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What are the weak links in your IT services?

This article was originally published here on February 24, 2016.

IT services consist of many components — some you own and others you obtain from 3rd parties. Like a chain that is only as strong as its weakest link, your services are only as strong as your weakest components.

To provide service assurance to users and business stakeholders, your IT staff must understand not only how your services are constructed, but also their weaknesses.

Here we discuss some common elements that IT organizations should monitor.

Availability in the IT environment

Most components in your IT ecosystem aren’t designed to work continuously 24×7. They require backups, maintenance windows, periodic restarts and sometimes they fail to operate as intended or expected and must be fixed.

The downtime of individual components reduces the availability of your service. Understanding what downtimes are needed for your service components and optimizing when they occur can improve your overall service availability.

Performance and its effects on service supply

IT services can be thought of as mini-manufacturing processes with inputs entering, processing occurring in workflow steps, and outputs exiting. The throughput capacity of the service is only as big as the narrowest point in the workflow.

If you try to push more volume through the service, then it won’t increase the output; your transactions will eventually slow, or even stop. This applies to both speed and capacity.

Support SLAs ensure better service

It is common for IT services to depend on components that different internal teams and external suppliers support.

For example, a Web development team may support software applications and user-interface components while another team provides hosting and network connectivity involving some external service providers.

When the service breaks, SLAs drive the speed at which various support teams respond. It is important to know who is responsible for supporting each component, so you can call for help and ensure nothing is left uncovered.

Security and patching is first priority

Companies’ IT environments are constantly under attack from people with malicious intent (hackers), users who don’t understand the design limitations of the systems they use and simple software bugs that haven’t been fixed yet.

The key to ensuring security of your technology and business data is ensuring all components are current on the recommended patches and fixes. This won’t protect you from all the threats in your environment, but it can provide you some defense against those which are known.

Each of these represents an area of potential weakness in your IT environment. Unless you know the components of your IT services, you may be putting your organization at risk when the weakest link fails.

IT discovery provides the data about what you have, but it often misses much of the dependencies and connective tissue between service components that would enable you to see weaknesses that aren’t obvious.

Visualization makes it easier to identify weaknesses

The infrastructure visualization capabilities of Virima will help by allowing you to see the different services in your environment, the components that support them and the supporting data for those components that could alert you to potential weaknesses.

With these capabilities, you are able to see the services and dependencies in a visual form. IT discovery and other sources have provided data, you are able to connect the dots between components.

Your data will likely have some gaps that require you to act. Virima’s autonomic social discovery capabilities will help you identify many missing pieces now, or you may need to enhance your IT discovery capabilities for items you don’t have a means of collecting today.

Make your visualizations more insightful

In addition to presenting the structure of your services in a visual form, it is important to present that data with insight. Virima enables you to add supporting attributes about your components to the pictures to make them more meaningful.

Some common attributes that are most helpful for assessing weaknesses and risks are:

  • Supplier and support team information
  • Availability data
  • Security risks and threat alerts
  • Patching status
  • SLAs

You can’t address your areas of weakness unless you know them. Text-based reports don’t give you the insights you need to understand the complex structure of your environment and highlight the areas of concern.

With Virima, you will know the locations of the weak links, have the service performance you need and ensure the right support coverage when things break.

Virima features can automatically discover and map your critical IT resources and the interconnections that link them to one another, your applications and services, and your users.

Virima is here to help. To get started, contact us today to schedule a demo and explore the possibilities!

If you’d like to publish us in your publication, please reach out to us at info@virima.com

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Virima is a SaaS platform that solves your toughest IT operations management and reporting challenges. Learn about the various IT challenges IT Asset Discovery, App & Service Dependency Mapping, IT Asset Management, Build a CMDB, Change Management etc.

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