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The ITIL Trap

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The ITIL Trap

P.A. Harms

Author Note P.A. Harms, IT Consultant, Pretoria, South Africa Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to P.A. Harms, P.O. Box 41871, Moreleta Park, 0044, South Africa. Contact: paharms@gmail.com

Copyright 2011-2016 P.A. Harms All Print & Electronic Rights Reserved Draft not for Publication

The ITIL Trap


The ITIL Quandary
There is only one critical idea IT is a servant of the business. The misapplication and misunderstanding of this idea has led to huge problems in many businesses. IT often fails to understand who "the business" is or what its objectives are or what part IT should play in delivering these objectives. These questions are the realm of "IT strategy", their answers set the direction for IT. Enterprise Architecture shows how these objectives will be achieved through the use of information and technology. Drilling down, this means that enterprise architecture is intimately connected to the objectives that the business has for its operational processes. But, strategy and architecture are worse than irrelevant without implementation. Painting pictures of the future and writing clever documents is a meaningless waste of time and money unless the business benefits as a result. Delivery is all.

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How many 'utilities' are out there purporting to assist with the implementation of ITL? How many templates, guides and 'implementation systems' are put out there to get ITOs on the ITIL road? Why do so many ITOs rush out and procure these 'solutions'? Why do so many ITOs spend their hard fought for budget on dispatching IT personnel on ITIL certification missions? The offerings are legion! The question is, how many of them will work, how many of them will deliver what they say? How many IT personnel return from the 'ITIL tent' and instantly begin to transform IT service support and delivery? 'Not many', is the sad answer. Why is this? Simply, because ITIL of itself, is not the panacea to the problems that confront the modern ITO. ITIL, of itself, will not align IT to the business, unravel the complexities of information technology, uncloak the IT mystery, or even instantly elicit empathy from the executive towards the problems experienced with IT service delivery. ITIL is part of a process, it plays an important role in underpinning the logic of information technology management best practices but it is not the practice itself. Sending IT personnel on ITIL missions without them understanding the role that ITIL plays in the IT management framework, something that they should already be actively engaged in building, is an exercise in futility. IT Management Realities There are some stark realities about delivering meaningful IT services to the modern organisation. The reality of information technology is that its functionality is so deeply embedded in the management of business processes that its existence cannot be denied; but its efficacy is questioned by business mangers. This is because they do not understand its complexity since they have no line of sight visibility into the mechanics of the IT delivery mechanisms. That said, how many IT managers are able to lay claim to the ability to instantly access coherent details about the structure of the information technology framework and its workings? How many IT functionaries, internal or otherwise, understand the larger purpose of IT and have the means to visualise why they are doing what they do, and what the consequences of any of their actions are? So it is all about visibility. About seeing what is happening and being able to manage where you are going and why you are going there. Managing the information technology environment is a complex challenge. Most experts agree that the best way to meet this challenge is to view information technology management from the perspective of a framework. This approach ensures that the complexity of IT is unraveled by decomposing the management requirements into manageable pieces.

The Information Technology Management Framework is based on the four fundamentals of ICT management Business Service Management Business Constituents Framework Universal IT Services Physical Infrastructure Governance Integrity Management

ITIL Realities In this context, ITIL becomes one of the the subsidiary frameworks of the larger Information Technology Management Framework; in essence, a focused view on a part of the

Copyright 2011-2016 P.A. Harms All Print & Electronic Rights Reserved Draft not for Publication

The ITIL Trap

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bigger picture. ITIL is then brought into perspective, and its dependence on the other constituents of the ITMF is brought into focus; as well as its relationship to the various maturity models that deliver to the objective of mature IT process management. ITIL cannot stand on its own as the answer to the challenge of delivering technology to the business. It requires a solid configuration management foundation, an established framework of IT management domains and allied IT management frameworks, and, last but not least, a properly constituted governance domain.
Illustration 1: Positioning ITIL in the IT Management Framework is a schematic depicting the logical position of ITIL in the business service delivery framework. It demonstrates the logic of the dual role of ITIL. Firstly, as a 'trap' for configuration items, using the attributes assigned to them by the CMDB to manage support and ensure that service delivery conforms to standards. Secondly, through the ITIL incident, problem and change management principles, the 'trapped, configuration items are locked into the IT service continuity management process. But, clearly, ITIL is neither the beginning nor the end of managing business domains and their delivery obligations to the enterprise; it is but a part of the IT management framework

