Infrastructure Services are definitely undergoing a major transformation. How does one navigate the web of emerging technology trends and stay ahead of the game? Read on to learn more on our Infra Matters blog.

« September 2012 | Main | November 2012 »

October 30, 2012

IT service management in the times of social media

Published on behalf of Shalini Chandrasekharan

 

Social Media has made a big splash. And IT Service Management is no exception to it.

The explosive growth of Social Media in recent times has serious implications on the way IT services are consumed. IT users have come to expect the level of services available to them as private consumers in their professional spaces as well.

IT Service Management presents a good opportunity for organizations to leverage this upcoming trend in their workspaces. In the recent past, many of the ITSM product vendors have incorporated various fetaures related to this phenomenon. Greater collaboration in a multi-geography / vendor / team environments, and knowledge management are the obvious advantages, but there are additional opportunities to improve operational efficiencies using the social media platform.

In his presentation at the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition, Shaju Lal Kurup from Infosys' Manufacturing Unit, will be focusing on how social media platforms can be harnessed to run and manage some of the common ITSM platforms.

The itSMF UK conference and exhibition is the annual conference of the IT Service Management Forum(itSMF) in the UK. This event attracts ITSM professionals from the UK and the rest of Europe. This year's event has a packed agenda on various tracks within itSMF UK. Click here to know more about this event.

 

 

 

October 25, 2012

Maximize Benefits of Datacenter Initiatives

In recent times, many organizations have undertaken large transformation programs in the areas of Data center consolidation, hardware virtualization for multiple reasons like legacy modernization, cloud journey and to reduce costs through automation and standardization. Many of these transformation programs fall short of the desired goals.

 

One of the primary reasons, I believe is the scheduling of these initiatives in the overall transformation plan. It has been my experience that these initiatives are implemented in silos and not as one cohesive program. I have often seen Virtualization run as a standalone program while the hardware refresh is attempted as a separate track. Most of these initiatives don't seem to consider the impact on networking, software and security in the new datacenter.


Implemented in the correct sequence these initiatives can become force multipliers and they deliver exponential benefits to the IT organization.
In this article, I have tried to capture the parameters that need to be considered for making the appropriate sequencing of these initiatives and how these parameters are impacted if other sequences are chosen.

Let me know what you think about this.

October 18, 2012

Who moved my datacenter?

Datacenter Migrations are critical activities for a reason - so much needs to be considered and so much can easily go wrong.

A lot of planning goes into the planning phase itself!  Starting with why and where we are moving our datacenters. Many factors like growth, performance, legacy resources, operational cost, green initiatives, real estate change and staffing have a bearing on  Datacenter migration. Understanding the reasons for the migration will help us prepare the right migration plan.
 

For instance, are we looking to relocate / re-build or just replicate our present conventional data center? Do we need cloud based services? Is a hardware refresh included or just virtualization?  
 

 These are critical questions to be answered during the planning phase. Depending on the objective of the migration, datacenter relocation, replication or rebuild are three options to be considered:
 

Relocating a Datacenter:
Servers with less critical applications, which can tolerate longer outage during migration are lifted from the existing datacenter and shifted to the new datacenter. It involves de-commissioning the server in the source data center, transporting and installing exactly the same server in the new facility. Before performing this, the image gets captured to prevent any data loss.
 

Replicating a data center:
Replication would be a chosen option in a scenario where, the target datacenters will be equipped with identical hardware and OS as that of the source datacenter - resulting in a complete replication of the environment. Replication will either be a P2P (Physical to Physical) or P2V (Physical to Virtual)
 

Re-building Datacenters:
As the name indicates, this option will require re-building the target data center from ground up. It may involve procuring new hardware, OS and even re-writing the applications to suit the new environment. This option could be time consuming, depending on the complexity of the environment.
 

Once a choice is made, it will define the type of resources and planning required.
Poorly planned or executed migration can lead to unexpected outages leading to revenue and reliability losses.

