Friday, April 23, 2010

It’s about the Service not the Servers

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The role of the IT administrator is evolving from proactive support (although some of us have very reactive environments) to service automation.  Microsoft's framework to enable  IT administrators to implement service models is Systems Center, Service Manager and Opalis.  Opalis is a workflow engine from Microsoft that was  recently acquired and allows you to automate Systems Center components.  The new challenge for IT administrators is to be able to create a “Service Definitions”.  A service definition includes all tiers of a business application  including the optimal performance or baseline of the business application and the knowledge to remediate problems if they occur.  So what does this mean in the context of Systems Center? well customizing management packs in Operations Manager, designing workflow logic in Opalis and defining remediation events in Configuration Manager to react to changes in the environment.  This adds some significant complexity to the existing IT environment however this is clearly a strong focus in the software industry as they all build on existing workflow frameworks (i.e. VMware LifeCycle Manager, Citrix Workflow Studio).  Clearly this will require a reorganization of IT teams to bring application knowledge, infrastructure, network expertise and process understanding closer together to map all the pieces and processes surrounding a business application.  Once  modeled or mapped the logic can be defined and the processes that should be automated can be automated.  Having worked with customers in traditional or silo’d IT environments to complete this business application mapping it can be very time consuming as often the information rests with individuals in an organization and not in well documented business processes.  Even though this will be challenging, internal IT teams cannot afford not to evolve as the software vendors continue to push for this level of automation in Cloud services that continue to mature.

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