Infrastructure Management Software Blog

Configuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for BSM With Ease

In this day and age, the amount of information may seem insurmountable. The size of IT infrastructures is constantly growing and frequently changing. The need to manage and monitor it all is greater than ever. HP BSM (Business Service Management) is the best solution available to overcome such a task.

In BSM, to see results, it all starts with the configuration. And when you get down to the screws and bolts, it all comes down to CIs and indicators. This article focuses on the KPI configuration. Configuring many KPIs can be an exhausting and tedious task. But it doesn't have to be.

Run-time Service Model vs. Configuration Management System vs. CMDB

Part 4 in our Run-time Service Model series. Many questions arise about how customers use the Run-time Service Model in conjunction with a configuration management system (CMS). To address this issue, we have a guest blogger, Jody Roberts, who has worked with HP’s CMS solutions since 2004 and runs a weekly forum for practitioners. He presents his information in a Q&A format.

Introducing the Run-time Service Model

The Run-time Service Model, at the heart of HP BSM 9, defines the relationships among infrastructure components, IT services, applications, and corresponding business services is the embedded . Without the ability to relate infrastructure components, business transactions, and applications to the business services and service level agreements they support, how can IT effectively respond when problems occur? If multiple problems exist at once, how does IT know which one to work on first? The answer lies within the Run-time Service Model.

OH, IL, WI, IN, MI Operations Center Technical Roadshow - April 20th to April 29th - Don't miss it!

Ever wish you could talk face-to-face with more technical people about Operations Center and Network Management Center products? Don’t really have the time or budget to travel very far to do so?  Well, here is a great opportunity to meet and talk with technical experts on products like Operations Manager and NNMi – right in your background.


Vivit will be hosting a series of six (6) one-day sessions, where there will be a nice mix between presentations and Q&A sessions around these products.  The sessions will be held in the following states on the following days:


- (Columbus) Ohio – April 20, 2010


- (Orrville) Ohio – April 21, 2010


- (Dearborn) Michigan – April 22, 2010


- Wisconsin – April 27, 2010


- (Chicago) Illinois – April 28, 2010


 - (Fishers) Indiana – April 29, 2010


Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions about this roadshow at asksonja@hp.com.

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How to frustrate end users

 


I'm currently on the receiving end of some pretty dismal service quality from my broadband (ADSL) provider. I work from home much of the time so when my broadband is unavailable I really feel unproductive and disconnected. 


 


The issues have been ongoing for a while and relate to some problems with the equipment in the local exchange.


 


I'm not going to delve into great detail or "name and shame" but I did want to take the opportunity to take a step back and use my unhappy experience as a learning opportunity. I think there are a couple of lessons in the interactions that I've had with my ISP which provide great guidance on things to avoid if you don't want to frustrate your end-users as you strive to deliver IT services to your business and your customers.


 


The first thing to avoid is a lack of transparency across the teams who are involved in service delivery. When I call the technical help line to report a red light on my ADSL Router I expect someone to KNOW that there is a problem - and to be able to explain what is being done.


 


Often times this has not been the case.


 


In many cases the help desk don't know that there is an issue. This frustrates me (I'm being used as the monitoring device) but also wastes a lot of time as they tend to follow a process of standard tests before they discover that there is a known problem at the broadband exchange.


 


Bottom line is that if your infrastructure monitoring can detect a service impacting issue then that information should be shared with all the folks who can make use of it. You need to use the information to update your help desk / service management systems so that the folks who are front and center talking to customers appear informed and can provide the customer with reassurance that the IT organization has it's act together.


 


I'm not suggesting that every infrastructure event needs to be visible to the help desk - but if it's got a high probability of affecting service delivery then it has value. And whatever is shared has GOT to be accurate. And the information needs to be updated with current status and estimated fix times so this can be relayed to customers to provide some reassurance that the technicians are dealing with the issue and some expectations on when service will be resumed.


 


We provide interfaces for this stuff for our own monitoring solutions, such as Operations Manager or BAC, into HP Service Manager (and some third party help desk packages) because we believe it's a vital part of how an incident management process connects to service management activities.  This is essential stuff that you need to be able to do as part of what we describe as a Closed Loop Incident Process (CLIP).


 


The second 'thing' that drove me nuts happened mid-afternoon the day before yesterday. I called up because the broadband was down again and the response from the help desk was that the exchange was "having an upgrade".


 


Now two possibilities spring to mind here.


