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MOF, ITIL, and Service Manager

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This chapter discusses the service management processes specified in the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) and Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) supported by System Center Service Manager, including Incident, Problem, Change, and Configuration Management.
This chapter is from the book

The focus of this chapter is to describe the goals and objectives, key terminology, concepts, and activity workflows of the processes listed above, because they are the ideas behind the functionality found in Service Manager. Understanding these ideas is critical to ensuring a successful implementation that provides the intended value to the business, for several reasons:

  • Understanding the goals and objectives of each process is necessary to ensure that your implementation helps your organization achieve them.
  • Without a firm understanding of these concepts, you put your implementation at risk—either by spending cycles trying to sort the distinctions between terms such as Incident, Problem, Known Error, and Service Request or through missteps, rework, or suboptimal implementation because these concepts aren't understood.

This chapter includes a high-level mapping of MOF and ITIL concepts to Service Manager, but detailed implementation guidance is left for subsequent chapters.

Introduction to MOF and ITIL

Service Manager is different from Microsoft's other System Center products. It is more like SAP, which encodes business processes in software. For Service Manager, those processes are a subset of the service management processes of MOF and ITIL: Incident, Problem, Change, and Configuration Management. That is why an understanding of MOF and ITIL is particularly useful for Service Manager, and why getting full value from the product requires not only adequate technical knowledge but also an appropriate level of knowledge of the processes the Service Manager product supports.

The sections that follow describe what MOF and ITIL are, the value they provide, and how to get started with them in the context of implementing Service Manager.

MOF and ITIL Are IT Service Management Frameworks

Both MOF and ITIL are service management frameworks. Service management is the concept of organizing and presenting Information Technology (IT) to the business as a set of services. MOF and ITIL employ a set of interrelated terminology, concepts, and process workflows based on best practices for supporting and delivering services to the customers and users. MOF and ITIL are models for how to run IT as a service provider (as opposed an IT organization that is technology centric and views itself and conducts its business primarily as one that cares for and feeds technology).

MOF and ITIL are written guidance specifying how to organize and manage around a set of services to optimize value for customers and users of those services. An enormous corollary to this idea (at least for the IT organization) is that to consistently and sustainably provide the levels of service the business needs, IT must have the wherewithal it requires to deliver those services consistently. The intention here is to do something good both for IT and the customers and users it serves.

Here is an example of how an IT organization's approach will differ if they are technology centered versus service centered:

  • With a technology-centered model, the organization and what it does and provides for its customers and end users is organized around technology (for example, Microsoft Exchange).
  • In a service management model, this is organized around messaging.

This is more than just semantics. A messaging service consists of Microsoft Exchange along with a number of other associated components and mechanisms such as service level agreements (SLAs) required to consistently deliver a service to customers and users at the expected levels of quality. These things might be missed or go unmanaged when the focus is just on the technology, and might then result in an overall lower quality of service.

Think about the difference between how a company that offers messaging as a service over the Internet and how a traditional IT shop offers it, and you start to get the idea of service management. If you are provisioning messaging over the Internet, you must

  • Determine the services you want to provide. You might have different service packages with different features (email, instant messaging, teleconferencing, shared workspaces, LiveMeeting, and so on) in each package.
  • Establish service level packages (different levels of features and support for each service package), such as the level of availability, capacity and performance, security, and service continuity (disaster recovery).
  • Set pricing and establish charging models and mechanisms for each service and service level package combinations.
  • Present your services (including quality of service and cost) in a catalog to customers and potential customers so that they can easily understand which services and service level packages are right for them.
  • Separate the service provided (messaging) from the technologies that make it possible (the specific infrastructure and applications; for example, Microsoft Exchange and Lync) so that you have agility and choice in how to provide the service.

Why might an internal IT shop want to adopt such a model? For the same reasons a vendor would:

  • The value of the service is made more explicit, so it is clear that the service either has or does not have the right price-to-performance characteristics.
  • It is obvious what is and is not included in the service.
  • Available service levels and their cost are made explicit.
  • Most important for the service provider, what it takes (the wherewithal required) to provide the services consistently to agreed service levels is made explicit in terms of infrastructure, applications, organization, contracts, vendors, processes, subservices, and service levels. The roles and responsibilities of the provider and users and customers are also made explicit.

