics about how it managed security for fear of compromising its efforts.

"Security is of course a major concern of ours especially when it comes to the Internet space, because it is tied directly to the integrity of the stock exchange," Olsson said.

Another interesting challenge that the ASX is now facing is how to integrate services provided by third parties into a management strategy.

For example, it was recently announced that the ASX would source virtual private network services from Optus.

"One of our challenges is that as we move to doing business globally, our trading network needs to be global as well. While we've been able to roll out our own national network, we're certainly not in the business of providing global network services. Consequently we looked to work with a partner who could deliver ASX data securely across a virtual private network," Olsson said.

"That presents an interesting challenge of how do you integrate that into an end-to-end management strategy?" Olsson said it was still in the process of developing a relationship that would allow that to happen. It has already begun trialling the VPN service and like any new system there have been early teething problems. These have been managed to date through close interaction between staff at Optus' network management centre and ASX's operational staff.

"In order to have one complete customer overview, it's going to require tools working together at both organisations," Olsson said.

Change management

However, it would be remiss to think that managing an IT infrastructure is just about tools.

Organisational processes are just as important in the management mix. For example, the ASX has very strict policies about how new technologies or new systems are to be incorporated into its environment.

"That kind of change management is absolutely critical," Olsson said. "If you introduce changes into your environment randomly or haphazardly, that's when the reliability of you systems starts to diminish."

"Everybody in the organisation from the analyst or programmer, to the operation staff to the technician, needs to understand the process of change management."

Indeed, Olsson believes that the entire IT industry needs to start thinking again about how it manages the rollout of new technologies and product.

"I think with the advent of the 'dotcom revolution' that speed-to-market became the prime goal and in some cases caution and processes suffered accordingly," Olsson said "I think when you do that you're jeopardising your chances of achieving the business objective, because you don't have the same quality controls in place."

Anyone who thinks end-to-end management is as simple as installing a new whiz-bang piece of management software is kidding themselves. As the ASX's experiences have demonstrated, integrating diverse platforms and technologies together is tough enough, but at all times organisational procedures also need to be considered as do relationships with third-party service providers.

However, Olsson is convinced the gain is worth the pain.

"My job is to deliver the greatest return on investment for our customers and shareholders and I think ultimately that's what this centralised management strategy will deliver."

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