Tag Archive | "Service Level"

Business Service Management and CMDB

Tags: Availability, Best Practices, BSM, Business Alignment, Business Service Management, CMDB, CMS, IT Management, IT Management Tools, ITIL, Service Level

So you have a console that has your Business Service Management views.   You set up the views to show the key Services you are providing to your end customer(s) (EMail, Databases,  CRM, etc).  You somehow are bringing in monitoring data in order to light up the service views in order to show some type of condition and health. You figured out how to measure the Service Levels and provide all of these details back to the end users and management in a dashboard.  The question is, how do you maintain it?

If you have been following ITIL, one approach is to integrate the BSM solution with the CMDB solution (assuming they are different solutions).   The CMDB probably has discovery populating it with new CI’s and updates to CI’s.  The CMDB should have inputs to other systems for additional details around the CI’s.   In the end, the CMDB is the location for the factiods around the Services such as all of the CI’s comprising the Service, relationships between the CI’s, current configuration of the CI’s and so on.   If those details are available, why wouldn’t you use it to drive the way in which IT is managing the environment.   As things change within the enterprise, the CMDB is updated and in turn the BSM views should auto-magically update also.


What is Business Service Management

Tags: BSM, Business Alignment, Business Service Management, IT Management, IT Management Tools, Service Level

If you are reading this, then there must still be some questions in your mind on what Business Service Management (BSM) is, I’m not going to give you the elevator pitch, there are lots of companies with different flavors of those, I’ll take another angle on it that might help.

There is this large shipping company, they ship thousands of packages a day.  One of their critical operations is in a large hanger at an airport.   Planes and trucks are unloading packages and they need to be sorted and loaded back onto different planes and trucks.   There is significant computer automation that moves these packages along their way and in turn, these systems need monitoring.  Having an end to end view of the unloading, sorting and reloading of packages with a realtime update on volume, outages and other metrics is important to them.  Some might say that this end to end view is a very technical view and not BSM, to this shipping company, shipping packages is their business and being able to see this piece of the Service is important.

A large financial firm has many traders, it is important to ensure that all of the trading systems are up and running, network links to the outside world are required for these trades as well as the traders workstations and how well they are performing.  Having an end to end view of the complete trading application with up to date availability, trading volumes and other metrics is important for them to understand if they are making or losing money.

The typical BSM for a company is to be able to set up end to end views of the important corporate applications like EMail or CRM, but that is not the only example of BSM, shipping, trading, manufacturing, banking, there are endless examples of managing the environment in a manner that aligns IT with the business they are in.  By IT leveraging the BSM approach, they are ensuring that they are looking at the things that are important to the business, in turn they are providing value to the business.


Tomorrow’s forecast… cloudy

Tags: Business Service Management, Cloud, Configuration, IT Management, Service Level, Virtualization

To cloud or not the cloud, that is the question .  Todays IT needs to be agile and responsive to their customer, most of the time the customer is internal and they need more processing power added to existing services or the need new services provisioned.   There is also a high expectation that change within the enterprise is done in a safe manner to avoid future outages.   Managing the enterprise from a Service perspective, understanding the individuals parts that make up the entire service is a fundamental requirement.

One of the ways for IT to be able to quickly grow or shrink the footprint of the services is to adopt virtualization and build an internal cloud and/or leverage outside cloud providers.  Virtualizing is a way to have well known configurations rolled into production and in turn reduce risks to outages.  Virtualizing also provides a type of Disaster Recovery (DR) it also provides a way to add more nodes to an overtaxed cluster quickly.   I’m not saying virtualization is for everyone, but there are many value-adds it brings to IT as well as value to the business.


Response Time Testing is not enough

Tags: Availability, BSM, Business Service Management, IT Management, Performance, Response Time, Service Level, Service Management, SLM

Setting up a tool that performs some type of end user performance testing is not enough, it is a type of testing that provides a view of the end user experience of using a part of a specific service.   Adding Service Level Management on top of the testing is still not enough.

