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Systems Management Defined

Systems management is a journey, not a destination. That is to say, it is not something achieved at a point in time. Systems management encompasses all points in the IT service triangle, as displayed in Figure 1.1, including a set of processes and the tools and people that implement them. Although the role of each varies at different points within the IT service life cycle, the end goals do not change. How effectively these components are utilized determines the ultimate degree of success, which manifests itself in the outputs of productive employees producing and delivering quality products and services.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 The IT service triangle includes people, process, and technology.

At a process level, systems management touches nearly every area of your IT operations. It can continually manage a computing resource, such as a client workstation, from the initial provisioning of the OS and hardware to end-of-life, when user settings are migrated to a new machine. The hardware and software inventory data collected by your systems management solution can play a key role in incident and problem management, by providing information that facilitates faster troubleshooting.

As IT operations grow in size, scope, complexity, and business impact, the common denominator at all phases is efficiency and automation, based on repeatable processes that conform to industry best practices. Achieving this necessitates capturing subject matter expertise and business context into a repeatable, partially or fully automated process. At the beginning of the service life cycle is the service provisioning, which from a systems management perspective means OS and software deployment. Automation at this phase can save hours or days of manual deployment effort in each iteration.

After resources are in production, the focus expands to include managing and maintaining systems, via ongoing activities IT uses to manage the health and configuration of systems. These activities may touch areas such as configuration management, by monitoring for unwanted changes in standard system and application configuration baselines.

As the service life cycle continues, systems management can affect release management in the form of software upgrades. Activities include software-metering activities, such as reclaiming unused licenses for reuse elsewhere. If you are able to automate these processes to a great degree, you achieve higher reliability and security, greater availability, better asset allocation, and a more predictable IT environment. These translate into business agility, more efficient, less expensive operations, with a greater ability to respond quickly to changing conditions.

Reducing costs and increasing productivity in IT Service Management are important because efficiency in operations frees up money for innovation and product improvements. Information security is also imperative because the price tag of compromised systems and data recovery from security exposures can be large, and those costs continue to rise each year.

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