Some of you may have heard about ITIL and MOF and being a technical person processes and governance may not be that much appealing to you. You may have been thinking It’s only for large enterprises with lots of money and time to implement processes. That view is changing lately. As datacenter management is becoming more and more complex, tracking activities and governance is becoming a concern.
Microsoft has a service management solution based on System Center Service Manager. Although you might think it is a new product actually it has been in the works for quite some time and has been rewritten several times before releasing as a product. There are several good resources around how SCSM is aligned with MOF and processes but the real reason behind using these type of solutions is to keep track of all service management activates and creating reports on them. For example if you deploy a service pack to your servers and some of the servers do not boot, the first question you would ask is why didn’t we see this during our testing? So who did the testing, when did it happen and what was the result and where is it now? That’s where you need the service management or update management to be specific. You need a solution just like SCSM that will record a need for change (apply Service Pack) create and record a workflow of events (Approve for testing, assign to a person for testing and recording results, approve for pilot servers, record results and approve for distribution to all servers) so that you can come back later to see if everything was done properly.
So far, what I have told is not interesting for some. I am just imposing more paperwork to you who are the already busy doing work. However there is a lot of maintenance work that a datacenter admin would need to do in terms of checking files, running scripts etc. What if there is a wizard behind the curtains that can read the change requests, do all the maintenance tasks and put the results back to the change request. That wizard is Opalis. Opalis is a workflow engine that has integration packs with lots of other systems and can read events, objects from them, act on them and return the results back to the other systems. It is like writing scripts without entering a single line of code.
Let’s talk about an example. One of the common things a domain administrator will do is search for old computer accounts in the domain and delete them. This has to be done regularly in order to keep your Active Directory clean. From a service Management perspective this is a process that needs approval. You can have a policy in Opalis that will trigger every month and run a script to search for old computer accounts in the domain and create a text file with computer names in it. Then it will create a change request in Service Manager from a template you already have for this process. Service Manager will record the request and trigger a review activity for the admin that will send you (the Domain Admin) an e-mail saying that you are expected to approve the deletion of old computer accounts. Going to Service Manager, you check the list of computer names and approve the request. Opalis will happily see that can trigger another policy to run a script to read the file and delete the computer accounts in the domain and put the result of the activity in the change management request and if successful will close the request automatically. Now that makes everybody happy. IT management can view these change management activities in their reports and domain admins do not need to remember running these scripts.
Service Management can actually make people’s lives easier when SCSM is used together with Opalis.
Service Management with other tools such as SCSM and Opalis can save personal lifetime :)
Thanks for great post