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Systems Management Processes

Twelve major processes are commonly associated with infrastructure management:

  • Availability management
  • Capacity planning
  • Change management
  • Configuration management
  • Disaster recovery
  • Facilities management
  • Network management
  • Performance and tuning
  • Problem management
  • Production acceptance
  • Storage management
  • Strategic security

It's important to understand which infrastructure management processes are strategic and which are tactical because each type of process integrates with and depends on other processes for optimal use. For example, production acceptance, change management, and problem management all interact with each other when implemented properly. Knowing which of these three key processes is tactical versus strategic helps to better understand their relationships to each other.

Understanding which processes are generally strategic and which are usually tactical also helps anticipate their necessary interactions. Two processes that are both tactical will interact differently than two processes that are strategic, and each of these pairs will interact differently from a pair that's a mixture of strategic and tactical processes. Knowledge of a process's orientation can also assist in selecting process owners who are more aligned with that process's orientation. Some prospective owners may have more ability in the strategic area, while others may be better suited for tactical processes.

Strategic Processes

Applying typical characteristics of strategic activities—such as being long-range in nature, with a focus of two to three years, and requiring months to plan and deliver—results in 5 of the 12 major processes being designated as strategic:

  • Production acceptance
  • Capacity planning
  • Strategic security
  • Disaster recovery
  • Facilities management

While all of these strategic processes have associated tactical aspects, the significant value of each lies more in its strategic attributes. For example, the tactical part of production acceptance, capacity planning, and disaster recovery involves the important activities of deploying production software, installing hardware upgrades, and restoring business operations, respectively. But analysts responsible for these critical events cannot execute them successfully without a strategic focus involving thorough planning and preparation.

Similarly, strategic security and facilities management tactically monitor logical and physical environments for unauthorized access or disturbance on a continual basis. But the overriding objective of ensuring the ongoing integrity and use of the logical and physical environments requires significant strategic thinking to plan, enforce, and execute the necessary policies and procedures.

Tactical Processes

We now turn our attention from strategic processes to tactical ones. Employing a method similar to that used in the strategic area, we identify the following seven processes as being tactical in nature:

  • Availability management
  • Performance and tuning
  • Change management
  • Problem management
  • Storage management
  • Network management
  • Configuration management

Just as strategic processes contain tactical elements, some tactical processes contain strategic elements. For example, the network management and storage management processes involve not only the installation of network and storage equipment, but planning, ordering, and scheduling such hardware—activities that require months of advance preparation. But the majority of activities associated with these two processes are tactical in nature, involving real-time monitoring of network and storage resources to ensure that they are available and in sufficient quantity.

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