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Challenges, Critical Success Factors and risks

Availability Management faces many challenges, but probably the main challenge is to actually meet the expectations of the customers, the business and senior management. These expectations are that services will always be available not just during their agreed service hours, but that all services will be available on a 24-hour, 365-day basis. When they aren’t, it is assumed that they will be recovered within minutes. This is only the case when the appropriate level of investment and design has been applied to the service, and this should only be made where the business impact justifies that level of investment. However, the message needs to be publicized to all customers and areas of the business, so that when services do fail they have the right level of expectation on their recovery. It also means that Availability Management must have access to the right level of quality information on the current business need for IT services and its plans for the future. This is another challenge faced by many Availability Management processes.

Another challenge facing Availability Management is the integration of all of the availability data into an integrated set of information (AMIS) that can be analysed in a consistent manner to provide details on the availability of all services and components. This is particularly challenging when the information from the different technologies is often provided by different tools in differing formats.

Yet another challenge facing Availability Management is convincing the business and senior management of the investment needed in proactive availability measures. Investment is always recognized once failures have occurred, but by then it is really too late. Persuading businesses and customers to invest in resilience to avoid the possibility of failures that may happen is a difficult challenge. Availability Management should work closely with Service Continuity Management, Security Management and Capacity Management in producing the justifications necessary to secure the appropriate investment.

The main CSFs for the Availability Management process are:

  • Manage availability and reliability of IT service
  • Satisfy business needs for access to IT services
  • Availability of IT infrastructure, as documented in SLAs, provided at optimum costs.

Some of the major risks associated with Availability Management include:

  • A lack of commitment from the business to the Availability Management process
  • A lack of commitment from the business and a lack of appropriate information on future plans and strategies
  • A lack of senior management commitment or a lack of resources and/or budget to the Availability Management process
  • The reporting processes become very labour-intensive
  • The processes focus too much on the technology and not enough on the services and the needs of the business
  • The Availability Management information (AMIS) is maintained in isolation and is not shared or consistent with other process areas, especially ITSCM, Security Management and Capacity Management. This investment is particularly important when considering the necessary service and component backup and recovery tools, technology and processes to meet the agreed needs.

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