Internet Operations Department in Etisalat spent a lot of time and effort on the quality of its process in order to reach and achieve a recognized international IT management standard such as SunTone Certification. The research shows the process of work developed in the department in order to achieve the SunTone Certification and to be aligned with ITIL international standard in three major responsibilities are: incident management, problem management and change management.
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Quality became an important business issue due to the increase in competitiveness in world markets. The total quality management (TQM) approach introduced by W. Edwards Deming used by several organizations in the world to improve their operations and the processes used in all functional areas of their organizations. The basis of TQM is to reduce the errors produced during the manufacturing or service process, increase customer satisfaction and improve product/service quality, productivity, and competitiveness by improving communications with stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and society). The application of TQM can vary from business to business, even across the same industry.
Etisalat has a great initiative to introduce quality and get several quality certifications for most of its operational processes. Internet Operations Department worked on the last few years to develop its quality based on the appropriate quality standards and got the ISO9001 certificate as well as the SunTone certification, which I am going to concentrate on in this research.
Etisalat is the only service provider in the Middle East to achieve Sun Microsystems’ elite SunTone certification for Internet Operations which offers internal & external hosting and data centre solutions. According to Mr. Ali AlSharhan (EVP/IT – Etisalat) “The SunTone certification certifies our service delivery in areas such as architecture, implementation and management from service delivery environment. Through this, we can assure our customers that the Service Level Guarantees we provide are among the world’s best and backed by Sun’s independent auditing.” (Etisalat enhances customer and internal service levels through SunTone certification, 2007)From left to right: Ali Al Sharhan – Executive Vice President, IT, Etisalat; Tareq Alkharji – Vice President Network Operations, Etisalat; and Marc Heger, Gulf District Manager for Sun Microsystems Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Marc Heger, Gulf District Manager for Sun Microsystems – MENA said “As part of its SunTone accreditation, Etisalat is the only regional managed hosting provider that can maximize its IT efficiency, benchmark and quantify the successful provision of services externally and internally, and document the improved quality of service that it is now providing,” (Etisalat enhances customer and internal service levels through SunTone certification, 2007)
SUN TONE CRTF.jpg
In this research I am going to talk about the SunTone certification description, process, procedures, quality analysis and recommendation on best usage of quality certification in Internet Operations department.
The objectives of this research are:
To learn about quality certifications applied on IT environment.
To develop and improve the current quality process of the internet operations.
To set recommendation on how to apply quality on IT environment and keep developing it.
To analyze the internet operations quality practices internally through interview with quality manager in Etisalat.
There are several important points that I am going to gain through this research such as:
To understand the current practice of Internet Operations.
To improve and develop the current quality process and adopt the best practices.
To develop my current TQM Fundamentals course knowledge and compare it with the current quality practice of internet operations department.
The more quality applied on internet operations processes, the more positive and satisfied output will result to Etisalat internet products.
Setting Service Level Agreement (SLA) and operational level agreement (OLA) between sections will have a positive impact on customers’ satisfaction.
In fact no one wrote in this subject before, however an audit report was done to Sun Microsystems to highlight the quality aspects of Internet Operations Department in Etisalat.
In May 1999, the SunTone initiative lunched as a certification and branding program for service providers’ services to audit and certify web delivered software applications. Through a combination of IT management defined best practices, specifications and services, the SunTone Initiative enables organizations to cut time and cost to deploy high quality web enabled services. The SunTone Initiative also helps enterprises to gain high quality service products &applications from external Service Providers and deploy them with confidence.
The SunTone Initiative supports the practice of hosting and managing a range of web enabled services through a combination of internal & external IT resources. Customers can take advantage of SunTone Initiative whether they intend to build world class services internally or to purchase high quality SunTone certified applications from IT service providers and software vendors. (About the SunTone Initiative)
The SunTone Initiative helps enterprises manage their IT services efficiently and cost effectively, in order to increase Quality of Service (QoS). The process of certifying services under the SunTone Initiative helps companies to:
Meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with higher quality of service delivery
Manage flexible, high quality IT services.
Build and maintain IT staffing competencies.
Better utilize existing IT resources.
Adopt the sourcing strategy that make most economic, technical and business sense with full confidence.
SunTone Certification process:
There are three steps to get the SunTone certification are:
The SunTone Service Delivery Specification is a guide to managing web-enabled services to the highest Quality of Service levels. The specifications provide guidelines and contain a checklist to allow enterprises to evaluate their current operations against the best IT practices.
SunTone Enablers are offerings and tools to help customers to meet the SunTone standards for higher quality network service delivery. Sun Services for the SunTone Initiative provide expert consulting, flexible learning solutions, and mission critical support focused on helping customers and partners meet the SunTone requirements for network service delivery.
SunTone Audit & Certification
The SunTone certification audit performed by Sun or third parties validates the implementation and gives the company an industry recognized ‘seal of approval’ for their web-based services.
What is Quality of Service (QoS)?
