IT departments still 'fighting too many fires,' survey finds

Service modeling and management may help elevate IT service levels, but progress has been slow.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

One of the most important value statements you will hear regarding information technology management is that its needs to devote more time and resources to furthering business innovation, and less to maintenance and day-to-day operational issues. 

That's the vision, at least -- but not anywhere near the reality yet. A new survey finds that most IT staffs spend significant time struggling to keep  up with change management, as well as trying to improve overall end-user service quality.

These are some of the findings of a survey just released by Neebula Systems, covering 100 companies with more than 500 employees. The survey showed that IT staff still wage daily battles to put out fires -- there was an average of 30 or more critical and major events open for 88 percent of respondents. When there is a problem, most time is spent tracking down the owners of affected systems -- cited by 61 percent.

Service modeling is a way to address these issues, and these projects have helped, somewhat. Neebula's survey confirms that most respondents are engaged service modeling and management at some level, the increasing complexity of today's data centers make things all the more challenging. And there's a lot of work that still needs to be done.
(Neebula has a horse in this race, by the way -- it is a provider of business-level service modeling and management solutions.)

In most service modeling efforts, respondents say their goals are to improve processes around root cause analysis (listed by 68 percent of respondents), change impact assessment (67 percent) and business continuity planning (51 percent).

However, the survey shows, only about half the respondents say their goals were met with these projects. Another 28 percent said "our initial goals were not met but we are realizing value" and 23 percent answered "our goals were not met."
The majority of respondents (84 percent) said they already had between 21 and 60 percent of their business services are defined in service models. Those are used to help IT align with business requirements to maintain availability of services such as billing, email and inventory management. Only four percent had completed more than 60 percent – indicating the vast majority of IT operations do not avail themselves of business service topology models.
None of this appears to be for lack of trying, with multiple types of tools deployed by IT, such as device-specific consoles (primarily for servers, network, and storage devices), transaction tracking tools, application performance management and other monitoring software.  In addition, 90 percent were using Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs), with many indicating they are using CMDBs from more than one supplier. Seventy-five percent say they maintain service models in the CMDB.

(Photo credit:  U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook.)

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