ITIL V3, End User Experience Monitoring and the Command Center

First of all, thanks to Kirstie for filling in on this blog whilst I was away on extended sick leave. Thank you for an informative set of articles on ITIL V3 Kirstie!

My own thoughts are mixed on V3 – some of which was covered in this post on ITIL Qualifications.

Whilst not welcoming everything that has happened with V3, one thing I do welcome is a clearer focus on end-user experience, especially for monitoring. One thing I do see those involved in monitoring focus on is component-based monitoring (such as routers, individual servers) rather than the actual services that they provide to customers.

Now, I'm not saying it's a good thing to monitor individual devices, but the focus, as much as possible, should be on the end user service and experience. If you are producing Availability or Downtime statistics (for examples of which, see our white paper on Availability) then the most important graphs should not be component related, but end-user related. Specifically, I mean that systems that are important to your customers should be the focus – so rather than have Availability graphs that show

Router: Trillian 99%

Server: Zephod 98%

I prefer to see

Payroll System 95%

Sales Order Processing System 99%

(Note: I prefer the second example over the first because the first does not accurately tell me what the end user experience has been. For example, it's not clear if Trillian and Zephod were down at the same time, or different times – so how much downtime did our users experience?)

Which means, in many cases, your Availability statistics are going to be more accurately mined from your Incident data (because you log all your downtime, right?).

Although Command Center users sometimes view that tool as a component-level monitoring application, they usually ignore one of it's most powerful features – it's ability to log-on to websites, interact with them (examining the responses) and logging off again. So, if you deliver web-based services to users, it can act as a thoroughly tireless user, logging on every few minutes, performing the tasks you set it, and then logging-off again – recording the results of this as it does so.

It doesn't deal with AJAX (if you don't know what AJAX is or think it refers to the son of Telamon, a mythological Greek hero, google for 'AJAX Programming'). However, for most websites it works perfectly well.

Adopting this kind of approach to monitoring goes past components, and straight towards the end-user experience.

If you want to find out more, look-up the HTTP functions in the SerioScript reference, which you'll find on the Command Center help menu. The functions are targeted at those who have some familiarity with how web applications work. A worked example is also distributed with the tool.