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3 Basic Service Management Principles That Can Prevent Outages

06/26/2014 by: The SunView Team

Many businesses find themselves facing data protection and security challenges that can be difficult to cope with. In many cases, these issues center around the concept of availability, as system downtime can lead to data loss and customer satisfaction issues. Protecting data effectively depends heavily on establishing service management principles that let you build a stable, reliable and predictable IT climate. This doesn't just mean having good hardware, but also building effective process architectures that limit the possibility of human error and similar issues.

At this point you may be thinking something along the lines of "Sure, good processes are nice, but that isn't going to protect me against hackers and other external threats." Those thoughts are correct, but they also assume that hackers are a major problem for every business, and that may not be the case.

Procedural Mistakes, not Hackers, the Primary Threat
A recent Continuity Central report explained that the past year has been a tumultuous period in which many major organizations have experienced highly publicized service interruptions. This has contributed to significant media discussion and hype surrounding the idea of hackers constantly attacking businesses and striving for an opportunity to steal corporate data and cause their systems to go down. Hackers are a real threat, but the hype may be blown out of proportion.

Citing Gartner and looking at widely known incidents involving major companies, the news source pointed out that the vast majority of outages are not caused by hackers, but instead by human or procedural errors. Gartner found that, by 2015, approximately 80 percent of outages that affect critical systems will be caused by such issues. At the same time, 50 percent of that group of outages will occur because change, configuration or release management issues took place. These basic IT service management problems are the primary contributors to outages, not hackers, and businesses need to respond accordingly.

50 Questions for Building ITSM Requirements

3 Service Desk Tools That can Prevent Outage-Causing Errors
A good IT service desk solution can play a larger role in avoiding downtime than good anti-malware solutions, and effective service management principles play a critical role in this process. A few service desk tools that are particularly valuable in this area include:

  1. Change Management: A change management solution coordinates, schedules and provides checks and balances for various changes that need to be performed within the IT configuration. Such a platform plays an integral part in avoiding an outage by making sure changes are handled efficiently and without the risk of error. Even the smallest mistake, like performing change processes in the incorrect order, can lead to downtime.
  2. CMDB: A CMDB provides visibility into the nuances of the IT setup, particularly how configuration items interact with one another. This transparency is vital in preventing unexpected errors. Furthermore, organizations can establish a series of authorizations associated with different types of change operations made through the CMDB. The end result is an environment in which human error can be eradicated because complex changes can only be made when supervisors have had an opportunity to run the change through the CMDB and verify that it will not have any unintended consequences.
  3. Release Management: Application release processes are becoming more complex and frequent as agile development gains prominence and more businesses find themselves dealing with a high volume of application updates, patches and releases. These processes can lead to incredibly complicated and difficult release operations, creating plenty of potential for outages. Release management tools streamline the processes surrounding these operations and make it much easier for businesses to prevent a downtime incident.

Availability and data loss issues are major problems for IT leaders, but guarding against hackers isn't a complete solution. Instead, effective service management plays a critical role in preventing downtime and other problems.