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Service Centric Model For NOCs And Data Centers

By Suparno Biswas The Telecom sector has been creating industry leading technology and enterprise management frameworks for its own IT infrastructure for decades. So when faced with ITIL, the common reaction from the Telecom world is a 'been there done that' one.
Oct 30, 2005

ITSM Watch Staff

By Suparno Biswas

The following paper describes what ITIL brings to the table beyond TMN, FCAPS and how an ITIL strategy, can introduce and effectively implement a Service centric model for the NOCs and Data Centers. ITIL based process design and implementation projects frequently face the question of where to start and what is the Gap. This helps in scoping a most cost efficient effort estimate.

Some of the concepts that ITIL brings are not new to TMN or FCAPS (e.g. Configuration Management has been a practice in the Telecom sector for quite some time.) At the same token there are differences that are not merely semantic, which positions ITIL as a more tightly integrated set of processes addressing the whole service stack. This paper acknowledges the TMN/FCAPS framework as a practical baseline and outlines the next step of how to implement ITIL in the journey towards the adaptive enterprise.

The FCAPS Framework

  • What is FCAPS? FCAPS:-Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance and Security. It is a framework used for network management systems to manage scalable environments to minimize the network downtime. FCAPS was initially standardized by ISO for telecom networks but ITUT has extended it for data networks too.

    The following table summarizes the features of each functional area of FCAPS:

  • What is working right and the intent? The framework is successful in the network management sphere. It provides essential foresight and knowledge to optimize the network performance through fault, performance and configuration management. It addresses security, which is a major concern to IT, service consumers with respect to data protection.

    The object oriented approach, which helps in modularity; and this increases the ability for abstraction and reliability. Also, the framework enables the development of concurrent network applications on different OS platforms. The cost of porting is less than new development effort.

  • What is NOT working right? There has been an increase in services in the Telecom world due to competition and technological maturity. IT has to evolve with the new services business introduces and be more flexible. There is very little business to IT alignment. Organizations are more "SILO'd"(partitioned) towards measuring profit and loss. There is no service centric approach although the products are all "services" which are being offered. This disconnect increases the time to adapt to new business needs and to new services.

    Network can no longer be separated from the IT infrastructure. If a server or a software application is down it will affect the quality of a network service being provided. The infrastructure supporting Web services makes it even more obvious.

    ITIL and FCAPS - a comparison

    The approach (a phased one)
    The solution needs to be built around the gaps between the frameworks and methodologies. This eliminates the typical ITIL implementation approach to start from ground zero of "Configuration and Change Management." For existing processes, gaps should be identified through workshops and assessments. For new processes like SLM the more traditional path should be taken, beginning from training to communication to automation/tools. Try to use a Service Desk suite of tools that is designed with ITSM "Best Practices," this will reduce the customization effort spent on tools.

    Fundamentally, a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle needs to be in place. The KPIs for each ITIL process can be leveraged to determine the maturity and completeness; at the same time using 6-sigma concepts around variability will provide a more tangible goals to set and achieve. There needs to be a targeted, pre-determined goal, which will be a direct function of the degree of consistent intensity driving the momentum of the efforts.

    Bridging Business and IT
    Neither ITIL nor FCAPS comprehensibly address this. The dot COM era has taught the CIOs that IT plays an essential role in being successful from a business perspective. It influences the time to go to market, maintain quality of service and also reduce the service delivery costs. Here are some lessons learnt which can be key to the success:

    • Set goals that are useful to the business and are quickly achievable
    • Communicate the goals to the business
    • Engage the business people to define services, participate in Change management etc.
    • Creating services that support (indirectly or directly) the business processes; prioritize them based on the business need and not on technology.
    Alternative approaches
    • Use non ITIL aware tools: Cannot leverage Best; need to use other pre-configured tools else would need to spend more time to customize tools
    • No change; continue using TMN FCAPS. Will the business be satisfied with this approach? This is not a viable option since all the major telecom firms are implementing ITIL at some form or the other. In order to survive in the highly dynamic telecom and data networking market adaptability is a necessity and not a luxury.
    • Tackle one ITIL process at a time: This is a very pragmatic approach. In the Telecom world however, technology and the business model change will not condone this. But there are various combinations of the ITIL processes and its interdependencies that can be worked out to match the speed of change.
    One of the major benefits is to use the expertise for ITIL implementation projects to increase the efficiency of the future projects. The optimum path described here is not the only one. As new services emerge and new lessons are learnt the solution set will also evolve. In fact, ITIL has also changed considerably as feedback is being provided from the field.

    Suparno Biswas is a senior IT manager at New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, and has led various teams of engineers, architects and managers to successfully deliver IT infrastructure management projects, both at the pre and post-sales phase. Suparno has seventeen years experience in the computing industry, focusing on enterprise management, software development lifecycle, system architecture and design. Suparno is an honors graduate in Electrical and Telecom Engineering from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India. He did his post- graduate work in Computer and Information Science at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has also completed a mini-MBA program in General management sponsored by Wharton School of Business. Suparno has served as adjunct instructor at major educational institutions and financial firm.