For the last several years, services have been all the rage in IT. Talking about services is a sure-fire way to signal that the IT organization is trying to be more responsive and customer-focused.

The problem is that various parts of an organization often model services in entirely different ways.

Business managers have an implicit understanding of the services the organization provides to its customers. Enterprise architects then model those services from an architectural point-of-view — using an enterprise architecture (EA) tool to do so.

Technical operations then implement a set of applications, using yet another approach and tool to model those services — from their perspective — and then uses that model to manage the operational environment.

When you look under the covers, it is clear that architecture and operations management leverage different conceptual service models for their respective purposes.

It should, therefore, be no surprise that operations and EA are in a state of continual conflict.

The result is that the operations team has difficulty determining which technical assets impact which business services — and EA continues to design architectures that operations cannot wholly or effectively implement, because EA’s base architecture bears little resemblance to operational reality.

An Integrated, Single Source of Truth

As agile digital transformation takes root in enterprise organizations, this conflict between enterprise architecture and operations management threatens an organization’s core transformational requirement: the ability to adapt and be agile, while maintaining operational integrity.

IT organizations require an integrated approach that enables them to define services from a business perspective, tie them to the operational perspective, and then manage them in an integrated fashion.

Most importantly, operations must get out of the ‘modeling business.’ IT must create a unified single source of truth service model that the entire organization can rely upon — and then continually link it to operational reality.

A New Generation of Service Modeling Tools

A few progressive technology companies are developing a new breed of enterprise architecture and service modeling tools to solve this problem.

SAMU in action (Source: Atoll Technologies)

SAMU in action (Source: Atoll Technologies)

Tools such as SAMU from Atoll Technologies take a holistic, integrated approach to service modeling that makes it easier to model both business and technical services while simultaneously allowing operations to focus on management.

Atoll is even changing long-held terminology to help communicate the fundamental difference in approach. For instance, SAMU refers to the service architectures they define as “service knowledge bases” — to make them more approachable and understandable for non-IT audiences.

But more than just changing terminology, it is the highly integrated and bi-directional nature of this tool that makes it different. SAMU integrates with operational management applications such as IBM Netcool, HPE Service Manager and ServiceNow to ensure that all parts of the IT organization are utilizing the same conceptual service model at every stage of the service lifecycle.

This bi-directional integration allows operations to assess operational impacts in the proper context using traditional tools. At the same time, they can use SAMU to evaluate change impacts and service dependencies simultaneously from the perspective of the current operational environment along with planned future states.

Atoll calls this Configuration Management Database (CMDB) visualization, but the impact is universal: the planning, implementation, change and management processes all rely on a common service model — enabling the IT organization to move faster while avoiding the conflicts that misaligned information can cause.

The Intellyx Take

The transformation of organizations into digital enterprises is putting tremendous pressure on IT teams. Traditional operating practices that have long been sufficient are now impeding transformational efforts.

IT organizations can no longer afford to leverage independent processes and tools to manage their service architectures — the rate of change and the velocity of business in the digital era is just too great.

To compete today, an enterprise must have a crystal clear understanding of the services it delivers to its customers — and then be able to orchestrate its entire delivery model around them.

IT’s ability to create and use a shared, unified service model in every aspect of planning, delivery and management will be critical to achieving this strategic goal.

But as every IT leader knows, achieving this unified view of the delivery model is much harder than it sounds. The needs of enterprise architecture and operational management teams are vastly different.

An organization cannot simply pick a single tool and demand that every function within IT use it. Instead, IT organizations must create highly dynamic, bi-directional integrations between the various management applications in their arsenal to ensure that every team operates optimally.

The new generation of enterprise architecture and service modeling tools, such as SAMU, provide IT organizations with a solution: a holistic, single-source-of-truth service knowledge base integrated throughout the entire service lifecycle.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Atoll and ServiceNow are Intellyx clients. At the time of writing, none of the other organizations mentioned in this paper are Intellyx clients. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.

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  1. […] This article was originally published in the Intellyx BrainBlog. […]

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