Quality of Service is a measurement of how well a service or solution complies with Service Level Agreements (SLAs). These metrics includes, but not limited to:
Disaster Recovery Processes
Criteria of SunTone Certification:
There are two different SunTone specifications, one for enterprise customers and service providers, and the other is for software developers. Each specification has its own requirements covering areas such as infrastructure, operational practices, hardware, software, and overall service delivery practices. Certifications of Enterprise customer solutions and service provider solutions must be renewed annually, and must conform to the standards of the current specification level.
(Frequently Asked Questions)
Profile of the company:
Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (Etisalat) is one of the telecommunication service providers in the UAE since 1976. It is now a well known Telecommunication provider in almost 18 countries in both Asia and Africa continents with more than 100 million subscribers. It has built up a modern telecom infrastructure and established itself as an innovative and reliable operator. 60% of Etisalat revenue gained from mobile services while the remaining is from other services such as landlines, internet, interconnect, etc. Based on that, Etisalat is considered as the 13th largest mobile network operator in the world. Financial Times ranked Etisalat as the 140th in the Top 500 corporations in the world in terms of market capitalization.
Etisalat has set a mission statement in order to derive its business towards customers’ satisfaction. Its mission has a great effect of innovation and development of new products and services to be provided to customers whenever needed. It has set the following mission statement, vision, values and future which will provide a clear guide to its business.
Mission : “To extend people’s reach.”
Vision: “A world where people’s reach is not limited by matter or distance.”
Values: “Energy”, “Openness”, “Enablement”
Future: “A world in which technology extends our reach.”
Etisalat is an international telecom provider covering 18 countries in the world based on investment, joint ventures and stack holding. Its business and administration is well defined and managed under the umbrella of “Etisalat Group”. Etisalat Telecommunication Corporation is one of the telecom service providers in the UAE. Etisalat UAE is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and includes three regional offices – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Northern Emirates. It has been divided into that in order to concentrate on it specialization.
The headquarter or what we call in Etisalat “Head Office” is specialized in planning, developing, marketing and managing all activities centrally. The regional office responsibility is to take care of normal operational work such as sales, finance, regional engineering and administrational work related to the region that was delegated to them by the head office.
Internet Operations is the department that is responsible of operating the internet services provided to public such as internet access, emails, hosting services, data center services, Internet payment gateway, eSecurity services as well as internet access to other service providers internally in the UAE or externally in other nearby countries. It was founded in 1995 to provide internet service through dialup and then expanded to operate several other services with high quality reliable service.
The department has several sections that look into different internet services provided to customers:
Network Operations: This section is responsible of the network infrastructure of the internet service provided by Etisalat. They are responsible of the backbone of the internet that is connected to the international lines and carriers. Moreover, they are responsible of internet access services such as ADSL, leased lines, cable modems, etc.
Service Operations: This section is responsible of the internet services provided by Etisalat such as email, web hosting service, database, etc.
Security Operations: This section is responsible of the maintaining the security aspects of the internet and work as a gourd for all the internet service provided by Etisalat.
Internet Network Operations Center: This section is responsible of monitoring of the internet network and services all the time and assuring high availability of the infrastructure.
Internet Operation Hierarchy:
This research is done based on an interview conducted with some employees who participated in developing the quality of Internet Operation department processes. I have done an interview With Mr. Asef Termizi, Sr. Manager/IT Governance & Architecture Assurance and Mr. Anwar Bawab, Sr. Specialist/IT Governance & Architecture Assurance, who were members in SunTone Certification process.
The scope of this research is to collect data about quality implementation in Internet Operations department in Etisalat in order to understand the current process and overcome its limitations and errors.
I faced some problems while collecting data are:
The SunTone Certification is limited to some eHosting services that are managed by several sections in Internet Operations department.
Most of the sections in Internet Operations are applying processes that was defined several years ago or modified sometime ago without referring to quality assurance. So it was difficult to interview those sections and ask them about their quality measures of the current process.
The SunTone Certification is a brand quality certification introduced by Sun Microsystems, and measures quality of the companies uses their hardware. It came to my attention that it is no more an accredited certification. That is why there is very limited information about SunTone on the internet.
This research is mainly based on an interview with IT Governance & Architecture Assurance Sr. Manager & IT Governance & Architecture Assurance Sr. Specialist in Etisalat participated in preparation of the SunTone certification. Also some of the information provided is based on SunTone Certification Audit Report provided by them.
Etisalat started in 2005 to introduce the SunTone certification for the Internet Operations department in cooperation with Sun Microsystems. This work continued up-to June 2007 to gain this certification after several audit, revision and initiatives applied to achieve the SunTone “seal of approval”. “Internet Operations went through the most stringent service reliability requirements and assessment to ensure the efficiency of its People, Processes, Products (Technology & Tools) and Partners (Suppliers, Vendors)” (Termizi, 2010).
The project was led by Internet Operations in coordination with Corporate Quality Department in consultation with Sun Microsystems. The SunTone audit and certification program incorporates principles from multiple industry standards, including ITIL and ISO. The program is built on the principles of “IT Service Management excellence” which included 15 assessment areas under the categories of “Service Delivery”, “Service Support” and Management, such as:-
Data Center Management.
Service Desk Management.
