by December 6, 2006 0 comments



The key differentiating factor between the success and failure of a project,
says a well known CIO, is that you understand, define and create an agreement on
the deliverables at the start itself, with both your suppliers as well as your
customers. And, IT infrastructure according to this CIO has everything to do
with IT-h/w or s/w, LAN or WAN. Once you consider that the IT in your
organization is a supplier and the other parts of the enterprise are its
customers, you will discern that you need a function or solution or process to
happen from your desktop and the IT needs to provide for it. You do not care if
the LAN is down or a printer is under repair. Therefore, your expectations for
the delivery of service from your IT must be setup and agreed upon.

You can outsource the entire IT project, its implementation, products,
sourcing, maintenance and so on to an outside party on a revenue sharing basis
(BOOT -Build, Own, Operate, Transfer basis). This operator would set up the
whole thing, run it for sometime and eventually hand it over to you to run.
These contracts are fairly long term, to the tune of 10 years and longer and the
deals are worth huge amounts of money. In fact, organizations can choose how
much of their infrastructure they want to outsource. It is important to select
the right MSP (Managed Service Provider) to work with. When you do decide to
outsource you will come across several technology terms. We’ll explain those
here.

Outsource these
– Infrastructure management
– Business application monitoring
– Hosting
– Security
– Storage and replication
– Disaster recovery
– Remote monitoring
– Data centers
– E-mail
– Networks
– Voice and VoIP

CMDB
CMDB stands for Change Management Database. This is an ITIL based process for
managing change in processes/workflows as well as configuration. ‘Configuration’
does not deal with just the configuration of servers, desktops/workstations,
networks and so on, but refers to the configuration of your IT with the
definitions of how each element of it interacts (and iterates) with every other
element. Change management starts when an IT user requests a change and
continues till the point that the change is finally made and the request ticket
marked ‘closed’. A part of this process may also involve risk modeling and
analysis of how that change might affect the business or the business processes.
After that, accounting of the resources required is made and the change is
implemented. Management of processes involves efficiently marshalling the steps
in a workflow and dynamically guiding it.

IBM’s Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database and Mercury’s
Universal CMDB among others help you perform C&CM efficiently and
transparently. These products feature automatic discovery of current
configuration (using agents that communicate over secure channels) and a
workflow-based process to track and manage the change processes. These software
also maintain the information in a centralized database and generate various
kinds of reports out of it. Similarly, ZENMetrics from the UK based 413
Technologies is an agentless configuration and change discovery system. It can
monitor network infrastructure, device and software configuration.

Service Impact Modeling
When you manage your IT as a service, how do you pinpoint some part of it and
ascribe a value of profit or risk to it? You require a modeling tool that can
let you model the entire orchestration and a business vis-à-vis IT service
impact intelligence. And this needs to be placed in-stream without creating
ripples in the existing environment. An SIM toolkit (from the likes of BMC
Software) gives you real time service-specific views and reports and lets you
trip alarms and implement remedial steps when something unexpected is detected.
This data is picked up from CMDB data stores.

Federated Data Model
In a federated model, data is marshaled according to the entity or area it is
attached to. One would use an FDM with a CMDB implementation so that specific IT
assets can be attached to their respective accounting, SLAs, POs,
troubleshooting tickets and so forth. Such a structure can increase the
responsiveness of your IT and helps with compliance. It provides for an easier
and quicker view of your IT assets and what technologies are being tied in
where, enabling you to control critical changes more accurately. The FDM can
also help reduce information silos, reducing unexpected results when changes are
made.

Business Process Modeling
Using UML (Unified Modeling Language), one can assess the enterprise business
architecture and its internal relationships including organizational structure
and data. BPM is used within the company to model various entities, information
capture and release points and explore the relationships and requirements versus
delivery to find out if optimal processes are being followed. In tune with this,
there is an organization called the BPMI that overseas standards being evolved
for business process management. So far, the sub-group Object Management Group
has adopted two standards, viz. BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) and
BMM (Business Motivational Model). Further a specification called the SVBR
(Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules) has been adopted.

Shared services
This is a popular trend in managed services. You go in for outside management of
your IT to decrease your OpEx. When an MSP can create a common pool of resources
for its customers and provides its services out of that pool, the cost of his
operations from that pool goes down. This is subsequently passed on to you.

Multi-play Networks
Enterprises go in for WANs because this offers them a dedicated pipe between its
offices, data centers and other points of presence or commerce. WANs also let
the enterprise enjoy the additional benefits like utilizing the extra bandwidth
available for VoIP. The SBI Connect network implemented by the Datacraft for the
SBI Group lets SBI switch to VoIP for calls between all their branches rather
than go through the PSTN network. This reduces the cost of operations on non-IT
areas (like communications).

Other favorites include managed voice services where an MSP provides the
enterprise with VoIP along with security features, redundancy and quality of
services. ISPs in India are providing such services on a pay-per-use model.
Similarly, rather than setting up your own infrastructure for VPN services, an
MSP can provide you connection end-points while managing the ‘how’ of it
transparently. Common SLA parameters include round-trip times, supported
protocols, security, redundancy and reporting.

Managed Applications
This is not about managing updates and patches. We are referring to the
management of enterprise/business applications. The new model seems to be SaaS
(Software as a Service) where the application is hosted with an ASP (Application
Service Provider). In such cases, the background of the application, its
upgrades, maintenance and so on, is completely transparent to the user
enterprise. The most successful player in this field is the CRM service
provider: SalesForce.com. SalesForce.com
have evolved a partnership model where partner organizations like TCS, Wipro and
Satyam (in India) provide customized versions of the application to their
customers. These customizations can range from simple style sheets and skinning
to complete reconfiguration of the modules involved to different conditions and
customizations for particular industries.

Not only do these MASP (Managed Application Service Providers) manage their
own applications, but some of them like HP and IBM can also manage your SAP,
Siebel and PeopleSoft applications. Here, the application consultant (MASP)
works with you on understanding your problems and demands of the software and
tries to solve them by releasing custom modules and patches. MSPs can pull in
their expertise and manpower from similar other projects and come out with even
their own releases of the application that better suits your need.

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