GSX Blog

Defining a Service Reporting Strategy to better manage IT infrastructure

Posted by Meryll Moreau on Tue, Dec 17, 2013

When generating reports, it is critical to ensure that the report information is clear and relevant to your audience. Different individuals require different types of data within an IT organization, making it difficult to sort through high volumes of data related to collaborative environments. This can be a daunting task that requires high overhead costs, but it could be avoided by taking the right approach.

The Right Approach: Define a Service Strategy

A "Service Strategy" is an ITIL term based on the assumption that you view IT as a service that is being delivered to your customers. In order to define your Service Strategy, the following fundamental questions need to be addressed:

  • What is the service being delivered?
  • Who are you delivering it to?
  • What does the service encompass?
  • How do you measure the quantity of service delivery?
  • How do you measure the quality of service delivery?
  • How do you monitor service delivery?
  • How do you manage service delivery?
  • How do you plan for capacity requirements?

Now let’s assume that you have defined your Service Strategy. How do you report on it to your customers? How do you track and report on it internally? How do you anticipate issues, threats, and capacity requirements? All of these issues need to be addressed prior to delivering or purchasing a service. It is futile to define a service if you are unable to report on the quantity and quality of the delivery of that service. To manage a service, you must be able to measure it.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are formal agreements of the expected level of service delivery that is agreed upon between the customer of the service and the company, department, or individual delivering the service. To better understand how SLAs help balance out an IT organization, please refer to the image below.

sla management resized 600

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be used to monitor performance and the ability to meet SLAs. KPIs are not usually components of SLAs, rather they are metrics used to quantify the service.

Let’s take an example of an SLA and the KPIs that could threaten your SLA. Your SLA is: All Emails are delivered within 10 minutes after being sent. To monitor your SLA, you have set up a mail probe to measure the average delivery time. However, you do not want to be in a situation where you are reacting to a broken SLA, you want to be in a situation where you can predict when an SLA is at risk and take proactive, remedial action. The solution is to monitor the KPIs that could potentially threaten your SLA so that you can be alerted of potential problems and resolve them before your SLA is broken. In this example, those KPIs include Dead Mail, Pending Mail, Mailbox Size, and so on.

Therefore, to have proactive service management, it is essential to monitor your SLAs and the KPIs that impact them.

Fast-paced technology developments and changing user behavior require the ability to service more mobile workforces, conduct efficient resource planning and respond quickly to changing market conditions. Resource planning in messaging and collaboration environments affects the whole organizatoin, as performance glitches are generally noticed immediately.

To get the job done, IT Managers typically need to adopt planning tools that can map out the consequences of changing things, such as usage volumes and shifts between different messaging and collaboration platforms. They also need the capability to map out the consequences of observed trends in the user base and align them with overarching company goals.

Before implementing a planning tool, an IT Admin may also want to generate different scenarios based on trending statistics over different time periods with end-to-end service. These performance scenarios can involve different SLA levels based on specific mail routing configurations and high availability requirements. The end-user tests should focus on the time it takes to complete different tasks. 

Scalability these days is anything but linear: traffic volumes and usage patterns, service pricing structures and user perceptions all contribute to the preferred service scaling strategy. IT needs to run several different scenarios, and then involve management in choosing the right one. 

Have you already defined your Service Strategy? Did you follow any of the tips included in this article? Let us know about your experience by commenting below!

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Tags: ITIL, sla, GSX Analyzer, application performance monitoring, Reporting, GSX Usage Metrics