Etisalat got their SunTone Certification in only three assessment areas are:
Incident Management: to restore normal service operation as quickly as possible and minimize the adverse effect on business operations,
Problem Management: to resolve the root causes of incidents and thus to minimize the adverse impact of incidents and problems on business that are caused by errors within the IT infrastructure, and to prevent recurrence of incidents related to these errors.
Change Management: to ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient handling of all changes,
“The SunTone certification signifies Etisalat ability to meet the highest quality standards in the industry, instilling process excellence in Etisalat’s IT Service Management strategy” (Termizi, 2010).
The process that Sun Microsystems auditors follow to recommend the accreditation to Internet Operations in their last assessment meeting in 2007 is:
Review the previous improvement plan and examine the tangible evidence.
Hold an initial meeting with the Etisalat Internet Operations, Co-location and e-Hosting Management Team to detail the Audit process.
Verify that Etisalat has complied with the recommendations of the previous assessment within the scope of Co-location and e-Hosting Services.
One-to-one interviews with key management and personnel require case by case examples of changes and incidents with particular emphasis on usage of ITIL disciplines, processes and related documentation.
Review of specified documents.
Collaborate with Etisalat, in terms of the implementation of ITIL disciplines and best practice.
Preparation of the Auditor’s Report.
The ITIL has a great input to develop the process on Internet Operations Department based on the best practices of IT processes. “The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of concepts and practices for Information Technology Services Management, Information Technology (IT) development and IT operations” (Wikipedia, 2010).
During the latest audit of the Sun Microsystems auditors, they highlighted some of the issues that Etisalat has to take care of in order to reach the highest quality standards such as Service Level Agreements. Etisalat should work on their SLAs with both customers and vendors in consideration of Risk Management. The SLAs with vendors and customers should carry the same service levels, penalties, reporting processes, escalation procedures, etc.
Hypothesis: Setting Service Level Agreement (SLA) and operational level agreement (OLA) between sections will have a positive impact on customers’ satisfaction.
The audit results reported by Sun Microsystems auditors based on their latest assessment are:
Etisalat should finalise and improve the implementation of three key ITIL responsibilities and related processes: Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management.
There has been a major drive to implement these aspects, in particular the Incident and Change with less importance at present being placed on Problem Management.
Etisalat should rework their SLAs (both customer and vendor).
The Auditor checked the SLA documents and is satisfied that SLA exists for all parties.
Functional and Organisational Compliance of ITIL Management practices with specific regard to Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management.
There has been a huge amount of effort and refinement put into implementing these disciplines.
Appropriate internal costing of services and service components.
The actual cost per square metre of the data centre environment, various levels of manpower needed to install a service, electricity, set up costs of each service available to customers are available. Using the automated workflow and work order system installed, Etisalat have tight control over the amount of time each set up component.
Use of a knowledge base of Known Incidents.
The Auditor noted that the majority of calls were solved at the initial point of contact.
Gain further maturity in ITIL disciplines.
150 Etisalat staff have been trained formally on ITIL.
Automate processes where appropriate.
The use of the HP suite of Incident, Problem and Change Management tools has satisfied the Auditor that the level of automation is excellent and widely used.
Transition to ISO20000:
The auditor has noted some high level issues relevant to focus the efforts the transition to ISO20000. There are a lot of similarly between SunTone and the ISO2000 standards, almost to the point one might say they are identical. The key drivers are Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and Operational Level Agreements (OLA’s). The standards use: If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. (Termizi, 2010)
ISO20000 is the first international standard for IT Service Management developed in 2005 by the BSI Group. It “promotes the adoption of an integrated process approach to effectively deliver managed services to meet the business and customer requirements” (Wikipedia, 2010)
In the diagram we can see the relationships between all the entities recommended to have a stable and high value Service Management system. In the middle we can see the plan, do, check & act model. The model looks at the relationship between the input side (on the left); Business Requirements and the output side (on the right) Business results. Those controlled activities convert input to output in a reliable manner. These measures are alien with customer satisfaction surveys. The linkages of the standards elements to the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) activities are:
PLAN – Plan Service Management
DO – Implement Service Management and provide service
CHECK – Monitor, measure and review
ACT – Improvement.
Hypothesis: The more quality applied on internet operations processes, the more positive and satisfied output will result to Etisalat internet products.
Quality has become an important approach that organizations are taking care of while developing their process of work and managing their resources. Internet Operations Department in Etisalat spent a lot of time and effort on the quality of its process in order to reach and achieve a recognized international IT management standard such as SunTone Certification. The process of work developed in the department to be aligned with ITIL international standard in three major parts are: incident management, problem management and change management.
There are several points that I can recommend in order to improve the quality of Internet Operations process in order to achieve customer’s satisfaction.
Adopt a service level agreement (SLA) with the customers in order to provide the best service to customers.
Develop the process of coordination and incident management between Internet Operations sections using an operation level agreement (OLA) in order to achieve the SLA.
Adopt more ITIL management responsibilities such as:
Service Level Management.
Data Center Management.
Service Desk Management.
Work hard to gain ISO20000 Certification.
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