BCP/DR, Remote Backup and Recovery

Computer Systems Management

  

Table of Contents:        
Introduction    
4 Steps of Management Methodologies     Systems Management Capabilities Vision
Value Add Proposition     Patch Management
Goals and Opportunities        

  

Introduction

What is Computer Systems Management and how can it work for me?  Systems management is a technology management methodology that is like the principals applied to traditional asset management life-cycles (cradle-to-grave).  The aspects of computer systems management focuses primarily on the computer system as a service providing entity, versus the management methods used for capital assets.  There is depreciated value in the computer systems management life-cycle and it is determined by the usefulness, popularity and life expectency of the computer hardware, operating system and application services provided.  In essence:

The life-cycle steps of managing systems from "cradle to grave":

  • Entry point
    • Selection and procurement of hardware, operating system and middle-ware components
    • Development of proprietary applications
    • Infrastructure provisioning
  • Deployment
    • Policy compliant configuration governance
    • Platform hardware, operating systems and middle-ware component installation
    • Proprietary application installation and certification
    • Inventory registration, cataloging and tracking
  • Platform Management
    • Patching, upgrading, local and remote backup and recovery
    • Compliance configuration governance
    • Resource consumption and trending
    • Alerting and event management
  • Retirement
    • Platform retirement or redeployment
    • Proprietary application useful life expectancy
    • Asset retirement or technology change

Business's need utilities to capture inventory identification of all hardware configurations, operating systems, middle-ware components, proprietary applications and cataloging of all ports and services defined for cooperative application access management.  Systems managers that are armed with these levels of details can begin managing systems at the core of their configuration and role within the corporate infrastructure.  This is a very valuable asset.

  

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4 Steps of Management Methodologies

An effective systems management life-cycle process is built on a four step approach, with many drivers.  How mature the services are within your current environment will determine how much work is still at hand to achieve optimum management capabilities. The four steps outlined show the areas for concentrated effort and assessments on how traditionally these steps are managed.

Step 1 - Patching, Packaging and Distribution         Step 1 Maturing Capability Model
Step 2 - Bare Metal Provisioning         Step 2 Maturing Capability Model
Step 3 - Systems Mgmt., Compliance and Governance         Step 3 Maturing Capability Model
Step 4 - Usage Value - vs. - Adminstrative Overhead         Step 4 Maturing Capability Model

  

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Step 1 - Packaging, Patching and Distribution - Concentrated Effort

  • Reactive events to vendor updates
  • Needs to be standards based for consistency in deployment practices
  • Predominantly manually driven - opportunities for automation exist

Step 1 - Packaging, Patching and Distribution Challenges

  • Packaging is a manual task - least amount of opportunity for automation
    • Vendor packaged distributions are typically non-systems management friendly
    • Standard packaging formats are based on vendor preferences
    • Localized configuration requirements require re-work/re-tooling of distribution packages
    • There may be no existing tools in-house to link directly into development release cycles
    • There may be no existing tools in-house to standardize package distributions cross platform
  • Patch analysis is a manual task - some areas of opportunity for automation
    • Vendors only certify their versions of a runtime environment
    • Manual intervention necessary to determine what to patch versus not to patch
    • Considerable human effort in patch certification at middle-ware and proprietary application layers
    • There may be no existing tools in-house to manage interdependency mappings across operating system, middle-ware and proprietary applications
  • Distribution success of packages to targets offer greater areas for automation
    • Target base changes can go by un-recorded / reported
    • Many means for targets to be updated outside of governed processes and procedures
    • Capabilities of .NET and J2EE enables distribution channels that veer from traditional centralized services to decentralized services
    • Services on targets subjected to shutdown by platform owners
    • There may be no policies and governance and processes that exist to manage systems offline, at home or powered off
    • There may be no existing tools in-house to use for distributions
    • Short cuts placed into current packages are necessary to avoid business hour distributions.  Scheduling of distribution events offer an opportunity for automation

  

4 Step Management Methods

Step 1 - Maturing Capability Model - Software Packaging and Distribution

  

Step 1 - Systems Mgmt. Capability Model

  

