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Computerworld Accel Ops Tech Briefing


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This ComputerWorld guide provides a quick read and insights on the most pressing issues, practices and considerations regarding IT service management. Each topic provides pertinent takeaways and an online reference to facilitate further examination. You\'ll also learn how advancing IT organizations from technology-based cost centers into service-oriented business enablers can yield greater support of business requirements, reduced risk and improved operational efficiencies even in the midst of budget cuts and added resource constraints. Enjoy with our compliments -- Sponsored by AccelOps, Inc.

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Computerworld Accel Ops Tech Briefing

  1. 1. computerworld TechnologY BrIefIngS IT ServIce ManageMenT Quick Insights on Consolidation, Data Center and IT Service Management Virtualization, Spending, Syndrome Business Service Management, Enabling Data Center and IT SLAs and Cloud Computing Service Management for the Mid-tier Enterprise Companies rely on the data center and IT to Today’s mid-tier enterprises are charged with the challenge of pro- provide mission-critical services like e-mail, Web viding mission critical services in the face of increasing technologi- and voice. However, assuring service delivery and cal complexity and modest budgets. Aligning resources, employing reliability becomes increasingly difficult as the best practices and leveraging technologies can help IT organiza- necessary growth in data center virtualization, tions cut through the complexity, be more responsive to business distributed and mobile access, cloud-based appli- requirements and meet service level expectations. cations and outsourced service technologies fuel operational complexity. Data center and IT organi- zations respond by evolving processes and build- This guide is designed to provide mid-tier enterprises with a quick ing out workgroup specialties such as networks, read and insights on the most pressing issues, practices and operations, applications, security and help desk considerations regarding consolidation, virtualization, spending, that serve to scale management. Unfortunately, business service management, service level agreements and cloud this can also produce departmental silos, reduced computing. Each topic provides pertinent takeaways and an online IT responsiveness and blurred service capacity. reference to facilitate further examination. You’ll also learn how Furthermore, enterprise expansion often drives advancing IT organizations from technology-based cost centers the procurement of specialized tools designed into service-oriented business enablers can yield greater support to manage the infrastructure from a component, rather than a service, perspective. of business requirements, reduced risk and improved operational efficiencies even in the midst of budget cuts and added resource The growth in data center and IT complexity, constraints. potential blind spots and inefficiencies due to operational silos, and disparate IT management Brought to you tools — or in some cases the lack of tools in compliments of mid-tier IT organizations — contribute to service delivery risks, outages and degradation. These is- sues diminish an effective means to monitor and optimize service levels, manage change, quickly find and resolve the root cause of problems, and automate compliance efforts. Real-WoRld InsIghts fRom ComputeRWoRld stRategIC paRtneR Content
  2. 2. To improve service reliability, vices, or the applications or databases? If so, did organizations must be able to the change occur from a known admin account see and manage all aspects of and workstation? Is the virtualization server in performance, availability and the process of moving the virtual host containing security related to that service. the application or the database server from one This requires a fully integrated physical machine to another? Are there known approach to capture, correlate unpatched security vulnerabilities on the server? and manage operational data, If the problem is caused by a security vulner- consolidate core IT manage- ability, how was it exploited, who is the attacker, ment functions, and automate and who else was affected? Are any workstations service definition and SLA showing abnormal traffic flow? tracking. Until now, available IT management tools have either been too expensive, very labor intensive or In many cases, the problem is indeed one of lacking in required integration. the above. Sometimes, however, another user is downloading a large file or watching streaming The AccelOps all-in-one data center and IT service management solution media that is clogging up a shared router inter- provides infrastructure oversight and controls to advance service reliability face, and the problem automatically goes away across performance, availability and security dimensions. Delivered as virtual when the other user is done. appliance software or Software as a Service (SaaS), AccelOps links the infra- The question is, how quickly can problems be structure directly to business and business services. This brings the manage- pinpointed, prioritized and resolved to maintain ment of the data center/IT as service to the forefront and, in turn, enables the service levels with the best use of IT staff and organization to better focus on quality, uptime and efficiency. technology resources? AccelOps puts the “who, what, where, when, why and how” at the operator’s Disparate IT management tools cannot cor- fingertips to monitor and enhance service levels, better optimize resources relate the data effectively or fast enough. The and further reduce business risk. AccelOps combines discovery, data aggrega- real problem of inferring the true root cause is tion, correlation, out-of-the-box analytics, data management and reporting to often left to the user. Even after the root cause is yield a single pane of glass into data center and IT operations and services. identified, getting to the true identity and current