Tech News: IT Service Management

Second in a two-part series

Small IT departments typically have strong alliances with local IT service companies who in turn have partnerships with large information technology firms such as Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft or Cisco.

Larger IT organisations may have the scale to get services directly from the major vendor or manufacturers. These major corporations have developed their own prescriptive guide to service excellence. In such corporations it defines how to manage and operate information technology service; they describe the process framework that helps to develop and maintain the many information technology operations that occur.

Microsoft uses its own Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) internally for developing new services and solutions (See Figure 2). In addition, Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) is used in their day to day operations (See Figure 3).

Microsoft is not alone, Hewlett Packard have embraced a similar service management system which is called Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). Cisco has its Lifecycle services which are used to guide deployments of Cisco Technology as well as manage these resources during the operational phase. IBM also has its own methodology. Many small companies may have a single core vendor, so choosing a methodology might be fairly straight forward. However, most medium to large corporations have multiple vendors in their environment and a vendor agnostic standard may be more suitable.

All these frameworks are based on the Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) developed by the United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

The latest iteration of ITIL is comprised of the following parts:

ITIL Service Strategy is the planning piece of the puzzle which aligns the business with the information technology processes, defines the roles and responsibilities as well as defines success criteria, etc.
ITIL Service Design describes the design process in terms of the design objectives, cost model, measurement/control, implementation, etc.
ITIL Service Transition defines how a change is managed, managing knowledge and risk analysis.
ITIL Service Operations deals with process management and control and focuses on the stability of the service.
ITIL Continuous Service Improvement describes the drivers for improvement as well as processes involved maintaining a high standard for services.

ISO20000 certification may also be a medium to long term goal for larger IT service organisations as the popularity of outsourcing is growing. Smaller organisations may just need to acquire the relevant documentation and adopt the tenets that apply directly to their environment.

Many of the underlying themes of IT service excellence are loosely practiced in most IT organisations. Adopting ITIL or some derivative is usually a difficult undertaking because it involves changes in behavior. ITIL along with meticulous management of risk would help to stabilise and increase efficiency in the IT environments that have become so critical to the running of any business, regardless of size.


Microsoft Solutions Framework

Microsoft Operations Framework

Information technology Information Library