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The Visible Ops Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps [Kindle Edition]

Gene Kim , George Spafford , Kevin Behr
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Core of Visible Ops Visible Ops is a methodology designed to jumpstart implementation of controls and process improvement in IT organizations needing to increase service levels, security, and auditability while managing costs. Visible Ops is comprised of four prescriptive and self-fueling steps that take an organization from any starting point to a continually improving process. Making ITIL Actionable Although the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides a wealth of best practices, it lacks prescriptive guidance: What do you implement first, and how do you do it? Moreover, the ITIL books remain relatively expensive to distribute. Other information, publicly available from a variety of sources, is too general and vague to effectively aid organizations that need to start or enhance process improvement efforts. The Visible Ops booklet provides a prescriptive roadmap for organizations beginning or continuing their IT process improvement journey. Why Do You Need Visible Ops? The Visible Ops methodology was developed because there was not a satisfactory answer to the question: “I believe in the need for IT process improvement, but where do I start?” Since 2000, Gene Kim and Kevin Behr have met with hundreds of IT organizations and identified eight high-performing IT organizations with the highest service levels, best security, and best efficiencies. For years, they studied these high-performing organizations to figure out the secrets to their success. Visible Ops codifies how these organizations achieved their transformation from good to great, showing how interested organizations can replicate the key processes of these high-performing organizations in just four steps: 1. Stabilize Patient, Modify First Response – Almost 80% of outages are self-inflicted. The first step is to control risky changes and reduce MTTR by addressing how changes are managed and how problems are resolved. 2. Catch and Release, Find Fragile Artifacts – Often, infrastructure exists that cannot be repeatedly replicated. In this step, we inventory assets, configurations and services, to identify those with the lowest change success rates, highest MTTR and highest business downtime costs. 3. Establish Repeatable Build Library – The highest return on investment is implementing effective release management processes. This step creates repeatable builds for the most critical assets and services, to make it “cheaper to rebuild than to repair.” 4. Enable Continuous Improvement – The previous steps have progressively built a closed-loop between the Release, Control and Resolution processes. This step implements metrics to allow continuous improvement of all of these process areas, to best ensure that business objectives are met.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1457 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: IT Process Institute, Inc.; Revised First Edition edition (15 Jun. 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,906 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Kindle edition, good content 14 Dec. 2010
By zts
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is, by far, the worst Kindle edition I have purchased. Poorly formatted, diagrams missing, tables mangled. In some places, the content is largely unreadable - sentences start and end at random, and the context can't be found. Whoever submitted it for sale should be ashamed of themselves.

The frustrating thing is that this is clearly a good book. That much is obvious in spite of the Kindle edition's myriad problems.

Save your money and buy the paper version instead.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very simple, straight forward, easy to read book that provides a proven best practice for getting control of your data center though the implementation of high value IT service management activities. The book breaks it down into four simple steps, with examples echoing what those in the industry see in the real world:
1) Stabilize the patient
2) Catch and release, and find fragile artifacts
3) Establish repeatable build library
4) Enable continuous improvement.
A highly recommended book.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Easy to read, easy to implement. Written by an expert who makes it seem simple, although it's not always in practice. I thoroughly recommend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars concise and useful 2 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is rather concise, but the points it presents are practical and useful. It is really a handbook worth keeping for reference.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  71 reviews
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A way to stop the IT insanity 6 Aug. 2005
By Richard Bejtlich - Published on
I read The Visible Ops Handbook because a friend told me his company was considering integrating the booklet's ideas into their product line. I had not heard much about the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), but I was familiar with the problems caused by poor administration. I perform network incident response (IR), so I am often asked to solve problems in three days that clients have been confronting for three months or years. After reading Visible Ops, I will recommend it to every IR client who asks me to remediate intrusions.

Simply put, Visible Ops provides four simple steps to stop the IT insanity. The book offers a quote attributed to Albert Einstein on p 42: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result." Many organizations have unintentionally embraced this concept, continuing to pursue the same broken administration techniques and wondering when they will ever stop fighting fires. The Visible Ops process is the answer they have been pursuing.

