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Computer server management is an important component of the global IT (information technology) services business. The providers of server management services face unrelenting efficiency challenges in order to remain competitive with other providers. Server system administrators (SAs) represent the majority of the workers in this industry, and their primary task is server management. Since system administration is a highly skilled position, the costs of employing such individuals are high, and thus, the challenge is to increase their efficiency so that a given SA can manage larger numbers of servers. In this paper, we describe a widely deployed Service Delivery Portal (SDP) in use throughout the Server Systems Operations business of IBM that provides a set of well-integrated technologies to help SAs perform their tasks more efficiently. The SDP is based on three simple design principles: 1) user interface aggregation, 2) data aggregation, and 3) knowledge centralization. This paper describes the development of the SDP from the vantage point of these three basic design principles along with lessons learned and the impact assessed from studying the behavior of SAs with and without the tool.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2009