The first (driven by disbelief) is that this is incorrect information - either the status in the fault record is wrong (read earlier comments about sharing accurate information) or the help desk person is trying to fob me off - and that's another big no-no if you want happy customers.


 


The second possibility (also driven by disbelief) is that someone needs to take an ITIL class and understand the basics of configuration and change management as they relate to Service Delivery / Service Management. Taking a broadband exchange offline for 4 hours on a weekday afternoon to perform an upgrade appears, on the face of it, to be a little ill-considered.


 


If you want to understand more about how HP can help with Change and Configuration management then take a look at our Service Manager product.  To be able to plan change effectively you need good, up to date configuration information regarding the CIs (configuration Items) and how they relate to each other and support IT Services. That's not something you can maintain manually - at least not cost effectively - so some automated discovery is essential - and we can help there with our discovery (DDM) and UCMDB technologies.

Does it take a rocket scientist to manage IT? (customer visit summary)

I recently had the opportunity to meet with a long-time HP customer at our executive briefing center. They were visiting to learn best practices about making their infrastructure more agile to allow tighter collaboration among different parts of their network. Increasing their operational efficiency was another key concern.


The customer brought a team of nine people consisting of architects, engineers, business systems analysts, and IT managers. The agenda included an overview of several HP product centers, including Business Service Management. We focused on the non-classified part of their network, which still contained several tiers of security, ranging from “open” to “sensitive”.


One interesting part of the day was a tour of an HP POD (Performance-Optimized Datacenter). It looks like a standard 40-foot shipping container, but contains a complete datacenter, consisting of 22 racks that can accommodate over 3500 blade servers. All you do is connect power and cooling water and you have instant capacity. This beats the roughly two years to bring a standard datacenter online.


On the software side, they use products from practically every major vendor. One challenge with this approach is integrating all the pieces together. SiteScope (agentless monitoring) comprises one part of their monitoring solution. I had a long discussion with their IT Manager of production systems about how to leverage what they have and extend their IT management with HP Operations Center. (Read a solution brief about HP Operations Manager for HP SiteScope customers.)
Over time, they plan to simplify their infrastructure monitoring by relying a few key tools.


After reviewing the entire HP BTO portfolio, we whiteboarded several different approaches they could follow to evolve their infrastructure. After some debate about the relative value and dependencies, everyone agreed that starting with a CMDB project made the most sense. Why? Because all the other planned projects will rely on the CMDB for information about the infrastructure, the relationships among configuration items, and how these relate to their business services. For example, Operations Manager i (OMi) combines event streams with information in the CMDB (using a technology called topology-based event correlation or TBEC) to determine the causal event when several related events hit the console around the same time.


This will prove to be a very interesting project as it evolves over the next several years.


For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.


Get the latest updates on our Twitter feed @HPITOps http://twitter.com/HPITOps


Join the HP OpenView & Operations Management group on LinkedIn.

The full stack (OMW, SiteScope, OMi, NNM, Service Desk, CMDB)

As I was getting ready to leave yesterday, a colleague stopped by my desk and asked “do you want to be a hero?” That certainly peaked my interest. It turned out we had a customer downstairs in our executive briefing center that wanted some clarification about all the pieces of our stack fit together.


Background
The customer was the CTO of a major IT firm in the Asia-Pacific region. They manage approximately 4,000 servers using OMW 8.1. They use both agents and SPIs, as well as SiteScope agentless monitoring. In addition, they monitor the faults and performance of their network using NNM, and roll those events into their Operations Manager console. In addition, they use Service Desk 4.5 along with a CMDB (configuration management database) that tracks all the configuration items and relationships among them across their enterprise. A *very* rough schematic  of what they have appears in the diagram below in red.



 Our discussions were divided into two main areas:
1. What they are doing today and what they should be doing?
2. What can they do in the future?


Current Situation
The first question was about best practices. Were they using the software correctly to manage their infrastructure? The answer is a resounding yes. They use OMW as the central event management console, collecting data from agents, SiteScope (agentless monitoring), and NNM for network events.


And, they integrate their service desk with OMW, opening and closing tickets, and tracking changes to the IT infrastructure in their CMDB. They implemented the CMDB about two years ago, in conjunction with their Service Desk implementation.


Next Steps
The next questions focused on what should they be doing or what can they do next to improve their IT management.


We started with a discussion about OMi. The customer was confused about how OMi fits with OMW - the first question was whether it replaces OMW, whether they receive OMi as part of an upgrade (entitlement), and finally, what specific value OMi provides since they currently use OMW as the centralized event consolidation tool.


