The Skeptical Informer, February 2009, Volume 3, No. 2

The newsletter of the IT Skeptic. All the IT skeptical news that is fit to print... and then some!

The IT Skeptic has been hard at work getting Owning ITIL® into publication. Look for it sometime late March or early April. If you are subscribed to the other IT Skeptic newsletter, The Skeptical Publisher, you will get a discount code for this book. Recently in a LinkedIn group discussion, someone was surprised to hear ITIL described as a "commercial" framework. Why is ITIL® a "commercial" framework? Because
  1. it is copyrighted and trademarked. None of the content is in the public domain, though of course the concepts are - they cannot be patented.
  2. It is printed and published by a private for-profit company TSO.
  3. It is accredited and certified by a private for-profit company APMG.
  4. APMG themselves compete with the same EI organisations that they accredit.
  5. The advisory group that designs the certification program is made up entirely of vendors of the resulting product...
  6. except for itSMF which is supposed to represent "users" but by its own self-definition (charter) it does not - it exists to "promote service management". As a disipline? As an industry? As a market?
  7. ITIL's online knowledge portal ITIL Live™ is subscription only (and extremely expensive) despite the original assurances that it would be free. It is owned, operated and copyrighted by ITIL's publisher TSO.
  8. I estimate the ITIL industry to be worth US$2-5 billion per annum.
I said it a while ago in an ITSMWatch article: Its new commercialism might help ITIL’s appeal in some sectors but it diminishes it in others... ITIL v1 and v2 were seen as independent, impartial, folksy and real. ITIL v3 has lost some of that: it is a little too glitzy, commercial, clever, remote and ambitious for some consumers... [ITIL] has that gamey whiff of vendors about it which is putting some people off. The nostalgic, the Luddite and the just plain old amongst us pine for a simpler time when ITIL was wholesome, down-home common sense from some no-nonsense Pommy codgers (once again let us not confuse perception with reality). Of course, in some ways this isn't fair. ITIL grew beyond a certain threshold where it did attract the attention of the money engine and then nothing was going to be the same, no matter what OGC or anyone did. But that doesn't excuse the unseemly haste with which ITIL was tarted up in a shiny suit, given fashionable new songs to sing, and shoved out on a stage in Vegas. I'm about to launch another book, The Worst of the IT Skeptic which is a compilation of the last two-and-a-half years of the IT Skeptic's writings: blog and articles and books. I'd like to think in another two years time I'll have more to compile than continued rants about ITIL. But it's not looking good: we all wait with bated breath to hear something official about what is apparently a new "ITIL standard" for product "compliance". The article contains enough errors that it is not a useful source of information (I understand that it has been revised at least once with no indication that this has happened). Surely this is something that OGC and the itSMF Board must now both move quickly to inform us about. At a loss for a theme for the photos this month, I decided to celebrate puppy Astro's first birthday. He's growing into a good but mischievous dog. I dispute any assertions about pets and their owners looking like each other.


Recently we discussed how I think ITIL V3 muddies the definition of Incident, and of Incident Management. As part of that discussion I realised that my own list of Request classes had missed one, "Fault". That list came from my book Introduction to Real ITSM which is a satirical version. A more serious one was originally published by me in the article The Evolution of the ITIL Request on ITSMWatch.

So I thought I'd update my list.

This post has been podcast

[Updated: My review of ITIL V3 "Service Strategy" is no longer available at the original website so I am reposting it here.] If V2 taught us how to walk, V3 teaches us to run. Trouble is, many organizations are still sitting down.

itSMF International is creating a committee to improve the development of chapters. This is a Good Thing, great to see.

I humbly suggest that chapter development is just part of a bigger issue for itSMFI: chapter integration. This is the dead elephant in itSMF's room: the problem so big that everyone studiously ignores it.

My original article People, Practices, Things is no longer available online on the original website. It is reproduced here. I later proposed an alternate model of Community, Activity, Environment.

ITIL defines an incident to be an impact on service or a failure of a CI that might impact service. I think that is clumsy. An incident is an impact on service. Period. A failure of a CI is something else.


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Real ITSM group on LinkedIn

itSMFI are celebrating their 1000th LinkedIn group member (congratulations Sue!). Real ITSM is of course much more important to the industry so surely we can get the Real ITSM group to 100 members? Currently we are at 78. If everyone who isn't a member joins and everyone who is invites one friend along we'll blow the 100 easily. 2 friends each and we are on our way to matching itSMFI...

Join up or put the word out please - get folks along.

I'm going to start sending out a weekly quote to the LinkedIn group from the book Introduction to Real ITSM, so those of you hit by the recession and haven't bought the book yet, you can just stay in the group long enough and you'll have read the whole thing!

Keep IT real!

Blog SLA change and service interruption

Dear user,

The IT Skeptic is unilaterally revising your SLA.
To make the change, there will be an outage on Monday, March 2nd sometime between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. MST.
Have a nice day and thank-you for choosing the IT Skeptic


As a consequence of the economic situation, Two Hills Ltd can no longer fund the whopping server in Utah that powers (and and others).

As a result we will be moving back from a dedicated server to a Virtual Private Server. Those who understand these things will see that this is akin to moving from a quiet quarter-acre section in the 'burbs back to an apartment in a tenement. We will once again be at the mercy of the neighbours.

