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Strategies for Service Management

Microsoft utilizes a multifaceted approach to IT service management. This strategy includes advancements in the following areas:

  • Adoption of a model-based management strategy (a component of the Dynamic Systems Initiative, discussed in “Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative,” the next section of this chapter) to implement synthetic transaction technology. Service Manager 2012 is intended to deliver a service-based set of scenarios, enabling you to define models of services to deliver to end users using a service map—a combination of Operation Manager’s distributed application functionality with Service Manager business services.
  • Using an Infrastructure Optimization (IO) model as a framework for aligning IT with business needs, and as a standard for expressing an organization’s maturity in service management. The “Optimizing Your Infrastructure” section discusses the IO model further. The IO model describes your IT infrastructure in terms of cost, security risk, and operational agility.
  • Building complete management solutions on this infrastructure, either through making them available in the operating system or by using Service Manager, Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, and other System Center components.

Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative

A large percentage of IT departments’ budgets and resources typically focuses on mundane maintenance tasks such as applying software patches or monitoring the health of a network, without leaving the staff with the time or energy to focus on more exhilarating (and more productive) strategic initiatives.

The Dynamic Systems Initiative, or DSI, is a Microsoft and industry strategy intended to enhance the Windows platform, delivering a coordinated set of solutions that simplify and automate how businesses design, deploy, and operate their distributed systems. Using DSI helps IT and developers create operationally aware platforms. By designing systems that are more manageable and automating operations, organizations can reduce costs and proactively address their priorities.

DSI is about building software that enables knowledge of an IT system to be created, modified, transferred, and operated on throughout the life cycle of that system. It is a commitment from Microsoft and its partners to help IT teams capture and use knowledge to design systems that are more manageable and to automate operations, which in turn reduces costs and gives organizations additional time to focus proactively on what is most important. By innovating across applications, development tools, the platform, and management solutions, DSI results in

  • Increased productivity and reduced costs across all aspects of IT
  • Increased responsiveness to changing business needs
  • Reduced time and effort required to develop, deploy, and manage applications

Microsoft positions DSI as the connector of the entire system and service life cycles.

Microsoft Product Integration

DSI focuses on automating data center operational jobs and reducing associated labor through self-managing systems. Following are several examples where Microsoft products and tools integrate with DSI:

  • Operations Manager uses the application knowledge captured in management packs to simplify identifying issues and their root causes, facilitating resolution and restoring services or preventing potential outages, and providing intelligent management at the system level.
  • Configuration Manager employs model-based configuration baseline templates in its Desired Configuration Management feature to automate identification of undesired shifts in system configurations.
  • Service Manager uses model-based management packs. You can easily add new models describing your own configuration items or work items to track their life cycle. Each data model is stored in one or more management packs that make up the model.
  • Visual Studio is a model-based development tool that leverages SML (Service Modeling Language), enabling operations managers and application architects to collaborate early in the development phase and ensure applications are modeled with operational requirements in mind.
  • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) enable greater and more efficient administrative control through modeling technology that enables downstream systems to construct accurate models representing their current state, available updates, and installed software.

End-to-end automation could include update management, availability and performance monitoring, change and configuration management, and rich reporting services. Microsoft’s System Center is a single offering of integrated management tools and solutions that help you manage your client devices, data centers, and private/public cloud environments. System Center provides the tools and knowledge to manage physical and virtual resources, services, applications, monitoring, data protection, configuration, and automation effectively within your IT infrastructure, thus helping to ease operations, reduce troubleshooting time, and improve planning capabilities.

The Importance of DSI

There are three architectural elements behind the DSI initiative:

  • That developers have tools (such as Visual Studio) to design applications in a way that makes them easier for administrators to manage after those applications are in production
  • That Microsoft products can be secured and updated in a uniform way
  • That Microsoft server applications are optimized for management, to take advantage of System Center

DSI represents a departure from the traditional approach to systems management. DSI focuses on designing for operations from the application development stage, rather than a more customary operations perspective that concentrates on automating task-based processes. This strategy highlights the fact that Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative is about building software that enables knowledge of an IT system to be created, modified, transferred, and used throughout the life cycle of a system. DSI’s core principles of knowledge, models, and the life cycle are key in addressing the challenges of complexity and manageability faced by IT organizations. By capturing knowledge and incorporating health models, DSI can facilitate easier troubleshooting and maintenance, and thus lower TCO.

The Role of Service Modeling Language in IT Operations

A key underlying component of DSI is the XML-based (eXtensible Markup Language) SML specification. SML is a standard developed by several leading information technology companies that defines a consistent way for infrastructure and application architects to define how applications, infrastructure, and services are modeled in a consistent way.

