Our research in the field of operational IT management has yielded much in the way of rich, down to earth insights into day to day realities, thanks to the readers of El Reg. As part of this ongoing exploration, we’ve had the opportunity to dig around a bit on the topic of best practice frameworks.
What we found would not surprise anyone with practical experience of them, but is of use to anyone considering employing them. In a nutshell, ITIL (for example) was designed for large IT shops / large organisations, and it is unsafe to assume that a smaller shop could reap the same benefits by slavishly following it to the letter in their own environment. On the up side, we found that smaller IT shops could benefit from adopting ‘the spirit of’, or ‘the best bits’ for their own specific requirements. In fact, this approach was found to be useful for any size of business.
Fast forward to the here and now, and given what we know about the uptake in virtualisation technology, there are inevitable questions relating to the management of IT environments which now contain a mixture of virtual and non-virtualised technologies.
As Jon Collins recently asked: “Are the framework approaches to IT service management still relevant”? They were originally designed in an era when change was relatively glacial in comparison to the possibilities offered up by virtualisation. Now that this technology is increasingly in use and gives us the possibility at least of responding to changing requirements much faster than we used to be able to, are the frameworks up to it?
A good place to start thinking about that question may simply be to consider IT management in its most basic form – that of a series of change management requests and tasks. If virtualisation provides the wherewithal to respond very quickly to the changes your business wants or needs, how do we decide how to deliver the best practices required to help us achieve them consistently?
If we dig a little deeper, how does virtualisation impact the operational areas covered by the other pillars of ITIL? For example (to pick two of them), service level management may initially falter under teething problems associated with bringing people up to speed with new technologies but subsequently become a slicker entity because of them. Capacity management on the other hand, takes on a new importance as virtualisation drives up utilisation rates.
On a positive note, following a formal methodology means that to some degree or other, there is existing documentation and awareness of practical ‘best practice’ (one would hope) already laid out. That could be a pretty useful head start for an IT organisation wondering where the impact of introducing more and more virtualisation technology into their IT environment might be felt. The existing management methodology in use might not have the answers going forwards, but it will provide at the very least a reminder of the key areas to be aware of.