Reaping the benefits of digital transformation is not always as easy as it seems. Many organizations are confronted with complex issues when they try to align different IT-systems and platforms.
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For example, new IT solutions need to be integrated with legacy systems while mission critical processes remain operational. IT services may have been outsourced to third parties which adds an extra layer of communication when changes or incidents need to be managed. Above all, in situations where multiple systems and managed service provides (MSP’s) are involved, IT management can become so complicated it actually reduces overall efficiency.
At a large Dutch mail and parcel corporation, a substantial part of IT services are outsourced in ‘lots’ to several IT Managed Service Providers. Although this ensures best in class hard- and software for mission critical operations, it also means incident resolution and root-cause analysis can become very complex. Parcel machines might operate on software of vendor x, while a telecom carrier ensures the machine can be operated through an application from vendor y. At the moment the application fails to respond or is inaccessible, it may be difficult to quickly locate the source of the problem because one of three parties (or more!) may be involved.
To mitigate this complexity, mission critical IT was outsourced to Schuberg Philis. Founded in 2001, Schuberg Philis is a Dutch company that focuses on mission critical IT outsourcing and offers Service Integration and Management (SIAM) services supported by the IT operations management modules of ServiceNow. The ServiceNow platform enables Schuberg Philis to monitor and control the entire IT landscape, including components (referred to as Configuration Items or CI’s) maintained by other providers.
To gain insight into the IT landscape underlying CI’s, Plat4mation implemented a service-aware configuration management database (CMDB), armed with Service Mapping technology, to identify and make visible the interrelationships and criticality of different CI’s for services and business processes. For example, which server is participating in a “real-time online ordering” process and can’t tolerate any downtime, which server is part of the “batch processing service” which is supposed to work one hour per day? By making all interdependencies visible, it is easier to troubleshoot incidents.
Moreover, the Service layer built on top of CMDB enables organization to translate purely technical events happening on IT infrastructure to business language recognizable by business stakeholders.
In addition, ServiceNow Event Management is used to ensure central collection of monitoring events and association to the right CI. Using ‘Event rules’ it is possible to transform incoming messages to incidents, pager calls, possibly invoke automation. Because events are associated to a CI (who in turn is associated to a service with a certain criticality), it is possible to distinct between mission critical and less severe incidents. For example, if one of four application server nodes suffers an outage, this probably won’t jeopardize operations, since the other three nodes can take over. But if the related load balancer fails, this would be a major incident, because operations may be severely impacted or ceased altogether.
Ideally, organizations that work with multiple managed service providers aim to move to an ‘agility scenario’, which not only enables them to monitor all CI’s in their IT landscape, but also provides for (partial) automation of incident resolution or respond to incidents that are about to happen based on predictive analytics.
If you would like to know more about SIAM, complex IT environments and how to keep control of IT operations, we cordially invite you to join us at our annual Managed Service Providers event on May 29th in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. We will further elaborate on the case with Schuberg Philis, offer our take on the ever higher standards that are set for managed service providers and also show how DevOps and ITSM can converge to enable you to grow a more efficient organization.
Please note that this event is in Dutch.
Click here for more information about the Managed Service Providers event.
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