1 Effective Incident, Problem, and Change Management Integrating People, Process, and Technology in the Datacenter Published April 2010 Executive Summary Information technology (IT) organizations today must provide efficient and effective services in their datacenters while contending with pressures to reduce operating costs, ensure compliance, and add value to the business. Microsoft System Center Service Manager 2010 is an integrated platform for automating and adapting IT service management best practices, such as those found in Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) and the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), to provide built-in processes for incident resolution, problem resolution, and change control. By providing an integrated service management platform, Service Manager can reduce costly downtime and improve the quality of the services in the datacenter.
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3 Contents Introduction... 1 What Is System Center Service Manager?... 1 Service Manager Integration... 2 Addressing Service Management Challenges with Service Manager... 2 Optimizing Datacenter Management Scenarios... 5 Conclusion For More Information Effective Incident, Problem, and Change Management iii
5 Introduction Datacenters provide the foundation for the applications and services that information technology (IT) organizations deliver, and organizations need the operation of their datacenters to be reliable, compliant, and cost-effective. Efficient and effective service management in datacenters is essential both because of the mission-critical business applications datacenters host and because of the number of customers and users potentially affected by any service outages or performance issues. IT departments must ensure that the people, processes, and technology within their datacenters operate at optimal levels and work as a cohesive unit. With the accelerated move toward virtualized infrastructures, organizations need to ensure that their datacenters implement highly automated processes, provide management of resources as a single fabric, provide elastic capacity to respond to business demands, and focus on the services delivered to the business. This means that IT departments have to be even more efficient and effective than ever before. The requirement for a strong handle on these operational processes will only increase as organizations move to hosted resources, implement their own private clouds, or adopt public cloud infrastructures such as Microsoft Azure. What Is System Center Service Manager? System Center Service Manager 2010 is a member of the System Center family of products that provides service management functions. Service Manager delivers integration, efficiency, and business alignment of datacenter IT services by: Optimizing processes and ensuring their use through templates that effectively guide IT analysts through best practices for change and incident management. Reducing resolution times by cutting across organizational silos, ensuring that the right information from incident, problem, change, or asset records is accessible through a single pane. Extending the value of the System Center platform through automated generation of incidents from alerts and the coordination of activities among System Center products. Enabling informed and cost-effective decision-making through the integration of knowledge from disparate IT management systems and delivering out-of-the-box reporting and flexibility of data analysis through Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services.
6 Service Manager Integration Through its configuration management database (CMDB) and process integration, Service Manager automatically connects knowledge and information from the other Microsoft products or Microsoft partner products. Table 1 lists the Microsoft products and technologies that integrate with Service Manager and the features provided by this integration. Table 1. Integration of Service Manager with Other Microsoft Products or Technologies Product or technology System Center Operations Manager 2007 System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) Integration features with Service Manager Automatically creates configuration items in the Service Manager CMDB based on computers discovered in Operations Manager. Automatically creates incident tickets based on alerts generated in Operations Manager. Incident tickets in Service Manager create work items for analysts. Extends and augments the knowledge base information in Service Manager with the knowledge base information in Operations Manager. Automatically creates configuration items in the Service Manager CMDB based on computers discovered in Configuration Manager. Automatically creates incident tickets based on changes in managed computer configuration using the Desired Configuration Management (DCM) feature in Configuration Manager. Automatically creates configuration items in the Service Manager CMDB based on computer objects in Active Directory. Addressing Service Management Challenges with Service Manager IT organizations need to provide services that are highly available and scalable to meet the ever-growing business requirements. In addition, these services need to be managed and maintained more efficiently than ever before with higher degrees of automation and integration. Table 2 lists the service management challenges datacenters face and describes how Service Manager addresses them. 2 System Center Service Manager