Business Service Management is a bit more encompassing, when there are slow response times, which piece of the supporting technology is the culprit, is this something that can (or needs to) be addressed now?   If we were to take this slow database offline in order to address the issue, what impact would that have on the enterprise or end users.  Business Service Management helps with these problems and more.  End user response time measuring is just a piece of BSM, it might be a good starting point, but don’t be fooled, you are not done.

Remember there are several layers in the OSI model and having a health indicator from each of those layers (or several at least) is going to provide a better picture end to end of the health of the service.  The big management tool vendors typically compete against each other, the typical model is rip and replace, they sell you new tools and get you to stop using the old tools… very expensive and disruptive proposition.  Since there is no single vendor that is the best of breed for each of the OSI layers, then a single vendor for the end to end management doesn’t make sense.   It makes more sense to purchase some of the tools to do specific types of monitoring, leverage opensource to monitor some of the other aspects and then roll all of these together into a single end to end view.   This approach allows you the ability to swap out tools when they become dated or when the vendor is trying to hold you hostage at renewal time.

Having a single console that is able to integrate with all of the underlying technologies managing the environment and providing an end to end view is a better way to manage the enterprise, using a response time tool and crossing your fingers that everything will work out is risky.


Managing the cloud – Problem SOLVED!!!

Tags: Business Service Management, Cloud, IT Management, IT Management Tools, Service Level, Virtualization

I like to do searches on the internet from time to time to see the type of hits produced around specific terms such as Business Service Management and Cloud Computing.  Sometimes just changing the search slightly, you get drastically different results.   So today when I searched on “Managing the cloud”, I noticed that the most recent article was from Feb of 2009, in fact, many of the results were from 2009.   My first thought was the problem must have been solved if there are no recent search results.  I think it is that we are at the point that we have a better understanding of the cloud and are not as worried about it as much as we were before.  Sure, there are still some concerns, in fact many areas of concern, but they are manageable.

I know I am probably simplifying it, but managing the cloud has a lot of the same characteristics of managing the enterprise.   You need to be able to control access to the data/system/server, you also need to be able to keep tabs on the health and availability of things running in the cloud (internal or external cloud).    The cloud and business service management are related in some manner, where and how you run your services includes the term cloud, and how you manage those services is within the Business Service Management space.   Vendors that provide tools for managing the enterprise are going to end up being some of the same vendors that provide tools to managing the cloud, but keep in mind, monitoring the health of the server or service running in the cloud is only one part of it, there are other areas of managing such as service elasticity, governance, compliance and general provisioning.  It is time to start to look at a more holistic approach within IT to solve some of these management problems.


IT Service Management Good Starting Point for SaaS – CIO

Tags: Business Service Management, CIO, Cloud, Integration, ITSM, SaaS, Service Level

The Hub Commentary ___

In a previous post (Accidental Cloud Leaders – Stealth Cloud Followers – Which Cloud is your IT On?) I wrote about these practices and cited a couple of industry articles.   My advice has always been that you outsource the commodity, why do in-house what everyone else has to do as well?  Why re-invent the wheel, accept a process and tool set that works for the rest of the world.

Focus on that which is unique to your business and is the value add to drive growth.  Unique and custom are seldom good candidates for outsourcing unless you are outsourcing the whole of your IT function and have a service provider also developing your value add innovations in the market.

This will bring a shift in the roles and skill sets in the data center as we know it today.  Service providers managing services with business savvy.  There will be requirements to focus on monitoring and managing the vendors and the requirement for an integration platform that brings the picture together as an end-to-end service regardless of where it is operating.

By all means, embrace the Cloud and as-a-Service providers for the commodity.  Learn how you will monitor and manage it on the commodity.  Apply those learning for the move to the more dynamic IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) to provide agility and on-demand capacity to your mission critical services.



Companies looking to go down the SaaS route will find that IT service management is a good starting point says Ovum.  (read full article…)

Apply a “Startup” Mentality to Your IT Infra & Ops – Forrester Blogs

Tags: Best Practices, BSM, Business Alignment, Business Service Management, Forrester, ITSM, Service Level

Cash-starved. Fast-paced. Understaffed. Late nights. T-shirts. Jeans.

