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Why Event Management Matters

Getting a handle on Event Management has a lot of benefits, writes ITSMWatch columnist George Spafford of Pepperweed Consulting.
Sep 3, 2009

George Spafford

A very beneficial process formalized in ITIL v3 is Event Management. This process can enable IT organizations to greatly enhance their ability to detect and respond to situations in their infrastructure. As with many processes one of the first steps is to understand the associated objectives and benefits in order to assess value and then market Event Management to stakeholders within the organization. Thus, this article will focus on discussing why Event Management is so very relevant.

IT has used monitoring tools for decades now to gain insight on how systems are operating. Usually tools would be purchased and then aspects of systems monitored based on what the tool could do and what the people implementing the tool knew about the system. As time went on, the tools evolved to trend data over time, generate alerts and alarms and send them via pages and emails and even trigger applications to execute predefined tasks. However, the processes that could leverage the tools didn’t keep pace.

A good deal of knowledge has built up over how to monitor certain systems (and now end-to-end services), but consistent manner to collect and apply knowledge in a relative short amount of time with high degree of success is lacking. This is a repeated theme we see in IT: technology-led approaches that deliver inconsistent results. Instead, what is needed is a process-led approach that not only delivers consistent results but can be evolved as well.

The Event Management process is a formal process that begins during Service Design and extends through Service Transition into Service Operation. It is tasked with the formal definition of events, including their identification criteria and the approved responses. It has a defined process owner and manager the same as other processes.

Finding the Needles

To level set, an event is a change in state. It could relate to hardware, software, people, facilities, environmentals, etc. For any data center, or IT organization overall, there is an unbelievably large number of events transpiring every second. Somewhere in that storm of events there are certain events that IT should know about. So, how do we find the proverbial needle in the haystack?

When we look at monitoring the IT landscape, what frequently happens is a new application is installed in a data center and operations then figures out how to monitor it. Even accepting some missteps and a sometimes steep learning curve, a complex system may not be monitored correctly for as long as a year. We need to shift the thinking to one of services and a service development lifecycle that takes all aspects of a service into account during development―including what events may happen and how to monitor for them.

With a properly designed and implemented Event Management process, the walls between development, test, and operations are broken down to allow for the understanding of the entire service that is being provided. Coupled with Service Asset and Configuration Management an understanding of the overall service is identified. This includes not just dependency/relationship data but also operating parameters, monitoring for known errors, and so on. Service level management (SLM) can provide input on negotiated service level objectives and so on. These processes are all interdependent and need to work together and share information.

ITSM, Spafford, Pepperweed, Event Management, MTTR

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