Friday, January 27, 2006

N-tier Infrastructures, ITIL & Cross-Silo Performance Base Lines

It's no accident that the evolution to SOA and adoption of ITIL are happening at the same time. IT Service Management is, as the name indicates, about Services. If you're evolving to Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), then adoption of IT service management based on the IT Infrastructure Library is simply common sense. The supporting infrastructures enabling SOA are typically n-tier --- web front ends, application servers, data base servers, etc.

N-tier infrastructures are typically made up of multiple Configuration Item (CI) Segments, for example the Citrix segment, the backbone WAN segment, the Web front-end segment, etc. These are often the "IT silos" we here about.

Implementing a quality framework such as ITIL is very much about establishing cycles of continuous improvement and shifting paradigms from silos to services. In fact, the sooner you can establish the concept of rapid cycles of continuous improvement within your service improvement teams the better.

Many clients focus the initial ITIL implementation efforts on Change, Configuration and Release Management, which can lead to an initial improvement cycle that is just too long. This is especially true if --- in an attempt to define services from the business' perspective --- service definition takes an 'end-to-end' view, since all the tiers are now involved.

This increases the scope and complexity of CI relationships and CMDB establishment, and (more often than not) leads to the purchase of a CMDB tool...perhaps before you're really ready, since you may not have had any improvement cycles in other ITSM process areas. Design and development of the CMDB should be carefully planned, and must support every ITIL process.

Implementing cross-silo performance monitoring (i.e., true service monitoring, not simply response time monitoring), can provide service base lines of performance across every layer of every tier of your n-tier infrastructure.

This offers several advantages:
  • Clearly establishes service performance in both business and IT terms
  • Quickly identifies cross-silo dependencies for each service
  • Helps scope and target configuration design, development & base lining activities

Implementing a well designed CMDB is important, but can take many months. Installing a service monitor can be accomplished in weeks. In addition, establishing service monitoring --and obtaining cross-silo performance base lines for each critical service --- may help you get to a level of process maturity where CMDB definition and design makes more sense, and save you money along the way.

John M. Worthington, Principal
MyServiceMonitor, LLC


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