Application Packaging and Handling

  • Proprietary applications - Partnership with development teams and administrations will go far in this area.  Packaging needs to be seamless, painless and require minimal or no involvement by developers.  There are source control systems that can deliver a release source tree to an alternate location.  Proprietary applications will then need to be shrink wrapped into the standardized local format and then funneled into the local dependency database for cross referencing and mapping.  A lot of coordination and partnering needs to take place to enable this level of competency.
  • Downloaded versions - downloads will need to be re-packaged into the standardized local format and then funneled into the local dependency database for cross referencing and mapping
  • Box set media - box sets will need to be re-packaged into the standardized local format and then funneled into the local dependency database for cross referencing and mapping
  • Tape, CD Medium - all software received on tapes or CD medium will need to be re-packaged into the standardized local format and then funneled into the local dependency database for cross referencing and mapping
  • Vendor provided media - vendor distributions need to be re-packaged into the standardized local format and then funneled into the local dependency database for cross referencing and mapping
  • Paper licenses and CD Keys - The ever growing issue with paper and CD Keys increases as software providers attempt to stay one step ahead of piracy.   Store these in README.txt files and include them with the software.  Apply access controls to the README files.  Send paper licenses and CD jewelry boxes to your off-site storage facility for safe keeping.
  • Localized inter-dependency mappings - The key byproduct of the value proposition of all work efforts.  Inter-dependency mapping is the process used to identify all known dependencies of a software service.  Once captured and identified the inter-dependencies are then cataloged, cross referenced and stored in a database for future referencing.  Inter-dependency mapping is the key component that can mitigate regression testing efforts by development organizations when new updates, patches or hot fixes are applied to the runtime state of clients and servers.

  

4 Step Management Methods

  

Step 2 - Bare Metal Provisioning - Concentrated Effort

  • Out of the box systems configuration based on roles (i.e. web server, app server, infrastructure server, database server, etc.).
  • Minimal amount of human intervention for bare metal provisioning
  • Offers the most opportunities for automation

Step 2 - Raw Iron Systems Provisioning Challenges

  • Bundling of operating systems and distributions - opportunities for automation exist
  • Software packaging and distribution - opportunities for automation exist
  • Defining standards - enables opportunities for automation and mitigates impacts to platform compliance governance opportunities
  • Integrated patch management - opportunities for automation exist
  • Tools for software distribution management
    • Check point restart
  • Tools for interdependency mappings
  • Tools to integrate with source control repositories
    • Room for integration and automation in release management
    • Room for standardization on package distribution formats
  • Tools for effective registration, cataloging and inventorying of applications
    • True across proprietary applications
    • Somewhat true for middle-ware components
    • Not true for operating systems vendor provided ala-carte components

  

Step 2 - Maturing Capability Model - Bare Metal Provisioning

  

Step 2 - Systems Mgmt. Capability Model - Bare Metal Provisioning

Bare Metal Systems Provisioning

  • Rules based engine governance over automated systems provisioning:   The driving force behind consistency in the provisioning services for bare metal builds.  The rules based engine is just that... rules based.  Meaning: Rules are created stating all the build characteristics of a system from bare metal to operational readiness.
    • IP address strapping to defined network interfaces; System type = server, workstation, network device, printer, etc
    • Software packages defined for installation; NIS and DNS domains defined
    • Hardware configuration (Memory to SWAP); System role
    • Business unit mapping; cost center; etc.
    • Centralized real-time logging capabilities enables management and status information on build services

  

4 Step Management Methods

  

Step 3 - Systems Management, Compliance and Governance - Concentrated Effort

  • Performance monitoring, trending and usage based awareness
  • Access roles and application/user attributes enabled
  • Change control and release management

Step 3 - Systems Management, Compliance and Governance Challenges - Major Opportunities for Automation

  • Performance monitoring and trend analysis
    • Enabler of capacity on demand decision making
    • Availability and service-ability reporting
  • Application auto discovery
    • Platform access identification at service and network layers
  • Release, change and platform synchronization management
    • Roll forward / Roll back
  • Delegation of roles and responsibilities - Access Controls
  • Compliance configuration management
    • Security vulnerability identification and remediation
    • Monitoring and management of compliance configuration drifts
  • Cluster aware reporting
  • Centralized real-time logging capabilities enables management and status information of distribution services

  

Step 3 - Maturing Capability Model - Systems Management, Compliance and Governance

  

Step 3 - Systems Mgmt. Capability Model - Systems Mgmt, Compliance and Governance

  

Systems Management, Compliance and Governance

  • Automated application discovery, port map utilization, system call tracking identification and aggregated availability reporting
  • Systems configuration synchronization with golden images and with drift parameters and roll forward/back "what if" capabilities
  • Application/user access controls, delegation of roles and responsibilities, inherited group level attributes
  • Resource consumption and trending reporting; cluster aware - subscription based reporting for over/under cluster utilization
  • Governance and Compliance - rules based driven with drift parameters and roll forward/back "what if" capabilities
  • Centralized logging - Inventory capture, syslog reporting, and security, compliance, governance drifts

