Is it a bird? Is it a plane?..No! – it’s service management!
ITIL Version 3 may not explicitly talk about sustainability but at every stage of the service lifecycle there is implicit guidance that can assist organisations in addressing the environmental challenges of its operations.
The framework allows environmental targets to be built into new and existing products and services through the lifecycle stages of service strategy, design, transition, operation and continual service improvement.
The following are just some examples of how this can be achieved and some of the key processes that can be utilised. It is possible to use every one of the processes contained within ITIL Version 3 (albeit some more than others) to address increasing power consumption and carbon emissions. However it is not possible within the confines of this article to describe them all.
SERVICE PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT is a primary activity in Service Strategy. Business outcomes and financial targets are key inputs for Service Portfolio Management in the development of new services. Environmental targets should also be inputs for Service Portfolio Management when provisioning new, more sustainable IT services. Managers can then predict performance targets against environmental policies before agreeing to commission a new service. Service Portfolio Management through the activities of “define, assess, approve and charter” should ensure that there is no duplication of services and associated applications that we saw earlier in the Intel example.
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT in terms of cost savings will always be a key driver for energy consumption reduction and improvement in sustainability. Financial Management will be key in understanding the cost of power consumption and the financial savings to be made from sustainability initiatives. Financial Management should drive power metering so that the cost of power can be broken down by data centre, computer room, geographical location, business unit and infrastructure components. Most IT organisations never see the power bill and therefore have no idea of the cost or savings to be made. Financial Management needs to drive visibility so that resources can be targeted at priority areas of high power consumption and cost.
Understanding the Patterns of Business Activity in DEMAND MANAGEMENT enables IT to respond to demand in a controlled and planned fashion. It is better able to avoid idle capacity, which it neither economic nor ecological. It can forecast demand and also utilise techniques such as off-peak pricing, volume discounts and differentiated service levels to influence the arrival of demand.
New services AND their environmental targets pass through the rest of the lifecycle following Service Strategy.
SERVICE LEVEL MANAGEMENT whilst negotiating with the customer must deal with both the business and the supporting supply chain to agree Service Level Agreements (SLA), Operating Level Agreements (OLA) and Underpinning Contracts.
The important factor here is the existence of joint sustainability policy. Where services are outsourced to one or more partners, the sustainability policy needs to be agreed between all the parties for it to become truly effective in supporting the creation of more sustainable IT services. If the sustainability of IT services is a strategic consideration – and it should be - negotiation with customers and business users must be guided by the sustainability policy.
By using the sustainability policy in this way, the aim is to evolve the process of agreeing SLAs from one based on ‘business impact’ and ‘price’ to one which also considers the environmental impact of an IT service.
A key objective of Service Level Management should be to identify idle services and challenge the business to reduce its energy consumption. Where organisations want to actively discourage energy waste and influence demand, the Service Level Management process can apply financial measures to reduce the demand for idle services – using energy surcharges. Energy surcharges are additional costs applied to idle services, outside normal working hours, and are used to encourage a reduction in energy consumption.
SLAs should include environmental targets for both the business and IT, in addition to the more traditional ones such as availability, capacity and performance targets.
Within SERVICE CATALOGUE MANAGEMENT, power output and consumption can be a part of the Service Catalogue. Power metering can be integrated into the catalogue so that it can be reported on at an asset level, service level and business unit level. This can show the power hungry business units which are utilising services that may have been poorly designed and contributing to the carbon footprint of the organisation.
The Service Catalogue can also contain details of the energy efficiency of the products and services offered and identification of preferred products and services from a sustainability perspective. If the business is to be able to support the IT sustainability initiatives, it needs to be aware of the current environmental characteristics of each service.
From an AVAILABILITY MANAGEMENT perspective, resources need to be available when they are needed. This doesn’t mean however that the resources required for peak periods need to be there all the time. Availability Management can look at functionality such as Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD), on/off capacity on demand and backup capacity. These tools bring processors and memory online only as needed to ensure that the organisation isn’t paying for capacity they don’t need – and that they are not using power they don’t need to keep that capacity running.
CAPACITY MANAGEMENT provides an organisation with the ability to plan how it introduces IT capacity in a more sustainable way. Its purpose is to focus on future business requirements, current service delivery capability and future capability – in order to provide the most energy and cost efficient IT services for the business. Process activities include tuning activities, deriving forecasts, influencing demand and producing the capacity management plan, which includes environmental considerations.
Other key activities of the process include trend analysis, planning and modelling. All of these activities are ideal for influencing the capacity requirements of the business by encouraging reduced consumption, reuse and recycling of capacity.
SUPPLIER MANAGEMENT needs to change procurement criteria and processes to favour green products, services and suppliers. This activity starts with a clear documentation of current procurement practices.
Tender documents should include sustainability requirements for the supplier and the products or services being sourced. There should be a focus on the materials and energy used in manufacturing or products or delivery of services; distribution and delivery models; maintenance and support to ensure products operate at maximum efficiecy; recycling, renewal and disposal activities.
