Service Management System (ITIL) using SharePoint

Spent last night working on designing the next components to ITIL solution using SharePoint my team has fielded as a Federal Department.  The first module tracked service requests from a catalog of service.  These services are higher level than the MOF services than the Microsoft System Center tracks and reports.  I had previously passed along to my friends and contacts last year the request to have some form of System Center – SharePoint integration.  They managed a first release several months ago; however, I may have to build my own as the level of service abstraction does not match what I’m using.   ITIL using SharePoint conceptual model

Fortunately, System Center uses SQL so using SharePoint 2010’s Business Connectivity Services (BCS) should make the connection easier.  The issue is that System Center defined services are servers and application programs.  These are the lower level of abstraction than what I use in the ITIL solution fielded.  The service catalog I created two years ago has services that are more recognizable to business people.  The architectural issue I deferred was creating an operational Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB), thinking Microsoft would eventually move up to the abstraction layers to supporting Service Level Packages (SLPs).  I instead created a static model using lists that related all the components into a service level package that defined each advertised service in the catalog.  MOSS 2007 was a little under-functioned to support building a truly operational catalog.  However, since services are slow changing objects it was a good compromise.  With 2010’s enhance capabilities building abstraction levels similar to the abstraction levels I had conceptualized for Activity Directory during my CIO Workbench/Digital Nervous System projects should require less code.  Presently I’m evaluating whether to have the catalog an extension of the MOF database and expose it thought BCS or create a separate database that references or has an ETL routine that synchronizes with the MOF database.  The later approach while more complicated would provide a more robust solution and isolate it from changes Microsoft makes to MOF over time.

 Other enhancements that 2010 has brought, Records Management feature, enables the addition of tracking requests and fulfillment robustly enough to create an invoicing system for chargeback models.  The Service Bill of Materials (SBOM) prototype was stripped down to a development LOE estimator only, however, I kept tracking efforts with the original module with the objective of adding that as part of the Order Management model.  Behind the scenes the prototype estimates; service creation LOE, capacity requirements and eventually capacity forecasts of inflight SharePoint Service requests.  The model is general enough to be able to adapt it to other software environments.

The approach I’ve been taking is similar to what I’ve done with my Intellectual Arbitrage Group applications hosted on Microsoft Office Online Templates: no or limited coding so the solutions are subject to limited revisions as Microsoft evolves its product lines.   

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ReTooling

Spent most of yesterday doing a brain dump on social networks and media for the Managing Partners of the firm. Today’s task will be to cull it down to the relevant and actionable for them to prioritize and work on.   The tough part of this assignment is trimming away to the required vs. desired.  I always believe that the background information is just as important as the action item it supports.  As I’ve been and continue to be a trusted advisor and –I hate the term—coach/mentor to numerous executives, professionals and people just starting out in their careers; the one thing I found that’s gotten most of them into CLMs (Career Limiting Moves) has been not getting enough depth to appreciate the situation.

Today, more than ever almost every situation is nuanced.  While the 5 minute manager approach may help with delegation, clearing one’s desk before the end of the day, it brings with it the risk you’ve hidden a problem that will fester and come back in a day, week or month in a more critical form.  This because one didn’t want to take the time to really listen.  If you follow the news on the economy and all the shortcuts that are being taken you can see the end results.  We seem so fixated on instant gratification and new experiences our society seems stuck in a Mobius Loop trying the same solutions with new window dressing and labels expecting a different result.  Einstein’s comment on insanity seems appropriate here. — Just a random but connected thought to my task at hand today.

What I had started to post today was reviewing my reading stack and retooling activities.  –for those that haven’t met me face to face, I’m known to be a voracious reader ~10 books a month.  The majority of these are typically business and technology books.  Many in different fields that give me insights to solving problems in my field, which is how I came about naming my company Intellectual Arbitrage Group (leveraging knowledge from one field to solve problems in another).  The picture is last month’s and this month’s current reading list.  [Not sure if I’m winning or losing, the stack keeps getting bigger]

Three of the several I’ve started this month are fairly practical are by friends: Ira Fuch’s Enterprise Application Development in SharePoint 2010, Steve Fox’s Developing SharePoint Applications using Windows Azure and David Pallmann’s The Windows Azure Handbook Volume 1.   Like the books so far, extremely jealous that they manage to write books.  I’ve about a half dozen false starts on my Enterprise Architecture book.  The best I’ve been able to do so far is contributing ideas, concepts and methodologies to others books, staying in the background or writing articles or creating methodologies and training materials.  This blog and a writing course a friend, Ken Hall at Gensle, had referred me to, is an effort to finally get what I do that friends and clients say they admire that I do into print, so they can do it too.  The other books are more theoretical, however, what I seem to be able to do for others is bridge that gap from theory to practice making these concepts actionable, thus is the life of an architect/methodologist.