The New Enterprise IT Services Model -- What are the building blocks?
We define the 3 main components of a distributed computing infrastructure and point out potential trouble areas
In implementing the New Enterprise infrastructure, you need to concentrate on the three Ps: planning, process, and people. We explain each piece and make recommendations regarding such issues as staffing, organization, mentoring, and training. (1,000 words)
One of the main objectives of the New Enterprise IT should be to implement production-quality infrastructures for the distributed computing environment. Frequently, in our many travels, we continue to come across environments in which applications are being deployed without regard to the infrastructure services that should support them. When transitioning and/or implementing new distributed client/server systems it is essential to implement the necessary systems management tools, operational processes, and service levels to effectively manage the more complex environment. In this month's column we are providing our proven services model to accomplish this. We break down the model into the three Ps: planning, process and procedures, and people.
Plan, plan, and plan some more
The most important piece of the puzzle is planning. We must first define and develop a plan for supporting the new distributed model. Many corporations plan their applications and applications architecture; but in the effort to deploy new systems in a timely manner they neglect to develop a plan for the infrastructure. We strongly recommend that the infrastructure support plan be deemed as important as the applications architecture plan. The plan should look at the current environment and provide a step-by-step approach to supporting the new one. We discussed this planning methodology in more detail in our March column when we talked about Information Technology Infrastructure Planning (ITIP) (see Resources).
Process and procedures
The New Enterprise IT Service Model's second section is centered on process and procedures. We have depicted the appropriate set of process and procedures in our Systems Management Implementation Model shown in figure 1. Continuing the operations support role, we recommend implementation of the processes and procedures that support high reliability, availability, serviceability, and manageability in the new networked enterprise. Each function is broken into groups according the service level it provides. The CSPA (Client/Server Production Acceptance) Process is at the top of the pyramid because it is the umbrella for establishing communication and management of the entire environment. We discussed each of the systems management processes and procedures in our February column, "What `lights-out' really means." We also discussed our number one priority, the CSPA, in other columns as well (see Resources).
Once the planning is complete, and the process and procedures are defined, it becomes necessary to begin implementation of the tools, standards, and support infrastructure for the open distributed environment. Another important component in distributed computing is automating the environment through systems management tools. Why define the processes first? Because the tools are only as good as the processes behind them -- then to support your enterprise and be proactive you must automate the environment! There are many tools available now. You'll probably need scalable, heterogeneous tools that can grow with the environment.
People: The final "P"
Now that we have provided the planning and process and procedures we must focus on the people issues to complete the model. The New Enterprise IT must think of itself as a service organization. The best way to look at this is to think about the requirements of a service provider that you would contract to supplement your services. If you contract for services you expect the vendor to provide the expertise. This should be no different in the New Enterprise IT. The key asset for any service organization is addressing the people issues. We say it over and over again. It is not the technology issues; it's the people issues. Here are a few of the most important areas to look at when addressing the people issues.
The New Enterprise IT must be organized to support the networked computing model. We provide our view of the organizational structure in our third book titled Networking the New Enterprise. We must have our internal "house" in order before we can expect to help others. Publishing the organizational structure also provides the IT staff with a view of potential career opportunities.
Staffing should be based on the organizational structure and the new IT model of "doing more with less." We must provide equal or better levels of service at lower costs to be effective. The best ways to control costs and provide effective service is to standardize and invest in tools and provide the right staffing to meet the new service model. Key areas to focus on are systems administration, networking, database administration, and production control. When someone asks us what staffing we would recommend to get started in distributed systems our answer is always related to these four. Production control is probably one of the most important because we have seen, in the past, companies tending to staff the other functions while leaving out production control. This is especially the case in organizations that have no mainframe experience. To be effective, the New Enterprise IT must define and implement a production control function. We like to define production as any system, network, application, or database that requires RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability) as identified in our systems management model. Once you define your scope of production in the new model, there must be a group accountable for delivery and ownership of the production environment -- this is production control.
We have found that providing mentoring programs is crucial. Many organizations go into the client/server, distributed model without any in-house expertise. In most cases they have read a lot of press indicating that new applications can be implemented without expertise in Unix, relational database management systems, and operations. In fact, some IT organizations have cut their operations staff (or outsourced them) because they were told the functions were no longer required. Wrong! You must have the expertise internally to succeed. We recommend implementing a mentoring program to help bring your staff forward. If you do not have the expertise internally, there are consulting firms that can provide mentoring programs.
One of most important functions of any service organization is training. To provide effective levels of service and be proactive in supporting the environment, the New Enterprise IT must invest in and provide training for the staff. For some reason, companies seem to continually push off training because there is no budget (or the budget gets cut), or they simply do not have or make the time. We expect service vendors we do business with to have the expertise -- why shouldn't we? You must focus on training and have training programs in place to move forward. And, you can in fact "teach old dogs new tricks" so we always recommend training the existing staff. Why? They understand your business!
About the author
Harris Kern (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Sun's Open Systems Migration Consultant for NAAFO Market Development. Randy Johnson (email@example.com) owns R 38;H Associates, a full-time rightsizing consultancy in Boulder Creek, CA. R&H Associates helps people worldwide in implementing and supporting client/server infrastructures based on their proven methodologies. © 1997 Harris Kern and Randy Johnson. All rights reserved.
Harris Kern and Randy Johnson are authors of Rightsizing The New Enterprise: The Proof, Not the Hype and coauthors of Managing The New Enterprise: The Proof, Not the Hype, and Networking The New Enterprise: The Proof, Not the Hype. You can buy these at Amazon.com Books. Select the hyperlinks to learn more about each and Amazon.com.
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