There is a lot on your shoulders. IT supports all aspects of the business from email and payroll services to the company’s e-commerce site. Of course, each of these services is managed by a different LOB head, each coming at you at 20 different directions with project requests. And look out when there is a service issue on one - and don’t say it - multiple business services. Which master do you serve first?
Align IT to the Business to Determine Capex and Opex Priorities
Aligning IT to the business has a few benefits for organizing hardware and software spending as well as where you and your staff’s time is spent. By understanding business goals and how IT services align to those goals you can prioritize how you:
React to service outages– Service outages translate to dollars lost – lost revenue (e-commerce application) or lost productivity (email application). Understanding the financial impact of a service outage can help you prioritize where to fix problems first. This only works if you have the information that maps your infrastructure to your business service.
Plan IT projects– The goal of the business will determine where you spend your time focused on proactive IT projects. If the goal is cost reduction, you need to have visibility to understand where you are spending resources. Are unnecessary applications using up precious resources? Can you rationalize applications to reduce cycles spent on maintenance and upgrades?
If the goal is to improve service availability and customer satisfaction you will need to have visibility into what servers and applications comprise a business service, and a history of service performance to be able to make recommendations for service improvement.
Plan for capacity expenditures– Do you commonly hear – “Can I get more capacity for my application because I have a new campaign starting, etc.?” All application owners think they need a lot more capacity than the application actually requires. Keeping a trend of actual resource utilization compared to workload will arm you with the right information when working with line of business owners.
This information is also very helpful when dealing with application ISVs. Often, when there are performance issues, the first answer is always “throw more resource at it.” If you have a historical benchmark, then you can avoid purchasing additional, unnecessary capacity and paying for additional application license fees (which are often tied to the size of server).
Figuring out your bang for buck should not require an MBA or Expensive Consultants
Business service management (BSM) sounds really hard. The reason for this is BSM has been driven in the market by big IT management vendors. In this context, BSM requires performance and availability monitoring, a CMDB, and a customized dashboard. This is BSM nirvana – with a highly automated and integrated toolset. “Hello, hello, hello ... where is my BSM solution?” This is what most IT managers say after about a year of trying to get such a solution implemented. Don’t get caught up in getting the ideal solution implemented to make basic business decisions.
Business Service Management – Using the 80/20 Rule
You can get 80% of the benefit by only inflicting 20% of the pain. Here is how you can get an immediate idea of how services are performing and how resources are allocated by service:
#1 Understand the business goals and define the services you want to measure.
#2 Implement availability and performance monitoring across your organization. If you leverage an agentless architecture, this step can be done rather quickly – within hours. There are solutions on the market that automatically discover what should be monitored and also assign thresholds based off best practices.
#3 Identify the resources that comprise a business service. This is the hardest step by far. Some IT shops have resources assigned to functions or services and describe those relationships in their server naming convention. You may work in a small shop and have intimate knowledge of the relationships between database servers, application servers, web servers, authentication servers, etc. If you are a big enough shop, you may have deployed a CMDB that maps relationships between configuration items.
#4 Group application resources to visualize and report on service performance and capacity as a unit. This can be done relatively easy if you have the right application and server monitoring tool – simply create a group (business service), and drag and drop the resources associated with that service into the group.
Now, when a call comes in that the XYZ service is down, you can immediately see which resources comprise that service and where to look first. You can also now run SLA and capacity reports by service to determine which services need extra attention on getting service levels up and which services have too much or too little capacity to meet business objectives.
It is possible to quickly align IT goals to business goals. As you start planning for next year’s budget, I encourage you to take a fresh look at your IT organization by business service. Intelligently prioritizing projects as they pertain to business goals will make budget discussions more meaningful.
Jennifer Kuvlesky is Product Marketing Manager at SolarWinds.