What is IT operations (ITOps)?

IT operations (ITOps) describes the people, processes and services associated with delivering quality IT services and keeping digital services up and running.

ITOps can include everything from network operations to the overseeing of virtual and physical components within a company’s IT environment. With this in mind, it’s natural that IT operations managers and their teams have a broad set of roles and responsibilities.

But while organisations enjoy the freedom to establish their own definitions, roles, and responsibilities within ITOps, there are certain core functionalities common throughout most businesses. In fact, there are six classifications of IT operations tasks identified within the Disciplined Agile framework. Here, we outline these six classifications, and the activities that go along with each.

Graphic showing the benefits of ITOM.

Run solutions

The primary purpose behind ITOps, running solutions includes performing data backups, configuring servers and restoring systems after an outage or update. The purpose is to optimise the performance of these systems and allocate the proper resources where they are needed in order to be most effective with service delivery.

Running solutions includes configuring, tuning and allocating resources as well as restoring and backing up data.

Manage infrastructure

Maintaining oversight of IT infrastructure whether it is on-premises or in the cloud - is one of the key responsibilities of IT operations. Infrastructure is made up of computing, network hardware, software applications and cloud resources. Management of the infrastructure includes oversight of applications that are deployed in the cloud, network security, facilities management and hybrid cloud environments.

Managing infrastructure includes managing cloud data, security, networks, facilities, controlled software and hardware (including external devices).

Manage configurations

IT operations teams are responsible for documenting solution dependencies and hardware configurations, while also implementing new configurations for optimal performance of IT services.

Managing configurations includes documenting hardware configurations, as well as managing executable specifications, generated specifications and document-solution dependencies.

IT Evolves

IT is constantly evolving, and it is the responsibility of ITOps to ensure that evolution is directed by innovation and proceeds along a path that is capable of and supports business priorities.

Evolving infrastructure includes identifying ways to predict, prevent issues, identify impacts, apply software patches and update hardware and software.

Mitigate disasters

ITOps is in charge of disaster recovery plans—they plan, practise and simulate disaster recovery in order to protect the business and experiencing significant downtime.

Mitigating disasters includes scheduling and conducting the simulation of random disasters and other problems, while also creating detailed recovery and response plans.

Govern IT operations

The ITOps team monitors the performance of the infrastructure, in addition to the security posture of the organisation.

Governing IT operations includes developing metrics to evaluate the performance of important services and processes, conducting infrastructure audits, managing software licences and issuing alerts.

Predict issues, prevent impact

In addition to the six classifications outlined above, ITOps has the mandate to help defend IT operations from potential issues. Advanced ITOps which today includes Predictive AIOps is able to collect relevant data and turn it into actionable insights, allowing for easy identification of existing issues, as well as early detection of potential future issues. The end result is a system for shoring up IT weaknesses, and mitigating possible future problems, service degradations and outages before they occur.

IT operations control

ITOps managers own the process for IT operations control, which is designed to control IT services and the underlying infrastructure. Daily tasks include workload scheduling, restoring systems after outages and creating data backups.

Facility management

It is also the responsibility of the ITOps manager to maintain and manage the physical environment that houses the IT hardware. This also includes ensuring that the data centres and server rooms are properly ventilated and air conditioned to avoid overheating, and making sure that any back-ups are in place to maintain services in the event of a power outage.

Network infrastructure

Network infrastructure tasks include managing infrastructure for internal and external IT communications, managing telecommunications, port management, remote access to networks for users, security, monitoring network health and internal telephone system management.

Server & device management

Server and device management tasks include network and individual storage management, email and file server configuration and folder setup and authorisation, PC provisioning, mobile device and mobile phone telecommunications management, network and individual storage management and device software licensing and management.

Computer operations & help desk

Tasks that fall within the computer operations and help desk category include managing the help desk, managing the data centre, user provisioning, communications with network, auditing, computer operations, backups management and managing the IT infrastructure library (ITIL).

Each of the aforementioned categories are also responsible for vendor and contract management, managing outsider contractors, project management and deployment and repairing problems.

Success in ITOps depends on a variety of factors. The ability to properly balance these sometime-competing elements is a defining determiner in the effectiveness of IT operations.

  • Long-term (strategic) vs. short-term (tactical) goals.
  • Organisational needs vs. operational needs.
  • Operational efficiency vs. DevOps.

ITOps is one of the central functions of IT service management, application management and technical management.

Application management

This revolves around the more technical parts of managing applications, as they are necessary for supporting IT services within an organisation. The application management team plays a crucial role in designing, deploying, operating, testing and optimising applications, while also possessing knowledge of programming that is important for code-level application monitoring.

Technical management

Technical management provides high-level expertise for the strategic application of design management, and supports IT infrastructure. An IT team may choose a technical lead or analyst for important technology areas. The purpose is to provide technical knowledge for lifecycle decisions.

Service desk

One of the well-known functions within IT, the service desk acts as a point of contact between IT departments and the business, wherein users submit requests for IT services.

IT operations

ITOps has a unique role when compared to the above functions, although they may overlap in certain areas of responsibility. The goal is to control IT services and keep them up and running, in addition to the configuration items that are required to deliver such services. Some organisations may divide their service desk into separate IT operations and IT applications help desk.

ITOps oversees the setup, design, configuration, deployment and maintenance of the infrastructure that supports services. It has become one of the foundations of operational stability, as it provides an overall view of all managed aspects related to delivering the business mission. IT infrastructure is the technology that makes up the physical and virtual systems that provide processing, storage and network capabilities that are necessary for services.

Adopting the cloud has emerged in the past decade as the predominant IT operations model, and it has completely changed how IT infrastructure is composed, used and managed.

Public clouds are often an effective solution for cost optimisation, flexibility, elasticity, scalability and flexibility. But, many ITOps settings need private cloud solutions to provide compliance, control, reliability and security—this tends to lead to a hybrid cloud model to leverage both options.

It is becoming essential to incorporate edge computing into the overall plan. Edge computing offers increased ITOps efficiencies, as it moves data processing closer to the source of data, which reduces response times.

Using IT operations tools competently

Teams should embrace new tools that are being incorporated into the infrastructure, and ensure that all of the right skills are in place for growth strategies.

Responding to the needs of the business

ITOps must be capable of responding quickly to business needs, which means they need to organise activities and teams with a product-centric approach while avoiding traditional silos.

Leveraging IT automation

Embracing IT automation eliminates low-value, time-intensive and repetitive tasks.

KPIs build around customer and business needs

Metrics should be based around KPIs while focusing on the needs of the business and customers. A strong focus on KPIs helps ensure that all ITOps activities are aligned with the goals of business stakeholders.

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