ITIL Service Management for Enterprise Networks
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.
In part one of this article, we discussed how the Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) model can be applied to the network operations (NetOps) group inside an enterprise-level firm. We also detailed how ITIL Service Delivery, the strategic half of the ITIL Model, works on a human scale. In this part, we will discuss how the second half of ITIL, Service Management, interlocks with the other ITIL components to complete a unified structure.
|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|
The Incident Management (IM) team is the front-line of the NetOps group, handling ‘first contact’ on both issues and requests. Note that in the ITIL framework, both issues and requests are categorized as incidents. Unlike a call center, however, IM is responsible for driving the issues and requests to resolution. Its job role breaks down into four major components:
- ownership of the incident
- monitoring the ongoing environment
- communicating the status of the incident to all stakeholders
- tracking the incident to resolution
While the IM team is responsible for getting service back up and operational as quickly as possible, the Problem Manager (PM) is concerned with what the underlying reason for the incident was, and how it could possibly link to other incidents in the environment. First, this person identifies a potential ‘Problem’ causing one or more incidents. After study of the data provided by the IM team, a ‘Known Error,’ or root cause is identified. The last step of the PM is to communicate the ‘Workaround’ which when implemented will solve the Problem permanently.
The Configuration Manager is responsible for identifying, recording and reporting all the hardware and software components in the environment. Specifically for NetOps this means owning records of all hardware chassis and modules, software revisions and configurations. Any modification—whether it be hardware, software, or configuration—must get the Configuration Manager’s approval.
Release Management (RM) includes personnel who are responsible for actually making modifications to the environment. In the case of NetOps, these are the personnel logging into devices to update firmware, software, and configuration changes. They own not only the change itself but also any testing and communication required.
Change Management involves multiple people representing stakeholder groups which meet regularly to discuss and review requests. This group, called the Change Advisory Board, is given Change Authority by senior management and is overseen by a single Change Manager, who directs the reviews. There is also a smaller team called the Executive Committee (EC) which is made of critical stake holders plus the change manager. The EC reviews emergency changes which cannot go through the longer standard review cycle.
ITIL is not a silver bullet which will solve all of your organization’s issues, but it does provide a relatively easy-to-follow set of guidelines to properly modularize your NetOps group and provide the appropriate communication interlinks between those groups to be a successful. Properly implemented, ITIL can greatly increase stakeholder satisfaction.
Michael Burton is a senior program manager for Intel. He holds a PMP and ITIL-Foundation certification and resides in Portland, Oregon.