Zero Outage Architecture
Stepping back from IT in general and Zero Outage specifically, whenever you want to build something, you better have a plan. The plan translates the purpose into a blueprint, which outlines what to build and how to go about doing it. That’s what an architecture is for.
Going back to IT and Zero Outage, you need an architecture to translate the mission of building services with zero business disruption into a repeatable and predictable method. Arguably both, the Zero Outage service itself and the IT delivering it, need an architecture. In other words, the Zero Outage architecture needs to guide what the service ought to look like and how to build it from start to finish. That is what this chapter describes.
When thinking about the challenge of guaranteeing no business disruption, it quickly becomes clear that this is not business as usual, but requires to question the traditional way of delivering services. It is a fairly common observation that providers aim at “just” meeting service levels but don’t focus on optimising the consumers’ experience.
Hence it makes sense to improve the fundamental approach and architect the “what” and the “how” jointly, holistically and consistently:
- Focus on the consumer value of the service by organising service delivery (and IT capabilities for that matter) along an integrated end-to-end value chain. Only when all involved IT constituencies collaborate seamlessly towards a common goal, does it optimise the outcome for the consumer (rather than sub-optimising an individual function).
- In order to deliver Zero Outage quality the service needs to be architected, designed, built, activated and maintained according to concise, actionable non-functional requirements along every step of the value chain. It is very hard/costly, if not impossible trying to manage a service as zero outage if it hasn’t been built for resilience, performance, security and usability. Doing so will likely have implications to the nature of individual capabilities themselves, e.g. rather than focusing on restoring service as quickly as possible, operations focuses on anticipating and preventing issues before they occur.
However, it is worth considering that one will not succeed by merely having the architecture, but it requires the organisation to genuinely live the value chain, changing behaviours, and with that ultimately evolving the culture.
Recap Zero Outage Value Proposition
The main goal of the Zero Outage Industry Standard is to strive for Zero Business Outages. Companies following this standard will benefit from the combined industry experience of providers as well as consumers of highly available and reliable IT solutions. It contains recommendations to find the right balance between reactive and proactive activities.
The Zero Outage collection of best practices offers specific guidance to enable IT professionals to plan, build, deliver and run end-to-end IT solutions suited for the most critical business functions and processes. Our proposed Industry Standard offers a holistic view beyond technology and includes additional dimensions like people, processes and security.
Therefore our objective is twofold:
- Describe how to provide Zero Outage enabled services based on operating procedures for customers and concrete use cases for suppliers.
- Prescribe how to implement Zero Outage compliant services and management capabilities with concrete design criteria that shall be used by suppliers as requirements document for their product and service development. The benefit for the consumers of IT services is a standardised, precise and measurable input into Requests for Proposals (RFP).
Motivation and Objectives of the Zero Outage Architecture
In order to articulate descriptive best practices and prescriptive design principles for the delivery of Zero Outage compliant services, the specifications must be holistic and consistent, covering the complete operating model of IT across people, processes and technology:
- Guidelines towards organisational structure and specific people competencies, including the required architectural governance to steer the execution of service delivery, both within the provider and the consuming organisation.
- The process framework in which services are being delivered. ITIL is a great start with a very high adoption in the market, however, there are additional and complementary areas of prescription required to achieve Zero Outage quality. In addition, the process framework should integrate recent paradigm shifts in IT, like complex sourcing and more agile ways of working.
- The technology platform is the basis on which the services are being delivered and so requires specific architecture policies to guarantee the levels of resilience, security, availability and performance to support the Zero Outage quality goals.
Consequently, the Zero Outage association operates workstreams in all these categories to glean the combined market knowledge and innovative thinking of the participating members, and distill this into an easily consumable and usable guidance. The editorial board is chartered with the goal of structuring and guiding the work across all workstreams to achieve the required integration and consistency.