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Friday, February 02, 2007

Service Metrics Are Your IT Report Card

We all know that user surveys can be baked the way we want, picking and choosing the users you include (or invite) in the survey is not uncommon for smaller, less established, helpdesks. What really shows you're worthy of retention is service metrics on the services and resources your department provides to management.

While some technology groups that measure availability can realize over 99% availability for all services, smaller, less responsible groups would be happy to realize 70% if they knew at all how they were doing. Perhaps they don't understand the benefits of high-availability.

Availability is amount of time all critical services are ready to use and functioning properly to the exclusion of planned downtime (within the Change Window). This Change Window can be quite the advantage when considering that while a full week is 7x24, and some services are truly 7x24 services, most applications in a business are NOT 7x24 instead they are 5x12, or 6x10, or perhaps 5x13+1x10. Any of these scenarios provide windows of opportunity for changes and upgrades, if we consider a business running Monday through Friday from 7AM - 10PM, we can safely consider a Change Window of 6 hours a night and 54 hours over a typical 2-day weekend.

Your measure of availability is against the time outside of those windows, in the above example, we have 84 hours of Production Availability for business systems, that shouldn't be too hard to realize on a regular basis, but things do happen. This does not include web servers and Internet-facing systems, and may not include other systems because there are some systems that demand 7x24 functionality. In these scenarios scheduled windows may be permitted and may deserve the use or provisioning for alternate or redundant hardware.

Tracking your availability, the success of your changes, and reliability of the services you provide may be a painful reminder of your challenges, but they also allow you to set goals to improving your services and becoming (proving you are) a world-class technology group.

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