SML facilitates modeling systems from a development, deployment, and support perspective with modular, reusable building blocks that eliminate the need to reinvent the wheel when describing and defining a new service. This results in systems that are easier to develop, implement, manage, and maintain, resulting in reduced total cost ownership (TCO) to the organization. SML is a core technology that will continue to play a prominent role in future products developed to support the ongoing objectives of DSI.

MOF and ITIL

Microsoft Operations Framework and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library are two prominent service management frameworks that define many concepts and practices central to Service Manager. These frameworks and their most relevant components are described in greater detail in Chapter 3, “MOF, ITIL, and System Center.”

Introducing ITIL

Originally developed in the 1980s by the British government, ITIL has become the de facto standard for IT service management. ITIL was eventually released publicly and is published as a set of books with content collaboratively developed by a consortium of industry experts. ITIL takes a life cycle approach to IT service management, providing technology-agnostic, descriptive guidance on IT service management processes and functions. ITIL has spawned an industry of consultancy and training services, and features a multilevel certification scheme for individual IT professionals.

Introducing MOF

MOF is Microsoft’s adaptation of ITIL and extends ITIL’s technology-neutral best practices with more prescriptive guidance, aimed at Microsoft-centered environments. Like ITIL, MOF takes a life cycle approach to IT service management and derives guidance from the real world experiences of Microsoft professionals. Unlike ITIL, MOF is at no charge, and it extends generic process guidance with management reviews, companion guides, and job aids. A single certification is available.

COBIT: A Framework for IT Governance and Control

Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT) is an IT governance framework and toolset developed by ISACA, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. COBIT enables managers to bridge the gap between control requirements, technical issues, and business risks; it provides an end-to-end business view of the governance of enterprise IT that reflects the central role of information and technology in creating value for enterprises. COBIT was first released in 1996 and is now at version 5, released in 2011. Service Manager, which is the focal point in System Center for IT compliance, implements IT governance and compliance.

Total Quality Management: TQM

TQM’s goal is to continuously improve the quality of products and processes. It functions on the premise that the quality of the products and processes is the responsibility of everyone involved with the creation or consumption of the products or services offered by the organization. TQM capitalizes on the involvement of management, workforce, suppliers, and even customers, to meet or exceed customer expectations.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a business management strategy, originally developed by Motorola, that seeks to identify and remove the causes of defects and errors in manufacturing and business processes. Six Sigma process improvement originated from Motorola’s drive toward reducing defects by minimizing variation in processes through metrics measurement. Applications of the Six Sigma project execution methodology have since expanded to incorporate practices common in TQM and supply chain management; this includes customer satisfaction and developing closer supplier relationships.

CMMI

CMMI is a process improvement approach providing organizations with the essential elements of effective processes. It can be used to guide process improvement—across a project, a division, or an entire organization—thus helping to integrate traditionally separate organizational functions, set process improvement goals and priorities, provide guidance for a quality processes, and provide a point of reference for appraising current processes. Benefits you can realize from CMMI include

  • Linking your organization’s activities to your business objectives
  • Increasing your visibility into your organization’s activities, helping ensure your service or product meets the customer’s expectations
  • Learning from new areas of best practice, such as measurement and risk

Business Process Management

Business process management (BPM) is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach, promoting business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. BPM attempts to improve processes continuously and can be considered a process optimization process. It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient, effective, and capable of change than with a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical management approach. BPM can help organizations gain higher customer satisfaction, product quality, delivery speed, and time-to-market speed.

Service Management Mastery: ISO/IEC 20000

You can think of ITIL and ITSM as providing a framework for IT to rethink the ways in which it contributes to and aligns with the organization. ISO/IEC 20000, which is the first international standard for IT service management, institutionalizes these processes. ISO/IEC 20000 helps companies to align IT services and business strategy, and create a formal framework for continual service improvement, and provides benchmarks for comparison to best practices.

ISO/IEC 20000 was developed to reflect the best-practice guidance contained within ITIL. The standard also supports other IT service management frameworks and approaches, including MOF, COBIT, CMMI, and Six Sigma. ISO/IEC 20000 includes the design, transition, delivery, and improvement of services that fulfill service requirements and provide value for the customer and the service provider.

ISO/IEC 20000 provides organizational or corporate certification for organizations that effectively adopt and implement its code of practice.

