What is ITOM?
IT operations management (ITOM) refers to the administration of all technology components and application requirements within an organization. ITOM includes the provisioning of IT infrastructure, capacity management, cost-control activities, performance and security management and availability management for all IT infrastructure and assets.
For organizations that follow the ITIL® framework of best practices for IT Service Management (ITSM), the ITOM process is described in the IT Operations Control book of ITIL 2011. The objective of ITOM under the framework is to monitor and control IT services and infrastructure and to execute the routine tasks necessary to support the operation of applications, services and hardware components.
What are IT Operations Management Functions
As an enterprise organization expands its IT infrastructure and application deployments, IT operations managers take on responsibility for a growing catalog of services. IT Ops are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all services and applications are stable and available for use by the business. To achieve this, ITOM professionals perform management tasks in three key service areas.
Network Infrastructure Management
Networking infrastructure includes all of the equipment necessary to provide internal and external communications for the business. Setting up remote access networks, managing the internal telephone system, regulating communication with external servers via firewalls and maintaining network security are examples of tasks that fall under this category.
Computer Operations & Help Desk
IT operations management includes the management of help desk services, such as incident response, event response and request fulfillment. IT operations managers are also responsible for scheduling and managing data back-ups, communicating information about incidents and network outages to users, controlling the creation and provision of user profiles and system access, and implementing a disaster recovery plan for the IT organization.
Server and Device Management
In addition to administering network infrastructure within the IT organization, IT Operations teams also administer network endpoints such as servers and devices. IT Ops plays a role in the day-to-day management of the servers that host key applications for the business, including maintaining, patching and upgrading servers. IT Ops managers may be responsible for provisioning IT assets (desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.) to users and ensuring that applications have access to the storage space they need to function correctly.
IT Operations Management (ITOM) vs IT Service Management (ITSM)
ITOM and ITSM are both frequently referenced to describe management strategies for Information technology departments, but despite the areas where they overlap, the two acronyms are not quite interchangeable.
IT service management refers to all of the activities that an organization performs to manage IT services throughout their entire life cycle, which includes strategic planning, design, building, service operation and continual service improvement. The industry-leading set of ITSM best practices known as the ITIL framework describes the service life cycle model in detail, offering a structured process for effective management at each stage.
IT operations management is also covered under the ITIL framework, so in that sense it can be said that ITOM is actually a subset of the activities of ITSM. For IT Operations managers and their teams, the focus is on execution of day-to-day tasks associated with operating the organization's existing infrastructure components and applications. These tasks are all part of the "Service Operation" stage of the IT service life cycle.
Taking a closer look at the ITIL v3 Service Operation manual, there are eight processes that must be maintained to effectively operate a service in accordance with the ITIL framework:
|IT operations control
|Policy and procedure management
We quickly begin to see the role that IT Ops plays in managing the Service Operation stage of the life cycle. Processes such as incident and event management, problem management and request fulfillment are managed through the IT service desk which is staffed by IT Operations teams. IT operations control involves the routine daily maintenance of the IT infrastructure, while facilities management focuses on management of the physical environment of data centers - again, both very much in the job descriptions for ITOM professionals. Access management, application management and technical management could all be covered by ITOM as well.
The take-away here is that:
- ITIL is the leading framework for ITSM.
- ITIL offers management guidance for five stages of the IT service lifecycle: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement.
- ITOM can include any of the processes covered in the Service Operation book of ITIL, including processes normally managed by the service desk.
- ITOM is a sub-discipline of ITSM that focuses on the Service Operation aspect of the service life cycle.
IT Operation Management Challenges
As businesses of all sizes continue to adopt new technologies such as cloud-based computing services (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.), virtualization and the Internet of Things (IoT), IT organizations are challenged to adapt their operations management processes and techniques to provide services in an ever-changing environment. As organizations expand their IT infrastructure, IT Operations must overcome key challenges to satisfy the performance, security and cost-control demands of the business.
Limited Visibility of IT Architecture
To effectively allocate resources and respond to operational and security issues, IT Ops teams need a high level of visibility into the IT architecture. Organizations that use legacy software systems with traditional on-premise architectures may find that their existing system provides limited visibility for IT Ops. When information is spread across systems, software and team members, IT Operations lack the proper controls and oversight to deliver on management objectives.
Increasingly Disparate Technology and Systems
Poor visibility is ultimately caused by the independent functioning of technologies, tools and processes that comprise the IT infrastructure. An organization may have some applications deployed on-premise, some applications provided through a SaaS provider, other applications hosted by an IaaS provider, etc. When these tools or applications lack the ability to share information or communicate, they must be monitored separately and at a greater cost in terms of money, time and resources.
Difficulty Scaling Operations
Poor visibility and control over increasingly disparate technology often means that IT operations teams are ill-prepared to scale their operations when a new service must be introduced and maintained. Without a system for integrating data from throughout the IT environment, the addition of new services can result in a more fractured IT infrastructure with poor oversight and increased security vulnerability.