My favorite aspect of the book is its narrative examples. These contain quotes by real administrators and managers and address problems like "the DHCP server, running on a DNS server, built four years ago by a college intern, that no one touches nor understands." Another similarly amusing (and sad) section presents seven steps in the "spectrum of change" on p 36. This ranges from the poor end, like "Oblivious to Change: 'Hey, did the switch just reboot?'" and "Aware of Change: 'Hey, who just rebooted the switch?'" to the most mature option, "Managing Change".

In terms of the booklet's advice, I found it rock solid, especially this recommendation: when a problem occurs, don't log into the infrastructure and begin troubleshooting. Rather, check to see who made the last configuration change. Since "80% of IT and system outages are caused by operator and application errors," and not intruders, those confronting an incident should always begin by looking at themselves, and not outside "hackers."

I also found Appendix A, Preparing for Audits, to be a succinct and helpful look at the worldview of the auditor. The "Controls 101" section described preventative, detective, and corrective controls, which reminded me of the protection, detection, and response phases of the security process. Advice on p 70 also made sense in light of the debate over intrusion detection systems vs "intrusion prevention systems": "Document your preventative controls, and have detective controls in place to show they work." If your IPS is both a preventative and detective control, how do you check when it has failed?

I found few reasons to dislike Visible Ops, but I had enough issues to give only four stars. First, the book needs to be printed in a bigger form factor. The problem with Visible Ops is that its small size (5x7) reduces some of the fonts used in various tables to be almost illegible. Second, the booklet is too internally repetitive. This is especially true in the appendices, where points continue to reappear.

Third, I fear that the book, along with all those taking an audit-centric approach to security, sees controls as the be-all, end-all of the security process. It seems too much attention is paid to preventing incidents, with not enough resources devoted to detection and response. Corrective controls, for example, do not receive the attention they deserve. Rebuilding from bare metal is the recovery action of choice in Visible Ops, but rebuilding another vulnerable server strays towards the definition of insanity mentioned earlier.

Overall, I recommend everyone associated with IT, security, operations, and audit read Visible Ops. The booklet is small enough to read in a few hours, since the main material and Appendix A ends on p 73. I look forward to more extensive materials from this excellent team of authors.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NO IT Professional should be without a copy of.... 21 Oct. 2004
By Robin J. Basham - Published on
After reading the Visible Ops Handbook, my VP of IT Governance and I were so impressed that we made it required client reading on all of our Sarbanes-Oxley compliance engagements. Plenty of writers are saying what needs to be in place, while Visible Ops actually explains a path to getting there.

Great, clear, concise reading. A MUST.

Robin Basham,

President, Phoenix Businsess & Systems Process, Inc.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy Of Information Technology Control 101 22 Oct. 2004
By John Withington - Published on
Visible Ops gets to the essence of good control practices for today's IT environment. Having preached the gospel of IT control and governance for over 20 years, I believe Visible Ops presents a control philosophy and methodology that is a dream come true for IT auditors. The extensive journey of discussions with IT professionals, Palmer Group members, and Practitioner's Roundtable sessions that Kevin, Gene, and George embarked on has produced a gem.

John P. Withington

Vice President - Information Systems Audit

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important addition to the ITIL body of knowledge 19 Jan. 2005
By Mike Tarrani - Published on
This short book manages to capture the essentials of what it takes to initate ITIL in any organization. The authors do not drift off on tangents or lose sight of the scope of the book - they present a realistic starting point and four clearly defined steps that will move you forward towards implementing ITIL.

I like the emphasis on change and release management, which (to me) is the keystone for ITIL. I also like how the steps have clear objectives that can be measured, as well as exit criteria to assure that each step is completed before moving to the next.

This is not a comprehensive book on implementing ITIL, but a starting point. More importantly, the approach set forth in the book will significantly improve the operational process capabilities of most IT organizations regardless of whether implementing ITIL is a goal.

Additional information about the book and the approach can be found on the authors' site. You can get to the site by pasting the ISBN number - B00006CNEY - into the search box, selecting all products, and clicking the GO button.

This book is a welcome and important addition to the ITIL body of knowledge because it cuts through to the essentials and provides you with a clear path to getting started.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donald Tomasi, Manager Global Technology, Whirlpool Corp 26 Oct. 2004
By Donald M. Tomasi - Published on
This very impressive work is based on sound fundamentals. The process has much broader application than the intended IT audience. The process has the same basic elements used in product development and new model introduction. I highly recommend this work for anyone interested in process improvement.
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