These descriptors are just as relevant to emerging tech startups as they are to the typical enterprise IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) department. And to improve customer focus and develop new skills, I&O professionals should apply a “startup” mentality. (read more…)

The Hub Commentary ___

I find this a great analogy for IT organizations having sat on both sides of the fence.  I was once an IT application development & support systems analyst.  I remember working on my first client server application (I know that dates me) and meeting with a technical engineer from a start-up software company who had come to help me with some pointers on using the tool for my project.

One of the first things we discussed was why I wasn’t directing the application I was developing directly against the database server.  My response, “because if I use the database in the application, then all the users will have to have access/licenses and that comes with a fee.”  So let’s think about this, they are paying you to develop an application, drop a spreadsheet of numbers into a database you paid for, then extract it again to display in this tool that you paid for.  Yeah.  Dilbert cartoon in the making!  Incredible silence fell as we both knew we were spending more money to avoid a license to the database than if we bought those licenses and used the technology and application I was developing.  Dilbert!

That was 20+ years ago (yikes) and as IT organizations we are often a penny wise and a dollar short.  2011 will no doubt be a tipping point for the service providers with business frustration at an all time high and access to new services prevalent.  How an IT person answers this question is a telling statement to me, “What business are you in?”.  If the answer is “I am in desktop support”, I know it is an inward facing IT organization.  If the answer is “New drug development and I support keeping the scientists in R&D working racing against the clock to get formulas to the FDA to be first to market”.  I know this is a business driven organization and there is no business ‘and’ IT.

Think like a start-up – technology is a solution to innovation, not a problem to support and operate


Better Business Service Management in 5 Steps – CIO Update

Tags: BSM, Business Alignment, Business Service Management, CIO, Service Level

If you manage the delivery of any service from uber-modern SaaS and RIA‘s to human-based service desk and moves/adds/changes to good ol’ e-services such as e-mail, there are just five questions you should ask if you want to deliver the highest quality of experience (QoE) ….. (read more…)

7 Things You Need to Build a Cloud Infrastructure – PCWorld

Tags: Availability, Best Practices, Business Service Management, Cloud, IT Management Tools, ITSM, PCWorld, Service Level

Today, service providers and enterprises interested in implementing clouds face the challenge of integrating complex software and hardware components from multiple vendors. The resulting system can end up being expensive to build and hard to operate, minimizing the original motives and benefits of moving to cloud computing.  (read more…)

Meet the Service-Driven Data Center: 5 Key Traits – PCWorld

Tags: Business Service Management, Cloud, PCWorld, Service Level

Many organizations are asking whether it makes more sense to move their enterprise to the cloud – or bring cloud computing into their enterprise. And a surprising number are discovering that the best, most practical answer may be “both.”   What does it mean to bring cloud computing into the data center?  (read more…)

Business in the Cloud – BSM Brings Value Back into the Data Center

Tags: Business Service Management, Cloud, Service Level, Service Providers

Business going to the Cloud can be the Catalyst for IT to Measure and Communicate Value!

How many of us have heard what a road block IT is, how costly / what a mystery IT is and IT cannot communicate value to the business leaving frustration in the organization. It’s sort of like the Mars and Venus thing and “if they only understood me better” debate. It’s OK to laugh, we all suffer these discussions, I too am guilt – the makings of a good Dilbert cartoon no doubt ending with Catbert reigning down his wrath of mandates. However, with all sourcing decisions, it is about creating change in an environment where change is difficult and should be embraced. IT has the opportunity to do just that and be the hero in the end. This is a good sourcing option as it creates the change that will drive down costs that are difficult for in-house IT to drive.

Moving from technology silos to managing and communicating in terms of services is easier than one thinks. It does require different management approaches and technology, measuring in terms of service and yes, sometimes the right investment can save money in the end while creating value. A recent NetworkworkWorld Article has a good quote from a good friend of mine and Forrester analyst, Glenn O’Donnell, “invest in analysis, not monitoring”. The monitoring data is required, but means nothing when not related to other bits of techno data and turned into information by which to perform useful analysis about services and the value delivered to the business. This becomes ever more challenging when in a mixed environment, physical, virtual, cloud, and when many management tools exist as well.

