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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A way to stop the IT insanity
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...
Published on August 5, 2005 by Richard Bejtlich

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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great - but not relevant for everyone
First, I think that anyone studying ITIL will benefit from reading this book - There is a lot of valuable information here.

However, its not relevant to everyone. It seems focused on medium to larger business that are somewhat out of control. If you're a small or medium sized company that wants to use ITIL, and your current situation is not great but far from...
Published on April 3, 2005 by M. Duke


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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A way to stop the IT insanity, August 5, 2005
This review is from: The Visible Ops Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps (Paperback)
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.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NO IT Professional should be without a copy of...., October 21, 2004
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.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy Of Information Technology Control 101, October 22, 2004
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

NASD
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important addition to the ITIL body of knowledge, January 19, 2005
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.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donald Tomasi, Manager Global Technology, Whirlpool Corp, October 26, 2004
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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Missing ITIL Book, October 24, 2004
I can remember when I first discovered ITIL. I was both excited and disappointed. I was excited because I had found a framework that I could leverage with my IT team for improvement. I was disappointed because within all the ITIL books it never defined a clear path to start implementation. It was a pleasure to read the Visible Ops Handbook and find a documented plan that I could use to implement our improvement process. The authors understand and address the real challenges with managing IT improvement.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great - but not relevant for everyone, April 3, 2005
By 
M. Duke (Tokyo, Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
First, I think that anyone studying ITIL will benefit from reading this book - There is a lot of valuable information here.

However, its not relevant to everyone. It seems focused on medium to larger business that are somewhat out of control. If you're a small or medium sized company that wants to use ITIL, and your current situation is not great but far from chaotic, then there are only a few points that will help you.

I also want to say that the review by Mr. Shepard is also quite accurate.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy the Kindle edition of this book, July 13, 2010
By 
Jim Kimball (Wilton, CT USA) - See all my reviews
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While this book is in itself recommended, the Kindle edition is awful. It contains discontinuities on almost every page and is unreadable as a result.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, To the Point, Practical, May 31, 2007
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This review is from: The Visible Ops Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps (Paperback)
Word for word, this is the most valuable book about running IT operations that you can find. Forget the buzzwords, forget ITIL (although it's addressed inside) - this book contains the guts of what it really takes to manage infrastructure well.

Imagine if everything it took to run operations well could be distilled down to four easy to remember steps. Then imagine that this content could be put inside a thin little book you could give to your boss, your coworkers, and your employees. This is that book.

I have already bought more than half a dozen copies, because I keep on giving mine away. It's just that good.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense Approach that is all too uncommon..., January 11, 2006
This review is from: The Visible Ops Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps (Paperback)
The Authors have (at last) found a meaningful way to pinpoint one of the best ways to begin implementing ITIL. By starting with reducing "reactive time" and focussing on Incident, Problem and Change Management - the book provides a pragmatic and valuable insight into how one could go about the process of implementing ITIL from scratch in a greenfield site.

As an ITIL expert myself - this is often a fundamental stumbling block for many organizations.

The Auditable steps are also often overlooked in many of todays "recommended" approaches. The audit process will ensure that "what gets measured gets attended to".

I recommend this book to anyone who is beginning on their ITIL journey - as a natural complement to the core OGC texts, or anyone who is considering how they would overlay their ITIL implementation with Audit capability.
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The Visible Ops Handbook: Implementing ITIL in 4 Practical and Auditable Steps
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