What this means to you as a reader of the site is that you will notice "noisy parties": sometime degradation of the performance of the site - i.e. slow response times - as some other VPS on the shared machine runs away with CPU resources. You will notice "cramped rooms": similar poor response times when we get busy on our site and run out of machine. You will also experience occasional "fire evacuations": total unavailability of the site when some neighbour manages to bring the server down. The nice people at WestHost do a good job for us, but shit happens and magic doesn't.


The move will take place over approximately 30 minutes (with a fair wind and all going well) on Monday, March 2nd between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. MST. That's USMST (Mountain Standard Time: told you it was in Utah). For those who live beyond the shining seas I believe it is GMT-7.

We apologise in advance for any interruption or degradation of this free service.


Recent podcasts

A podcast of the original article [updated: fixed the sound quality]

The first of the five books in the ITIL Version 3 core suite, Service Strategy is ITIL’s bid for credibility outside the back-room. Well actually, much of Version 3 is a cry for acceptance at higher levels in the organisation (or a power grab for more of the business depending on your perspective). But Service Strategy leads the charge, making an effective case for delivery of IT as a service, and for a strategic, analytical and theoretical approach to such delivery.

A podcast of the original post. [Updated: fixed the sound quality].

Months ago I set out to read Cult of the Amateur, by Andrew Keen, Doubleday 2007. I want to review this book but I can't because it makes me so angry I can't finish it. I fling it across the room and leave it for weeks before I try again. So far I've made to page 19. I can't recall when I last read such an irrationally emotive, ill-informed, unbalanced diatribe. I even include here my own writings. What makes it worse is that my own opinions are not that far from the author's - I should be a cheerleader. But he just talks crap

From the blog

This post has been podcast.
Months ago I set out to read Cult of the Amateur, by Andrew Keen, Doubleday 2007. I want to review this book but I can't because it makes me so angry I can't finish it. I fling it across the room and leave it for weeks before I try again. So far I've made to page 19. I can't recall when I last read such an irrationally emotive, ill-informed, unbalanced diatribe. I even include here my own writings. What makes it worse is that my own opinions are not that far from the author's - I should be a cheerleader. But he just talks crap.

[Bump to top - any more good stories out there? ] The IT Skeptic's new book Owning ITIL® is out now. The first ten people who contribute an accepted ITIL project horror story get a free copy of the book.

We could be overdoing our solutions to reporting requirements in IT Operations, whether it be CMDB, historical trending or service level reporting. Consider the option of on-demand operational data, and a specialist team to provide it.

APMG have published a book of rules for ITIL V3 certification and training. This is excellent, exactly the kind of thing that should be public. We now look forward to OGC, itSMF and TSO doing the same in other areas, such as:

  • acceptance of Complementary publications
  • contractual agreements between the entities (for example did you know that itSMF have a contractual agreement with APMG to “use all reasonable endeavours to promote and market their services worldwide”)
  • itSMF member code of conduct
  • IPESC charter and approvals process
  • itSMF charter(s) and constitution(s)

The booklet is excellent. It lays out just what we need to know. More of this please, Castle ITIL.

There were a few interesting bits...

Problems suffer from the important/urgent dilemma. They are very important but struggle to get attention in the less mature shops over the incoming bombardment of incidents.

This is over simplistic but cute

As the recession deepens, perhaps we need to lighten up some and make sure we don't over-spend on risk mitigation.

Here's an interesting new entrant in the SaaS ITSM/ITIL market, Beetil. You can trial it for free.

I'm a good citizen of the internet communities I inhabit. If something is not useful to me or could be improved, then I generally use the written contact mechanism to let them know. I'm a smart guy and tech-savvy so my messages are - I hope - pretty clear and to the point (if a bit abrasive - it's just the Antipodean in me). But I don't have a good success rate with them.

A recent lawsuit suggests that Microsoft Vista might be a ploy to charge even more for Windows XP. It is not as extreme as my suggestion that Microsoft might have engineered the recession to disguise the productivity impact of Vista. You never know...

Have you seen ISO/IEC 20000 as a mandatory requirement?

I just finished writing my non-review of The Cult of the Amateur when I found that Carr's at it too. Nicholas Carr of course. Apparently he too believes blogging is going to lead to the demise of professional journalism. What is it with otherwise intelligent people that they have to extrapolate a trend linearly to an apocalyptic conclusion? It shows a complete failure to grasp even the basics of systems theory.

If you want an ITIL V3 Expert certification, hurry before the fast-track is gone. Reportedly an ITIL V2 Manager's certificate followed by a Bridge course is the fastest and (relatively) cheapest route to an ITIL V3 Expert certification. The great lumbering beast that is the ITIL V3 certification program just took one more plodding step towards cutting it off.

My original article Community, Activity, Environment is no longer available at the original website so I am reposting it here.
The IT industry does not have a good track record for introducing new things. Projects fail, products don’t fit, results are unexpected, users are unhappy. “People Process Technology” is a useful model to help us do better, but it gets ignored more often than it gets applied. The IT Skeptic suggests redefining it to new terms will improve its acceptance. If we apply it more, we should have less IT failures.

I've just discovered Platen, a blog by Floyd Strimling. He's not a regular poster, and I don't always agree with him, but I have to commend a blog whose tagline is "where technology meets common sense". Floyd usually makes sense and he is always skeptical - my kind of blogger.

Today I'd like to share with you a quote from someone I consider the greatest business thinker since Drucker, greater even than the authors of Service Strategy. I am of course referring to Scott Adams.

There is a website that provides a commercial resale value for URLs. I'm delighted to learn that this blog's URL,

Whether you are a newcomer to itSMF or a member, there are some fundamental things the itSMF International website does not tell you.

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