3 MIN READ | Service Assurance

Service-Centric Performance Assurance — The New Path to IT Operational Excellence

Jim Frey
Nov. 9 2010

By now, most IT professionals should be familiar with the concept of service management. In many enterprise IT shops, service management is an initiative with roots in the help desk, often introduced as part of an ITIL adoption initiative. Still, as networking professionals pick up their heads and look around at the changes going on in IT, combined with the fact that the organizations they support are becoming more and more reliant upon a rock-solid, high-performing network, most realize they can't just keep doing things the way they've always been doing them.

With the rate of change increasing, due to faster and faster application rollouts and more and more dynamic infrastructure configuration changes due to server virtualization, the fires are starting faster than the firefighters can put them out. And the stakes are significant–lost confidence by line-of-business constituents, unnecessary and costly capital outlays for expanded infrastructure, and unacceptable risk to the served organization on both the top and bottom lines. So there is no time better than now to fall back, regroup, and reassess the way in which networks are managed. It's time to look seriously at service management for networks.

A primary element of a renewed approach is the shifting of focus from availability to performance. Additionally, it requires moving beyond simply monitoring and historical trending of performance data to real-time views and proactive interpretation of performance metrics that make it possible to recognize and understand what that information is telling you in terms of existing and potential disruptions to the high-performing network. Making this operational shift, from reactive to proactive, and bringing performance data together with availability data are the building blocks of a performance assurance strategy. Performance “assurance” means management tools, technologies, and practices are aligned around the concept of proactively making sure that the network is playing its essential role with as little disruption or degradation as possible.

Making the shift from reactive to proactive, and from basic management to assurance, is not a simple one. It requires a combination of changes that can span people, tools, and processes. And the tools must be ready to facilitate the transition. That's where solution providers like InfoVista enter the picture. InfoVista has applied its deep expertise in service-oriented management to performance monitoring technologies spanning infrastructure devices, flow records, and packet-based instrumentation. This delivers deep and broad visibility into the network infrastructure and the traffic flowing across it. Such integrated network and application performance visibility is the secret sauce for making the shift from network-centric to service-aware practices.

But we're not done yet. Gaining visibility is essential, but as important is the ability to present and share that visibility outside of the networking group. A core requirement of any service-oriented IT management strategy is collaboration and communications. Only when performance assurance insights are shared across IT constituent groups, as well as with key IT consumer constituents or end users, can the full value of the performance assurance management approach be realized. InfoVista meets this need with one of the most advanced sets of options for reporting, portals, and dashboards available today. You can find more details about InfoVista's approach in my recent White Paper on Service-Centric Performance Assurance.

The majority of networking professionals I speak with recognize that they are facing challenges they can't handle alone. You can't continue to be asked to do more with less, while the managed infrastructure grows and increases its frequency of change beneath your feet. If the networking team hopes to continue to play the essential role that it should, the path to excellence lies through establishing and utilizing a service-aware, performance assurance approach. When organizations are ready to embrace this challenge, companies like InfoVista are there to help.

Learn more by registering for the White Paper, “Service-Centric Performance Assurance: The Path to IT Operational Excellence,” written by Jim Frey, Research Director at Enterprise Management Associates. Follow Enterprise Management Associates on Twitter.

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