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3 steps to making a hybrid operations platform for a bimodal world



In the first part of this blog, I described how and why current ITSM implementations are broken. Let’s now turn into some practical steps to fix it.


Automate & orchestrate

Right now, ITSM processes act like an overlay or a backdrop onto which your provisioning/release processes must fit. But this coupling is loose and manual and must become tight. Simply put, you need extreme automation, removing as much human intervention as possible and embedding as much of the management capability as you can by mapping the intersection points between your management and provisioning/release processes.

Infrastructure monitoring needs to be embedded in infrastructure provisioning, application monitoring in the release process, and automated change approvals in the request-to-fulfill process. You need to automate basic capacity management decisions, such as adding storage or compute resources. You need to rethink how you populate your CMDB and how you patch and run compliance.

Naturally, there will be cases where this is not possible or desirable, but these should be the exceptions, not the rule.


Shift left

The only way you can achieve extreme levels of automation and orchestration is by “shifting left” and considering the management tasks as an integral part of your provisioning/release processes. “Shifting left” entails making them part of your service design. So when you are developing an application, you need to think about how you will monitor it—e.g. build monitoring activation as part of code deployment or instrument your code.

When you are designing an IaaS or PaaS service you need to think how you will keep it compliant. When you are making services available in your catalog, you need to ensure that—if your process calls for it—all the necessary approvals are built in and trigger as soon as the service is being requested. If you are adopting DevOps, you are already doing it in Dev. Now is the time to do it in Ops.


From technology silos to services: Make sure your team is aligned

Like all significant changes, it is not enough to only tweak processes and reconfigure tools. Aligning your people to a new way of execution is just as crucial to success, especially if by “success” we mean the seamless, orchestrated execution of cross-functional (i.e. Dev and Ops) processes. If you want your CMDB to be populated and your NOC dashboard illuminated with events to happen as part of an application release, you will need to have your configuration team, monitoring team and application team working together from the beginning, rather than sequentially and in silos.

Rather than have your team organized by domain of expertise and seconded to services, you need to flip it around and have them organized by services and seconded to their domain of expertise. This will also yield another advantage: as each team learns from the other, they can carry these learnings into Mode 1 to inject agility and automation. Just because we have an agile mode does not mean we need to accept slowness. There is always room for optimization.

Hybrid ops platform graph.png

Hybrid operations platform

I have stated above that new tools may not be necessary because it is not a technology, but rather an implementation issue. The last thing you need are two management stacks and a slew of bespoke integrations. You want a single platform which is capable of service management both in Mode 1 and in Mode 2. Perfect coverage is unlikely, but you should always aim to maximize coverage and retool only when you have a gap. This single platform is what I call a “hybrid operations platform.” What makes such a platform? It is predicated on your tooling having the capabilities needed to implement the extreme levels of automation and orchestration that Mode 2 requires. There are essentially two capabilities your hybrid operations platform must provide:

  1. An orchestration engine, which can assemble automation building blocks into end-to-end orchestrated flows
  2. API-enabled, automation-capable execution tools (e.g. monitoring tools, CMDB, change control, service desk)

If you have a monitoring tool that allows you to programmatically create/update/delete monitors, then you don’t need another “cloud” monitoring product. The same applies to any of the systems and products you currently use to implement your ITSM processes.

There will be cases where you have a need that your current technology stack cannot meet. A good example is Cloud Finance. With Cloud, you can now charge application owners for the usage of infrastructure, a need you probably did not have in the pre-Cloud days, and therefore needed no technology for. But in many other cases you will find that your existing tooling can do the job. What you are ultimately trying to avoid is a duplication of management stacks where you need to maintain two of everything: tools, processes, and skills. Having a common platform will ensure that you maximize your leverage of the technology you already own and supplement it only where needed. A hybrid operations platform will help you optimize your cost structure and simplify your life.


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Miron Mizrahi is WW Solution Marketing Lead of Cloud, Converged Security, and IT Operations at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software Services. Follow him on Twitter at @MironMizrahiHPE.


Related links:

It may not be a perfect model, but Gartner's bimodal IT reflects the reality of IT leaders grappling with the digital transformation of today's business environment.  

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