[Editor's Note: Seven years ago this month, CEO Birket Foster of MB Foster introduced what the ITIL best practices can offer for a company aiming their servers into the future. But ITIL can help any shop on the spectrum between entrenched homesteader and fresh migration convert.The version 3 of the ITIL practices from 2007 was so similar to the 2011 version that no bridge examinations for ITIL v3 certification holders were created — so everything Foster advised about dashboards and ITIL remains true. Your first encounter with ITIL strategy might be during an acquisition, through, and that kind of introduction is not going to help your career. "If you get acquired by a company that knows and practices ITIL processes, you'll get run over," Foster says. He shared other ideas about managing IT as an investment in his article.]
By Birket Foster
The world has certainly changed since 2001, especially for HP 3000 users — it is not just the HP-supplied parts, services and support, it is the whole ecosystem. Folks who were the captains of industry, managing robust growing companies for their organization have retired. For some of you this will ring a bell. There are very few HP 3000-savvy folks under 50, and none under 40. That means as more members of the community retire, the replacements just won’t be there.
Probably 75 percent of the 3000-using companies we visit don’t have the HP 3000 resources to make major changes of their application or the operating environment any longer. This puts companies at risk. The risk that if something goes bump in the night, the team will not know how to recover. Is your 3000 in a tested disaster recovery plan? (It ought to be – it is always easier to catch something in test then during the real thing). Developing and implementing a plan is a significant IT investment goal for your community.
Yes, there are real companies in all those businesses still running on an HP 3000s. Some of them remain there because their investment in IT is working through a 5- or 7-year cycle, and then if the business is in good shape then they will take on the project of moving to something new. Some have failed in their attempt to migrate at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. In other cases, corporate is sending in the SAP team in a couple of years, and it will be five more years till they can decommission the 3000.
Your organization ought to have a dashboard which relates to the current state of each application and the ecosystem around it. The ecosystem includes staff, surround code, support plans and pledges from your third parties. And your senior management team should be made aware of the state of your systems. This includes all the tools to design/change, develop, test, integrate, deploy, operate, support the application plus the documentation, and the HR required to support and train new team members for each of the phases in the application lifecycle.
In a one-sentence motto, if you can't measure what you're currently doing, you shouldn't be doing it.
I am a big frameworks guy, so my thought is that if you have a framework you should compare what you have against an industry neutral way of looking at things – ITIL. This framework ensures you stay focused innovate and do the changes every company needs. For example, if you stay on the HP 3000 you need a plan to replace people who leave and take 3000 experience along with them.
ITIL v3, first published in May 2007 with a lot of input from HP volunteers, comprises five key volumes:
1. Service Strategy
2. Service Design
3. Service Transition
4. Service Operation
5. Continual Service Improvement
If you are serious about your organization’s IT you will need to have something similar. Colleges, universities and companies such as HP offer courses and certification in ITIL. You can build your dashboard once you understand the level of maturity your organization has in IT systems. Whether you buy commercial off the shelf systems or roll your own, you need a framework to make your systems supportable – plus something to help these systems focus on supporting your business goals and objectives.
Your HP 3000 can fit into an ITIL, and you will gather enough information to transfer the support of your applications to the next generation of employees at your site. I hope you are doing great work in the care and feeding of your HP 3000 based applications — and that this short piece has made you think.