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Rob McNelly

Rob McNelly

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March 2011

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Infrastructure-Management Checklist

Improve capabilities and evaluate service providers

By Joseph Gulla

Editor’s Note: In the March/April IBM Systems Magazine, IBMer Joseph Gulla outlined eight infrastructure-management challenges. Here, he provides a checklist to help identify these challenges in your environment.

Here are eight checklists that can be used to help you improve your own management capabilities and evaluate the capabilities of potential outsourcing and managed-service providers.

  1. Detect and handle incidents and problems
    • Implement standard monitoring tools and settings
    • Use technology to automatically handle incidents, open problem records and assign priorities
    • Use tools to anticipate and correct problems before they occur
    • Provide automated support for system administrators
    • Assign support personnel based on the severity of the incident or problem
    • Use service-level agreements
    • Follow rigorous and documented problem-handling and management steps
    • Utilize a specialized service manager and a multidisciplinary team as needed
  2. Handle changes with minimal impact on availability
    • Implement team participation in regular change-management planning activities
    • Use an effective software tool that facilitates the process–including required artifacts, teamwork and approval
    • Prepare for change: plan steps and estimate the time required
    • Test changes prior to implementation and prepare back-out activities in the event of a failed change
    • Use a skilled change manager
  3. Prevent security problems
    • Use information security controls like (ISO) IEC 27002 2005 to govern the overall security process
    • Implement security variables such as password length and update frequency early in the process
    • Perform security remediation as required for servers and other devices during setup
    • Look for security exposures during the ongoing support period and specify the frequency of these analyses
    • Report monthly on key security attributes and activities related to servers and other devices
  4. Effectively implement emerging or challenging technologies
    • Focus on skills support for virtual machines, logical partitions and related management software
    • Use change windows to make dynamic changes to production servers
    • Sustain skills in needed high-availability software
  5. Maintain server software and firmware
    • Proactively administer servers and use standard monitoring and management software
    • Manage server platform-support activities like patching and log-file maintenance
    • Perform server security administration for identity and access
    • Provide specific focus and support for virtualization
    • Provide high availability software support including periodic testing
  6. Employ useful reporting indicators
    • Post regular reports on a portal for easy access
    • Provide tools that focus on server resource management and generate performance and capacity reports
    • Set up a portal to enter problem records and change notifications
    • Provide links to other needed tools, portlets and services that support ongoing activities
  7. Supply the right tools
    • Availability management
    • Hardware-specific monitoring
    • Software monitoring of key computer resources like CPU and memory
    • Flexible notification handling
    • Performance and capacity management
    • Security management
    • Configuration management
    • System administration
    • Easy access to information
    • Automation
    • Standardized remote access
    • Problem and change management
  8. Rapidly deploy infrastructure and tools with ongoing management
    • Use a model or template project plan based on prebuilt components
    • Assign a project manager
    • Employ a delivery architect for technical support

Using these checklists as a guide, you can establish ongoing management procudures such as defining ongoing support activities using documented desk procedures, using a service-delivery manager and assigning security specialists, change managers and duty managers as needed.

Joseph Gulla is an executive IT specialist for IBM data-center services.