Service Operations

1Introduction 2Serv. Mgmt. 3Principles 4Process 5Activities 6Organization 7Consideration 8Implementation 9Issues AAppendeces

4. Service Operation Processes


4.6 Operational Activities Of Processes Covered In Other Lifecycle Phases

4.6.1 Change Management
Change Management is primarily covered in the Service Transition publication, but there are some aspects of Change Management which Service Operation staff will be involved with on a day-to-day basis. These include: Raising and submitting RFCs as needed to address Service Operation issues

4.6.2 Configuration Management
Configuration Management is primarily covered in the Service Transition publication, but there are some aspects of Configuration Management which Service Operation staff will be involved with on a day-to-day basis. These include:

Responsibility for updating the CMS remains with Configuration Management, but in some cases Operations staff might be asked, under the direction of Configuration Management, to update relationships, or even to add new CIs or mark CIs as 'disposed' in the CMS, if these updates are related to operational activities actually performed by Operations staff.

4.6.3 Release and Deployment Management
Release and Deployment Management is primarily covered in the Service Transition publication, but there are some aspects of this process which Service Operation staff will be involved with on a day-to-day basis. These may include:

4.6.4 Capacity Management
Capacity Management should operate at three levels: Business Capacity Management, Service Capacity Management and Component Capacity Management.

Many of these activities are of a strategic or longer-term planning nature and are covered in the Service Strategy, Service Design and Service Transition publications. However, there are a number of operational Capacity Management activities that must be performed on a regular ongoing basis as part of Service Operation. These include the following. Capacity and Performance Monitoring
All components of the IT Infrastructure should be continually monitored (in conjunction with Event Management) so that any potential problems or trends can be identified before failures or performance degradation occurs. Ideally, such monitoring should be automated and thresholds should be set so that exception alerts are raised in good time to allow appropriate avoiding or recovery action to be taken before adverse impact occurs.

The components and elements to be monitored will vary depending upon the infrastructure in use, but will typically include: CPU utilization (overall and broken down by system/service usage)

There are different kinds of monitoring tools needed to collect and interpret data at each level. For example, some tools will allow performance of business transactions to be monitored, while others will monitor Cl behaviour.

Capacity Management must set up and calibrate alarm thresholds (where necessary in conjunction with Event Management, as it is often Event Monitoring tools that may be used) so that the correct alert levels are set and that any filtering is established as necessary so that only meaningful events are raised. Without such filtering it is possible that 'information only' alerts can obscure more significant alerts that require immediate attention. In addition, it is possible for serious failures to cause 'alert storms' due to very high volumes of repeat alerts, which again must be filtered so that the most meaningful messages are not obscured.

It may be appropriate to use external, third-party, monitoring capabilities for some CIs or components of the IT Infrastructure (e.g. key internet sites/pages). Capacity Management should be involved in helping specify and select any such monitoring capabilities and in integrating the results or any alerts with other monitoring and handling systems.

Capacity Management must work with all appropriate support groups to make decisions on where alarms are routed and on escalation paths and timescales. Alerts should be logged to the Service Desk as well as to appropriate support staff, so that appropriate Incident Records can be raised so a permanent record of the event exists - and Service Desk staff have a view of how well the support group(s) are dealing with the fault and can intervene if necessary.

Manufacturers' claimed performance capabilities and agreed service level targets, together with actual historical monitored performance and capacity data, should be used to set alert levels. This may need to be an iterative process initially, performing some trial-and-error adjustments until the correct levels are achieved.

Note: Capacity Management may have to become involved in the capacity requirements and capabilities of IT Service Management. Whether the organization has enough Service Desk staff to handle the rate of incidents; whether the CAB structure can handle the number of changes it is being asked to review and approve; whether support tools can handle the volume of data being gathered are Capacity Management issues, which the Capacity Management team may be asked to help investigate and answer. Handling Capacity or Performance-Related Incidents
If an alert is triggered, or an incident is raised at the Service Desk, caused by a current or ongoing Capacity or Performance Management problem, Capacity Management must become involved to identify the cause and find a resolution. Working together with appropriate technical support groups, and alongside Problem Management, all necessary investigations must be performed to detect exactly what has gone wrong and what is needed to correct the situation.

It may be necessary to switch to more detailed monitoring during the investigation phase to determine the exact cause. Monitoring is often set at a 'background' level during normal circumstances due to the large amount of data that can be generated and to avoid placing too high a burden on the IT Infrastructure - but when specific difficulties are being investigated more detailed monitoring may be needed to pinpoint the exact cause.

When a solution, or potential solution, has been found, any changes necessary to resolve the problem must be approved via formal Change Management prior to implementation. If the fault is causing serious disruption and an urgent resolution is needed, the urgent change process should be used. It is very important that no 'tuning' takes place without submission through Change Management, as even apparently small adjustments can often have very large cumulative effects - sometimes across the entire IT Infrastructure. Capacity And Performance Trends
Capacity Management has a role to play in identifying any capacity or performance trends as they become discernible. Further details of actions needed to address such trends are included in the Continual Service Improvement publication. Storage Of Capacity Management Data
Large amounts of data are usually generated through capacity and performance monitoring. Monitoring of meters and tables of just a few Kbytes each can quickly grown into huge files if many components are being monitored at relatively short intervals. Another problem with very short-term monitoring is that it is not possible to gather meaningful information without looking over a longer period. For example, a single snapshot of a CPU will show the device to be either 'busy' or 'idle' - but a summary over, say, a 5-minute period will show the average utilization level over that period, which is a much more meaningful measure of whether the device is able to work comfortably, or whether potential performance problems are likely to occur. In any organization it is likely that the monitoring tools used will vary greatly - with a combination of system specific tools, many of them part of the basic operating system, and specialist monitoring tools being used. In order to coordinate the data being generated and allow the retention of meaningful data for analysis and trending purposes, some form of central repository for holding this summary data is needed: a Capacity Management Information System (CMIS).

