Visible Ops: Continuous Improvement

by on October 26, 2008 · 3 comments

In my last posts, I’ve introduced you to the IT Process Institute’s “Visible Ops Handbook” which presents IT managers and system administrators with a clear road map of how to adopt best practices within their organizations and how to work smarter instead of harder. The first three phases outlined include change management, configuration management, and build processes. Today, I want to share with you their keystone practice that really ties all these pieces together in a single whole that will give your company the competitive edge in today’s agile business world.
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Visible Ops: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Build, Build Again

by on October 12, 2008 · 2 comments

By now you should have a better understanding of how your data center is setup and exactly what’s all in there. You’ve been carefully monitoring changes to this environment and are ready to take it to the next level. The “Visible Ops Handbook” introduces the concept of “production fuses” : when things go wrong with a fuse, you don’t try to repair it; instead, you simply replace it with a working one right out of the package. Not only does this require less downtime, but you can be pretty sure that the new fuse will work as expected (and not accidentally burn down your entire home!). Your confidence in the correct functioning of the new fuse is directly related to how well you’ve been monitoring changes on that production fuse. If some engineer has made undocumented fixes or “improvements” to it (which is probably what caused it to short out to begin with), then the pre-fabricated fuse you replace it may cause unintentional side effects and further headaches. Replacing instead of fixing is what all high-performing organizations do, giving them high server to sysadmin ratios, less unplanned work, and the ability to maintain manageable system configurations.
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Visible Ops: Setting Up Your Configuration Management Database

by on September 30, 2008 · 2 comments

The next step to get a better grip on your environment is figuring out exactly what kind of production configurations you have running out there. If you’ve ever caught yourself walking through the data center and wondering just what in the hell those servers in the back corner are for, this phase will be quite the eye-opener. Now that you have changes to this environment under better control you can start to invest some time in assessing what you actually have.

“Catch & Release”

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Visible Ops : 4 Agile Steps to ITIL Compliance

by on September 21, 2008 · 1 comment

Anybody in operations that wants to gain more control and understanding of their environment has heard of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). This set of concepts and techniques introduced by the UK’s Office of Government Commerce in 1980s heavily borrows from the ideas outlined in IBM’s “Yellow Books” by Edward A. Van Schaik (and later merged into the single volume “Management System for the Information Business”). While such works can be sorted out and implemented by a skilled IT department, what about the smaller companies that want to start off on the right foot and not wait until they begin to grow by leaps and bounds to implement senseful IT practices? Enter “The Visible Ops Handbook” written by the IT Process Institute.
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Visible Ops: Rolling Out Change Management

by on August 28, 2008 · 6 comments

Last week, I introduced you to “The Visible Ops Handbook” and their 4 Agile Steps to ITIL Compliance. While there is no silver bullet for your particular problems, these steps should serve as a good starting point. Today, I’d like to go into a bit more detail regarding what the Visible Ops folks call “Phase One” of getting a grip on your operations environment. Remember, this first step can take many months to roll out so if you want to do this in an agile fashion, start small and gain forward momentum (and the rest of your team’s confidence) with early, measurable successes.
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