Sharing management information between service providers and customers: Integration across organizational boundaries.

IT services more and more consist of services provided by external providers. Significant portions of the infrastructure are not directly managed by the IT departments. The latest trends in the enterprise space, Shared services, SaaS, SOA, outsourcing, etc. suggest that this is not a temporary phenomena.
IT organizations (as well as IT management vendors) need to adjust to the new requirements introduced with this new landscape.

So the question is: how can you do end to end management of a service when the infrastructure for the service depends on combination of multiple internal and external service providers?

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Are the software vendors better off supporting the virtual machine as the platform?

Supporting many different platforms (windows, flavors of unix, etc.) is a major challenge for software vendors. One one hand vendors would like to support as many platforms as possible simply because customers demand it, on the other hand every supported platform brings extra support overhead and spreads the resources which is not good for anyone. At the end, the vendors want to focus on their own products rather than dealing with the idiosyncrasies of different flavors of Unix, and customers want to make sure the platform they use has strong support (and they are not the odd ball).

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Shai Benjamin joins the team

The value of working with the best people cannot be overstated, nor needs any explanation. As such, I'm thrilled to announce that Shai Benjamin will be working with us.

I had the privilege to work with Shai previously at Smarts prior to the EMC acquisition. Shai has a rare blend of qualities, combining supreme understanding of the theory, extensive field experience, and great social skills that make it pleasure to work with him. As good as it gets quite frankly.

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Where are all the IT blogs?

I think it's safe to say that blogging is no longer limited to the techie realm. There are now blogs about anything and everything. Technorati is currently tracking more than 57 million blogs, 100,000 new blogs per day. Amazing numbers!

Yet I find myself struggling to find blogs about IT that are written by IT folks. To be sure, there are many blogs about IT, written by vendors, analysts, consultants, etc. but very few blogs by the people who are in the field. I've gone through the blogrolls, searched google, technorati etc. and found only a handful blogs (granted it may be my search skills). Not only that there aren't many blogs by IT people, the participation in the existing blogs via comments, etc. is also quite low. Why is that?

As I reflected on before, blogging as a communications tool is invaluable for us, but I think blogging as a means to connect with others would be even more valuable for the people in the trenches. Share experiences, exchange stories, learn from one another, find out what works and what does not, etc.

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Event management patterns: Information at your finger tips :)

Why is the purpose of "integration"? Improving operational efficiencies is one reason. It does not make sense for operations folks to hunt down information about a problem in different systems. They need to be able to access the data seamlessly as they go through their processes instead of thinking about where they find which data, deal with the hassle of working with different products. Information needs to be at their finger tips so to speak...

I had written a post about a typical support process to aid in future discussions on integration, it may help setting the stage here as well. "Event views" are very common front ends for operations folks. Consolidating events into a single locations and providing view to the users have been the most commonly seen approach to provide the information necessary for operations in the operations centers.

 

There are handful of widely used patterns we see in the user interfaces when implementing the approach stated above:

 

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Are best in class infrastructure providers a viable alternative for companies?

Last month, I've read a post by James Governor of RedMonk (an analyst firm specialized enough to actually know what they are talking about :) where James talked about the "best practices" vs "best infrastructure" inquiring whether SMBs would be better off using infrastructure provided by large service providers like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. and if SMBs do choose to use these services more and more what would be the impact of this in the industry.

In the comments, I had pointed out the differences between the "best infrastructure" and "best service (support)". I keep running into this theme so I wanted to write more about it, if for no other reason to clarify my own thinking.

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Smarts Dynamic Model: RapidConnector to the rescue!

In a series of posts on dynamic model, I've gone through extending the Smarts model using the dynamic model capabilities. As discussed, extending the model is not all that hard. Some things are very straight forward, others require looking at some examples etc. Unfortunately, using SNMP instrumentation is quite difficult, and often beyond the capabilities of mere mortals like the author of this post.

Fortunately, SNMP is not the only instrumentation method available. It is possible to instrument the objects using the remote Smarts API with one of the available languages ASL, Java or Perl, provided that you're familiar with the Smarts API.

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Best organizational structure for Business Services Management ?

Doug McClure has an insightful post where he describes the landscape most of us face when trying to implement a BSM solution.

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RapidOSS authorization: Who can do what ?

So you want to create a dashboard and provide IT management data such as status of services, events, trouble tickets, etc. to your internal/external customers. Problem is that you have a shared infrastructure, the tools you are using contains management information for all customers, and many management tools out there in the wild do not provide a mechanism to control who should have access to what, who should be able to do what, etc.

Typically most tools do provide a way to filter events, but event based filtering is often not enough. For example, if you want to provide data about network devices (containment, etc.) to the customers, you also need to be able to provide access to some devices and not others.

And what if you want the users be able to take some actions? For example, how can you control, which users can acknowledge or update an event and which cannot? In addition, how do you do all this, if there are multiple management tools with varying degrees of authorization control?

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Smarts Dynamic Model: Instrumentation voodoo

In the previous couple of posts about Smarts dynamic model, I've added a new class, created new properties and defined events using Smarts MODEL language. Our use case has been monitoring of applications and I've demonstrated how dynamic model can be used to easily add the necessary functionality.

I had not yet worked on how to instrument the object properties (so far used dmctl commands to simulate property value changes). The main instrumentation method in Smarts is SNMP. If there is an SNMP agent that reports the status of applications we'd like to monitor, we can use the SNMP instrumentation mechanism to poll the agent to monitor the status of the applications.

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