The format, location and design of such a database should be planned and implemented in advance - see the Service Design publication for further details - but there will be some operational aspects to handle, such as database housekeeping and backups. Demand Management
Demand Management is the name given to a number of techniques that can be used to modify demand for a particular resource or service. Some techniques for Demand Management can be planned in advance - and these are covered in more detail in the Service Design publication. However, there are other aspects of Demand Management that are of a more operational nature, requiring shorter-term action.

If, for example, the performance of a particular service is causing concern, and short-term restrictions on concurrency of users are needed to allow performance improvements for a smaller restricted group, then Service Operation functions will have to take action to implement such restrictions - usually accompanied by concurrent action to implement the logging-out of users who have been inactive for an agreed period of time to free up resources for others. Workload Management
There may be occasions when optimization of infrastructure resources is needed to maintain or improve performance or throughput. This can often be done through Workload Management, which is a generic term to cover such actions as:

It will only be possible to manage workloads effectively if a good understanding exists of which workloads will run at what time and how much resource utilization each workload places upon the IT Infrastructure. Diligent monitoring and analysis of workloads is therefore needed on an ongoing operational basis. Modelling and applications sizing
Modelling and/or sizing of new services and/or applications must, where appropriate, be done during the planning and transition phases - see the Service Design and Service Transition publications. However, the Service Operation functions have a role to play in evaluating the accuracy of the predictions and feeding back any issues or discrepancies. Capacity Planning
During Service Design and Service Transition, the capacity requirements of IT services are calculated. A forwardlooking capacity plan should be maintained and regularly updated and Service Operation will have a role to play in this. Such a plan should look forward up to two years or more, but should be reviewed regularly every three to 12 months, depending upon volatility and resources available.

The plan should be linked to the organization's financial planning cycle, so that any required expenditure for infrastructure upgrades, enhancements or additions can be included in budget estimates and approved in advance. The plan should predict the future but must also examine and report upon previous predictions, particularly to give some confidence in further predictions. Where any discrepancies have been encountered, these should be explained and future remedial action described.

The Capacity Plan might typically cover:

4.6.5 Availability Management
During Service Design and Service Transition, IT services are designed for availability and recovery. Service Operation is responsible for actually making the IT service available to the specified users at the required time and at the agreed levels.

During Service Operation the IT teams and users are in the best position to detect whether services actually meet the agreed requirements and whether the design of these services is effective.

What seems like a good idea during the Design phase may not actually be practical or optimal. The experience of the users and operational functions makes them a primary input into the ongoing improvement of existing services and the design. However, there are a number of challenges with gaining access to this knowledge:

Having said this, there are three key opportunities for operational staff to be involved in Availability Improvement, since these are generally viewed as part of their ongoing responsibility:

There may be occasions when Operational Staff themselves need downtime of one or more services to enable them to conduct their operational or maintenance activities - which may impact on availability if not properly scheduled and managed. In such cases they must liaise with SLM and Availability Management staff - who will negotiate with the business/users, often using the Service Desk to perform this role, to agree and schedule such activities.

4.6.6 Knowledge Management
It is vitally important that all data and information that can be useful for future Service Operation activities are properly gathered, stored and assessed. Relevant data, metrics and information should be passed up on the management chain and to other Service Lifecycle phases so that it can feed into the knowledge and wisdom layers of the organization's Service Knowledge Management System, the structures of which have to be defined in Service Strategy and Service Design and refined in Continual Service Improvement (see other ITIL publications in this series).

Key repositories of Service Operation, which have been frequently mentioned elsewhere, are the CMS and the KEDB, but this must be widened out to include all of the Service Operation teams' and departments' documentation, such as operations manuals, procedures manuals, work instructions, etc.

4.6.7 Financial Management for IT Services
Service Operation staff must participate in and support the overall IT budgeting and accounting system - and may be actively involved in any charging system that may be in place.

Proper planning is necessary so that capital expenditure (Capex) and operational expenditure (Opex) budget estimates can be prepared and agreed in good time to meet the budgetary cycles.

The Service Operation Manager must also be involved in regular, at least monthly, reviews of expenditure against budgets - as part of the ongoing IT budgeting and accounting process. Any discrepancies must be identified and necessary adjustments made. All committed expenditure must go through the organization's purchase order system so that commitments can be accrued and proper checks must be made on all goods received so that invoices and payments can be correctly authorized - or discrepancies investigated and rectified.

It should be noted that some proposed cost reductions by the business may actually increase IT costs, or at least unit costs. Care should therefore be taken to ensure that IT is involved in discussing all cost-saving measures and contribute to overall decisions. Financial Management is covered in detail in the Service Strategy publication.

4.6.8 IT Service Continuity Management
Service Operation functions are responsible for the testing and execution of system and service recovery plans as determined in the IT Service Continuity plans for the organization. In addition, managers of all Service Operation functions must be on the Business Continuity Central Coordination team.

This is discussed in detail in Service Strategy and Service Design and will not be repeated here, except to indicate that it is important that Service Operation functions must be involved in the following areas:

[To top of Page]

Visit my web site