The Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) Team Model is based on the concept that an operations team must achieve a number of key quality goals to be successful. Repeated experience with Microsoft internal operations groups, partners, and customers has proven these tenets in practice. These goals direct the team and help define the Team Model within MOF. The seven role clusters identified in the MOF Team Model each have a distinct set of objectives. Their quality goals (or missions of service) are:

  • Controlled release and change management and accurate inventory tracking of all IT services and systems (Release Role Cluster).
  • Efficient management of physical environments and infrastructure tools (Infrastructure Role Cluster).
  • Quality customer support and a service culture (Support Role Cluster).
  • Predictable, repeatable, and automated day-to-day system management (Operations Role Cluster). Protected corporate assets, controlled authorization to systems and information, and proactive planning for emergency response (Security Role Cluster).
  • Efficient, cost-effective, and mutually beneficial relationships with service and supply partners (Partner Role Cluster).
  • Delivery of a portfolio of business-aligned IT services (Service Role Cluster).

The result of sifting through examples and case studies of what works well in real-world situations highlights the best practices and repeatable successes that are the quality goals described here. These goals, described in more detail later, are then applied in MOF in such a way as to provide specific examples and ideas for how customers and partners may improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations and service management practices.

Release and Change Management

To maximize the use of existing resources and understand the cost components of operating and maintaining IT services and systems, the operations team must identify existing resources and track them at a detailed level. Knowing how to plan for change, assess the risks, and make the best decisions about implementing change requires well-documented processes, along with the documented history of previous changes. This allows the team to learn from the collective IT operations experience and adds to the internal knowledge pool.

A corporate knowledge base of change and lessons learned is invaluable when building on the experiences of distributed and virtual teams. An accurately maintained configuration management database (CMDB) enables consistent inventory tracking and change control.

Management of Physical Environments and Infrastructure Tools

Effective IT operations must include well-defined physical environment standards as well as tools for managing the physical assets and ongoing maintenance of the IT infrastructure. IT organizations require a huge amount of complex planning and integration of environments, hardware, software, and systems. Distributed organizational, cultural, and geographical boundaries introduce an additional layer of complexity in mapping languages, time zones, and business requirements into the management of infrastructure systems.

Alternatives for providing a blend of centralized and localized or distributed resources, depending on the business need and the system's capabilities, must be carefully analyzed. Automation and replication of standards (images, hardware, software platforms, and configuration tools) are strongly encouraged.

Quality Customer Support and a Service Culture

The quality of customer support creates the most visible perception of an IT department's overall quality in the customers' and users' views. The two fundamental constraints on the ability to provide high-quality, consistent customer support are:

  • Inadequate problem tracking, knowledge management, and communication tools.
  • The varied skill levels and high turnover of the staff supplying the support

Most IT customer-satisfaction metrics for success are based on elapsed time of problem resolution, number of problems reported, number of repeat problems or problems not resolved on the first request, and general customer satisfaction surveys. Many resources exist for support organizations to use, such as professional help desk and support services organizations, training centers, ITIL publications, and other consortiums of standards and best practices.

It is more important than ever for IT operations groups to have a true "service culture" because users of IT systems are more technologically savvy themselves and have higher expectations of systems and the people who support them.

Predictable, Repeatable, and Automated System Management

Running an operations environment smoothly and predictably on a day-to-day basis is often taken for granted when things go well; however, when they do not, it is not soon forgotten. Nearly every person in every level of the IT organization today depends in some way on the smooth functioning of operating systems in order to perform their individual tasks and responsibilities. Consistent, well-detailed documentation on policies and procedures for operations activities greatly assists the ability to predict and repeat consistent service management practices.

A key goal of successful service management teams is to ensure that daily, routine tasks are as automated and "hands off" by the operations staff as possible. Automation of the tasks must go hand-in-hand with solid and detailed monitoring of the systems to ensure that they are functioning as expected and that timely notifications are given when things go awry.

Mutually Beneficial Relationships with Service and Supply Partners

A fundamental shift in the corporate world in general and the software industry in particular is the move toward IT services as a core business. Software itself as a service, companies running as true virtual businesses with no physical customer-facing entities, the operations management environments, and the support of those services all require solid partnering with other businesses and trading partners for supply of specialty goods and services. Defining and managing those partnerships in a mutually beneficial and cost-effective way is crucial for the success of all involved.

Delivery of a Portfolio of Business-Aligned IT Services

Managing and maintaining a portfolio of appropriate service solutions for your customer may lead to the recognition that IT operations often provides the same underlying services to many different customers at many different service levels. How the service catalog is managed to best fit the needs of customers and continually aligned to meet their changing needs is the challenge addressed by the service managers.