As IT service providers move up the enterprise value contribution ladder, the need for a repeatable and reliable service management framework becomes clear. There are several to choose from – most notably the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL continues to be one of the best known in our industry. However, you may be surprised to learn that there is another very viable service management framework that you may want to consider: the Microsoft Operations Framework, or simply MOF.
I stumbled upon MOF years ago when I was an IT director in a predominantly Microsoft shop. My goal was to figure out the best approach to running IT like a business, while treating my customers like customers (and of course, provide value). My Microsoft rep suggested I take a look at MOF, and the two things that immediately caught my attention were that it was a well thought out framework that I could use effectively, and…wait for it…it was free. Don’t let the “free” part mislead you. This is a very robust framework that can coexist with other frameworks (ITIL, COBIT, etc.) to provide a solid structure for providing value to your customers.
Created to offer knowledge and processes that help IT service providers leverage Microsoft platforms while demonstrating value, MOF also integrates many facets of the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF). This practical guidance is organized by using the IT service lifecycle approach:
The MOF structure consists of four phases. The first three are ongoing, plan, deliver and operate, while the fourth is a foundation layer, manage. This essentially describes the lifecycle of an IT service. These phases are further supported by Service Management Functions (SMFs) that provide structure for the people, processes, and activities needed to align IT services with needs of the business. Additionally, each phase includes Management Reviews (MRs). These internal controls assist in establishing readiness to move forward.
MOF is not a standard, it is a suggestive framework – which means, like ITIL, can be used as a good practice guide to creating a service oriented IT organization. To take this a step further, it has been my experience that MOF and ITIL can co-exist in an organization that, together, can build a solid framework. I found that once I understood the basic organization and makeup of MOF, it seemed very easy to navigate and use.
I hope you get a chance to take a look at MOF – if you do, you will most likely be asking yourself the same thing I asked, “Why haven’t I heard more about this?”