Put another way, organizing around services helps you avoid overcommitting—for example, to providing five nines (99.999%) of availability on a network technology that can provide only 99% uptime. Organizing around services forces you to think through what people, processes, and technology are required for each service to meet its objectives and to staff and procure accordingly (or, with explicit agreement from your customer, to back off to a lesser service with lower service levels).

The idea is that each service is managed for value individually and that IT can make explicit and strive to put in place and maintain the resources required to consistently make, and keep, good commitments. A related idea is that the focus keeps the end in mind (the service itself: what is provided and to what service level) rather than the means (the particular technologies chosen). This separation of ends and means is vital in allowing both IT and the organization it serves to have the level of agility modern businesses require. This is the essence of any IT management framework, which is as follows:

  • To provide key principles, models, and organizing principles that provide a better capability than alternatives for ensuring customers get what they need
  • For IT to have all the underpinning mechanisms to ensure the levels of quality of service required and agreed for each service, including infrastructure, applications, and processes

Organizing around services brings together what the customer needs (the features and the levels of service) with the technology wherewithal required to deliver on that need consistently. In the end, your aim with service organizations is to be able to say, with confidence, "Yes, Mr./Ms. Customer, this can be done, and this is what it costs." A service management framework helps you get there because it provides the set of concepts and constructs that work together to make it happen.

One such useful service management construct is the service map. Service maps provide a graphical way to define the components and dependencies of a service that are inputs into the service catalog and SLAs for the service. Microsoft, via service maps, provides a great start with IT Service Management (ITSM). These maps are logical diagrams of services, which are useful for understanding and communicating the components that make up services and how they relate to one another. They provide documentation of architecture, are useful in troubleshooting, and function as a basis for automating services and their associated monitoring and control processes. For example, you can take a service map and translate it into a distributed application in Operations Manager (OpsMgr). This is described in Chapter 9, "Business Services."

The big bet of MOF and ITIL is that organizing around and managing to a set of services is a superior way to provide value to customers.

Imagine two IT organizations with the exact same resources—IT infrastructure, applications, people (including vendors and suppliers), money, agreements, contracts, documents, and anything else needed to deliver an IT service—yet with widely different results in terms of the value they create for their customers. What makes the difference in their results? A key factor is how they organize themselves and manage the important things (what they do, manage, and deliver), including the processes they follow, how they use knowledge, the people they have, and how they leverage them to create value in the form of goods and services.

MOF and ITIL specify, among other things, that IT service providers should

  • Create a service catalog (see http://blogs.technet.com/b/randyy/archive/2005/07/25/408206.aspx).

    A service catalog entry is a service description that helps communicate what the service is, what it costs, and how performance is measured. Table 3.1 is a portion of a service catalog entry for messaging for a fictitious company (Odyssey.com).

    Table 3.1. Service Catalog Excerpt (Adapted from MOF Job Aid "SIP Service Catalog")

    Service Name

    Messaging Service

    Service Description

    Odyssey's IT department hosts the entire messaging service infrastructure, enabling Odyssey employees to send and receive email and to synchronize their work schedules.

    Business Alignment

    This service is funded as part of Odyssey's IT operational budget. The service benefits all users by providing a centralized facility for synchronizing data from Microsoft Outlook, email filtering and caching, web-based access to email, and free/busy schedule synchronization.

    Business Owner

    The Human Resources (HR) division is the business owner for this application.

    Service Qualification

    This service is available to all regular employees of Odyssey, at all locations worldwide. Each data center has a Microsoft Exchange server that provides for the servers at that location, and each of these servers is connected to the corporate backbone for data synchronization.

    Service Manager

    Dave Pultorak.

    Service Initiation Contact

    Service is initiated by the HR department for each new employee given approval to use company's email.

    External Dependencies

    Internet communication facilities, VeriSign security certificate services.

    Service Elements

    Service desk/incident management.

    Application availability and metric reporting.

    Application SLA.

    Hours of service.

    Problem management.

    Tier 2 escalations and proactive root-cause analysis.

    Change management.

    Change management and control.

    Technology upgrades.

    Patch management.

    Security management.

    Security protection: intrusion detection, locked-down security policies.

    Internet-specific security protection: antivirus, antiphishing, antispam.

    Additional service features.

    Proactive health monitoring.

    High-availability management.