Integrated functionality includes the following: location of the offending user or host is another matter, as this information is spread across n Business service management and service mapping different management domains such as OS logs, n Performance management / network behavior analysis router configurations, VPN logs, etc. This lack n Availability management / service level agreement of automation and real-time visibility affects the n Security information event management organization’s capacity to keep an IT infrastruc- n Change control / automated CMDB ture healthy, with minimal service level disruption n Event / log consolidation with cross-correlation and degradation. n Identity, access and location management with directory service integration The AccelOps Approach n Network visualization and enterprise search AccelOps delivers a seamlessly integrated, uni- n Compliance and governance automation fied and service-oriented platform for the collec- tion, monitoring, precise drill-down, root-cause Why Disparate IT Management Tools Do Not Suffice analysis and detailed reporting on all IT events/ To fully understand the necessity of holistically managing the data center and logs and performance metrics that cuts through IT, consider the following scenario: A remote branch office worker reports a networks, systems, applications, vendors and slow application. Is the application really overloading the host, or is the data- technology boundaries. It provides data centers base server not responding fast enough? Is there another application on the and IT organizations the full context (who, what, same server that is competing for resources? Are the networks in between OK? where, when, why and how) at their fingertips at Is the storage network between the database server and the storage OK? Are any given time, and the necessary confidence the supporting network infrastructure services such as DNS and the domain and control in service delivery. controllers responsive? Did someone recently make a change to network de- ContInued on page 6 TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING • It seRvICe management foR mId-tIeR enteRpRIses 2
  3. 3. Service Level Matters Virtualization and SLA Definitions and Solutions Consolidation A service-level agreement (SLA) serves as the foundation for the level of ser- Virtualization 101 vice expected by a customer from a supplier or for service-driven organizations Virtualization technologies provide a layer of among business departments and IT. SLAs document the service, capabilities abstraction between hardware, devices, systems and reliability, as well as requirements, performance measurement, remedies and and the software running on them. The three basic penalties. SLAs should be designed to minimize or eliminate misinterpretation. categories of virtualization — storage, network and server — are the most common applications of the Service requisites should specify what services are provided, availability details, technology today. Virtualization offers a logical view the duties of each party, simple metrics, reporting processes, escalation and of computing resources rather than a conventional remedy procedures, dispute resolution, and cost/service tradeoffs. SLAs should physical view. be living documents with mechanisms in place for periodic review and updating. learn more about slas Virtualization helps IT departments do more with less by collecting disparate computing resources into shareable resources. This is presented in pools The IT Management Maturity Curve of storage, manageable network bandwidth, and the IT service management aligns information technology processes, controls and allocation of server operating systems, processors priorities to meet business demands while offering the promise of reducing risks and memory. This results in a reduction in hard- of service disruptions, realizing greater cost savings and enabling more assured ware, energy to cool that hardware and, potentially, service expansion. The concept of IT being run as a service, as opposed to personnel to manage it. However, virtualization can functional infrastructure and application silos, has gained significant adoption present challenges such as performance conflicts by many organizations. Leading IT standards such as ITIL, ISO and COBIT all and management deficiencies. Organizations need support the tenants of IT service management to better integrate IT according to to understand how the technology changes the way business objectives. a data center is managed, administered and oper- ated. CIOs, IT executives and data center directors seek to implement IT service learn more about virtualization, from management best practices to improve service responsiveness and drive down benefits to implementation challenges operational costs. Where your organization is positioned on the IT management maturity curve regarding activities and capabilities can provide some insight as tion_to_virtualization to where to invest in respective processes and supporting management tools that will progress service reliability, delivery and enhancement. Virtual Certainties take a moment to assess your It management maturity stage The benefits of virtualization are well known in terms of economics, consolidating resources, infrastructure simplification and green IT — but it No Virtualization Skills? Better Get Started is not a panacea. Organizations must consider the Virtualization skills are hot and in demand. While virtualization know-how will impact virtualization will have on system adminis- eventually become part of the standard skill set for system administrators, tration costs and whether the technology is likely today’s IT managers must dedicate resources to virtualization exclusively. To to increase complexity rather than reduce it. For avoid losing virtualization experts to other employers, companies should strike example, server virtualization has operational a balance between dedicated staff and domain expertise. Cross-team working benefits, as well as risks. As with any technology, groups, for example, can help companies leverage skill sets and optimize virtual- virtualization is only as good as the planning and ization investments. management that organizations put behind it. learn more about how virtualization should shape your hiring practices get a more holistic view of virtualization technologies started?page=1&taxonomyId=1448 certainties TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING • It seRvICe management foR mId-tIeR enteRpRIses 3
