Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Infrastructure Management Keeps Reliable Applications in the Race

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cross-train IT staff to perform operational tasks across the various software assets that compose the application infrastructure. The resulting impact is a drag on application reliability owing to inconsistencies in how assets are viewed and managed as well as inefficiencies in trouble-shooting as core staff teams must convene to solve configuration management problems.

Solution.
Here are two suggestions:

  • Investigate various configuration and change management tools that can offer you an integrated, coherent view of the assets and configuration properties in your environment.
  • Look for tools that not only allow you to identify configuration items as they change but also give you an ability remediate problems via comprehensive release management or deployment capabilities.

Change Management Process Challenges

Introduction.
Companies today are pressuring their IT teams to not only increase the reliability of their business critical applications but to field and support a growing list of applications.  Many of these are the so-called "composite applications" which Gartner Research VP Ronni Colville refers to as "wiggly applications."  She imposes this term because these composite applications open the door to continuing change cycles between development and the IT teams-particularly during the pre-production phases of  staging, QA, user acceptance test, and performance test.

Problem.  The pressure to move applications through these processes into production often forces IT team to act in "fire-fighting" mode where configuration changes are made ad hoc to solve specific problems, outside of an ordered change control process.

The results are only satisfactory in the immediate term: the specific problem is solved, but IT remains mired in an endless loop of fire fights. And the business impact from this is severe:

  • Failures from this source comprise greater than 40% of application outages, according to research studies from Gartner, Forrester and Enterprise Management Associates.
  •  67% of IT resources are tied to maintaining existing legacy applications, unable to move the business forward, according to Gartner.

Solution.
Here are a few things to consider:

  • Review the ITIL guidelines for change management and develop a plan for instituting an ITIL-based framework in your environment.
  • Provide training to IT staff to insure that they comprehend the impact of inconsistent or haphazard change processes and that they understand and adhere to newly-instituted change management processes.
  • Investigate change management tools that are consistent with ITIL norms and fit with your internal management processes.

Conclusion

Building reliable applications depends not just on the development process but also on consistency and reliability in the IT infrastructure where those applications run.  A strong focus on making incremental improvements among your people, process and products can deliver high reliability in your application infrastructure, thereby improving application availability and quality.


Jim Hickey , mValent's Vice President of Marketing, has more than 20 years of software marketing and sales experience with emerging and growing companies. He is a former strategy consultant with global consulting giant, Booz-Allen & Hamilton and has an MBA degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a BA degree in
Economics from Harvard College.

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