Business service management (BSM) and the semantic Web-they may just be two industry trends on parallel paths.
The semantic Web, as defined by the collaborative effort that leads it, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries.
BSM is all about dynamically linking business-focused IT services to the IT infrastructure. According to business service platform vendor ASG, BSM relies on developing a cohesive, integrated model for monitoring performance, operations, and applications management. ASG draws on its purpose-built metadata management solution as part of a CMDB (configuration management database) that centralizes the management of metadata from sources throughout the enterprise.
At the heart BSM is being able to understand a lot of the complex relationships that together constitute a service and having a single point from which to analyze a service’s dependencies.
So, in what way are these two roads tracking each other? ASG senior VP Scott McCurdy sees it this way. “We do believe that the CMDB is very important, that it really brings together the right context for decisions to be made. That’s where it bleeds-over in terms conceptually of what the semantic Web is doing. It’s basically trying to formalize a description of IT assets that relate to business services, terms and relationships, so there is enough context about something that decisions can be made in a more automated manner.”
Without that descriptive context and structure, it’s impossible to find those IT assets, he says. “You can find generalized associations, but it’s difficult to do something in a more automated manner.”
According to McCurdy, the role of a metadata repository is to turn the Web’s sea of data into something closer to valuable information-to take something that is just data and put the appropriate context around it so that it is valuable to an entity for making decisions.
“Today, sets of information on the Web are created with just enough information to do the purpose for that single deliverable, for a page. If more thought goes into the description, context, terms and relationships around that in a more formalized manner, the data can become more useful because of the added context.” he says.
Think of it this way, as the equivalent of the FDA requiring food labels that put nutritional information in a standardized context. “When standardized nutrition information became available, it was no longer necessary for people to follow a simply prescriptive diet. With this context, people could evaluate food based on fat, calories etc/ on their own,” McCurdy says, “negating the need to find and interpret this information from some outside means.”
In the same way, BSM enabled by metadata repositories basically provides a way in which businesses can take all their information and synthesize it in such a way so that it is meaningful from the onset. This is the same with the semantic Web, because it is designed to create webs of meaning, not simply streams of data.
“I can see not many years from now where the requirement for BSM vendors will be to understand the semantic Web and Web ontology languages that are important to identify where assets are that are important to enabling their business services,” he says.
That will become particularly critical as services move to truly becoming more Web-based, and more companies take advantage of service providers to house those services offsite. In those situations, companies should have a good idea of how to find, share and integrate IT assets and business services whether they are virtual or real.
“In the world of virtual business platforms and Web-based businesses, business service management will be a requirement to locate, secure and manage IT resources that are both virtual and real.”
Managing the complete, real-time status of all IT elements of all business services comes down to managing a lot of information and having the appropriate context and metadata about that information, McCurdy says.
“As far as the Web and Web-based businesses go, proper IT management (using new paradigms like BSM) will be key to the next steps towards virtual business on a truly global scale.”