Chapter 1: Service Management Basics

Excerpt from System Center Service Manager 2010 Unleashed.

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  • 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 uses 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 Service Modeling Language (SML), 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) enables 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.

DM and SML: What’s the Difference? - Microsoft originally used the System Definition Model (SDM) as its standard schema with DSI. SDM was a proprietary specification put forward by Microsoft. The company later decided to implement SML, which is an industrywide published specification used in heterogeneous environments. Using SML helps DSI adoption by incorporating a standard that Microsoft’s partners can understand and apply across mixed platforms. SML is discussed later in the section “The Role of Service Modeling Language in IT Operations.”

DSI focuses on automating data center operations and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) though self-managing systems. Can logic be implemented in management software so the software can identify system or application issues in real time and then dynamically take actions to mitigate the problem? Consider the scenario where, without operator intervention, a management system moves a virtual machine running a line-of-business application because the existing host is experiencing an extended spike in resource utilization. This is actually a reality today, delivered in the quick migration feature of Virtual Machine Manager. DSI aims to extend this type of self-healing and self-management to other areas of operations.

In support of DSI, Microsoft has invested heavily in three major areas:

  • Systems designed for management: Microsoft is delivering development and authoring tools, such as Visual Studio, that enable businesses to capture the knowledge of everyone from business users and project managers to the architects, developers, testers, and operations staff using models. By capturing and embedding this knowledge into the infrastructure, organizations can reduce support complexity and cost.

  • An operationally aware platform: The core Windows operating system and its related technologies are critical when solving everyday operational and service challenges. This requires designing the operating system services for manageability. In addition, the operating system and server products must provide rich instrumentation and hardware resource virtualization support.

  • Virtualized applications and server infrastructure: Virtualization of servers and applications improves the agility of the organization by simplifying the effort involved in modifying, adding, or removing the resources a service utilizes in performing work.

The Microsoft Suite for System Management - 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 family of system management products and solutions that focuses on providing you with the knowledge and tools to manage and support your IT infrastructure. The objective of the System Center family is to create an integrated suite of systems management tools and technologies, thus helping to ease operations, reduce troubleshooting time, and improve planning capabilities.

The Importance of DSI

Three architectural elements underpin 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 the DSI 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 eXtensible Markup Language (XML)-based specification called the Service Modeling Language. SML is a standard developed by several leading IT 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. The end result is systems that are easier to develop, implement, manage, and maintain, resulting in reduced 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.

SML Resources on the Web - For more information about SML, view the latest draft of the SML standard at For additional technical information about SML from Microsoft, see

IT Infrastructure Library and Microsoft Operations Framework

ITIL is widely accepted as an international standard of best practices for operations management. MOF is closely related to ITIL, and both describe best practices for IT service management processes. The next sections introduce you to ITIL and MOF, described in greater detail in Chapter 3, “MOF, ITIL, and Service Manager.” Warning: Fasten your seatbelt, because this is where the fun really begins! ~

What Is ITIL?

As part of Microsoft’s management approach, the company relied on an international standards-setting body as its basis for developing an operational framework. The British Office of Government Commerce (OGC) provides best practices advice and guidance on using IT in service management and operations. The OGC also publishes the IT Infrastructure Library, commonly known as ITIL.

ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practices for ITSM. These best practices include a series of books giving direction and guidance on provisioning quality IT services and facilities needed to support IT. The documents are maintained by the OGC and supported by publications, qualifications, and an international users group.

Started in the 1980s, ITIL is under constant development by a consortium of industry IT leaders. The ITIL covers a number of areas and is primarily focused on ITSM; its ITIL is considered to be the most consistent and comprehensive documentation of best practices for ITSM worldwide.

ITSM, introduced in the “Service Management Defined” section, is a business-driven, customer-centric approach to managing IT. It specifically addresses the strategic business value generated by IT and the need to deliver high-quality IT services to one’s business organization. Here are the key objectives of ITSM:

  • Align IT services with current and future needs of the business and its customers

  • Improve the quality of IT services delivered

  • Reduce long-term costs of providing services

More About ITIL - The core books for version 3 (ITIL v3) were published on June 30, 2007. With v3, ITIL has adopted an integrated service life cycle approach to ITSM, as opposed to organizing itself around the concepts of IT service delivery and support.

