Did you know that men and women think differently about a problem? I recently ran into this issue with one of my clients. I was in a board room where I had just made a proposal. I sat down and one of the women competitors was in the company Continued »
Working on the data systems behind the scenes, technical experts tend to see very little of the customer. Traditionally the employee user, with a computer on their desk, is thought of as the IT Department customer. Yet if we look at ecommerce marketing systems like Amazon, Continued »
100 years ago standardization in products was not only the norm it was celebrated. The days of the hand crafted products were numbered. Not long afterwards craftsman soon began to disappear. Only the best craftsmen survived. Continued »
Wouldn’t it be nice if a quick internet search was all it took to learn everything you needed to know to build the latest and greatest technologies? Continued »
ITIL and MOF are two strategies that help manage the complexity and sometimes chaotic processes internal to many IT departments. When I started in technology, if you were any good, you were probably a cowboy. Cowboys were great because you could quickly get things done. Cowboys later became poison because nobody could keep track of everything on the network. The top cowboy became the organizational technology support bottleneck. Business growth was often limited not by the sales team or the production line, but rather the level of understanding of the Cowboy. This led to the question for management, “…how do we manage an IT department?” ITIL and MOF became two common methods that allowed management to hold IT services groups accountable. The modern network architect struggles with how to implement technology in the most effective way.
Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) is a series of guides aimed at helping information technology (IT) professionals establish and implement reliable, cost-effective services.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), is a set of good practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business.
When I come into a new network the first question I ask is, “Where’s the documentation.” The first reply is usually, “We have no documentation.” Sometimes the IT Department laughs at me for asking that question. The next laugh is on them because we begin the documentation process.
ITIL and MOF are all about documentation. Fortunately both systems have done a great deal of the documentation for you. As an IT consultant the reason I ask for documentation is that I don’t want to pick up someone else’s mess. If you take over a network, IT department or Technology System you take over all the headaches and mistakes of the last person who managed the department. The reason they last person isn’t working there is because the department probably outgrew the last IT Manager’s skillset. I find that identifying the documentation problem is the first step. Then I can start developing the roles, SLAs and business processes of the department. Fortunately ITIL has all this documented. I don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Just customize it to the new group or department.
In business managers define business process with management points. Each management point has a quantifiable business value that helps the manager understand what is going on throughout the process. MOF is heavily into process and management points. Most IT departments are managed by technical people who think that it’s all about the technology. They have their own language and processes. Are those processes good? Most of the time, from a business standpoint, these processes are convoluted and created by a technician interested in making his/her own job easier. With MOF we can take the most obtuse technical process and build structured management points around that process.
By understanding the roles and business processes like MOF and ITIL modern network architecture is not just more business stable, but is also more technically stable. Cloud architecture is being built utilizing a standard business and process architecture. Older networks function between 85% and 95% availability averaging a month of downtime per year. Modern network architecture functions at a minimum of 99.9% (about 15 minutes of downtime per year). There are even some cloud network and unified communication providers that provide a 100% SLA to customers. This is unheard of in only 5 years ago for most network environments. ITIL and MOF standards have changed network infrastructure in a way that makes cloud services possible and profitable.
I don’t think I’ve worked on a single fortune 500 companies that don’t use a managed services model. Managed services gives a company a competitive edge by reducing the time spent searching log files. In addition these systems allow management the ability to hold their IT department accountable in new ways. The modern network architect plans, implements and utilizes managed services in their infrastructure designs.
When I began most system administrators had figured out that to keep their jobs, they needed to know the systems. The first two hours every morning was spent reading and researching log files. Then running through the change control to patch and fix systems long before customers complained about system failure. Managed services is the practice of transferring day-to-day related management responsibility as a strategic method for improved effective and efficient operations inclusive of Production Support and lifecycle build/maintenance activities.
A stitch in time… As an IT Consultant I have found that system failures show up in the log files long before the system fails. By identifying those small system failures early, disastrous system failures can be caught and repaired early. I also explain that very few disastrous failure come with no early warning. A stitch in time refers to the old wife’s tale about darning stockings while the hole is small. Networks are similar. Before they fail, small holes begin to form. By “darning” the network major disasters are avoided. That’s the idea behind managed services.
The success of inexpensive cloud systems and technologies is will be determined by the ability of the Cloud provider to provide stables systems for clients. Whether providing,
- Software as a service (SaaS)
Delivery of software as a service over the Internet, eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer’s own computers and simplifying maintenance and support.
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
Delivery of a computing platform and/or solution stack as a service, often consuming cloud infrastructure and sustaining cloud applications
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
Delivery of a platform virtualization environment – as a service, along with raw (block) storage and networking.
The key to success for the Cloud or any on premise system services is reliability. Managed services systems are able to provide 3 and 4 “9”s of service to customers. The modern architect, IT consultant or technology provider must understand and leverage managed services tools and systems for their systems.
I was talking with a client the other day and the subject of SEO came up.
“I didn’t know Search Engine Optimization was IT?”
I was a little taken aback by this. Obviously there is technology involved in SEO, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and even Social media. Continued »