Service Assurance – A Term Whose Time Has Come?

Integrated service management, or ITSM, is the holy grail of IT management. Those of us who have been watching this industry for many years have long understood this potential, and have watched patiently as the technology and practices have slowly evolved. And it’s been like watching the pot to see when it will boil - seems to be taking forever. One of the most fundamental elements of this transition is the embracing of the service mentality as a core construct of IT management strategy. It’s a natural thing that the help desk (a.k.a. service desk) is where most service management initiatives start – after all these people must consider and understand broader systemic views of how IT resources are being put to use if they are to help IT end users, who have little to no knowledge of underlying infrastructure and architecture. If we look to emulate the best models of service-oriented management, we have to consider the approach used for years by the communications service providers (CSPs), for whom service is their business from start to finish. The CSP community coined the term “service assurance” to cover the direct monitoring of provided services, from both availability/reliability and performance perspectives, with status provided to, among others, the call centers that interface with their equivalent of end users – their subscribers and customers. In my opinion, now is the time to start using the term service assurance more broadly in the enterprise community, to describe how intelligent, integrated monitoring should be elevated and interpreted into service constructs, abstracted across IT resources. And while plenty of management technology providers have been embracing the concepts of service management, some are making better progress than others towards this service assurance angle. Take for example CA’s recent new product release - Spectrum Service Assurance Manager. This product is a great example of the natural evolution of infrastructure management tools towards service management. It starts by building on CA’s arsenal of infrastructure management solutions, which cover availability and performance across networks, systems, and databases (via the Spectrum, eHealth, and Insight products), and then adds in application performance monitoring (via the Wily product lines). But then CA went further to add some additional powerful integration points, like allowing service models to built by dragging and dropping from those infrastructure management products or their CMDB solution, providing an integrated service quality/health/risk dashboard, and providing direct integration with their Service Desk product. Right now it works out of the box with CA’s own products, but they have included an API and SDK to allow integration with other 3rd party products. There are other examples of integrated service management solutions that are moving towards this same degree of integration, but CA is the first to adopt and promote the full concept of service assurance for the enterprise. And I don’t think they’ll be the last.


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