Given that, and getting back to technology, Id like to wrap up with EMAs recommendations for assessing the value of management investments for what we call next generation service assurance. These requirements were evolved to address cross-domain requirements that impact all of IT operations, but it turns out that every one of them are relevant to making investments on the network management front.
Discovery that supports not only network, but (ideally) systems and application dependencies for performance management and asset and inventory.
Analytic capabilities that can triage across network, systems, and application issues.
Leveraging modeling technology to capture relationships to drive more focused approaches to automating diagnostics, or even reconfiguring devices.
Using application flow and route analytics in monitoring application services themselves.
Integrated support for configuration so that when changes are made to the infrastructure or its services, performance management capabilities are proactively aware of anything thats non-policy compliant.
Support for Web Services and SOA application componentry across a distributed networked environment.
Integration between fault and performance management.
Integration between network and security management (a No.1 priority in many shops).
Active control to change network configurations, or optimize bandwidth, or in some cases actually do dynamic server rebalancing in conjunction with network performance.
Support for lifecycle management so that understanding, for instance, an applications robustness in a highly distributed networked environment prior to deployment can help to ensure that promised SLAs are actually deliverable.
These are, admittedly, only some pointers targeted at evaluating solutions specifically in support of service assurance. Other disciplines such as capacity planning, asset management and financial planning, and configuration management in and of itself have their own lists of design attributes. But this list, in combination with a good plan for evolving organization and process, can serve as a good departure point for planning strategic service management technology adoption.
These capabilities not only answer technical needs, but they reinforce and enable the kind of cultural and process change that many IT organizations are just beginning to make, often with strikingly positive results.
Dennis Drogseth is vice president of Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates, an industry research firm focused on IT management. Dennis can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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