CIO also published an article yesterday “Why IT Costs Must Come Out of the Black Box — Now” describing similar requirements for service measuring and service transparency. The lack of transparency drives the business to seek alternatives where they contract for a service and know the cost. What is often left out is the definition of good service levels, which is a topic for a separate blog. The new service appears cheaper and why is that? Economies of scale is one piece, shared service, ……the second piece is they are very standard, non custom, no configuration, minimal choices, if any, services. Standardization that is difficult to impose from in-house without the cost transparency, service measurements and links to business priorities. This is not a fair apples to apples comparison of services, however, a standardization many IT organizations have difficulty implementing as an in-house provider without the measuring of services and transparency, but possible moving forward.

Instead of challenging the business in moving to a cloud provider, I suggest embracing it and offer that history will repeat itself with many of these start up providers bringing the service back in-house and providing the opportunity to be the hero, improve service quality, reduce costs and communicate value. Many will fail due to lack of good service level agreements, lack of the business asking for them and collapse or dissatisfaction of the business with a single costly service impacting event.

Embrace the opportunity to do a few things in the meantime:

1. Standardize, drive down costs for services and technologies that do not require customization
2. Measure the provider, start to deliver service levels and views of transparency of in and outsourced services
3. Develop and Implement the service view and transparency into the “black box” of IT
4. Invest in the analytic measuring and viewing technology, less on the commodity monitoring – explore open source

When Outsourcing Creates Good Change – Embrace the Cloud Providers – Consolidate Tools and Invest in becoming a Service Measuring Organization Communicating Value!

BSM Stories from the Trenches–Flexible & Customizable Service Levels

Tags: Business Service Management, Service Level

Standard Tool to Define, Input & Report, but “No More, One Size Fits all Meaningless Data!”

As the Cloud and as-a-service consume the airwaves, trade rags and vendor messaging, one thing is becoming more and more relevant – IT Aligning to the Business, Measuring how the business consumes services and Communicating in terms of services and business metrics. Flexibility to measure and communicate the way business uses technology and agility to customize measurements and communication are key and will become more complex in a mixed physical, virtual and cloud computing environment. Developing the proper management, measurement and communication today will enable embracing cloud delivered services without an interruption in service communication. IT organizations that implement proper management, measurement and communication in terms of services will be those that drive value into their businesses.

Read how a Novell Business Service Management customer has long since conquered this dilemma and continues to deliver technology as business services in the advent of new delivery models and technology.

The Set-up . . . . .

A large financial institution headquarted in Europe was experiencing the shift from measuring technology to communicating services in terms of business objectives and KPIs. The business, in fact said, “no more, one-size-fits-all meaningless data”, we need to understand services in terms of KPIs to the overall business as they differ across regions and divisions. A few key metrics:

* One of the largest, global banking networks headquartered in Europe, strong positions in Asia and significant presence in the US
* Operates in >80 countries
* >100,000 employees with >70% in Europe
* Net banking income >18M Euros
* Business required a flexible list of services and service level agreements aligned to business objectives
* Services may be common – used differently by region & division – varying levels of priority by region & division
* Regional managers wanted a standard tool to define SLAs & OLAs from historical KPIs
* Applications were similar, but different across regions
* Need consistent, common and timely communication across the institution

The Solution . . . . .

We need to know how services are performing from a technology standpoint, how the technology is impacting the business in processing value/volume of transactions and we need to define priority of services driving how the supporting technology is managed. We have plenty of monitoring, but we need to measure and communicate in business terms and with flexibility to change and define by region and division.

This requires several things:

* List of Services – Service Catalog
* Definition of key metrics to the services
* Intelligent service models to reconcile and correlate disparate data sources
* Implementation of measurements in terms of KPIs and flexibility by region
* Flexibility to modify measurements without coding/development
* Common vehicle to communicate services by region and roll up to the institution
* Leverage current investments in management technology to gather data
* Historical views of trends by which to adjust SLAs and management priorities

This was and is a mature organization in that they had the management of technology in place, understood their services and metrics, but did not have the single, automated view for communication and ultimately to adjust services in order to drive value into the business. Complex infrastructures require integration of data, correlation of that data and presentation in real-time in order to manage operationally, but to also communicate and manage from the business view point.