7 Table 2. How Service Manager Addresses Datacenter Service Management Challenges Service management challenge Delivering efficient and effective support. Today, it often takes multiple escalations and manual interventions to resolve incidents. Once an incident is escalated beyond the first tier of support, the cost grows exponentially. Escalations are often caused the wrong classification, notifications or the lack of relevant information. Reducing the risk of change and the time to resolution. To effectively manage change and reduce the time to resolution, organizations must understand the entire service, including the dependencies between applications and services. For example, an internal human resources application may include multiple load-balanced Web servers and clustered Microsoft SQL database servers. A change or an incident within one of these services may impact the entire application. How Service Manager addresses them Embedded service management best practices in Service Manager: Reduce costly downtime by providing IT with relevant, up-to-date and unified configuration and health information gathered by System Center. Eliminate costly downtime by providing automated rule-driven notifications and clear escalation paths so that service agreements are met. Reduce times to resolution through a continuous capture of knowledge to proactively prevent problems and to publish an accurate and relevant knowledge base. Proactively prevent problems through the auto-ticketing of alerts, and configuration compliance issues, from System Center. The configuration management information in Service Manager: Quickly and efficiently resolves datacenter issues by leveraging a configuration database to sift through and correlate all embedded knowledge in incident, asset, change, or knowledge records. Imports service maps from System Center and presents these as business services, allowing IT pros to quickly understand how incidents affect services, perform root cause analysis, and identify the right course for remediation. When reviewing a change request, the approver can review the Effective Incident, Problem, and Change Management 3
8 Service management challenge Managing the complexity and cost of compliance. Today, the majority of the cost of compliance comes from the significant degree of manual and costly labor. This manual process can inadvertently introduce errors and often erodes confidence in an organization s compliance state. Reducing the cost of implementation. One of the significant costs in implementing a new service management platform is customizing the platform to a specific IT environment. This is often a manual process that can require many hours to represent the managed computers as objects in the service management platform. How Service Manager addresses them business service to analyze impact and the relevant business information. The Compliance and Risk Process Management Pack with Service Manager: Automates and manages multiple compliance programs within the organization. Includes a compliance library that continuously updates the thousands of controls from hundreds of regulatory standards and harmonizes them into a consolidated set of control objectives. Instantiates the library with recommended control objectives, activities, and settings specific to core Microsoft operating systems and applications. Together with Operations Manager and Configuration Manager automates the control activities, including the test and evidence process to facilitate continuous audit and cost reduction. Facilitates the necessary change control required to manage policies. The powerful management pack authoring capabilities in Service Manager: Use management pack files as the container that details the object definitions for the various features of the product effectively providing Service Manager the instructions it requires to implement some process, workflow, or view in the product. You can easily customize the behavior of Service Manager and extend it by creating and modifying management 4 System Center Service Manager
9 Service management challenge How Service Manager addresses them packs. Include predefined management packs that help with change management, incident management, and compliance management. Any of these predefined management packs can be customized to meet the specific needs of an organization. Also, new management packs can be created in instances when the majority of features and objects are not defined in a predefined management pack. Optimizing Datacenter Management Scenarios Service Manager can help solve many of the datacenter service-management challenges IT operations experiences, as the scenario illustrated in Figure 1 shows. In this scenario, Operations Manager is monitoring a human resources (HR) application that runs on a Web farm. Operations Manager is configured to generate an alert if the application experiences performance problems or stops. The connector between Service Manager and Operations Manager automatically generates an incident from that alert so that IT operations can quickly resolve the incident using the embedded knowledge and incident templates in Service Manager. Effective Incident, Problem, and Change Management 5
10 Figure 1. Scenario for automatically responding to service performance problems Table 3 provides the high-level process and detailed steps for automatically responding to service performance problems. Table 3. Responding to Service Performance Problems in Service Manager High-level process Performance problems are identified. Detailed steps 1. Operations Manager detects that the application is experiencing performance problems and generates an alert. 2. Through its connector to Service Manager, Operations Manager sends the alert to Service Manager that then automatically generates a new incident work item based on the alert and assigns the incident to a tier one analyst. The level of integration between Service Manager and Operations Manager helps IT operations be more proactive and efficient in identifying problems. 3. At the same time, a user experiences performance degradation with the HR application and creates an incident ticket using the Service Manager Self-Service Portal, which assigns the incident to a tier one analyst. Because users are able to perform many self-service 6 System Center Service Manager
