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Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

Jim Spooner (UK) - How to Integrate Virtualisation into an ITIL Framework

Many organisations invest in developing an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework so they can have consistent IT operations and offer the right level of IT services back to the business. The challenge businesses face today is how can they integrate new technologies - such as virtualisation - effectively within this framework.

Initial planning is important to find out exactly what the technology can deliver back to the business and aid in setting expectations. For many companies, realising Return on Investment really depends on them asking the right, and often most probing questions at the very beginning.  

The Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a core piece of the ITIL framework, and you must be able to set realistic SLAs in order to manage them effectively. It is essential to have a clear understanding of who your customers are, and get a clear understanding of what their service requirements will be. It sounds obvious, but this area is often overlooked. If these points are not addressed at this stage, then the end solution is unlikely to align with business needs, leading to unnecessary costs or increased business risks.

I would also recommend that provisioning processes are supplemented by getting upfront agreement from customers about the length of time that they will need each resource. Establishing a lifecycle driven on-demand culture, where unused resources are returned to the spare pool, will reduce the tendency towards virtual server sprawl.

A cost effective infrastructure model is also highly dependent on the capabilities to manage capacity and headroom. The optimum solution lies in being able to limit wasted investment in unused resources whilst ensuring that enough headroom is available to meet agreed provisioning times. This should be supplemented by tight financial management capabilities, where the cost of virtual servers is understood, tracked and managed to ensure that the best value is achieved at all times. Reporting back the cost of consumed resources to you customers, based on their demand, will also encourage the right behaviour to use only what is required, when it is needed.

Bringing these elements together pre-virtualisation will help organisations to maximise Return on Investment, delivering cost effective services that match changing business needs.

Once virtualisation has been deployed it is vital to keep regular checks on progress, assess efficiency and identify any areas for improvement. We now have technologies that allow us to release assets from our data centres and consolidate applications that underutilise the resource capabilities of modern day server hardware, but they need to be used thoughtfully. If you follow the basic rules I've mentioned; understand your customer and their service requirements, establish a lifecycle driven on-demand culture, and manage capacity and headroom wisely, and report consumption and costs to business users, you should be able to reap the benefits.

Jim Spooner is the IT service management practice lead at GlassHouse Technologies. GlassHouse Technologies is a global provider of independent data centre consulting and managed services.

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