This is where Novell’s Business Service Management came in to integrate, build the intelligent service models, automate the correlation of disparate data sources, prioritized events and delivered flexible business service dashboards where the regions and business units could define and alter their SLAs and OLAs managing the technology. Flexibility to adjust was accomplished, while communicating service delivery across the organization up to the institution level in a consistent and timely manner.

The Benefits . . . . .

* Centralized, common tool for management and communication
* Flexibility to define by region & division
* Rapidly deliver SLA contract via web based dashboards and enable modification to the metrics based upon market and business conditions
* Users see and drive the services versus IT and technology driving services and communication
* “No more, one size fits all meaningless data”
* One of top 10 global banking brands – technology delivers value powering the business

This is not an uncommon story as it relates to the implementation of Service Level Agreements, measurement and communication to the business. When IT reaches the ability to turn meaningless, technology data metrics into information that can be communicated and consumed as business services, is when IT is delivering value to the business and powering the business for competitive advantage to lead it’s industry.

Now the interesting metric – this was > 5 years ago prior to the added complexity of virtualization, cloud computing and Intelligent Workload Management. The Novell Business Service Management solution is technology and architecture agnostic, meaning that the service still powers the business. The Intelligent Service Model is still the power with the addition of more meaningless data when viewed on it’s own regarding new management technology and/or infrastructure metrics.

SLA’s–Incident-Availability-Performance or Svc Based–Which Matters?

Tags: Business Service Management, Service Level

Getting to SLAs that are Meaningful

I stumbled into a blog thread yesterday that prompted me to add another SLA blog regarding the components and measurement of meaningful SLAs. Earlier this summer I posted two blogs on SLAs, a Part 1 and Part 2. SLAs could generate a multi chapter book. In the first one, I discussed the relevance of SLAs with your service and cloud providers and in the second one I discussed more about how to approach building meaningful SLAs. Today let’s talk about the components of relevant SLAs.

ITIL tells us a SLA is the Utility (service definition) + Warranty = Value. In simple terms, the Warranty should be composed of: Availability + Performance + Responsiveness.

* Is the Service Available when I need it?
* Is the Service Performing as I expect at this time?
* If it is not, I expect it to be back to this level, for this time in XX amount of time!

In these days of services and composite applications, SLAs have become more complex in aggregating the parts and pieces that participate in delivering a service. The Cloud and as-a-Service providers are gaining in popularity with business units – Why? Because they define and deliver a service and the business is frustrated with IT. Now I might suggest that your business counterparts may or may not be asking and receiving good Warranty’s or SLA commitments for the delivery of those services. Thus those services that escaped you may some day come back in house.

In the previous blog, I discussed identifying and categorizing services. I suggest keep it simple and straightforward.

* Revenue impacting, mission critical services required to be in business
* Quality of Service to external customers required to be in business
* Internal effectiveness – services required, but not seen by customers, to process the business
* Internal efficiencies – required internal services for productivity

Now I suggest defining the simple: Availability, Performance and Responsiveness expectations for each category and work to keep the services in each category as standard as possible. Thus, not all services are created equal and those in the Efficiency category do not require the same level of responsiveness as those in the first, regardless of a severity 1 incident. What is the priority, now comes into play.

Creating all services equal based purely on severity of incidents is what makes internal IT expensive and appear as a bottleneck to progress in the business and what makes external service providers look very attractive.

Now to answer the question in the title, which one matters. The Service is what matters and the incident responsiveness, performance and availability are objectives that comprise the overall service level. Monitoring all three of these objectives and driving toward real-time monitoring of the Service Health to avert service-impacting events is when the SLA gains relevance.

