If yoursquo;re an IT director or CIO of a corporation that has large, business-critical environments, yoursquo;re very aware that if those environments are unavailable for any length of time, your company will be losing a lot of money every minute of that downtime (millions of dollars, even).
Most of my IT clients manage multiple environments, many of which fall into the business-critical category. One proactive step is to define rsquo;keyrdquo; or rsquo;criticalrdquo; environments, which can be assigned to a specific individual accountable for the restoration of service for that environment.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines a typical incident management process as one that is designed to restore services as quickly as possible, and a rsquo;major incidentrdquo; management process is designed to focus specifically on business-critical service restoration. When there are incidents causing major business impact that are beyond typical major incident management functions, itrsquo;s important to pinpoint accountability (special attention, even beyond their regular major incident process) for those business-critical environments where your company would experience a significant loss of capital or critical functionality.
The First Responder Role
Under multiple business-critical environment scenarios, each major environment is assigned a first responder who assumes the major incident lead role for accountability and leadership. The first responder has accountabilities that are typically over and above the normal incident management processes for which an incident manager and/or major incident manager may be responsible. The first responderrsquo;s accountabilities are to:
- Restore service for those incidents that fall into the agreed-upon top priority assignment (P0/P1, or S0/S1, depending upon whether priority or severity is the chosen terminology), as well as all technical support team escalations and communications to management regarding incident status and follow-up, once resolved.
- Create documentation to guide the service restoration process (often referred to as a playbook or other unique name recognized for each major environment), which specifies contacts for technical teams, major incident management procedures for that specific environment, identification of the critical infrastructure components that make up the environment, or other environment-specific details that would be needed for prompt service restoration and understanding of the environment.
- Develop the post-incident review process and communications, including the follow-up problem management process (in coordination with any existing problem management team) to ensure its successful completion and documentation.
I also recommend that this primary process management role of accountability be assigned to someone familiar with all of the components and processes of the specific environment they are responsible for, so the management process can run as smoothly as possible for business-critical incidents.
Reducing the Business-Impact of Major Incidents
With a first responder in place, the procedure for resolving major incidents is more prescribed. With each major incident, your company learns what is causing incidents—and most importantly, has a documented process in place for resolution. Ultimately, the incidents are resolved faster and more efficiently, and your company avoids costly loss of critical functionality or capital due to downtime and is able to avoid similar incidents in the future
The business increasingly looks to IT to drive innovation. By keeping business-critical environments available, you can deliver on business goals that contribute to the bottom line.
Brian Florence is a transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Michigan.
So we’ve automated some Site Recovery Manager failovers with PowerCLI. Say we run a weekly test for a given recovery plan. But now we want to know how it worked. Maybe generate a table report, maybe email it out, whatever.
Take a look at the following:
I’m assuming you’ve already done the Connect-VIServer and $SrmConnection to the appropriate systems. What next? Well as before the $SrmAPI mapping again gives us an entry point to the actual SRM API itself.
$PlanMoref = $SrmApi.Recovery.Listplans().moref
This is in essence retrieving the managed object reference ID for the recovery plan returned by “Listplans”. You will need to know which recovery plan you want to report on, but that is easily determined by running the Listplans method without any reference, i.e. simply running:
Once you know that you know which plan you want to run the report on and you know whether to pass a  or a  or whatever to the $PlanMoref variable you are creating.
Once that is done we want to pull out the managed object reference to the *history* of the recovery plan execution. So we execute the GetHistory method against the $PlanMoref variable we have created, and assign it to the new variable $HistoryMoref.
$HistoryMoref = $SrmApi.Recovery.GetHistory($PlanMoref)
This then attaches us to the history of the particular recovery plan we want, and gives us a nice variable name to use for the next step:
This, now, is the heart of the matter. It is retrieving the data from the latest run of the recovery plan we attached to earlier. The “1″ listed here indicates the most recent execution of the recovery plan. If we indicated “2″ it would not retrieve the second most recent, but the last *two* executions, and so forth. So to retrieve the details of the last run of our recovery plan, we need to know: a) The plan as listed by ListPlans, b) the Moref of the plan as listed by Listplans()[planid].moref, c) to attach to the history using the plan’s GetHistory($PlanMoref), and that we d) access the output by running GetRecoveryResult against all the prior input.
Make sense? Fundamentally it can be reduced to the 4 or fewer lines, as per my example at the top. What you do *with* that output is up to you! If you check out the sample scripts for generating reports against the SRM API, or really reference any PowerCLI materials you’ll doubtless come up with some great ideas for generating tables, reports, emails, whatever is appropriate.
One last thing though – we’ve generated a test run automatically, and now run a report against the result. What’s next? Run a cleanup, as per my previous blog about automating execution.
rsquo;Transform your organisation by leveraging the convergence of cloud with the inherent synergies between the information superhighway and the innovation confluence between crowdsourcing and viral inputs.rdquo;
Wersquo;ve all sat in meetings and presentations listening to meaningless strings of words like these being thrown around with reckless abandon. The biggest offender among these terms is the word transformation. It seems that every IT organization is undergoing a transformation of one type or another.
In the dictionary, transformation is defined as a marked change in form, nature, or appearance. By this rationale, any IT project could be considered a transformation, however I think itrsquo;s a little more nuanced than this.
For example, a number of years ago I was involved in a mail platform migration from Lotus Notes to Exchange. Within the technology department, this project was heralded as a major transformation. Was this really a transformation? The first step in deciding is ensuring that wersquo;re all speaking the same language, i.e., we have a common definition.
To decide whether an initiative is truly transformational, there are some key attributes to consider:
- Aligned to a business transformation
The surest indicator of an IT transformation is whether it is aligned to a business transformation. When the business undergoes a transformation, for example moving into digital markets, then IT needs to follow suit.
- Touches technology, process, and people
Transformation should not be limited to just technology; it needs to reach across the IT organization to include the elements of people and process. The software-defined data center (SDDC) vision is a great example of a transformation that drives efficiency and automation across the entire IT organization and fundamentally changes the way IT does business.
- Usually a large program of work
Larger programs of work have more touch points across the IT organization. This is not solely an attribute of transformation, but itrsquo;s certainly an indicator. In my earlier example, if the mail migration were a component of a larger activity based working (ABW) program, then it would be a transformation!
- Often has a cost reduction coupled with a productivity dividend goal
IT is continually being asked to reduce cost while delivering improved service levels. As a result, transformation almost always has cost reduction, efficiency, and productivity dividends. Otherwise, why would you bother?
- Is innovative, introduces something new, or modernizes
By definition a transformation is a change — and real transformation is driven by innovation within the IT organization. Businesses survive and thrive based on driving new innovations within their markets. IT is no different and must continually innovate to remain relevant and deliver the services the business needs, all within budget.
Using my previous mail exchange migration example, the outcome was not transformational as it was purely technology-focused with the business impact being a change in mail platform; evolutionary perhaps — certainly not revolutionary.
Now that we understand and have defined what constitutes a transformation, Irsquo;ll talk about how to transform your IT organization using VMwarersquo;s end-user computing vision in my next post.
In the interim, if you think of other elements that are required for a transformation or have any feedback, please drop me a line.
Daryl Bishop is a business solutions architect with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Melbourne, Australia.
This week’s question comes from the VCP5- Data Center Virtualizationpractice exam.
C) Converged Network Adapter (CNA)
D) Fibre Channel
Click through to thecommentsfor the answer and learn morehere.
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