Understanding ITIL for Network Service Delivery
ITIL and Network Operations: IT departments are under pressure to adopt stable, standardized management practices. ITIL provides a framework network managers can use to answer the call.
Traditional corporate organizational units such as finance, accounting and HR believe that the new upstart Information Technology (IT) should put away its childish models and adopt a more formal, standardized and mature structure. Faced with a sagging economy—combined with mounting (and aging) capitalized infrastructure costs—people in the executive suites have started listening, considering what can be done to streamline and mainstream IT management infrastructures.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is, at its heart, a tightly integrated, two-chambered generic standard separated into Service Delivery and Service Support. Service Delivery is concerned with strategic objectives and long-term planning, while Service Support is focused on tactical day-to-day activities.
|Service Delivery||Service Management|
|Service Level Management||Incident Management|
|IT Security Management||Problem Management|
|Finance Management||Configuration Management|
|Capacity Management||Change Management|
|Availability Management||Release Management|
This two-part series discusses how the ITIL model can be applied specifically to an enterprise network operations (netops) team. Part one details how ITIL can be implemented, while part two deals with the application of Service Management.
Service Level Management is your network operations team's strategic front-end to internal customers, such as individual business groups. There is generally a Service Level Manager (SLM) who engages these customers and negotiates a support contract, called the Service Level Agreement, or SLA.
Network Operations SLM
SLAs for a netops team will general focus on the provision of network functions, similar to a utility. A standard SLA covers areas such as security, finance, capacity plans, availability and continuity plans. Each of these areas has its own manager who works with the SLM to provide input and direction for the SLA.
Along with negotiating the SLA with customers, the SLM is responsible for monitoring the SLA elements and reporting to customers when outages cause a breach in the SLA. This gives the customer a "single neck to choke" if there are issues. The SLM works with all the other service delivery managers to properly manage all elements of the SLA.
IS Security Manager
IT Security Management is concerned with maintaining the uninterrupted operation of the network through controls, incident handling and auditing; along with providing input into SLA management. This is generally a single person who owns the overall security plan for the network.
IT Finance Management
IT finance management is generally a new concept for network operations, responsible for identifying costs, proposing prices for services, and providing financial data for negotiation; accounting for the expenditures of netops services. While budgeting and accounting are required elements of the job, actual charging (policies, methodology, and billing) is considered optional.
Availability Management is an area netops already has significant experience with; managing service quality concepts such as availability,through mean time between failures (MTBF); and restorability, such as mean time to repair (MTTR). ITIL also engages the availability manager on resilience, or the ability of a piece of gear to survive a component failure; and maintainability, or the ability to keep a network device tuned for the environment.
Capacity management is another concept most netops personnel are familiar with. With a forward looking perspective, the capacity manager is constantly aware of how many resources are free now and will be in the future. Capacity management is a tight-rope walk between keeping enough capacity open for expected growth while not allowing resources to be under-subscribed, wasting resources.
Continuity management is concerned with two key areas; mitigation of risk to the network environment, and contingency planning for all foreseeable disasters. The continuity manager owns all network recovery plans including a business impact analysis, risk assessment, and continuity strategy. When a disaster strikes, the continuity manager is responsible for enacting the recovery plan. Between disasters, the continuity manager is also responsible for running simulations and tests to confirm the plan will meet the requirements laid out in all of the SLAs.
The six functions of service delivery rely on each other to be successful, each providing a supporting role into the Service Level Agreement. But this is just half of the picture; our next article will diagram service management and review how each of those elements handles day-to-day support of the network environment.
Michael Burton is a senior program manager for Intel. He holds a PMP and ITIL-Foundation certification and resides in Portland, Oregon.