On log management solutions

Ok, so you know ITIL right? As I have been in day-to-day IT management for some time now, here some thoughts on IT service management from the angles of customer orientation!

ITIL is essentially a set of proven standards and methodologies in IT Service Management in order to be able to better align Business and IT. In short, it defines a number of processes across Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement. Many large organizations have embraced and adopted the framework. However, it is important to realize that ITIL is essentially a top-down and demand-driven approach. Built on best practices, who am I to contest its usefulness and benefits it may have on the inner workings of IT departments and operations teams. But apart from the framework, there is still much to be refined. In order to really achieve operational integrity, a bottom-up approach from the supply-side is vital too. By this I mean that vendors should be able to quantify the services they deliver. They should drive the car and become a strategic partner.

Here’s what an IT services company should strive for: productivity gains, operational effectiveness and higher margins.  Improving productivity is not so hard to achieve if done properly. For example, one can build an employee-effort tracking dashboard which enables managers to keep track of each team member’s contribution as well as to monitor overall work output. In terms of IT Service Management, one can impose stringent SLAs. So if incidents or service requests are not being dealt with fast enough, the vendor may get penalized.

Achieving operational effectiveness is a bit harder. I think it is more about becoming proactive from being reactive. Incident management and its likes are sort of event-driven. This is in essence running behind the facts. There’s nothing wrong with fire fighting of course. But what if you fight the fire leaving the gas valve open? Not good! What I am trying to say is this: if something goes wrong in the daily operations, you better know why before your client stands next to you. Fix it before it happens! Prevent incidents from happening. For example, assume someone applied the wrong steps in executing a batch job. Well, then you better know who ran the job, at what time and what the job does! You need operational accountability. If an anomaly occurs, you need to immediately pinpoint and mitigate the same. It is about measuring, analytics and log management. Then only you can better control IT and get visibility in what is going on.  Never underestimate the powerfulness of a log management platform: it done continuously and meticulously,  it will allow you to collect information from a variety of data sources and let you discover usage patterns, give you metrics that you can feed back in to other systems and better leverage on information in general. But remember that log management should be enforced organisational wide. And eventually, if the base line implementation works, it will result in economic benefits. You can do more with less! And then I didn’t even touch on the security and auditing drivers.

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