October 12, 2012

Lean IT implementation for Service Improvements continue......

In continuation to my last post on Lean for IT Service improvement, I will now focus on implementation guidelines for these Lean principles.

Below are three tables that summarize how Lean principles can actively help organizations eliminate common types of 'wastes' in an IT scenario:

 table1.jpg

table 2.jpg

table 3.jpg

By bringing in Lean principles in the IT service management space, organizations can reap the benefits of this highly successful methodology.

October 1, 2012

IT Governance - a lot more than what meets the (I) eye

Imagine the best traffic system - wide roads, well-lit signals, separate lanes for each type of vehicular movement, pedestrian and bicycle path, etc. Wouldn't it seem to be the best place to drive? And doesn't it seem to be like one of the best traffic management systems too? Well, it is true.
 
But come to think of it, even if you have the best traffic management system, how would you ensure that folks keep to their lanes or that they do not jump signals? There would be CCTVs installed to monitor the functioning of this traffic management system. 

That is Governance.

 

Not only does this show the difference between Management and Governance, but that even the best management practice needs governance in place.  For more about Governance and Management, read on...
 

Let us think about this from an IT perspective, or shall I say through the quintessence of today's corporate! It is true that IT has gained a lot of prominence in our lives and more so in the business fraternity. It is hard to pin-point a specific line of business today which works without some or other influence of IT. Yes, you need money to finance your business, you need people to work, you need ideas to be communicated to the world, you need to ensure that your business operates within the legal confines, et al; but the one stream that meanders through all these areas and waters each of these areas for a smooth day-to-day operation is IT.

 

And now that we have established the need for IT (and given it its due respects!) let us look at IT from management and governance perspectives. In the days of yore, IT meant geeky. It meant a desktop PC at a few desktops within the office. 'IT' was called to install these desktops, make sure that they are around whenever the system hanged and needed a reboot. But it definitely grew with giant leaps to having customized applications built and installed to suit each organization's needs. IT, which used to be looked at as a distant cousin, became a close friend. Moving on, IT transformed from being perceived as a product to a service. Now this was a point of inflection in the IT growth curve, wherein it moved into family - the core business family.

 

There are various regulatory norms and compliances which are required to be abided by for any business to function, based on the domain in which it operates. These could be SOX compliance for financial institutions, HIPAA for Health Insurance, BASEL norms for banks, and so on. As IT provides a service, it gets integrated with the business culture and thus indirectly and in some cases, even directly, comes under the purview of these compliance norms. While there are state of the art IT management systems being designed and put in place today, and with so many best practice frameworks and standards, getting the work done the way it is required has become a lot easier. But the key thing to be kept in mind while defining any IT Service is to build checkpoints and quality gates into it which would help the business to not only be sure that they operate in the most streamlined and cost-effective manner, but also to be assured that they are compliant to industry regulations and there are checkpoints which will sound an alarm is anything goes amiss.

 

In a recent major outage at a large bank, after careful investigation, it was understood that the whole incident could have been averted if there were better checks built into their IT systems and processes. Not calling out names of banks here, this just goes to show the need for a strong governance to be embedded within IT systems in today's organizations to the extent that analysts had pointed out that banks nowadays function as IT Organizations with a license to bank.

 

Now that we are clear about the need for IT Governance and the significant advantages and, more importantly, the key disasters which can be averted by having a robust governance practice, the next question would be - how to do it?

 

As mentioned initially, IT is on a growth path and as the focus shifts from one aspect of IT to another, there are various best practice frameworks which also emerge to help organizations in using IT effectively. When IT started functioning as a service, best practices such as ITIL gained prominence. Hence it is only imperative that as Industry regulatory compliances and business transparency checks are gaining prominence, IT Governance frameworks and processes are embedded into the core DNA of IT systems right from the drawing board itself.

 

In my next blog, I shall talk about some of the key considerations to be had in mind while implementing IT Systems and processes, from a governance perspective.