  4. 4. Best Practices structure, and the relationships among IT resources and business services. As an IT management offering, they provide a number of features and benefits: How to Prioritize IT Spending During an Economic Recession n Infrastructure management and instrumentation Reduced spending requires an examination of IT priorities – taking stock of what n Monitoring, alerting, event management and one has and assessing choices. At the top of the list for cost savings is consolida- capacity planning tion across and within data centers, beginning with server and storage virtualiza- n Improved service quality by implementing best tion. This generally means reducing the number of parts and redundancies by practices and preempting issues assessing the following: n Faster problem resolution in terms of identify- ing resources and determining diagnosis (root n Number of vendors / suppliers (economies) cause) n Number of applications needed (license reduction) n Enhanced compliance by automating best- n Renegotiation of vendor contracts (cost reduction) practice processes that support regulatory and n The age of the equipment and associated cost of maintenance (replacement industry mandates options) n Data management (data stores, de-duplication and analysis) learn about business service management benefits n Processes (operational efficiency and effectiveness) mization_the_value_of_Business_service_management? page=1&taxonomyId=1448 Additional downturn spending considerations should take into account portfo- lio management, capacity planning and infrastructure management, as well as Network Management: security. Portfolio management serves to optimize expenditures by rationalizing Tips for Managing Costs the value and feature enhancement requests among enterprise applications. IT Steady infrastructure cost growth, beyond power and should also consider tools for more intelligently managing data, investigate cloud storage, is usually due to expanded network demands computing and consider SaaS applications for capabilities that are less expen- resulting from physical expansion or increased sive to outsource. Well-designed identity management and security controls can connectivity. Network management becomes more also help reduce potential risks due to employee turnover and use of outsourced complex as network expansion — such as an increase services. in the number of sites, users, devices, applications or services — and respective costs grow. By continuing to invest wisely during a downturn, organizations can strengthen their long-term future and reduce costs. In order to control costs and maintain reliability, get more tips for It cost-cutting one needs to know how efficiently the network is performing and the location of network performance nomic_Recession?page=1&taxonomyId=1448 bottlenecks. One example is trending bandwidth consumption per application, server, network loca- Data Center Optimization: The Value of tion, user/group, time of day, etc. Business Service Management Organizations seek to better optimize the data center and reduce costs by assess- Once this is determined, there are many technolo- ing applications, platforms, capacity and operations. It is important to consider gies that can be applied to reduce costs, prevent the value of the business services supported by a given application and, as such, additional growth or reduce potential problems. Two the business value behind your technology. Two factors determine the business such methods are network monitoring and virtualiza- value of a resource: knowing which business services and respective processes a tion. Network monitoring tools across wired, wireless resource supports, and understanding the business criticality of those services as and other connectivity services, such as VPN and measured by the impact of performance degradation or temporary loss of VoIP, can help manage bandwidth consumption and those services. reduce performance bottlenecks. Network consolida- tion via virtualization can improve network utilization, Business service management (BSM) solutions facilitate the transition from a efficiency and agility by reconfiguring the network in- technically-oriented, platform-based and silo management approach to a horizon- frastructure to deliver services from a pool of shared tal, business-oriented approach. BSM solutions offer a holistic view of the IT infra- network, server and storage resources. TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING • It seRvICe management foR mId-tIeR enteRpRIses 4
  5. 5. The ultimate objective in network management and cost control is to understand myth no. 2: all you need is your credit card. Not and reach more predictable demand patterns to permit better utilization while so fast: Infrastructure-as-a-service players might not spreading overhead costs over more productive assets. meet all of your needs. get more tips for cutting network costs myth no. 3: the cloud reduces your workload. But you really need to know which model of cloud computing is right for you. How to Build a Hybrid Cloud Computing Strategy myth no. 4: You can seamlessly blend your private Cloud infrastructures hold the promise of server virtualization, application “cloud” (your virtualized data center) with public deployment and as-needed scale, but not every application is a good fit. Each of cloud providers. This depends on the application the three cloud computing deployment options has different characteristics that and requirements. should be considered: myth no. 5: You won’t ever be able to seamlessly n Public clouds – best economies of scale, but with a shared infrastructure blend your public and private clouds. This is rela- model with limited configuration, security and service