As readers of this blog know, OMi is a separate product that adds on to Operations Manager. (See green box at top of the above diagram). Its main value is that it leverage the system topology information in the CMDB to greatly speed the time to repair IT problems, especially in complex environments. We have many resources to learn more about OMi, including:
Product overview
High-level webinar on OMi
Deep-dive technical webinar on OMi
Answers to technical questions on OMi


The next topic was automation. We talked about how companies use Operations Orchestration (OO)  to automate their IT processes (runbooks). OO uses events in OM to trigger its process flows. The good news was that this customer has spent the past two years documenting and improving their IT processes. They already know what processes occur frequently and how much manual effort they require. This may be the next logical step for them as it leverages their existing IT infrastructure and processes. EMA recently write a white paper on how process automation augments event consolidation.


Migration Challenges
One issue that arose was that the CMDB connected to their service desk is not the latest UCMDB that OMi uses for its topology-based event correlation (TBEC). The customer has two options here.
1. Leave the existing CMDB in place and let OMi create an operational data store that contains the configuration information it needs. The advantage of this approach is that it leaves the current management infrastructure intact and just adds OMi on top. OMi uses the SPIs to auto-discover the IT infrastructure and relationships among the elements. OMi’s data store is self-contained and requires minimal external input.
2. Migrate the existing CMDB associated with Service Desk to the latest version of UCMDB. The advantage of this approach is that the customer ends up with a single CMDB. They can migrate their existing data using a tool such as ICM (information consolidation manager) from Netscope.


Conclusions
For organizations already integrating their events into a single Operations Manager console, you are on the right track. If you already use a CMDB to track your IT infrastructure, you are very far along the IT management maturity curve, even more so if you use some means of automatic discovery to keep it current.


To take things to the next level, you have two options: focus on further event correlation and reduction with OMi or automate your existing IT processes with Operations Orchestration. You can pursue these in series or in parallel, depending on your priorities. Both will deliver a tangible return on investment and fast payback period.


For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.


Get the latest updates on our Twitter feed @HPITOps http://twitter.com/HPITOps


Join the HP OpenView & Operations Management group onLinkedIn.

BSM incognito (Software Universe - Day 1)


What a great start to Software Universe. The keynotes were great, and the speech by Dick Hoyt on “Yes you can!” was inspirational.



I had the pleasure of moderating one of the customer roundtable discussions. The topic was Consolidated Event and Performance Management. Ten customers joined three HP product experts for a guided discussion about their concerns. The goal of these discussions is to provide a forum for customers to share best practices about how they are using HP products.


We started the session by listing all the topics that people wanted to discuss. My expectation was that we would spend our time discussing Operations Manager, given the track. To my surprise, we spend less than half the time on Operations Manager. The majority of the time we discussed uCMDB and discovery, monitoring applications with Business Availability Center, agentless monitoring with SiteScope, integrating events from Network Node Manager, and of course managing virtualization.


Interestingly, not once did anyone mention Business Service Management or BSM. What does this mean? My interpretation is that customers don’t buy BSM, they buy solutions for monitoring events, applications, or networks. But, vendors of these types of solutions better have ways to integrate all these events together and provide a unified view of the entire infrastructure and how they impact business services. Fortunately, HP provides such solutions, and based on the demos I observed, people are very impressed.


For Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel

EMA’s Top IT Trends for 2009 - Connecting the Dots

Enterprise Management Associates, an IT research company (that HP engages occasionally), published their list of 12 Hot IT Management Trends to Watch for 2009


Not surprisingly they highlight:



IT management initiatives that deliver measurable cost savings in a tight economy
Continued deployment of technologies that enable IT to be managed as a business
New management challenges introduced by the growth of emerging technologies


While the list of 12 hot trends is interesting at face value, my opinion is that successful companies will be those that can connect the dots and implement several of these ideas in parallel with tight connections among them.


For example, EMA lists CMDB, virtualization, managing IT as a business (BSM or business service management), and service desk as the first four items. Most customers I speak to also mention these as their top priorities.


Fortunately, in these situations, I can point them to HP solutions that cover these areas, complete with integrations among all the functions. In fact, companies that are willing (and financially strong enough) to update their IT operations during the current downturn will be very well positioned to grow during the next upturn if they build an adaptive IT infrastructure now.


What do you think will be the hot IT trends in 2009?


For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel

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