    Nightly server data backup.

  • Present themselves to the business through that service catalog (using customer-oriented terminology abstracted from the technology used to deliver the service—for example, using messaging as the name for the service instead of Microsoft Exchange).
  • Define service levels in SLAs.

    An SLA is an agreement between an IT service provider and customer specifying the service, service level targets, and provider and customer responsibilities. Table 3.2 is an example of service quality measurements and performance targets excerpted from "MOF Job Aid - Service Level Agreement," available from Microsoft.

    Table 3.2. SLA Excerpt

    Service Quality Measurements

    Measurement

    Definition

    Performance Target

    Service availability percentage

    Percent of time the application is available during normal schedule minus the impact time from any scheduled or unexpected events

    Target percentage.

    Example: 99.6%.

    Incident resolution time

    Time between recording and resolution of an incident:

    • Priority 1 = < 30 minutes
    • Priority 2 = < 2 hours
    • Priority 3 = < 4 hours

    X% of transactions of type Y to be completed within Z minutes or hours or days.

    Example: 95% of all Priority 1 email incidents are resolved within 30 minutes.

    Root-cause analysis reports

    Production of reports describing root cause of a particular incident or problem

    Timeframe for report to be delivered.

    Example: 100% of all root-cause analysis reports will be delivered within 24 hours of when the incident occurred.

    SLA review

    Review of service to determine whether any changes are required

    % of reviews to be completed.

    Example: 100%.

  • Use these and other mechanisms required to manage the quality, cost, and ultimately the value provided to the business by every service.

Although this version of Service Manager does not support service catalogs or SLAs, it is important to understand what they are because they are at the center of the service management ecosystem that Service Manager supports.

You can get examples and templates for service catalogs, SLAs, and other service management mechanisms in the "MOF Job Aid" collections, available for download from Microsoft.

Determining the Value of MOF and ITIL

MOF and ITIL terminology, concepts, and mechanisms are embedded in Service Manager, and the product supports service management services and processes. This is one very good reason to care about MOF and ITIL. However, there are other reasons, which are important for you to consider as a basis for understanding and articulating the value the product can bring (and to whom). What is in it for you, your team, your IT organization and its suppliers, your customers and end users, and the business? Consider WIIFM (What's In It For Me?) for MOF and ITIL for all stakeholder audiences: the IT individual contributor, the IT team, the IT organization, its suppliers, its customers and end users, and the business as a whole:

  • For the individual contributor: Service management certification is becoming a "basic and expected" criterion and is also a top certification in terms of salary. (Much of what IT professionals do each day is handle changes, troubleshoot incidents, seek the root cause of problems, and so on.) The training for that lies in MOF and ITIL. Other professions have long-established common terminology (accountants, for example, don't argue over what an asset or liability is) and mechanisms (accountants can expect to see a general ledger when they start work at a company). MOF and ITIL provide these for IT professionals.
  • For the IT team: It is not unusual for teams of highly intelligent individuals to devolve into a communal idiot, especially when a significant issue arises. (Just about anyone who has spent more than a few minutes in IT can attest to this!) For teams to function well, they need shared ideas and standards for "how things are done around here." MOF and ITIL provide these for IT teams.
  • For the IT provider: The IT provider as a whole needs "a" method to organize, and that method needs to be fully worked out with enough interlocking concepts and supporting templates and examples to stand on its own legs. It also helps (greatly) if these methods are adopted widely, because it then can be expected that new starters and vendors who come and go need less ramp-up time. MOF and ITIL provide these.

MOF and ITIL Compared

Table 3.4 compares MOF and ITIL along a number of key dimensions. You can use it as a starting point for determining where to invest your time in learning more about these frameworks.

Table 3.4. Comparison of MOF and ITIL

Features

MOF

ITIL

Form factor and cost

Publication. MOF is available for free download.

Publication. ITIL publications are available in book form and a variety of other formats for purchase.

Training and certification

Both MOF and ITIL have training and certification paths. MOF is limited to one course and certification at the Foundation level.

ITIL has a Foundation-level certification, along with Intermediates, all the way up to Expert- and Master-level certification.

Mapping to generally accepted IT management frameworks

Both MOF and ITIL provide mapping to other generally accepted IT management frameworks, including each other as well as ISO 20000 and COBIT. Both support these generally accepted frameworks and even provides a map to them. So, you can be assured that what you do with MOF and ITIL will not be out of line with other frameworks.

