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The Thankless Role of IT Operations Management

Level 9

One of the roles in my IT career was managing a large IT Operations Management platform. This was probably the most challenging role I have had in IT, as I quickly found out it was a thankless job. The majority of this role was focused on providing forecasting, log management, alert management, problem management, and service-level management. These tasks

Thanks-for-nothing-300x180.jpg all rolled up to what I called "The Thankless Engineer."  This was not because the job wasn't important, but because it needed to satisfy many different technology silos.  IT Operations Management needs to satisfy not only the operations teams, but also needs to meet the requirements and workflows of infrastructure, security, and application teams. This becomes very tricky business when trying to satisfy multiple IT silos' workflows. This role becomes even more of a pain when ops and apps team start receiving false positive alerts, as we all know how much fun it is to be paged in the middle of the night for a non-issue. The biggest issue I see with traditional IT Operations Management, is that it tends to fall on a general operations group to set requirements and needs. This method doesn't always allow a lot of insight into the needs\requirements of infrastructure and application owners.

So is it possible to take such a "thankless" role and convert it into a role that provides "business value"? Does "cloud" change the way we need to think about operations management? Does this thingy called "Devops" change operations management? I would say "yes" to all of these trends and we need to change quickly in how we think about IT Operations Management or we are going to fail to innovate. Efficiency and agility are two key traits that companies need, so they are able to drive innovation. IT Operations Management is a key part of allowing companies to deliver services to their organization and to their customers.

When changing the IT Operations Management process there are a few concepts that I think we should practice, so we can move from "thankless" to "IT Superhero:"

  • Utilize operation-aware tools for application teams
  • Provide application teams insight into the infrastructure
  • Provide infrastructure teams insight into applications
  • Utilize tools that are heterogeneous between private\public cloud infrastructures
  • Utilize application analytics to gain insight into to end-user experience
  • One tool does not rule all

I would love to hear from the community on what patterns they think need to change in IT Operations Management and any thoughts you have on "The Thankless Engineer".

 

16 Comments
CourtesyIT
Level 15

I agree with strebeld that communication between all technical groups and management needs to improve.  Not only what is happening today or next month but a strategic plan needs buy off from all teams and management in order for the organization to move in a positive direction.  Stagnation and status quo will always hurt the organization in the long run.

mharvey
Level 17

I agree that one tool does not rule all, but with that also needs to come the ability to find how to use each tool to it's maximum benefit in conjunction with the additional tools being used.  Oftentimes I see this turn into more of a "territory dispute" with admin's trying to tout one tool as more superior rather than seeing how using them together becomes a greater benefit.  Communication in the adoption of new tools is also key in order to allow the groups to understand what they are going to see, and how the tools can best be utilized by each team.  Overall communication is also needing to improve, especially where you have research, development, support, and IT teams under one roof.  Otherwise there's little chance of true advancement, and I think it's imperative for someone in IT Operations Management to help create the inroads needed for this communication, helping to turn a "thankless" role, into a more appreciated role.

Jfrazier
Level 18

Use if the ITIL framework and business SLA's are also crucial.

It needs to be an integrated effort from end to end with regular meeting with the various teams to improve and keep up with the changing environment.

By helping the other teams do their job in turn gives them incentive to help us do ours...

jkump
Level 15

I agree.  It must be a top-level approach in both technical and application areas with high levels of communication.  Changes can happen from all directions and by having communication at all levels creates a flexible infrastructure to allow review, explanation, and implementation of the necessary changes.  Keeping the organizational needs out front without being overly weighted down in the details.

cahunt
Level 17

I don't think many of us got into this biz for the prestige! 

rstoney00
Level 11

DEFINITELY !!!   If you are looking for the glamor job, IT is usually not it!  (pun not intended there, but go for it)

goodzhere
Level 14

And be receptive of input from other teams.  Some of it may be valuable.

Jfrazier
Level 18

That would be a requirement....especially if the other teams have monitors and alerts you have built for them.

I had set up a series of separate bi-weekly meeting with various teams just for that sort of exchange of information.

What are their pain points, what can we do to help, what is changing or heading out way, changes to note, what we are doing or changing, etc.

It is that 2 way communication that allows everybody to be a part of the entire process.

bleggett
Level 12

I think there's a tendency to view the devops concept as a panacea for all the ills of IT.  I'm not sure that's valid.  The potential is certainly there for it to lead to even more silos, additional complexity, and a lack of boundaries where they are truly needed.  As with everything, I'm sure that a lot is dependent upon the individuals and organization.  I believe that strong teams with strong leaders always find ways to succeed.  Organizational systems, management fads, and other flavors of the month are less important than a team from the top down and bottom up that believes in what they're doing, is committed to doing it well, and cares about the systems they manage.

cahunt
Level 17

So when you see me on stage, cheer at least a little.

strebeld
Level 9

@bleggett I totally a agree about devops not being the panacea for all the ills of IT... I think what is more important is constant communication between infrastructure and application teams. The infrastructure teams also need more insight into  business goals and upstream application teams.

strebeld
Level 9

Breaking down the barriers of communication between teams is a must going forward.

tcbene
Level 11

All teams and managers should have mutual respect for what each team brings to the completion of the IT mission for the organization.  Each team is an integral part of the overall mission accomplishment.

superfly99
Level 17

I must concur. I might do some great stuff which really saves the company but yet when it comes to awards time, there's never an IT award for roles like this. Only customer facing roles may get recognition for what they do even though my work in the background is what allows them to do their role.

But I still enjoy the work I do. As long as my manager knows the great job I'm doing, I'm happy.

patrick.mchenry
Level 11

great information

jkump
Level 15

Good article.