Enterprise Infrastructure and Application Maintenance and Monitoring – A System Integrator’s Approach

June 28, 2017

Red Cedar Consultancy, LLC is a small yet highly matured, fast growing, HUBZone certified, woman-owned IT consulting and services firm consistently delivering quality products and services to several U.S. government agencies and private sector industries. In their 5+ years of providing IT integrator services Red Cedar has played key role in helping large enterprises tackle many enterprise level IT challenges that span a wide range of IT services to include application acceptance, application deployment, application change control and application monitoring. Red Cedar with its extensive hands on knowledge in these areas has developed a unique, PMBOK based Enterprise IT Maturity Score (ENIT-MS) system that analyzes the enterprise’s IT service catalog with its applications and IT assets such as servers and network and matches those assets against current processes and tools used for development, maintenance and monitoring and generates a maturity score. This score helps CTO and CIOs focus on targeting the processes that need improvement and tools they need to invest in in order to increase the overall Enterprise IT Maturity Score.

 

With several years of maintaining and monitoring many enterprise level applications, our team has learned that Change Control and Application Monitoring are key to application stability from both customer and CTO perspective. Having the right processes and tools for change control and application monitoring makes a big difference in the enterprise maturity level.

 

With our extensive boots-on-the-ground experience Red Cedar has developed a deep understanding that an Enterprise’s overall IT performance grade is directly related to the performance of the software applications of the enterprise. Customers measure the performance of an IT organization by measuring application’s availability, speed and data integrity. Application’s availability, speed and data integrity are rarely a direct result of the application code that is running but is an outcome of a combination of infrastructure quality that it is deployed on and processes and tools used for building it. Infrastructure quality can be further divided into infrastructure software such as operating system, DNS, DC and mail servers, server hardware such as virtual servers, cloud based servers, networking and security devices. Many large enterprises have separate sub-divisions responsible for each of the infrastructure components. Many large enterprises also have a change control board. Hence, a well performing enterprise application is a result of an IT organization whose processes and tools across various divisions perform like a well-oiled machine.

 

Since application performance is dependent on many other factors outside of code, performing change control and application monitoring that produce real results then require tools and processes used across divisions to function in synergy. Change Control managed by configuration management tools and Change Control Board (CCB) processes and monitoring tools and processes must have a thorough knowledge of the co-relation map with a drill-down to the minutest of configuration item (CI). An enterprise change control board for e.g. should be able to pin-point all the applications that will be affected by a change in configuration to a router, firewall or a security device, precisely having a map between that configuration item in the device to a list of applications.

There are many tools in the market that perform change control and application monitoring activities for individual sub-divisions of an enterprise such as networking and server hardware. The choice of the toolsets and processes adopted are often driven by the skillsets of the engineers managing those tools but are ineffective because they lack an enterprise level view and alerting. Engineers in charge of those devices and services are often busy performing their day-to-day job activities. To produce a true enterprise level view, it requires developing a strong co-relation mapping both at change control activities and monitor activities. There are some tools available in the market that make a co-relation engine available as part of their monitoring offerings but come with a steep learning curve for configuring and using the tools. Additionally, enterprises constantly change their service catalog thus requiring an in-house tool expert to manage the tool.

 

Needless to say, CTOs face a herculean challenge in unifying their divisions with a vision for enterprise level change control and monitoring and building a co-related view using outputs from several different divisions, tools and processes. To successfully control this chaos CTOs must have access to one dedicated team that has IT skills that span a wide range of IT knowledge and wide range of Project Management domain knowledge such as change management processes and quality control processes. The team must develop a deep understanding of the application and its functionality and the software components such as databases, frontend technologies, analytics tools and SaaS that make up the software application. The team must also develop a thorough understanding of the change management and monitoring tools.

 

Red Cedar with its unique Enterprise IT Maturity Level Score system uses PMBOK prescribed templates to collect and analyze an enterprise’s change management and monitoring processes and tools and generate an individual score for all processes and tools and a consolidated enterprise score. Individual scores help CTOs spend their resources in the areas that need the attention. Red Cedar then deploys the right IT resource set to tackle the problem(s). For example, Red Cedar will deploy a PM resource where a process improvement solution is needed or deploy an Enterprise Architect when an Enterprise Dashboard need generated. We deploy a database architect, frontend architect, a server architect, network architect alongside an enterprise architect and a process improvement expert for a complete end-to-end maturity improvement solutions.  

 

Red Cedar has seen tremendous success using this model to improve an organization’s maturity score because of three main factors. One, it lets CTOs know the areas that need attention, two it frees the engineers of the burden of trying to contribute to monitoring and change control while performing their day-to-day job of keeping the devices and services running and last but not least it sets up an authoritative, focused team whose primary focus is to bring synergy between myriad of tools, processes and teams and align them towards a truly matured enterprise.

 

  • Red Cedar Team

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