Service Assurance on Parade

For the past two weeks, and for the next two to come, I’ve had the opportunity to tour the country, on behalf of Network World and CA, talking to IT professionals about strategies, practices, and technologies for making the move to Service Assurance. Back in April, I wrote about the need for understanding and embracing service assurance as the path to both fun (as in “I like my job better now”) and profit (as in “I’m in a better position to positively and strategically support my business/organization”). This road show series has focused on what tools, technologies, and practices need to be brought to bear to move from reactive, infrastructure-oriented management towards proactive, service-aware operations. EMA believes this transition is an essential one if IT teams are to move from tactical necessity to strategic partner in the organizations they serve. Along the way, I’ve met a number of interesting people – a mix of practitioners and IT staff plus mid-level and senior IT managers. Actually, a really diverse crowd. We’ve had network managers and system managers, application developers and application support specialists, service desk managers, security engineers, and not a few project managers. Most everyone I talked to was looking for insights into how to improve their ability to offer and ensure quality IT services to their organizations, as well as deliver on another theme that CA is emphasizing - Lean IT (more on that in a future post). A couple of individuals stood out. One was a Service Assurance Analyst, who was responsible for negotiating and defining IT services that were to be provided to the North American sales organization for a European-based pharma company. His biggest challenge was not in understanding what his services were or how to define them, but rather how monitoring and proactive/preventative practices could be brought to bear in managing them. Another was an Infrastructure Engagement Consultant for an insurance company. This person had the responsibility for negotiating between the application development teams and the infrastructure operations teams to establish operational expectations for new application releases. I can’t say enough about how positive this influence can be – getting the application and data center / networking operations teams in dialogue before deployment is like a pound of medicine that can help avoid a ton of cure down the road. Her greatest challenge was in understanding, after deployment, what relationship exists between infrastructure elements (i.e. switches, routers, servers) and the applications that she has been responsible for representing – a place were autodiscovery, application dependency mapping, and service modeling are the best answers. More coming – we have three more cities to go this month. I’ll post an update after the tour is done with additional observations and lessons learned.

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