Cost, features, restrictions

MOF is free to download and use, and includes not just guidance but also examples and templates, with creative commons licensing.

ITIL is owned by the U.K. Office of Government Commerce, with associated restrictions and costs for use.

Writing style and purpose

MOF is written in a checklist, prescriptive style, to be applied directly. It features clear outcomes, key questions, inputs, outputs, goals, and measures in a concise, relevant checklist style. This is a refreshing departure from more academic treatments of service management ideas.

ITIL is written in a textbook style, describing service management activities, deliverables, processes, functions, roles, key concepts, and models, with comprehensive coverage and many more pages of core content than MOF.

Intention

MOF provides navigation into Microsoft's service management assets—the additional guidance, training, solution accelerators, services, and products—that help you implement service management concepts on the Microsoft platform and the products and technologies that make up that platform. Because the Microsoft platform is a key part of most IT shops, you need to understand what Microsoft has to offer, and MOF helps organization these assets so that you can quickly discover, grasp, and apply them.

ITIL is technology agnostic.

Content (processes, functions, and management reviews)

MOF covers a set of processes and functions, and includes management reviews, as driven by Microsoft's ecosystem of customers and partners

ITIL includes processes and functions as driven by the membership of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), the ITIL user group.

The conclusion here is that although there are differences between ITIL and MOF, and to some extent because of these differences, some knowledge of both MOF and ITIL are necessary as background and context for a successful Service Manager implementation.

Getting Started with MOF and ITIL

This section outlines some ideas and resources for getting started with MOF and ITIL. Once you have a clear vision of what you want to do with MOF and ITIL, it is important to know how to get started.

Take the following steps to get started with MOF (additional information available at http://www.microsoft.com/mof):

  • Download MOF core content. Skim the contents so that you get a feel for what is included and then keep it near for reference. Read the MOF overview to familiarize yourself with MOF, and read the MOF Glossary to understand the terminology.
  • Download and review the IT Pro Quick Start Kit for a great introduction to MOF, including podcasts, PowerPoint files, and training and certification information.
  • Download the "Getting Started with MOF" implementation guide and read it to determine your highest potential, most relevant jumping-off point for getting started.
  • Download "Bridging from MOF Guidance to Microsoft Products - A Companion Guide" and read it to understand how Microsoft products support MOF IT service management concepts.
  • Review and download other MOF guidance and job aids as you see fit where there is a direct hit for a problem or opportunity you see on the job.
  • Optionally, take an MOF Foundation course and pass the MOF Certification examination.

Here are some ways to get started with ITIL:

  • Read "An Introductory Overview of ITIL V3," from the IT Service Management Forum to get a feel for ITIL's structure and content.
  • Read Van Haren Publishing's excellent ITIL V3: A Pocket Guide, which provides process details left out of IT Service Management Forum's "An Introductory Overview of ITIL V3," which is more concerned with providing a high-level overview of the service life cycle.
  • Download and review the ITIL Glossary to understand the terminology.
  • Take an ITIL Foundation course, and take and pass the ITIL Foundation examination.
  • Optionally, read the five core ITIL publications. These books are available from a wide variety of sources and in a number of formats, such as PDF, eBook, hardcopy publication, and HTML-based DVD.
  • Optionally, take additional ITIL courses and examinations leading to ITIL Expert or Master status.

MOF and ITIL Processes Supported by Service Manager

MOF and ITIL specify a set of IT processes deemed necessary to ensure consistent quality of delivery of IT services. The core set of processes tend to be those most closely associated with end users (that is, the processes that if missing or broken tend to evoke loud complaints most quickly). This version of Service Manager supports the most important end user-facing processes: Incident, Problem, Change, and Configuration Management.

The following sections discuss these processes, looking at the following for each process:

  • Definition, goals, and objectives
  • Key terminology
  • Why the process matters (its value)
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Reporting
  • Scope
  • Integration with other processes and functions
  • Process activity workflow
  • Key roles and responsibilities
  • Key inputs and outputs
  • High-level considerations for implementing with Service Manager

The key decisions to make when implementing the processes include people and process decisions that in some cases sit outside the Service Manager tool and in other cases drive configuration values for the tool.

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