An Introduction to The Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) 4.0

Sophie Danby July 10, 2023
- 7 min read

The Microsoft Operations Framework or MOF is a framework that can complement your IT Service Management (ITSM) offerings. It was specifically built to support Microsoft products. Hence, when used efficiently, it improves service quality within your Microsoft environment. 

Because the MOF has this clearly defined scope within the ITSM landscape, it works really well when combined with other frameworks, such as ITIL or COBIT. In the following blog post we will see how it works, its different components, and how it can improve your support services.

Ready to learn more about MOF? Let's get started.

What is the Microsoft Operations Framework?

MOF was created in 2008 to help IT professionals create, manage, and support reliable and cost-effective services for Microsoft products. To do so, it combines best practices, principles, and IT governance and management procedures. 

Microsoft defines it as a framework that "provides guidance that enables organizations to achieve mission-critical system reliability, availability, supportability, and manageability of Microsoft products and technologies.”

The company specifies that it “provides operational guidance through white papers, operations guides, assessment tools, best practices, case studies, templates, support tools, and services,” and that ”this guidance addresses the people, process, technology, and management issues pertaining to complex, distributed, and heterogeneous IT environments".

Put simply, MOF is a series of practical guides put together to help IT professionals establish and implement reliable, cost-efficient, and easy-to-support IT services.

Microsoft Operations Framework vs. ITIL

We all know ITIL is the main player in the ITSM framework space. It has existed since the 1980s and is the global best practice framework for effective, efficient, and safe Service Management. 

ITIL 4 introduced the Service Value System or SVS to ensure all services are created with a strategy that captures business requirements, is designed in line with technical and service best practices, and transitions without service disruption. ITIL also ensures that services are maintained effectively and proactively, and that continual improvement is embedded so IT services can be refined and improved over time.

Luckily, MOF and ITIL aren't mutually exclusive. They are both ITSM frameworks and can complement each other quite well. ITIL provides a comprehensive service landscape over 34 practices. MOF, on the other hand, has a smaller scope, but its unique selling point is the focus on Microsoft environments. 

MOF can join and improve ITIL by creating a best-practice process matrix for getting the most value out of a Microsoft-centric IT infrastructure.

Benefits of using the Microsoft Operations Framework

MOF can be used to manage your Microsoft services more effectively. As businesses become more and more centered around technology, we need to ensure that we have the right structures in place to protect our services and people. 

Benefits of using the MOF framework include:

  • Alignment with Microsoft services - Microsoft created MOF, specifically tailored to align with its technologies, products, and services. So, if these are a part of your IT environment, it will give you practical guidance on how to optimize them.

  • Improved service delivery - The framework provides standardized processes and procedures so that IT service delivery can be done more consistently.

  • Stronger Risk Management - MOF promotes Risk Management which will help organizations identify, assess, and manage risks reducing adverse service impact.

  • Governance and compliance - MOF also provides guidance on governance and compliance which will help the IT department align more closely to business practices and comply with legal and regulatory requirements.

  • Enhanced communication and collaboration - MOF clearly defines roles and responsibilities, promoting teamwork and better working practices. 

  • Integration with other best practice frameworks - As we’ve mentioned, MOF can complement different methodologies, such as COBIT and ITIL, by providing additional guidance tailored specifically to Microsoft services.

  • Continual improvement - MOF promotes improvement by measuring and monitoring service performance and suggesting areas for improvement.

MOF Process Model

Now that we’ve seen how MOF can improve your Service Management, let’s see how the framework defines its guidelines. The key components of MOF include:

  • Core Principles - MOF is based on four core principles that guide ITSM activities; alignment, service orientation, integration, and Risk Management.

  • Lifecycle Approach - Like the ITIL service lifecycle, MOF also uses a lifecycle approach for Service Management. Each stage in the MOF lifecycle has deliverables, supporting processes, and clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

  • Risk Management - The MOF Risk Management component details identifying, assessing, and managing risks effectively, efficiently, and safely.

  • Governance - MOF helps IT support teams ensure IT strategy aligns with business objectives and complies with regulatory requirements. It includes practical support for defining policies and procedures and documenting the appropriate roles and responsibilities. 

  • Team model - Teams need to be able to communicate well to be able to provide effective IT support. By clearly defining roles for the different groups involved in IT service delivery, MOF promotes effective communication across the service desk, IT support, and development teams.

  • Process model - MOF includes processes and procedures for ITSM processes such as Incident, Problem, and Change Management/Enablement. While ITIL and COBIT offer a much more comprehensive ITSM ecosystem, MOF focuses on the basics, and having these processes in place is an excellent start.

  • Risk and health model - The MOF framework examines how to assess the health and risks associated with maintaining IT services. It includes tools for measuring service performance and identifying areas for improvement.

To organize these components, the MOF model defines four quadrants.

Changing Quadrant

The Change and Configuration Management processes are located in this quadrant. Change Management/Enablement ensures that all change activity is carried out effectively, efficiently, and safely and is supported by Configuration Management which maps out the service ecosystem and identifies any dependencies.

Basically, this includes the Service Management functions or SMFs required to identify, review, approve, and implement change in a managed IT environment. This can be changes in software, hardware, network services, voice services, documentation, roles, and responsibilities. 

Operating Quadrant

This quadrant incorporates the SMFs required to monitor, manage, protect, and control IT systems to agreed service levels. The job scheduling process is contained within the operating quadrant to ensure that automation is carried out effectively and in line with service requirements.

Supporting Quadrant

This includes the SMFs required to identify, log, prioritize, monitor, and resolve incidents, problems, and requests in line with the service performance codified in your Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

The service desk, Incident, and Problem Management are the key processes within this quadrant to ensure that everything gets logged in one central location, service faults are fixed as quickly as possible and with as little adverse impact as possible, and that effective Problem Management is in place to understand and resolve the root cause of recurring incidents.

Optimizing Quadrant

This includes the SMFs that maintain business and IT alignment. This includes incident reviews, examining cost structures, performance analysis, and availability forecasting. 

Processes in the optimizing quadrant include Service Level, Availability, and Continuity Management to ensure that service levels perform and meet the availability standards agreed in the SLAs and that there is a plan in place to enable the business to move forward should the worst happen in the form of a disaster or major continuity affecting an event.

MOF phases

The MOF framework organizes the process in four phases:

  • Plan - The planning stage focuses on creating an appropriate IT support strategy so that IT services align with business objectives. Key activities in the planning phase include requirement gathering, risk assessment, objective setting, and defining a roadmap for further action.

  • Deliver - This stage deploys the IT services that were designed in the previous stage. Key activities include designing and building IT services, deployment planning, and service acceptance.

  • Operate -This phase is concerned with the day-to-day management and support of IT services. Key activities include Incident, Problem, and Service Continuity Management.

  • Manage -The manage phase governance and continual improvement. Key processes include service monitoring, reporting, and optimization.

Microsoft Operations Framework certification

MOF practitioners can get a formal certification by taking the MOF foundation course. The foundation course covers the basic principles of MOF, including the MOF quadrant and the four phases. It aims to give course attendees a solid framework overview and prepare them for the certification exam. 

The bottom line

The MOF defines principles and guidance to assist organizations in effectively managing their IT services. Benefits include better outcomes for ITSM in a Microsoft-orientated IT ecosystem and better support for overall GRC objectives.

To get the most out of it, it must be complemented with other frameworks. When creating an ITSM strategy, frameworks shouldn’t be adopted blindly. Always take a good look at your workplace and take and adapt knowledge from different places to make sure you are working towards your goals.

Read other articles like this : ITSM frameworks

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