I view the ability to create an intelligent service model that monitors each of these three objectives as the must have starting place in today’s business environment. Those that then marry in business objectives regarding the value / volume of transactions processed are those that are performing true Service Management. Performance, Availability, Responsiveness and Business Transactions each indicate risk to the business of the affects of a service-impacting event and averting these events proactively in real-time will soon be the must have, versus nice to have.

Accidental Cloud Ldr–Stealth Cloud Followers–Which Cloud are you On?

Tags: Availability, Business Service Management, Cloud, Performance, Service Level

Are you leading your organizations cloud roll-out or are you reacting to it? It is happening, better to lead than follow!

The WorkloadIQ post and the article Richard references on the Stealth Cloud from a CIO article reminds me of a previous artilce about the Accidental Cloud Leader from a Networkworld article. Both of these articles point to the cloud is coming, the choice facing IT organizations is whether to lead, control costs, mitigate risk, deliver quality service and manage costs or to follow with rising costs, reactive IT, high risk and poor service quality. Richard hits the nail on the head, IT is traditionally change averse and insecure with the concept of outsourcing services. Technology is evolving faster and faster and the very organization that should adopt, deploy and lead with technology continues to lag.

In almost all cases when it comes to sourcing decisions they are done to create change that an organization has difficulty bringing to the organization, not for cost reasons. Commodity functions are best suited for outsourcing, driving standards and managing costs. However, outsourcing the service does not remove accountability for managing service delivery.

Cloud providers are popping up faster than service providers duiring the dotcom boom days of web hosting, application hosting, etc. There are several key factors to consider as pointed out in these articles and blog posts:

* Availability of service
* Risk of a secure service
* Reliability of the service provider
* Cost of support

Availability of Service and Reliability of the service provider

The dotcom bust of service providers in the early 2000 era came down to lack of mature management processes. Many providers today are one significant outage away from being out of business. Is this who you trust your services to? Who’s managing and leading this due diligence in contracting for the services in the leader / follower scenario?

When seeking service providers, it is important to understand their management processes and capabilities. You do not want to define them, but the lack of management transparency and process indicates maturity of the service provider and their ability to delivery availbility of services. One thing to note here is not to ask for inappropriate service levels and/or penalties. Investigate their typical services, leverage the cloud and service providers for the commodity and take advantage of the economies of scale they offer.

Risk of a secure service

Security as an obstacle in going to the cloud or leveraging an as-a-service provider is, quite frankly, IT noise. As described in these articles and blogs, this is the service providers business and they know it is their number one objection. In many cases, they may offer a far more secure environment than most IT organizations and thus the rise of IT insecurity and noise. However, again, it is an area that must be investigated as it relates to the mature management practices of a service provider.

Cost of support

Organizations are expressing frustration with their IT organizations as a perceived obstacle to agility and innovation when they go to the cloud directly. As Richard’s blog points out, this costs your IT organization more in the long run to support, the service will go down, the business will call support for help, the provider most likely may not be reliable and in the worst case, data and security can be breached.

Management generally lags new technology and this cycle to go to the service providers directly for a defined service and defined cost is more appealing to the business. Management lags both with IT internally and with the service providers compounding the risk of an outage or security breach.

Novell Operations Center (a WorkloadIQ solution) provides the ability to monitor, manage and measure technology services both internally as well as the performance and availability of the service provider insuring quality service delivery. Service enabling your infrastructure could not be easier today and would provide the control with agility your organization is screaming for from your IT organization. Management does not have to be an afterthought and the right platform can future-proof your services with technology adoption agility!

Check out these articles and then answer: Are you following or leading your organizations cloud rollout because it is happening and coming . . . Are you Stealth or Leading? What are your challenges and concerns?

An Integrated Utility Network – Electric Energy Online.com

Tags: Availability, Business Service Management, Electric Energy Online.com, Performance, Service Level

The business case for business service management (BSM) at Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, commonly referred to as IESO, started out as a proposal for solving a traditional IT management problem. Yet in the process of defining the problem and evaluating solutions, the IESO discovered a way to simultaneously enlist the endorsement of business users by incorporating the supervision, control and management of the power grid and its energy market systems into the IT project.  (Read Full Article…)