Forrester lays out the steps before business service management

* Breaking down the BSM market

A few years back I wrote about an intriguing new approach to IT management dubbed business service management - a concept which promised to equip IT managers with the knowledge and tools to manage infrastructure and applications to align with business priorities.

Companies from HP and IBM down to newcomers such as Indicative Software and Oblicore have made BSM initiatives center points to their product strategies. Recently, Forrester Research broke down the crowded BSM market, identifying must-have criteria and realistic approaches to evolving IT management strategies to fall in line with business objectives.

First let's look at how Forrester defines BSM: "Software that dynamically links business-focused IT services to the underlying IT infrastructure. A business-focused IT service may be a specific IT service or part of a business process, but it must support a significant, visible business metric for a business owner."

According to Forrester, not only can BSM software cut costs and streamline services, but it can also improve the business' perception of IT because with appropriate priorities in place the IT organization can focus on delivering the most mission-critical business services. But before getting to BSM, Forrester suggests companies implement a few other IT projects.

"As a baseline, you need to have the ability to model infrastructure component relationships to IT services - which can be defined manually through an embedded discovery mechanism or retrieved from a configuration management database - and a CMDB which includes application dependency mapping to automatically populate the service models and enable the BSM solution," Forrester says. "

Forrester also recommends enterprise IT shops get IT asset management under control to get a proper inventory of the servers, clients and network devices in their environment. Next, IT managers should consider getting the best practices laid out in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) in place across their organizations to improve internal IT service delivery. Then, service-level management technology - which includes end-user response time measurement - will help IT shops ensure the services they delivery meet preset service-level agreements. And lastly, business service mapping technologies will help IT managers better understand the key metrics needed to measure the success of a BSM system, Forrester says.

"Enterprises that have implemented these process improvement projects are better equipped to leverage full value from their BSM projects," the report reads.

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