The Operating Quadrant includes the IT operating standards, processes, and procedures that are regularly applied to service solutions to achieve and maintain service levels within predetermined parameters. To successfully perform the underlying service management functions (SMFs) within this quadrant, the operations staff must ensure that specific technical guidance exists for a given service solution. Documented operations guides are the primary means for providing prescriptive guidance and include the tasks and step-by-step procedures necessary to ensure the service solution is available and performs to stated requirements. They also reference standard service management functions and any required adaptation to these functions. Operations guides based on the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) now exist for many Microsoft server products and are available at MOF Risk Management Discipline for Operations.

Goal and Objectives

The goal of the Operating Quadrant is the highly predictable running of day-to-day tasks, both manual and automated.

The objectives of the Operating Quadrant include:

  • Ensure that operations guides exist and are kept current for every service solution.
  • Manage operating level agreements between the teams in support of the customer SLA.
  • Provide automation to proactively monitor and self-heal system problems to the greatest extent possible.

Team Model Role Cluster

The Operations Role Cluster within the MOF Team Model is the primary role involved with the various SMFs in this quadrant.

Operations Management Review

The Operations Review is the management review within the Operating Quadrant. The primary goal of the Operations Review is to assess the effectiveness of internal operating processes and procedures and make improvements as appropriate. This review focuses on internal processes and procedures contained in the operating level agreements (OLAs) designed to support and fulfill the customers' service level requirements, as well as how those activities can be improved. The information gathered in this review may be used in the customer-facing SLA Review. These improvements should go through the Change Management SMF processes described earlier.

A secondary goal of the Operations Review is to validate that the operations staff has documented their day-to-day activities and tasks in a corporate knowledge management system. This ensures that the key operational knowledge remains current and accessible to all members of the operations staff.

The SMFs

The seven service management functions in the Operating Quadrant are:

  • System Administration
  • Security Administration
  • Directory Services Administration
  • Network Administration
  • Service Monitoring and Control
  • Storage Management
  • Job Scheduling

The implementation of these SMFs will vary depending on the type of service solution being provided. In relating the MOF SMFs to Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), the SMFs in the Operating Quadrant are the most distinctive in that they are not based on any foundational processes provided by ITIL. Instead, these SMFs focus on the key operational activities required to manage a distributed computing environment, whether on the Microsoft platform or any other. They are also distinct from other SMFs within MOF in that they contain the majority of technical and/or product-specific guidance from Microsoft around MOF processes.

System Administration

System administration is somewhat of an umbrella process that is responsible for generally keeping IT systems running. The System Administration SMF administers centralized and distributed processing environments and often spans several tiers of operations and support. System administration is often referred to as operations management, both of which are very broad terms that need to be clarified within the specific IT organization or technology platform. However, system administration typically means overseeing a larger, enterprise-level organization and the administrative duties performed with that kind of organization.

System administration includes responsibility for:

  • Application management.
  • Operating system administration.
  • Messaging administration.
  • Database administration.
  • Web server administration.
  • Telecommunications systems administration.

Security Administration

At the highest level, the Security Administration SMF is responsible for maintaining a safe computing environment. Security is a critical part of the IT infrastructure; an information system with a weak security foundation will eventually experience a security breach.

The primary goals of security administration are to ensure:

  • Data confidentiality - Only authorized individuals should be able to access data.
  • Data integrity - All authorized users should feel confident that the data presented to them is accurate and not improperly modified.
  • Data availability - Authorized users should be able to access the data they need, when they need it.

Directory Services Administration

Directory services allow users and applications to find network resources such as users, servers, applications, tools, services, and other information. The Directory Services Administration SMF deals with the day-to-day operations, maintenance, and support of the enterprise directory. The goal of directory services administration is to ensure that information is accessible through the network using a simple and organized process by any authorized requester.

Directory services administration addresses:

  • Directory-enabled applications.
  • Metadirectories.
  • User, group, and resource creation, management, and deletion.
  • Daily support activities such as monitoring, maintaining, and troubleshooting the enterprise directory.

In addition to the SMF guide for directory services administration, there is an extensively detailed operations guide for Active Directory directory service available at Active Directory Operations Overview.

Network Administration

Network administration is the process of managing and running all networks within an organization. The Network Administration SMF is responsible for the administration and maintenance of the physical components that make up the organization's network, such as servers, routers, switches, and firewalls. Network administration must ensure that the network operates efficiently at all times to avoid any negative impact to the operation of the enterprise. This SMF works closely with the Infrastructure Engineering SMF (in the Optimizing Quadrant), which defines the architecture, topology, and components of the IT infrastructure.

Network administration covers:

  • Local area networks, including wireless and Internet access for employees.
  • Wide area networks and storage area networks.
  • Virtual private networks, including remote and dial-up access, as well as broadband and mobile devices.
  • Daily support activities such as monitoring, maintaining, and troubleshooting all networked components including hardware.

Service Monitoring and Control

Service monitoring allows the operations staff to observe the health of an IT service in real time. Within a distributed process environment, the accurate monitoring of a system is complicated by the integration of systems with partners and suppliers in automating a given company's value and supply chain. To ensure the IT service remains available, the Service Monitoring and Control SMF is typically responsible for monitoring the following system components:

  • Process heartbeat
  • Job status
  • Queue status
  • Server resource loads
  • Response times
  • Transaction status and availability

However, knowing the current health of a service or determining where a service outage might occur is of little benefit unless the operations staff has the ability to resolve it, or at the very least notify the appropriate group that a specific type of reactive or proactive action needs to occur. This is what is meant by the term "control." When combined and implemented properly, the Service Monitoring and Control SMF provides the critical capability to ensure that service levels are always in compliance.

Storage Management

Storage management includes a great number of individual components such as servers, storage hardware, storage software, storage networks, tools, and operational processes that must be seamlessly melded together so that businesses can reliably safeguard their data while trying to realize cost and efficiency improvements. Businesses and organizations are also suffering from the tremendous data growth explosion as more and more information is stored electronically.

Ensuring that these systems, and their stored data, keep operating is a critical part of business planning. While the Storage Management SMF lies within the Operating Quadrant and now includes the Print and Output Management SMF, it is intricately tied with the Optimizing Quadrant SMFs of Capacity Management, IT Service Continuity Management, Availability Management, and Security Management.

Business continuance is the process of ensuring that critical data and systems remain available even if hardware, software, or environmental problems interrupt the primary servers' normal operation. Storage management also works with the other SMFs in the Operating Quadrant to ensure that operating level agreements are achieved for items such as recovery time objectives and availability metrics, which then enable the customer's SLA requirements to be met.

Job Scheduling

Job scheduling involves the continuous organization of (batch) jobs and processes into the most efficient sequence, maximizing system throughput and utilization to meet SLA requirements. The Job Scheduling SMF is closely tied to the Capacity Management and Service Monitoring and Control SMFs.

The goal of job scheduling is to ensure that:

  • SLAs and user requirements are met.
  • Available capacity is used most effectively (in other words, the workload running at any given time does not exceed the acceptable capacity levels).

Job scheduling entails defining:

  • Job schedules - The workloads are organized by time periods (daily, weekly, monthly, annually) and jobs are scheduled for running according to business needs, length of job, storage requirements, and associated dependencies.
  • Scheduling procedures - Schedules are set up and maintained, conflicts and problems pertaining to scheduling are managed, and special needs (for example, as-needed jobs) are accommodated.
  • Batch processing - Jobs are run according to work schedule, run priority, and job dependencies.