Management architectures

IT must manage costs, deliver the right services at the right time, secure information assets, provide dependable service and lead the business in leveraging technologies. This requires automated procedures and management tools in order to achieve this effectively and efficiently. The selection of an appropriate management architecture is key to establishing the required level of control and automation. There are two separate approaches to developing a management architecture:

  • Selecting a proprietary management architecture: this is based on selecting a single set of management products and tools from a single proprietary management solutions supplier. This approach will normally require less effort, will support and integrate within an overall tool architecture, but will often mean that compromises will have to be made with management functionality and facilities, which may result in gaps.
  • Selecting a best of breed architecture: this approach involves the selection of a set of best of breed management tools and products from a number of management solutions suppliers and then integrating them to provide a comprehensive management solution. This will generally require more effort in the integration of the tools into a single comprehensive management solution but will often provide greater management functionality and facilities leading to long-term cost savings.

The challenges for IT management are to coordinate and work in partnership with the business in the building of these management solutions, supporting the appropriate processes and providing the required measurements and metrics. This has to be achieved while reducing or optimizing the costs involved, particularly the annual, ongoing costs. The best way of minimizing costs is to design cleverly and carefully for example, making best use of capacity so that additional capacity is not unnecessarily bought (with its associated ongoing costs), or designing a backup/recovery solution that doesnt require a complete additional set of infrastructure. Considerable costs can be saved by intelligent and careful design, using technology that is supportable and causes few problems in the operational environment.

The main method of realizing these goals is to design solutions that give a reduction in the overall network management and support costs, while maintaining or even improving the quality of service delivered to the business.

To gain the greatest benefit from the use of the Four Ps, organizations should determine the roles of processes and people, and then implement the tools to automate the processes, facilitating peoples roles and tasks. The best way of achieving this is to develop a model or architecture based on these principles. This architecture should facilitate the implementation of a set of integrated tools and processes that support end-to-end management of all areas of the technology used, ensuring that there are no gaps and no technical silos.

However, IT faces a big challenge in developing and maintaining the soft skills required to perform these management roles and processes effectively. In the truly efficient organizations, these roles and processes are aligned to those of the business. This ensures that the business and IT Management processes and information have similar targets and goals. However, all too often, organizations devote insufficient time and effort to the development of the soft skills (for example, interpersonal skills, communication skills, meeting skills) necessary for the processes and the business alignment to be effectively achieved.

There are five areas that need to be considered with regard to the design of a management architecture, as illustrated in Figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10 Integrated business-driven technology management

The relationships between these architectural perspectives can be seen in the above diagram. The development, documentation and maintenance of business and IT architectures will typically form part of the processes of strategic thinking and strategy development in the organization.

These five management areas to be considered can be briefly defined as:

  • Business: the needs, requirements, processes, objectives and goals of the business units and managers within the organization
  • People: the scope, tasks and activities of the managers and staff involved in the management of the provision of IT services
  • Processes: the processes and procedures used to manage IT services to the business and its customers
  • Tools: the management and support tools required to effectively manage the IT infrastructure
  • Technology: the IT products and technology used to deliver the service and information to the right person, in the right place at the right time.

Such an architecture can be used to design and implement efficient, effective and integrated management solutions that are aligned to the business requirements of the organization and its Business Managers. This management architecture can be applied within an organization to:

  • Design from the top down, ensuring that the Service Management and technology management processes, tools and information are aligned with the business needs and goals
  • Implement from the bottom up, ensuring that efficient and effective Service Management and technology management processes are fully integrated with the tools and technology in use within the organization
  • Integrate processes and tools, ensuring greater exploitation of tools in the management and support of technology and end-to-end processes.

These bullet points are also illustrated in Figure 3.10.

The key to the development of a management architecture is to ensure that it is driven by business needs and not developed for IT needs in isolation:

Management architectures need to be:

... business aligned, NOT technology driven.

Within this overall structure, a management architecture is needed that can be applied to all areas of IT Management and not just to individual isolated areas. This can then be implemented in a coordinated programme of inter-working, to provide overall end-to-end Enterprise Management so essential to the effective management of todays IT infrastructure. If only individual areas buy into the architecture, then individual islands of excellence will develop and it will be impossible to provide the complete end-to-end solutions required to support todays e-business solutions.

As well as ensuring that all areas of the IT are integrated, it is vital that the management architecture is developed from the business and service perspective (i.e. top down). Therefore, the key elements to agree and define before developing the management architecture are:

  • Management of the business processes: What are the business processes and how do they relate to network and IT services and components?
  • Management of service quality: What is service quality? How and where will it be measured?

These are the key elements that need to be determined by SLM and IT Management. They provide crucial input to the development of business-focused management architectures. All too often management tools and processes have been focused on components and component management rather than services and business processes. This needs to be changed, with emphasis clearly on the design of management systems, processes and tools that are driven by business needs and are focused on the management of business processes and IT services. If the appropriate management architecture is designed and implemented, this will allow Service Management processes to focus on managing services and service quality and operate from end-to-end across the entire IT enterprise, providing true Enterprise Service Management. This will truly facilitate the management of services to ensure that services and service quality are closely aligned to the needs of the business.

The architectures described suggest that the future of network and systems management will be less focused on the technology and become more integrated with the overall requirements of the business and IT Management. These new systems and processes are already starting to evolve as the management standards for the exchange of management information between tools become more fully defined, by organizations such as the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). In essence, management systems will become:

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