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System Administration- Evaluation May 10, 2012

Posted by marlingod in Service Administration.
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Service Administration: Observation, Evaluation Method and Balance Scorecard

                System Administration is about putting together a network of computers (workstations, PCs and Supercomputers), getting them running and then keeping them running in spite of the activities of users who tend to cause the system to fail.  System administration is a mixture of technology and sociology. the users are constantly changing the conditions for the observation.  The methods of observation, evaluation and balance scorecard used in science and business are applied to the system administration.

                Purpose of Observation:

In technology the art of observation has two objectives:

  • to gather information about a problem in order to motivate the design and construction of a technology which solves it,
  • to determine whether or not the resulting technology fulfills its design goals.

Users are important component of the system and should be subject to observation. They  cannot be removed from the experiment since they cause the most problem being solved

                Evaluation method

The simplest and potentially most objective way to test  model of system administration is to combine heuristic experience and repeatable simulations. S A is so complex that it must be addressed at several levels in an approximately hierarchical fashion.  The elements of evaluation simplicity, efficiency, system administration as collective effort, dependency, evaluation of individual mechanism, evaluation of bugs, design faults, Evaluation of system policies,  reliability

Operating system metrics can be used to evaluate the System administration.  Operating system falls into two categories: current values and average values for stable and drifting variables respectively.

Balance Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard is an organizational framework for implementing and managing strategy at all levels of an enterprise by linking objectives, initiatives, and mea­sures to an organization’s strategy. The scorecard provides an enterprise view of an organization’s overall perfor­mance. It integrates financial measures with other key performance indicators around customer perspectives, internal business processes, and organizational growth, learning, and innovation.

The balanced scorecard can be applied to the IT function and its processes

Martinsons et al. (1999) suggested four perspectives:

 

1. User orientation (end-user view): represents the user evaluation of IT. the mission is deliver value-adding products and services to end users. the objectives are to establish and maintain a good image and reputation with end users; exploit IT opportunities, establish good relationships with the user community, satisfy end-user requirements,

2. Business value (management’s view): captures the business value of the IT investments. The mission is to contribute to the value of the business. The objectives are to  establish and maintain a good image and reputation with management, ensure that IT projects provide business value, control IT costs,

3. Internal processes (operations-based view): represents the IT processes employed to develop and deliver the applications. The mission is to deliver IT products and services in an efficient and effective manner. The  objectives are to anticipate and influence requests from end users and management, be efficient in planning and developing IT applications, be efficient in operating and maintaining IT applications, be efficient in acquiring and testing new hardware and software

4. Future readiness (innovation and learning view): represents the human and technology resources needed by IT to deliver its services. The Mission is to deliver continuous improvement and prepare for future challenges. the objectives are to anticipate and prepare for IT problems that could arise, continuously upgrade IT skills through training and development, regularly upgrade IT applications portfolio, regularly upgrade hardware and software

 

IT Balance Scorecard and service assessment

Each of these perspectives has to be translated into corresponding metrics and measures that assess the current situation. These assessments have to be repeated periodically and have to be confronted with goals that have to be set beforehand and with benchmarking figures. Very essential is that within an IT BSC the cause-and-effect relationships are established and the connections between the two types of measures, outcome measures and performance drivers, are clarified. A well built IT scorecard needs a good mix of these two types of measures. Outcome measures such as programmers’ productivity (e.g., number of function points per person per month) without performance drivers such as IT staff education (e.g., number of educational days per person per year) do not communicate how the outcomes are to be achieved. And performance drivers without outcome measures may lead to significant investment without a measurement whether this strategy is effective. These cause-and-effect relationships have to be defined throughout the whole scorecard (Figure 2): more and better education of IT staff (future perspective) is an enabler (performance driver) for a better quality of developed systems (operational excellence perspective) that in turn is an enabler for increased user satisfaction (user perspective) that eventually must lead to a higher business value of IT (business contribution perspective).

 

Summary

The day to day tasks of system administration change constantly and we pay these changes little attention. However, improvements in technology always lead to changing work pratices, as humans are replaced by machinery in those jobs which are menial and repetitive. the core principles of system administration will remain the same but the job description of the system manager will be different.  In many ways, the day to day business of system administration consists of just a few recipes which slowly evolve over time. However, underneath the veneer of cookery, there is a depth of understanding about computer systems which has a more permanent value.

References:

Burgess, M. (2004): Principles of Network and System Administration. (2nd Ed). New York. Wiley

– It Balance Scorecard from http://www.ism-journal.com/ITToday/AU2621_CH04.pdf

– Principles of Network and System Administration from http://www.balancedscorecard.org/Portals/0/PDF/BSC_&_Tech_Spider.pdf

 

 

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