11 High-level process First level of diagnosis using incident management. Second level of diagnosis and root Detailed steps functions, calls to the service desk are minimized, which reduces the cost of support. 4. A tier one analyst is assigned the ticket that was generated by the user on the Self-Service Portal. The integration between Service Manager and Operations Manager helps IT operations to quickly identify the incident by: Using the service information in the Service Manager CMDB to understand the relationship between the service, the service dependencies, the users, and the business owner. Checking the application by clicking on the Operations Manager health checker within the Service Manager console task pane, which reduces the diagnostic time and provides the analyst an integrated management experience. Reviewing the history of both the incidents and the associated configuration items within the IT service. 5. The analyst opens up the service view within the Service Manager console, as illustrated in Figure 2, and identifies that the Web front-end of the HR application has a current incident. At the same time, the analyst runs some predefined management and administrative tasks in the application and visually verifies the performance problems within Operations Manager Health Explorer, as illustrated in Figure The tier one analyst escalates the incident by reassigning the incident ticket to a tier two analyst. 7. An announcement is created on the Service Manager Self- Service Portal to notify users that the performance problem is being addressed. This helps eliminate further incident tickets from being generated by end users. User satisfaction is dramatically increased because relevant and timely information is available about operations-related issues. 8. The tier two analyst reviews the history and discovers there have been multiple recurring incidents associated with the Effective Incident, Problem, and Change Management 7
12 High-level process cause analysis is performed by a tier two analyst using problem management. Performance problem is resolved by a tier two analyst using change management. Resolution of performance problem is verified by a tier two Detailed steps Web front-end of the HR application. 9. Because of the recurring incident, the analyst creates a problem management ticket, which links the user-initiated incidents and the automated operations manager incidents. 10. The analyst investigates the performance problem using Operations Manager by viewing the alert generated in the process and any indications of health problems in Health Explorer, as illustrated in Figure The analyst identifies the root cause as overutilization of the Web front-end servers, which is caused by increased demand on the HR application. 12. The analyst creates a change request to provision additional Web servers in the Web farm. The organization has predefined change request process workflows to quickly expand service levels, in this case provision new Web servers. The analyst uses the predefined change request process workflow for provisioning a new Web front-end server, which identifies the approver and the exact activities required to complete the provisioning. 13. The service owner for the application approves the change request. Highly automated approval workflows dramatically reduce the effort required for the change management process and make the analyst and service owner more efficient. 14. The analyst initiates automated processes to provision an additional Web server in the Web farm. In this scenario, the analyst uses an automated workflow that instructs System Center Virtual Machine Manager to quickly add capacity to the Web farm in the datacenter. Integration with other System Center products and Microsoft technologies allows analysts to initiate operations tasks in the Service Manager console, which improves the efficiency for performing these tasks. 15. The analyst uses Operations Manager to validate that the performance problem is resolved for example, viewing the alert generated in the process or looking for any indications of health problems in Health Explorer. 8 System Center Service Manager
13 High-level process analyst. Closure of problem and related incident tickets by a tier two analyst. Detailed steps 16. The announcement on the Service Manager Self-Service Portal is updated to notify users that the performance problem has been resolved. 17. The analyst updates the problem ticket to reflect the resolution to the problem. Recording the problem resolution allows analysts to more quickly resolve similar issues in the future, dramatically reducing the level of effort for operations support. 18. The analyst closes the problem ticket, which automatically closes the related incident tickets. Integration between problem and incident management dramatically reduces the effort required to maintain service levels and helps ensure users are productive. Figure 2 illustrates the service map for the HR application in the Service Manager console described in the scenario in Table 3. Figure 2. Screenshot of HR application service map in Service Manager console Effective Incident, Problem, and Change Management 9
14 Figure 3 illustrates the Diagram View of health for the HR application in the Operations Manager console as described in the scenario in Table 3. Figure 3. Screenshot of Diagram View of health in Operations Manager console Conclusion Service Manager helps IT organizations automate the service management process by orchestrating knowledge, processes, and activities. This level of automation helps reduce the effort required to perform service management processes as well as the time to resolution and potential configuration conflicts. The integration of Service Manager with Active Directory, System Center, and into thirdparty systems using connectors provides the IT organization with the relevant information required to make decisions and take action using highly automated, integrated processes. Service Manager connectors provide higher levels of automation by automatically generating incidents from Operations Manager alerts or detected drift from Configuration Manager Desired Configuration Management (DCM) baselines. Deploying Service Manager can help IT organizations improve their service management processes today, which can help them be more efficient and productive in the future. And that increased efficiency and productivity translates into lowering IT operations costs while improving the quality of the IT services delivered. 10 System Center Service Manager
15 For More Information For more information on System Center Service Manager: Visit the System Center Service Manager home page at Obtain the System Center Service Manager download from Microsoft Connect at https://connect.microsoft.com. Visit the System Center team blog at For more information on the System Center family of products, visit: System Center Configuration Manager at System Center Operations Manager at Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 at Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 at Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007 at Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 at For more information on MOF, visit For more information on ITIL, visit Effective Incident, Problem, and Change Management 11