level specifications tive to how standardized are your configurations, n Internal clouds – operate within your data center, providing added security data models and deployment policies. but modest economies of scale myth no. 6: Cloud computing always saves you n Hosted clouds – operate on service provider premises and resources that money. This again depends on the applications. are segregated from others, but implement enterprise capabilities that are managed as a pool myth no. 7: a cloud provider can guarantee secu- rity. Beyond security certifications and provisions, Enterprises should consider a strategy that leverages all three options via virtual there is no absolute guarantee. private cloud technologies, resulting in a hybrid cloud strategy. Virtual private myth no. 8: If you’re running vms, you’re doing cloud is a technique to extend trust boundaries across resources regardless cloud computing. While virtualization is one ele- of their deployment. Implemented with technology at the network security or ment, other items include scalability, pricing and application layers, it enables an enterprise to define and control addressing, provisioning. topology, protocols and encrypted communications for instances deployed to myth no. 9: Cloud computing is about technology. cloud computing platforms. It is also about manageability. Beyond the technology, one should: Read all the cloud computing myth details 1. Examine the available portfolio of deployment options myths_of_Cloud_Computing?taxonomyId=1448 2. Partner with enterprise architects to ascertain the best deployment per application 3. Determine the security model to be applied Is the Cloud Reliable Enough for 4. Understand your hosting providers’ current capabilities, Your Business? redundancy and future plans Cloud-based services offer pay-as-you-go process- ing power and storage space that don’t require an The net result will provide a hybrid cloud strategy that optimizes business service investment in IT infrastructure. But as dependency deployment efficiencies, as well as matches business application needs with on cloud computing grows, so too do concerns infrastructure and security management requisites. about its reliability and providers’ willingness to Read more advice on cloud computing integration accept responsibility for outages. Before signing a contract, companies should consider a provider’s at- strategy?taxonomyId=1448 titude toward customer service, the provider’s physi- cal facilities, how quickly the provider is growing, Busting the Nine Myths of Cloud Computing the possibility of service interruptions and the out- Before you jump on the cloud computing bandwagon, understand the truth age response plan. behind these nine myths to determine what’s best for your company: learn more about cloud computing’s benefits and top challenges myth no. 1: there’s one single “cloud.” No, there are more: “infrastructure as a service,” Web services providers and Software-as-a-Service applications. able_enough_for_Your_Business_ TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING • It seRvICe management foR mId-tIeR enteRpRIses 5
  6. 6. ContInued fRom page 2 The languages are versatile enough for dealing Building the full context requires an understanding of the infrastructure with a wide range of IT operational data such components, their relationships, and the meaning of current events to the in- as events/logs, network flows and performance frastructure components by analytics and correlation, and being able to align metrics from networks, servers and applications. the meaning and impact of current events to higher-level business services Being XML based, the language enables users and applications. to rapidly add support for custom applications and share with the community. The XML files are CMDB Automation for Instant Success in Change Management compiled at runtime to give the same level of Mapping the infrastructure landscape and relationship in CMDB is a prereq- performance as handwritten code. The search- uisite for any data center and IT management solution. AccelOps completely and-rule language supports a diverse range of automates the CMDB building process via a bottom-up approach: analytics, from simple searching for textual pat- terns in the raw data to complex rules that trigger n Automatic discovery of networks, servers, applications and users when abnormal event patterns are detected. n Automatic categorization into specific functional device groups such as Rule thresholds can be static or dynamic based firewalls, storage, virtualized servers, databases and user groups such as on statistical profiles. SQL-like aggregation and administrators and regular users sorting on more than 200 parsed attributes is n Automatic identification and maintenance of component relationships: supported. Layer 2 and Layer 3 topology maps, virtual to physical host mappings, wireless AP to controller and n-tier application traffic flows, and applica- The solution ships with a bevy of built-in and tions to infrastructure mappings customizable device support, and analytics for n Automatic identity and location mappings: Network identities such as most top-tier vendors. Exposure to pre-defined workstation IPs and MAC addresses are continuously mapped to user analytics and an intuitive graphical interface identities such as domain/server/VPN accounts and corresponding loca- to write searches and rules ensures a nominal tions such as wired switch ports, VLAN IDs, wireless access points and learning curve. Unified treatment of all data VPN gateways. along with the rich contextual metadata from discovery allow the user to search and write ac- n Automatic configuration and software details mappings: Network device curate problem detection rules that span perfor- and server configurations, and software details are captured and ver- mance, availability, security and change aspects. sioned to detect changes. Scenarios include zero-day malware infections from unpatched machines, suspicious database The bottom-up approach in CMDB automation gives the data center and IT logons, unusual geographical sources of Web organization