Optimizing Your Infrastructure

According to Microsoft, analysts estimate that more than 70% of the typical IT budget is spent on infrastructure—managing servers, operating systems, storage, and networking. Add to that the challenge of refreshing and managing desktop and mobile devices, and there’s not much left over for anything else. Microsoft describes an Infrastructure Optimization model that categorizes the state of one’s IT infrastructure, describing the impacts on cost, security risks, and the ability to respond to changes. Using the model shown in Figure 1.3, you can identify where your organization is and where you want to be:

  • Basic: Reactionary, with much time spent fighting fires
  • Standardized: Gaining control
  • Rationalized: Enabling the business
  • Dynamic: Being a strategic asset
FIGURE 1.3

FIGURE 1.3 The Infrastructure Optimization model.

Although most organizations are somewhere between the basic and standardized levels in this model, typically one would prefer to be a strategic asset rather than fighting fires. Once you know where you are in the model, you can use best practices from ITIL and guidance from MOF to develop a plan to progress to a higher level. The IO model describes the technologies and steps organizations can take to move forward, whereas MOF explains the people and processes required to improve that infrastructure. Similar to ITSM, the IO model is a combination of people, processes, and technology.

More information about Infrastructure Optimization is available at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/infrastructure.

From Fighting Fires to Gaining Control

At the Basic level, your infrastructure is hard to control and expensive to manage. Processes are manual, IT policies and standards are either nonexistent or not enforced, and you don’t have the tools and resources (or time and energy) to determine the overall health of your applications and IT services. Not only are your desktop and server management costs out of control, but you are in reactive mode when it comes to security threats and user support. In addition, you tend to use manual rather than automated methods for applying software deployments and patches.

Does this sound familiar? If you can gain control of your environment, you may be more effective at work! Here are some steps to consider:

  • Develop standards, policies, and controls.
  • Alleviate security risks by developing a security approach throughout your IT organization.
  • Adopt best practices, such as those found in ITIL, and operational guidance found in the MOF.
  • Build IT to become a strategic asset.

If you can achieve operational nirvana, this will go a long way toward your job satisfaction and IT becoming a constructive part of your business.

From Gaining Control to Enabling the Business

A standardized infrastructure introduces control by using standards and policies to manage desktops and servers. These standards control how you introduce machines into your network. As an example, using Directory Services will manage resources, security policies, and access to resources. Shops at the Standardized level realize the value of basic standards and some policies, but still tend to be reactive. Although you now have a managed IT infrastructure and are inventorying your hardware and software assets and starting to manage licenses, your patches, software deployments, and desktop services are not yet automated. Security-wise, the perimeter is now under control, although internal security may still be a bit loose. Service management becomes a recognized concept, and your organization is taking steps to implement it.

To move from a standardized state to the Rationalized level, you need to gain more control over your infrastructure and implement proactive policies and procedures. You might also begin to look at implementing service management. At this stage, IT can also move more toward becoming a business asset and ally, rather than a burden.

From Enabling the Business to Becoming a Strategic Asset

At the Rationalized level, you have achieved firm control of desktop and service management costs. Processes and policies are in place and beginning to play a large role in supporting and expanding the business. Security is now proactive, and you are responding to threats and challenges in a rapid and controlled manner.

Using technologies such as lite-touch and zero-touch operating system deployment helps you to minimize costs, deployment time, and technical challenges for software rollouts. Because your inventory is now under control, you have minimized the number of images to manage, and desktop management is now largely automated. You also are purchasing only the software licenses and new computers the business requires, giving you a handle on costs. Security is now proactive with policies and control in place for desktops, servers, firewalls, and extranets. You have implemented service management in several areas and are taking steps to implement it more broadly across IT.

Mission Accomplished: IT as a Strategic Asset

At the Dynamic level, your infrastructure is helping run the business efficiently and stay ahead of competitors. Your costs are now fully controlled. You have also achieved integration between users and data, desktops and servers, and the different departments and functions throughout your organization.

Your IT processes are automated and often incorporated into the technology itself, allowing IT to be aligned and managed according to business needs. New technology investments yield specific, rapid, and measurable business benefits. Measurement is good—it helps you justify the next round of investments!

Using self-provisioning software and quarantine-like systems to ensure patch management and compliance with security policies allows you to automate your processes, which in turn improves reliability, lowers costs, and increases your service levels. Service management is implemented for all critical services with service level agreements and operational reviews.

According to IDC research (October 2006), very few organizations achieve the Dynamic level of the Infrastructure Optimization model—due to the lack of availability of a single toolset from a single vendor to meet all requirements. Through execution on its vision in DSI, Microsoft aims to change this. To read more on this study, visit http://download.microsoft.com/download/a/4/4/a4474b0c-57d8-41a2-afe6-32037fa93ea6/IDC_windesktop_IO_whitepaper.pdf.

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