  

4 Step Management Methods

  

Step 4 - Usage Value - vs. - Administrative Overhead Concentrated Effort

  • User usage demographics reporting - opportunities for automation
  • Usage and resource consumption analysis
  • On/Off platform access reporting - opportunities for automation
  • Health state reporting - opportunities for automation, impact on governance
  • Availability reporting - opportunities for automation

Step 4 - Usage Value - vs. - Administrative Overhead Challenges

  • Identification of deprecated operating system, hardware, middle-ware and proprietary services
  • Usage value versus management overhead assessment
  • Health state awareness

  

4 Step Management Methods

  

The Systems Management Capabilities Vision

  

Systems Management Capabilities Vision

  

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Value Add Proposition

The value add proposition of the systems management philosophy is the reduction of operational impacts to the development organizations.  With proper controls and inter-dependency mapping capabilities systems managers can take a more proactive approach to sustenance and maintenance.  Development organizations will have less impacts on their resources to continuously conduct regression testing of their services.  Overall operational efficiencies are gained, systems are maintained current and platforms are sustained in a reliable and stable state.

  

Development Organization Value Add Proposition

  

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Goals and opportunities for process efficiencies can be gained

  • Entry point
    • End to end automated systems provisioning capabilities of bare metal
    • Full data catalog of hardware, operating systems, middle-ware and proprietary application software inter-dependency mappings
    • Rules based table driven provisioning capabilities
  • Deployment
    • Standardization on software packaging methodologies and distribution channels
    • Out of the box compliant systems build governance
    • Integration with development source repositories to streamline application distribution services
    • Authoritative hardware, operating system, middle-ware, proprietary application tracking
  • Platform Management
    • Automated patch management services tightly coupled with inter-dependency knowledge base - reduction in resource impacts for regression testing
    • Compliance configuration governance - monitor and alert on security vulnerabilities and out of compliance configurations
    • Delegation of roles and responsibilities
    • Integrated alert and event management correlation
  • Retirement
    • Platform retirement, redeployment or consolidation
    • Proprietary application useful life expectancy
    • Asset retirement or technology change

The methodologies of systems management principals are built upon the four step process and provides both value and benefits in the following areas:

  • Standardization - Consistent operating system configurations, middle-ware application installation locations and uniformed proprietary application deployment methodologies enable development organizations to deliver consistent solutions without worrying about the runtime environment for their products.
  • Simplified Administration - Automation of basic systems administration tasks is key to the successful management of server farm infrastructures that scale beyond a hand full of server.  User accounts, host name resolution, system inventory and health state analysis are core competencies we possess in the management of server infrastructures.
  • Change Management - Deployment of change into a production environment accounts for 80% of system outages.  This figure is based on industry trends and analysis.  One of the primary goals of systems management is the implementation of documented processes and procedures to protect the integrity of the runtime state of production environments.&nsp; Documented changes and post change validation are vital competencies to effectively manage the implementation of change.

  

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Patch Management

  

Systems maintenance is a fundamental core competency of effective systems management.  The application of operating system, middle-ware and proprietary application fixes can challenge even the most highly skilled technical organizations.

Patch management challenges increase in organizations where in-house development teams work independently and in isolated/insulated development platforms.  These types of development constraints are considered to be a share-nothing environments.  In these instances IT organizations find themselves applying patch updates on a per system (or farm) basis in order to mitigate the potential for systems outages, impacts to the stability of the development environment or minimize impacts to the runtime state of the platform that can have a direct impact to the stability of the in-house developed product.

  

Patch Management Life Cycle

  

Patch Management Life Cycle

  

The share-nothing environment impacts an IT organizations ability to effectively apply known system deficiencies and vulnerability fixes within a timely manner, under the threat of hostile code.  The inability to act quickly in the application of patches places the business at risk of operating system and middle-ware failures; exposes your corporate intra-nets to known security vulnerabilities and hacker attacks.

Share-everything environments pose the same challenges as those of share-nothing environments with the difference between the two being a longer time frame to apply patches due to varying development cycles.

  

Shared Platform Patch Management Life Cycle

  

Shared Platform Patch Management Life Cycle

  

We work with you and your IT team to implement a patch management life-cycle that fits your business needs, with applied controls to mitigate the potential of production outages.  Our applied methods can gradually bring your compute infrastructure (shared or non-shared) to current status and via automation, keep your environment current and free of known operating system and middle-ware bugs and security vulnerabilities.

  

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