ITIL v2 was a more targeted product, explicitly designed to bridge the gap between technology and business, with a strong process focus on effective service support and delivery. The v3 documents recognize the service management challenges brought about by advancements in technology, such as virtualization and outsourcing, and emerging challenges for service providers. The v3 framework emphasizes managing the life cycle of the services provided by IT and the importance of creating business value, rather than just executing processes.

There are five core volumes of ITIL v3:

  • Service Strategy: This volume identifies market opportunities for which services could be developed to meet a requirement on the part of internal or external customers. Key areas here are service portfolio management and financial management.

  • Service Design: This volume focuses on the activities that take place to develop the strategy into a design document that addresses all aspects of the proposed service and the processes intended to support it. Key areas of this volume are availability management, capacity management, continuity management, and security management.

  • Service Transition: This volume centers on implementing the output of service design activities and creating a production service (or modifying an existing service). There is some overlap between Service Transition and Service Operation, the next volume. Key areas of the Service Transition volume are change management, release management, configuration management, and service knowledge management.

  • Service Operation: This volume involves the activities required to operate the services and maintain their functionality as defined in SLAs with one’s customers. Key areas here are incident management, problem management, and request fulfillment.

  • Continual Service Improvement: This volume focuses on the ability to deliver continual improvement to the quality of the services that the IT organization delivers to the business. Key areas include service reporting, service measurement, and service level management.

Updates to ITIL v3 are currently expected the latter part of 2011.

Philosophically speaking, ITSM focuses on the customer’s perspective of IT’s contribution to the business, which is analogous to the objectives of other frameworks in terms of their consideration of alignment of IT service support and delivery with business goals in mind.

Although ITIL describes the what, when, and why of IT operations, it stops short of describing how a specific activity should be carried out. A driving force behind its development was the recognition that organizations are increasingly dependent on IT for satisfying their corporate objectives relating to both internal and external customers, which increases the requirement for high-quality IT services. Many large IT organizations realize that the road to a customer-centric service organization runs along an ITIL framework.

ITIL also specifies keeping measurements or metrics to assess performance over time. Measurements can include a variety of statistics, such as the number and severity of service outages, along with the amount of time it takes to restore service. These metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used to quantify to management how well IT is performing. This information can prove to be particularly useful for justifying resources during the next budget process!

What Is MOF?

ITIL is generally accepted as the “best practices” for the industry. Being technology agnostic, it is a foundation that can be adopted and adapted to meet the specific needs of various IT organizations. Although Microsoft chose to adopt ITIL as a standard for its own IT operations for its descriptive guidance, Microsoft designed MOF to provide prescriptive guidance for effective design, implementation, and support of Microsoft technologies.

MOF is a set of publications providing both descriptive (what to do, when, and why) and prescriptive (how to do) guidance on ITSM. The key focus in developing MOF was providing a framework specifically geared toward managing Microsoft technologies. Microsoft created the first version of the MOF in 1999. The latest iteration of MOF (version 4) is designed to further

  • Update MOF to include the full end-to-end IT service life cycle.

  • Let IT governance serve as the foundation of the life cycle.

  • Provide useful, easily consumable best practice-based guidance.

  • Simplify and consolidate service management functions (SMFs), emphasizing workflows, decisions, outcomes, and roles.

MOF v4 now incorporates Microsoft’s previously existing Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) in its Deliver Phase, providing guidance for application development solutions. The combined framework provides guidance throughout the IT life cycle, as shown in Figure 1.5.

Figure 1.5

The IT life cycle.

At its core, the MOF is a collection of best practices, principles, and models. It provides direction to achieve reliability, availability, supportability, and manageability of mission-critical production systems, focusing on solutions and services using Microsoft products and technologies. MOF extends ITIL by including guidance and best practices derived from the experience of Microsoft’s internal operations groups, partners, and customers worldwide. MOF aligns with and builds on the ITSM practices documented within ITIL, thus enhancing the supportability built on Microsoft’s products and technologies.

MOF uses a model that describes Microsoft’s approach to IT operations and the service management life cycle. The model organizes the ITIL volumes of service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation, and continual service improvement, and includes additional MOF processes in the MOF components, which are illustrated in Figure 1.6.

Figure 1.6

The IT life cycle, as described in MOF v4, has three life cycle phases and one functional layer operating throughout all the other phases.

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