An introduction to the MOF Reliability SMF

Our previous three blog articles in this series explain the role of the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), service management functions (SMF’s) and introduce the Planning SMF which is the first step in implementing MOF within your business. If the topics introduced below don’t make sense or perhaps you feel they’re missing context then please refer to the following articles for background context and explanation.

Blog Article 1: What’s your ITIL IQ? An introduction to the Microsoft Operations Framework.

Blog Article 2: Plan for success.

Blog Article 3: The importance of aligning business and IT strategic planning.

As a quick recap, the MOF IT service lifecycle encompasses all the activities and processes involved in managing an IT service: its conception, development, operation, maintenance, and ultimately its retirement. MOF organises these activities and processes into Service Management Functions (SMFs), which are grouped together in lifecycle phases. Each SMF is anchored within a lifecycle phase and contains a unique set of goals and outcomes supporting the objectives of that phase. The SMFs can be used as standalone sets of processes, but it is when SMFs are used together that they are most effective in ensuring service delivery at the desired quality and risk levels.

The Reliability SMF belongs to the Plan Phase of the MOF IT service lifecycle. The following figure shows the place of the Reliability SMF within the Plan Phase, as well as the location of the Plan Phase within the IT service lifecycle.


Figure 1. Position of the Business/IT Alignment SMF within the IT service lifecycle

Why Use the Reliability SMF?

This SMF should be useful for anyone who wants to understand, set targets, and measure IT service reliability.

It addresses creating plans for the following:

  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Availability
  • Continuity
  • Capacity
Reliability Overview

A reliable service or system is dependable, requires minimal maintenance, will perform without interruption, and allows users to quickly access the resources they need. These characteristics are not only true for business as usual (BAU) conditions, they must also apply during times of business change and growth and during unexpected events. Ensuring reliability involves three high level processes:

  • Gathering and translating business requirements into IT measures
  • Building the various plans and ensuring that they can meet expectations
  • Monitoring and Improvement. Proactively monitoring and managing the plans and making necessary adjustments

Many outputs of the Reliability SMF, such as the availability plan, capacity plan, data security plan, and monitoring plan, provide input into the activities described in the Business/IT Alignment SMF.

Reliability SMF Role Types

The primary Team SMF accountability that applies to the Reliability SMF is the Architecture Accountability. The role types within that accountability and their primary activities within this SMF are displayed in the following table. The accountable role for Reliability is the Architecture Manager role type.

Table 1. Architecture Accountability and Its Attendant Role Types

Role Type Responsibilities Role in This SMF
Architecture Manager Accountable for ensuring creation and maintenance of architecture plan Uses Reliability requirements to provide roadmap to support design process and ensuring reliability
Reliability Manager Uses input from Service Monitoring and Control SMF to look at current bottlenecks and propose solutions Ensures current state meets reliability requirements

Looks at future directions and solutions to propose across infrastructure

Designs future state

Facilitates reliable solutions
 Goals of Reliability

The Reliability SMF ensures that service capacity, service availability, service continuity, data integrity, and confidentiality are aligned to the business needs in a cost-effective manner.

Table 2. Outcomes and Measures of the Reliability SMF Goals

Outcomes Measures
IT capacity aligned to business needs

Proactive capacity plan

No capacity related service disruptions

Procurement/purchasing plan developed and adhered to

Services available to users when needed

Proactive, cost justified availability plan

Reduction in service failures

Minimised service disruption from anticipated failures

Critical business services available during significant failures

IT disaster recovery aligned to business continuity plan

Tested, trusted, recovery plan supported by the business

Data integrity and confidentiality maintained

Data classified and managed according to business policy

No exceptions to data handling and integrity requirements

Key Terms

The following table contains definitions of key terms.

Table 3. Key Terms

Term Definition
Availability management The process of managing a service or application so that it is accessible when users need it. Availability is typically measured in percentage of uptime, downtime refers to periods of system unavailability.
Business continuity planning The process for planning and practicing IT’s response to a disaster or disruptive event. These activities span the organisation, beyond just IT, continuity planning affects Finance, Operations, and Human Resources (HR) functions.
Capacity management In the context of IT, capacity refers to the processing or performance capability of a service or system. Capacity management is the process used to ensure that current and future business IT needs are met in a cost-effective manner. This process is made up of three sub-processes, business, service, and resource capacity management.
IT service continuity management The process of assessing and managing IT risks that can significantly affect the delivery of services to the business.
How can I implement MOF?

Hopefully by now you’ll begin to understand the value that the Microsoft Operations Framework can bring to your business. The goals, outcomes and measures outlined above require many activities and considerations which form part of our day to day activities at First Solution. In fact, we’re experts in MOF and have even developed a unique ITIL IQ process that benchmarks a business’s current state, identifies their desired state and provides an action plan (called a Service Delivery Plan) that helps organisations of all sizes achieve their desired business outcomes. Most importantly, our unique ITIL IQ process begins with a Proactive Services Maturity Review (PSMR) which identifies a score (out of 100) that clearly communicates the current state of your businesses IT operational maturity. Armed with your ITIL IQ score, a non-IT professional such as a finance or procurement professional can concisely present to the IT Executive Officer the businesses current state, desired state, and ITIL IQ score with an action plan to improve the ITIL IQ score and thereby ensure that IT’s goals are aligned with the goals of the business and that both are progressing together. Once the IT Executive Officer has bought into the MOF concept we can help to develop an IT service strategy, IT service map, IT service portfolio and Service level agreements.

How can I improve IT reliability?

Simply get in touch to arrange a free Proactive Services Maturity Review and one of our MOF experts will conduct an interview with the IT Manager or IT Executive Officer within your business and provide an ITIL IQ score with which you can measure the performance of your IT function. Once you know your ITIL IQ score we can provide a Service Delivery Plan to help you improve it each month and measure and report progress back to you during a Monthly Service Review. And there we have it, an ITIL based solution to simply identify and measure the performance of your IT function. So, are you ready to start aligning your business and IT?

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