Suppliers should be able to demonstrate via an auditable process that they adhere to the claims that they make in regards to sustainability.
Once the sourcing strategy, policy, processes and procedures are in place, existing suppliers should be reviewed to determine whether they meet the required critieria. Where they do not, they should be encouraged to do so, or alternative suppliers should be sourced.
Local suppliers should also be sourced where possible to reduct the impact of distribution and support on the environment.
SERVICE ASSET AND CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT (SACM) understand the assets used by a service so they can be managed. A full understanding of any redundant assets can be identified and removed not only getting financial savings from licence fees etc., but also liberating spare capacity. A first step towards this is to do a complete inventory of servers, software and applications, including the interdependencies between them all via SACM. You need to firstly understand how each physical and virtual server is used, what software is running on it, which business applications it supports and what its actual value is to the business. Then you can work out what to remove, refresh or virtualise unused, unnecessary and inefficient assets.
The Configuration Management System (CMS) can contain environmental attributes on CIs that include cost, energy rating, power consumption, carbon footprint and lifecycle energy footprint.
The attributes of configuration items can include indicators such as energy labels used by ‘white goods’ manufacturers used to label energy efficient IT equipment. This then allows reporting on non-efficient assets so that plans can be made to refresh, replace or remove.
CHANGE MANAGEMENT needs to ensure that the environmental impacts of Requests For Change (RFC) are considered. RFCs should be accepted or rejected using a rationale that includes the environmental impact of that change as well as the financial, business and technology impacts that we generally look at today. The rationale can include environmental requirements such as:
- The use of suppliers of products and services with environmental and sustainability management systems and ISO 140001 accreditation.
- The utilisation of devices that conform to a specified energy rating.
- The use of devices that have a lifetime energy footprint within specified parameters.
- The identification and removal of redundant components — infrastructure and applications — and their reuse, recycling or environmentally responsible disposal.
- Sustainable release and deployment methods including remote access and local distribution.
- The inclusion of environmental targets within SLAs, OLAs and UCs.
- Adherence to the organisation’s sustainability policy, objectives and targets.
KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT should include articles in the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) that provide guidance on environmental practices and behaviours that support the sustainability objectives of the organisation. The SKMS should include a reporting suite which includes the performance of the organisation against it’s sustainability targets. A dashboard showing performance and real-time reporting should be considered.
The SKMS should include information and access to courses, seminars, webinars, journals and newsletters etc. that provide information on improving the sustainability of IT and the organisation as a whole. The SKMS should also incorporate external knowledge in relation to sustainability from suppliers, partners and environmental organisations.
INCIDENT MANAGEMENT reporting should be used to drive improvements in sustainability. This should include (but not limited to):
- Reporting on failure rates of infrastructure.
- Rate of callout of 3rd party support.
- Distance travelled to resolve incidents.
This type of reporting can allocate a carbon footprint to the item of infrastructure in terms of the distance travelled in order to resolve the Incident. This can drive decisions as to whether the item of infrastructure should be replaced; a local supplier should be sourced (where possible); spare parts should kept on site to enable local resolution; and so on.
The impact of any actions taken in order to reduce the carbon footprint incurred by support activities can then be measured.
From a PROBLEM MANAGEMENT perspective, the number of recurring Incidents could be resulting in an adverse environmental impact if physical presence to resolve an Incident is required.
If recurring Incidents can be linked to a Problem record, which are resulting in onsite attendance, both the cost of a Problem and the carbon footprint of Problem can be estimated.
This will allow Problem Management to not only report on the reduction in the number of recurring Incidents but also the corresponding reduction in cost and carbon footprint.
Continual service improvement
Continual Service Improvement (CSI ) seeks to make gains on financial and environmental performance. The value of CSI should go without saying. It feeds back into every other stage of the lifecycle identifying better ways to become more sustainable.
It provides an opportunity to analyse service trends, review baselines and benchmark results in order to identify improvements in process or performance including environmental aspects. CSI liaises with strategy, design, transition and operations in order to plan improvements that result in desired outcomes for existing services as well as new services.
CSI should drive the baselining of current environmental performance so that clear targets, objectives and timeframes can be set for improvements. CSI should regularly report on the progress of environmental initiatives both internally and where appropriate, externally.
In conjunction with the current initiatives being undertaken by your organisation to reduce its environmental impact, take a look at your service management processes and identify where you can embed sustainability into those processes. IT does not need to seek another framework to help drive reductions in power consumption and carbon emissions; it already has one - ITIL. Some examples of where this can take place have been provided in this article and there are many more as well.
Look at every stage of the lifecycle, not just Service Operation. It is Service Strategy, Service Design and Service Transition that are delivering the products and services that are contributing to the environmental impact of the organisation. This is where the focus should be.
Karen Ferris is a director at Macanta Consulting and the creator of eco-ITSM – enabling organisations to use their service management framework to increase the sustainability. More information is available at www.eco-itsm.com.au.
Read Part 1 - How to embed sustainability into processes and workflow.
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