Speaking at ITSMF Fusion 08 in September

eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
I found out today that I will be speaking at the ITSMF Fusion 08 Conference in San Francisco.

http://www.itsmfusion.com/

ITSMF Fusion is an annual conference focused on IT Service Management. The conference spans all types of technology, and touches on certification with respect to ITIL and other IT Service Management certifications.

The topic that I will be discussing is Availability Management. Availability Management is part of the ITIL best practices that is focused on ensuring that technology is accessible and performs acceptably in support of business objectives. For those of you that have completed ITIL Foundation, this topic will be familiar. For those of you that haven't, the topic may still be familiar, because IT isn't useful unless the business can use it when they need to to accomplish their goals.

Although I can accept that probably less than 1% of the membership of this board would be interested in attending this conference, I do respect the fact that many of the members of this board work in very hands-on technical positions. Those who have roles in organizations that require direct, hands-on manipulation and implementation of technology are the executors of organizational policies. Without your work the organization cannot its goals; you know what is important from the perspective of IT availability, what works, and what doesn't in your respective technical fields.

Organizations, management, and consultants fail when they fail to consider the experience and knowledge of those who directly handle technology.

I bring this up here because I would like your perspective on this topic. I have experienced many different activities in organizations that fall under the umbrella of "Availability Management", including automated systems failover, desigining IT based on customer usage patterns, and IT improvements driven by confidentiality requirements.

If you were to listen to a presentation about Availability Management, what types of things would you like to hear? What does Availability Management mean in your environment or your industry sector? What would be a useful take-away from such a presentation?

I have a framework for this presentation. If supplying more information helps, I can, but first I would like to see where this topic goes prior to divulging the framework of my presentation.

Thank you in advance.

MS

Comments

  • ClaymooreClaymoore Posts: 1,637Member
    First, congratulations on speaking at the conference.

    Second, forgive me if I don't have all the nomenclature down, but I have just started learning about ITIL. One of the concerns I have Availability of services is making allowances for planned maintenance / downtime. At my company we have the second weekend of the month reserved for systems maintenance, and although we have had this policy for a couple of years a few of our business units still complain when it comes time for maintenance. One team in particular seems to always be trying to catch up with their workload on Saturdays and this leads to a clash between IT and the users as to when we can work on which servers. Taking systems down for maintenance makes them unavailble for use by that team and that can put them further behind. However, if we don't perform the maintenance on our applications, we can affect the availabilty of services for all business units. I am interested in how ITIL Availability management can address this type of conflict.
  • eMeSeMeS Posts: 1,875Member
    Claymoore wrote:
    First, congratulations on speaking at the conference.

    Second, forgive me if I don't have all the nomenclature down, but I have just started learning about ITIL. One of the concerns I have Availability of services is making allowances for planned maintenance / downtime. At my company we have the second weekend of the month reserved for systems maintenance, and although we have had this policy for a couple of years a few of our business units still complain when it comes time for maintenance. One team in particular seems to always be trying to catch up with their workload on Saturdays and this leads to a clash between IT and the users as to when we can work on which servers. Taking systems down for maintenance makes them unavailble for use by that team and that can put them further behind. However, if we don't perform the maintenance on our applications, we can affect the availabilty of services for all business units. I am interested in how ITIL Availability management can address this type of conflict.

    My apologies that I haven't responded to this sooner, I overlooked your response.

    What you are mentioning is a common problem in IT, and it is one that organizations seek to solve with ITIL.

    From an availability management perspective, one of the functions of availability management is to design IT services. In this case, had availability mangement occurred, the IT service would have been designed based upon actual business usage characteristics, and customers would understand the costs incurred to meet extraordinary requirements.

    In effect, it's fine for the customers to want access to the systems during the times when you would normally conduct maintenance. However, the customers have to understand that their is a tradeoff. Either they accept more risk that the systems won't be properly upgraded or patched because they are being used, or the customers agree to pay the actual costs of keeping the systems available during the weekend hours.

    This is part of how ITIL helps. By defining IT Services, it lets IT focus on the critical aspects that support the business. Following the laws of supply and demand, if there is zero cost to a service, the business units will request an infinite amount of that service. However, if a relationship to cost and risk is clearly shown, the business is now armed with information that helps determine whether or not conducting their activities on the weekends are cost-effective.

    Additionally, by recognizing that the risk exists that maintenance is not occurring as required, proper mitigation and risk management strategies can be put in place. If these risks and mitigation strategies are shared with the other customers, then they will likely put pressure on those customers that are the cause of the risk to change their ways. Perhaps part of the availability plan for this service is that becuase of this customer's weekend work requirements they are enabled to do work on a QA system that receives patches a week early??? This is a win-win because now IT has positioned it such that a difficult customer is helping validate system changes, and the regular maintenance cycle is enhanced because bad changes can be rolled back before being applied to the systems used by the greater business population.

    In summary, I would have to say that one of the biggest problems that I've seen in my ~20 year career in IT is that IT departments rarely draw or enforce clear boundaries regarding what they do and do not do. This results in all kinds of extra work, waste, increased costs, and a lack of respect from the business. Typically, the business will just think that IT is there when they need it and there is not a cost associated and that any problems that occur are the responsibility of IT. Only by clearly defining IT Services, designing those services based on business needs, and operating those services in line with business needs and careful management of risk, does IT truly contribute to business goals.
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