a pragmatic way to quickly realize the benefits of change man- server traffic, slow network scans and a sudden agement while removing the burden of data collection across organizational increase/decrease of application traffic. barriers. Service Discovery and Impact Innovations in Analytics and Correlation for Proactive Analysis to Align IT with Business Management and Efficient Root-cause Identification Rather than only monitor the health and security Without correlation and analytics capabilities, a CMDB would not be com- of the data center and IT on a component-by- plete for any data center and IT management solution. The rich infrastructure component basis, AccelOps allows data center relationship information in a CMDB needs to be correlated with current events and IT organizations to truly manage them from and performance metrics to provide proactive measures for identifying excep- a service perspective. This leads to the ultimate tions, vulnerabilities and problems ahead of time, and to accurately pinpoint goal of maintaining and improving IT service root causes to minimize service disruption. delivery. This is accomplished by the AccelOps’ powerful analytics and correlation en- AccelOps defines a business service as a smart gine, which is powered by three major innovations: 1) XML-based language for container of relevant devices and applications parsing data, 2) XML-based search and rule language for mining the parsed serving a business purpose. From that point on, data, and 3) a profile and anomaly detection engine that can detect anoma- all the monitoring and analysis can be presented lies on any problem dimension. from a business service perspective. TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING • It seRvICe management foR mId-tIeR enteRpRIses 6
  7. 7. departmental view. In addition, the unique virtual appliance-based, clustered, multi-tiered and hybrid storage architecture separates the storage from the computation, and separates the hard- ware from the software. This allows the user to: n Choose the best-of-breed storage platform n Keep migrating the software to cheaper, faster, newer hardware to improve perfor- mance without losing any data n Take advantage of robust failover capabili- ties of virtualization management servers It is possible to track service-level metrics, efficiently respond to incidents on to gain higher availability for the AccelOps a prioritized basis, record business impact, and provide business intelligence solution on IT best practices, compliance reporting and IT service improvement. What The hybrid data management architecture is also novel about AccelOps is how easily a business service can be defined comprises a proprietary “flat-file based” and maintained. Because AccelOps automatically discovers the applications database for storing event data and an embed- running on the servers, as well as the network connectivity and the traffic ded, commercial-grade relational database for flow, the user can simply choose the applications and respective servers, and storing CMDB data. This approach allows for be intelligently guided to choose the rest of the components of the business better compression and faster event handling service. This business service discovery and definition capability in AccelOps (data insertion and query rates) that equates to completely automates a process that would normally take many people and greater scale, productivity, efficient data storage considerable effort to complete and maintain. and a more engaging user experience. With the understanding of service, IT executives and staff members can answer questions such as: AccelOps has a multi-tiered, clustered, scale-out architecture that can be run on multiple virtual n How can we gain insight into IT service achievement? machines to facilitate parallel computation. This n How can we proactively manage our infrastructure, and more efficiently allows the user to instantly increase perfor- respond to incidents and threats from a service perspective? mance by adding hardware without expensive n What are the vulnerabilities and risks in our infrastructure? data migration procedures. n Where can we make improvements? n Are my technology investments yielding expected results? Finally, the AccelOps’ user interface is built on n When and where can performance and availability problems and the Adobe Flex RIA framework, which allows for service interruptions be avoided, and which issues have greater a more engaging desktop application experi- service consequences? ence, yet runs from a browser offering anywhere, n Which new technology, deployed application, patch or potential anytime accessibility. choke point is affecting uptime? n What resources can be further optimized, either by consolidation AccelOps brings to market a uniquely integrated or adding capacity? IT service management solution that allows IT n Where can we reduce capital expenditures, redeploy resources and to see the trees as well as the forest – harness- improve efficiency? ing the value from an organization’s existing operational data. Yet it provides a cost-effective, These questions can be answered with more than 500 built-in reports and flexible and scalable IT service management rules coupled with comprehensive analytics. Behavioral or statistic profiling solution packaged for mid-tier enterprises. Given rules and best practices reports can be tuned and applied to satisfy a variety the solution’s functional depth and breadth, the of security, availability, performance and compliance monitoring, and report- holistic approach allows organizations to be more ing requirements, and to create compensating controls. efficient, enhances service reliability, and makes As a SaaS and virtual appliance offering, the AccelOps solution is built from the service management practical and tangible. ground up for multi-tenancy support where different organizations can have learn how accelops helps It accelerate business their own customized view and higher-level management can have a cross- TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING • It seRvICe management foR mId-tIeR enteRpRIses 7