On the Menu at The Systems Cafe

May 23, 2011 3:15:18 PM

Welcome to The Systems Café!  Those who seek refuge herein will have the dubious honor of experiencing my stunningly opinionated ramblings on systems management topics, issues, news, rumors and general agita.  Don’t be intimidated by the topic – I’ll do most of the talking.  So, grab yourself a double-shot mocha latte and a blueberry scone and meet me at my favorite table for our discussion.  It’s the one over there under the lamp shaped like Rear Admiral Grace Hopper’s hat.  Go on, I’ll wait…

A colleague recently asked me how I define the scope of systems management and it actually took me a moment to realize I had never identified the boundaries of the topic.  Wikipedia defines Systems Management as the “enterprise-wide administration of distributed systems including (and commonly in practice) computer systems.”   Ironically, this is very similar to the description my local pizza joint uses to describe the junk pie – everything on it, but the anchovies are optional.   This should not really be surprising.  After all, systems management practices touch every other IT management discipline (in much the same way, I suspect, as my son inexplicably touches every clean surface when his hands are covered in chocolate).    Nonetheless, we need to define clear boundaries to prevent systems administrators and systems managers from being the catch-all for every IT requirement.

Certainly, as the name suggests, systems management revolves around the operating environment – including operating systems (Windows, MacOS, Linux, UNIX, etc.) and virtualization platforms (server and desktop).  Additionally, systems management supports the physical computing hardware components – like servers, workstations, mobile devices, mainframes, but not including storage and networking devices.  At both the hardware and software levels, systems management practices support the entire lifecycle of IT assets, including:

  • OS Deployment
  • OS Migration
  • Hardware Provisioning
  • Hardware Configuration
  • Virtualization
  • Configuration Management
  • Patch Management
  • Mobile Management
  • High-availability of IT services
  • Power Management
  • System Retirement

In addition, some aspects of systems management cross-over to other critical IT management disciplines, such as:

  • Asset Management – In the collecting of system component and configuration details
  • Application Management – As part of the deployment process
  • Change Management – By supporting change implementation and change detection
  • Security Management – Through implementation of security related configurations and patches
  • Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure Management – As they relate to how computing platforms are provisioned and managed in the IT ecosystem
  • Storage and BDR – In how they ensure system availability
  • Service Management – Supporting established business practices for service delivery

So there you have it.  That’s quite a big playground for us to mess around in, and I look forward to sharing my toys.   Be sure to stop by – I’ll keep a seat open for you!

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Steve Brasen

Written by Steve Brasen

Steve Brasen is a Research Director leading EMA’s practices covering endpoint management, identity management, and access management. Steve’s career at EMA follows 20 years of “in-the-trenches” enterprise experience in IT management, operational support, and engineering for high-technology, telecommunications, and financial institutions, including: MCI Worldcom, Bell Communications Research, UNIX International, Salomon Smith Barney, and Agilent Technologies.

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