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Sharing IT resources and services enables costs to be reduced and delivers greater business agility. Agility supports sharing between departments, independent organizations, and between private and public clouds.
Agility provides accountability for both the benefits, and any associated costs, of sharing, and by doing so, encourages further sharing. Agility delivers accountability through its use of Service Agreements which record the responsibilities of all parties and identifies whether or not these are being met.
Resources must remain under the ultimate control of the organization responsible for the capital and/or operating costs. Agility ensures that resources may be shared when desirable but used exclusively when required.
Agility puts control into the hands of administrators through its support for pluggable Policy. This controls which service agreements are to be entered into, how they are to be supported and under which conditions they may be terminated. Policy captures the intent of the administrator.
Agility delivers accountability through its use of service agreements which record the responsibilities of the parties engaged in a relationship. With service agreements in place the organisation can monitor performance and can identify when quality of service is threatened in order to take remedial action. Any action taken may be independent of Agility or may be driven by automated Policy which has been registered with Agility, as we shall see in the next section.
A service agreement is an agreement between two parties and is used to define the obligations of each party typically, though not exclusively, with regard to service offered by one party to another.
Agility represents a Service Agreement as a set of Features, each consisting of a name/value pair. The semantics for the name and value of a Feature are entirely the concern of the two parties involved in the Service Agreement, and are transparent to Agility. Agreement is reached between two parties when both believe they understand the semantics of the Features contained within a Service Agreement, and agree that the agreement being proposed is both achievable and acceptable.
Agility puts control into the hands of an organisation's administrators through its support for pluggable policy. Policy is a set of rules or guidelines that direct an organisation's behaviour. Within an Agility Server, Policy is structured as one or more Policy Modules. Multiple Modules can represent different aspects of an organisation's policy, or represent the interests of different actors within the organisation, or be concerned with particular events. For example one Policy Module might be concerned with legal aspects, another with financial auditing, and yet another with green issues.
Policy interacts with the Agility Server through a Policy API. By this means Policy Modules can control which Service Agreements are to be entered into, how they may be modified over time and under which conditions they may be terminated.
A change to a Service Agreement proceeds as follows:
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