The Winds of Change

In a hyper competitive environment, businesses can ill afford to botch up infrastructure upgrades. For effective change management, it's time to get to know ITIL.
The computing infrastructure that supports today's large enterprise is constantly on the move due to changing business requirements and evolving technology. One wrong move or mistake can result in costly rework, and at worst, a significant loss of revenue if the error impacts customer-facing business applications.

As a result, today's technology infrastructure must be run with precision like a well-oiled machine and with the same consistency and reliability of a manufacturing assembly line.

The days of the tech cowboys who implemented solutions on a trial and error are over. I am referring to the "heroes" that were spawned during that roller coaster ride we were all on as we transitioned from the stability of the mainframe environment to the wild frontier of client-server and distributed processing during the final two decades of the 20th Century.

Don't get me wrong, these heroes brought us a long way and were the "sand in the oyster" that forced us all to adopt new cutting edge technology platforms; however, their Achilles heel was the ice-cold chill that run down their spine when the term "change management" was uttered.

Managing Change

Effective change management ensures that all changes are well thought out and deployed, all in a manner that minimizes or eliminates disruptions in service. This requires both engineers and the operations staff to implement rigorous and detailed processes in their designs and activities and to always keep the end-user in mind.

This means document, test, test, and test some more, and more often than not, implement in the wee hours of the morning on a holiday weekend. Now you know why the mention of change management sends chills down the spine of yesteryear's engineers.

Managing change is not an easy task. Simply scheduling and communicating a change to the infrastructure is not change management. If this is your definition of change than your organization has a long way to go. Managing change is just one piece of a strategic plan that must include a number of processes to develop and operate an infrastructure that delivers service to the end users in a reliable and predictable way.

IT Service Delivery Process

I am speaking of processes such as the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI), Six- Sigma, IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), and the list goes on. All of these quality-oriented processes have their merits as long as they are implemented correctly.

However, ITIL is the only one that specifically addresses the processes necessary to manage the technology infrastructure, and subsequently, service delivery. I am not discounting the value of CMMI which is the mark of excellence in any software engineering organization or Six Sigma which brings out the best in a manufacturing organization. However, when it comes to the delivery of IT services, an IT service management platform built on the principles advocated by the (ITIL) is the by far the best.

IT Infrastructure Library

ITIL was developed by the United Kingdom's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) and is quickly becoming the standard for the deployment and delivery of Information Technology Services. ITIL breaks down complex MIS services into a series of tight knit components that are managed independently but play together like the finest orchestra in Vienna.

Two of the ITIL categories that have the most significant impact on how services are managed and delivered to the end user in any business are the Operational and Tactical categories.

The operational and tactical categories include a number of disciplines. In example the Operational category includes:

  • Release Management
  • Configuration and Change Management
  • Incident and Problem Management
  • Service Desk

While the tactical Category includes:

  • Customer Relation and Service Level Management
  • Capacity and Availability Management
  • Financial and Continuity Management

Implementation

The implementation of any standard in any organization is generally a complex and drawn-out affair. However, because it is complex and takes time doesn't make the task insurmountable. The first and most difficult step is to recognize the need for implementing these standards and that there will be a cost in human capital and education to move forward.

Once this has been overcome you will be well on your way to mapping your existing processes and services to a recognized standard, which can be manipulated to meet the needs of your business.

So buckle down and read about ITIL and how it can help your organization, then develop an implementation plan. You will be glad you did when your telephone stops ringing in the middle of the night and the CEO recognizes the positive impact the IT Department has to the bottom line.

This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.





Comment and Contribute

 


(Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.