Illustration 1: Positioning ITIL in the IT Management Framework

Zachman Framework - an architecture framework, based heap in terms of IT management frameworks, contending with the Zachman Framework as the on the work of John Zachman at IBM in the 1980s. The Zachman singular most significant framework to have been introduced to the IT management landscape. Framework promotes the They are partners in the quest to understand IT, unravel its complexities and align its objectives definition of the enterprise in with those of the business. Together they provide the ITO with the capacity to offer an elegant highly structured aspects. The objective of the framework is the classification of components of interface between information technology and enterprise architecture. They have one other the enterprise using a 6x6 two important common characteristic . They cannot be implemented. Rather, the principles of the dimensional matrix.

Whilst ITIL cannot be perceived as a stand alone solution, it is certainly at the top of the

Zachman taxonomy and those of the ITIL framework need to be adopted, embraced and

supported by well entrenched and sustainable IT management processes. ITIL cannot take root in a barren ITO, where the necessary groundwork has not been carried out. ITIL will only bear fruit within the confines of a well constructed IT management framework.

Copyright 2011-2016 P.A. Harms All Print & Electronic Rights Reserved Draft not for Publication

The ITIL Trap


Configuration Item Management - Collecting, grouping and enriching the data used by the ITIL is facilitated by the classification of CIs as either Enterprise Configuration Items Element Configuration Items The classes of configuration management items share the following characteristics Their frame of reference is either one of or all of the domains of the Conceptual Infrastructure Technology Framework Their common purpose is to deliver to the Business Service Management Framework They are governed by the Governance Domain and referenced by the Integrity Management Domain Element configuration items are the nuts and bolts of the infrastructure and represent The physical state The physical status The operational state The operational status The integrity level On their own they represent no value to the enterprise and, in that condition, serve the exclusive purposes of their silo based owners. Enterprise configuration items are collections of element configuration items. They live at the top of the tree and are essentially those CIs that contribute to actual visibility into the business process domains, and their associated technological services inventories such as the infrastructure technology framework software and applications the services that comprise the service catalogue/s IT management processes service management processes service support processes technology management and operational skills and expertise policies, procedures and standards operational and strategic metrics configuration item dependency and relationship repositories

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ITIL's basic premise is that there are certain disciplines or functions that are essential to the management of high quality IT services. In particular, ITIL examines and provides guidelines for change management, problem resolution, configuration management, service levels, capacity and contingency plans. ITIL proposes a planned and structured approach to designing, implementing and managing each discipline. From this it is clear that ITIL is a management framework in its own right, with well defined objectives. Then there is the question of the much maligned CMDB. The focal point of ITIL is the configuration item. Configuration items need to be discovered and documented. Their individual attributes need to ascertained and their position in the technology dependency chain identified. Their function in the business process domains needs to be understood, as well as the relationships that they perpetuate between the other domains. Configuration item management is at the heart of an IT management framework. Many ITOs focus on the wrong issues in managing information technology. It is all very well to implement tools that manage capacity, capability and security; but, in the final analysis, these tools are managing the behaviour of the lowest common denominator in the IT infrastructure the configuration item. Without an understanding of the origin, position and function of configuration items within the IT service delivery framework,whether singularly or collectively, these tools can never realise their potential - and this is the purpose of ITIL! There is an unequivocal logic to configuration item management, an ethos that belies its insignificant appearance. discover what is out there and document it in the finest detail understand every nuance of the dependencies and relationships of every configuration item protect its position in the service continuity chain. use the Zachman taxonomy to identify the role of each configuration item in the preservation of the enterprise architecture record them in a configuration management database.

Do this, and the ITIL trap becomes a tool in the pursuit of IT management best practices. Do this, and march off to the ITIL tent, confident in the knowledge that those embarking on the mission will comprehend both the purpose and the magnitude of what they are about to learn. Don't do this, and the emissaries will walk into an ITIL trap of another sort. One that will suck them into a vortex of confusion and conflict; to experience an electronic storm of proportions that will impair, or even obliterate, the very thing that all ITOs strive towards organisational credibility.
Copyright 2011-2016 P.A. Harms All Print & Electronic Rights Reserved Draft not for Publication