Taming the complexity beast
Here's a phrase you've heard before: "align the IT infrastructure with business objectives." It's a phrase that makes good intuitive sense; the better a given infrastructure can fulfill business goals, the better the business outcome it will probably deliver.
The problem with this idea lies not in the what, but in the how. Creating such an alignment, and making adjustments to preserve it over time, is no simple matter. This is particularly true in the enterprise, where IT has usually developed in an ad hoc fashion based on different business needs as they've come up over multiple decades.
The result is that today, most enterprise-class organizations have exceptionally complex infrastructures-dozens, if not hundreds, of applications and services, driven by thousands of systems, and often managed using separate tools in separate operational silos. Given this dizzying complexity, the concept of aligning infrastructure with business objectives may seem closer to mission impossible than mission accomplished.
The consequences of this common scenario are numerous and daunting. When new business strategies are created, IT will be slower to implement them. When technical problems develop, IT will find it harder to respond to them in a prioritized way, based on business needs, because the business impact of those problems simply isn't clear. For internal services, the end result will usually be diminished productivity. For external services, the outcome is worse: diminished customer satisfaction, brand damage, and reduced revenues and market share over time.
If you're looking for a way to address these and related issues, you'll definitely want to hear more about IBM Tivoli Business Service Manager for the Enterprise 4.2.1 ( TBSM for the Enterprise ). This offering gives enterprise IT teams a clear, intuitive means to correlate IT infrastructural performance with business goals. More specifically, TBSM for the Enterprise allows organizations to:
Combined, these features comprise an end-to-end solution that helps optimize service management-one spanning architectures of any size, scope, or complexity, and one that works whether the infrastructure is distributed, mainframe-based, or both.
TBSM for the Enterprise also illustrates very clearly one of the ways that IBM Tivoli solutions can help you achieve enhanced Visibility, Control, and Automation . Consider that Visibility in this context means, essentially, "seeing the business"-how well or badly the infrastructure is delivering on business objectives. TBSM for the Enterprise not only delivers visibility of exactly this kind, but also, thanks to extensive cross-solution integration capabilities, can inform the other two areas-enhanced Control and Automation-in the ways your organization needs most to achieve a superior overall outcome.
Analyze infrastructure performance against business goals to see real time results
How does the solution work? TBSM for the Enterprise begins to create value via its patented data importation capabilities. This offering can continually collect and aggregate data of virtually any kind-and that means it can track almost anything you'll need to track. Far more than just reflecting traditional events, this solution can draw on data from a nearly comprehensive range of possible repositories. Among many others: IT management solutions, databases, virtual or traditional systems, Java applications, networking equipment, and a wide variety of operating systems.
Then, once the information has been collected, it can be analyzed-compared against predefined business policies or performance thresholds-to detect emerging problems not just from a technology standpoint, but also from a business standpoint. If, for instance, a given system is not performing up to expectations, TBSM for the Enterprise can assess the expected business impact of that problem based on the services that system is supporting, their business priority, and the extent of the performance degradation.
And once the business impact has been determined, TBSM for the Enterprise can also present its results in a wide variety of ways that can easily be customized to suit any given context. For example, one common presentation would be that of a live scorecard that is constantly updated with key performance indicators (KPIs). This is not unlike the way the scoreboard at a sports arena reflects the changing score of a game, or the way a dashboard reflects different engine conditions while driving.
Because different job duties involve different KPIs, the solution can easily be configured to create tailored scorecards as needed-one for a line of business manager perhaps, and others for an IT manager, a financial executive, and other team members. This ensures that each team member can track the information most relevant for his or her duties.
For business users and operations team members in particular, TBSM for the Enterprise supports powerful service dependency models that can help track and resolve the root causes of technical issues. A simple right-click of the mouse can yield asset specifics at low levels of detail, such as system configuration, tracked events, changes over time, and others. This means emerging technical problems are easier to solve because the information needed to solve them is more easily obtained. Furthermore, via a service-level tracker, the solution can be used to verify that terms of service level agreements (SLAs) are being met in real time-and if they're not, it can help establish the basic cause by polling service components such as network devices, systems, applications, and processes. This substantially reduces the odds of an SLA compliance failure.
TBSM for the Enterprise helps drive end-to-end service management
Also valuable to the organization is the fact that TBSM for the Enterprise can reflect the infrastructure's business performance not just against policies, or SLA terms, but also against historical patterns. This represents yet another way to detect and address emerging trends.
If, for instance, it seems that an unexpected spike in business demand happens at a particular time of year, and the infrastructure didn't respond as well as it might have to that spike, TBSM for the Enterprise can pinpoint both when the spike happened and what the business consequences probably were. This is key information necessary for implementing targeted changes, and can inform areas such as budgeting, forecasting, and architectural planning—all key to business value.
Together, the many features of TBSM for the Enterprise thus play a central role in a larger service management platform. Via its business tracking capabilities, technical details are essentially abstracted out in favor of the overall business performance (as that is defined by any given job role). By reflecting how services are performing in a color-coded, real-time fashion, the organization can literally "see the business" better: more comprehensively, more easily, and more quickly.
The outcome is that services, whether intended for internal employees or external clients and customers, are characterized by reduced downtime and higher overall performance. And the daunting complexities of a huge IT infrastructure can be brought under manageable control in the specific ways the business needs most.