Process activities, methods and techniques. The Availability Management process depends heavily on the measurement of service and component achievements with regard to availability.
The Availability Management process depends heavily on the measurement of service and component achievements with regard to availability.
‘If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it’
‘If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it’
‘If you don’t measure it, you probably don’t care’
‘If you can’t influence or control it, then don’t measure it’
‘What to measure and how to report it’ inevitably depends on which activity is being supported, who the recipients are and how the information is to be utilized. It is important to recognize the differing perspectives of availability to ensure measurement and reporting satisfies these varied needs:
In order to satisfy the differing perspectives of availability, Availability Management needs to consider the spectrum of measures needed to report the ‘same’ level of availability in different ways. Measurements need to be meaningful and add value if availability measurement and reporting are ultimately to deliver benefit to the IT and business organizations. This is influenced strongly by the combination of ‘what you measure’ and ‘how you report it’.
22.214.171.124 The reactive activities of Availability Management
Monitor, measure, analyse and report service andcomponentavailability
A key output from the Availability Management process is the measurement and reporting of IT availability. Availability measures should be incorporated into SLAs, OLAs and any underpinning contracts. These should be reviewed regularly at Service Level review meetings. Measurement and reporting provide the basis for:
The IT service provider organizations have, for many years, measured and reported on their perspective of availability. Traditionally these measures have concentrated on component availability and have been somewhat divorced from the business and user views. Typically these traditional measures are based on a combination of an availability percentage (%), time lost and the frequency of failure. Some examples of these traditional measures are as follows:
The business may have, for many years, accepted that the IT availability that they experience is represented in terms of component availability rather than overall service or business availability. However, this is no longer being viewed as acceptable and the business is keen to better represent availability in measure(s) that demonstrate the positive and negative consequences of IT availability on their business and users.
The most important availability measurements are those that reflect and measure availability from the business and user perspective.
Availability Management needs to consider availability from both a business/IT service provider perspective and from an IT component perspective. These are entirely different aspects, and while the underlying concept is similar, the measurement, focus and impact are entirely different.
The sole purpose of producing these availability measurements and reports, including those from the business perspective, is to improve the quality and availability of IT service provided to the business and users. All measures, reports and activities should reflect this purpose.
Availability, when measured and reported to reflect the experience of the user, provides a more representative view on overall IT service quality. The user view of availability is influenced by three factors:
Measurements and reporting of user availability should therefore embrace these factors. The methodology employed to reflect user availability could consider two approaches:
The method employed should be influenced by the nature of the business operation. A business operation supporting data entry activity is well suited to reporting that reflects user productivity loss. Business operations that are more customer-facing, e.g. ATM services, benefit from reporting transaction impact. It should also be noted that not all business impact is user-related. With increasing automation and electronic processing, the ability to process automated transactions or meet market cut-off times can also have a large financial impact that may be greater than the ability of users to work.
The IT support organization needs to have a keen awareness of the user experience of availability. However, the real benefits come from aggregating the user view into the overall business view. A guiding principle of the Availability Management process is that ‘Improving availability can only begin when the way technology supports the business is understood’. Therefore Availability Management isn’t just about understanding the availability of each IT component, but is all about understanding the impact of component failure on service and user availability. From the business perspective, an IT service can only be considered available when the business is able to perform all vital business functions required to drive the business operation. For the IT service to be available, it therefore relies on all components on which the service depends being available, i.e. systems, key components, network, data and applications.
The traditional IT approach would be to measure individually the availability of each of these components. However, the true measure of availability has to be based on the positive and negative impacts on the VBFs on which the business operation is dependent. This approach ensures that SLAs and IT availability reporting are based on measures that are understood by both the business and IT. By measuring the VBFs that rely on IT services, measurement and reporting becomes business-driven, with the impact of failure reflecting the consequences to the business. It is also important that the availability of the services is defined and agreed with the business and reflected within SLAs. This definition of availability should include:
Reporting and analysis tools are required for the manipulation of data stored in the various databases utilized by Availability Management. These tools can either be platform- or PC-based and are often a combination of the two. This will be influenced by the database repository technologies selected and the complexity of data processing and reporting required. Availability Management, once implemented and deployed, will be required to produce regular reports on an agreed basis, e.g. monthly availability reports, Availability Plan, Service Failure Analysis (SFA) status reports, etc. The activities involved within these reporting activities can require much manual effort and the only solution is to automate as much of the report generation activity as possible. For reporting purposes, organizational reporting standards should be used wherever possible. If these don’t exist, IT standards should be developed so that IT reports can be developed using standard tools and techniques. This means that the integration and consolidation of reports will subsequently be much easier to achieve.