Every Cloud has a silver bullet to kill the dreaded ITIL
The Cloud is not sweeping away ITIL or IT Service Management. Every over-hyped fad claims the rules are different now and we don't have to worry about some basic fundamental that has always plagued us in the past. And every time it turns out to be crap. The rules are the same and have been ever since the Europeans over-traded tulips, probably much longer. Business needs management. Without management control, risk kills it. ITSM is the framework for management of IT. It articulates what we do for the customer. ITSM is basic IT, wherever it is running. Cloud may play on different instruments but the tune is the same. The detail of what we control changes. Even the way we control changes. but we still need the controls. So this beating up on ITIL isn't about Cloud really. It is about techs frustrated because they are not allowed to do what they like without supervision.
Skep's had enough of this "Ding dong! ITSM is dead! Cloud killed it" stuff. It's happening everywhere, even over on ITSM Weekly The Podcast. Rodrigo is the most articulate (and hence dangerous) Cloud-kills-ITIL champion I have heard in my close circle but there are many more on the Web right now, including some whiny stuff on a LinkedIn thread (you need to be in the 'Service Catalog and Service Portfolio Community' group). ITSM only "gets in the way" when people are putting the business at risk.
Evolution not revolution
Yes ITSM needs to morph to adapt to the emerging shift in IT, from stability as the rest state to change as the norm. If ITIL has any sense it will evolve to deal with Agile and DevOps and Cloud and whatever else the solutions architects and apps managers throw at us. If ITIL doesn't evolve then yes ITIL will lose releavance - I'll blog on that sometime - but that doesn't mean ITSM is dead or even ITIL is dead. ITIL describes what we need to do to successfully run the information engineering of a business. That isn't changing. As Rodrigo said on his blog "As for ITIL, still useful and ITIL people will be needed. Capacity management, vendor management, service level, service catalog all apply in this new world, but there's a different emphasis. One that, I recommend ITIL people learn quickly because there's a big change coming. In many ways, cloud will make service management even more important."
[Besides, constant change is still some way off for most organisations. Cloud doesn't actually make us that much more agile - that's another blog to come.]
But whatever IT evolves to and however much of it we bung on a cloud, the business still needs to govern it. And IT still needs to deliver to customers and users. And as long as that is the case, then ITSM is the language (and ITIL one dialect) to describe what we need to do:
- develop a portfolio of services in conjuction with customers
- manage finances
- track and mitigate risks
- track change
- consider and pre-approve high risk change
- be able to undo failed change
- track and respond to user requests, including interruptions to service
- track and resolve and try to preempt underlying problems (yes we'll have many fewer to worry about with Cloud infrastructure, but that just means we'll be less rehearsed at dealing with the few that remain)
- plan for new services and future capacity growth (Cloud still needs pipes to it and funds to pay for it, we still need some form of personal appliances...)
- agree the service to be delivered
- measure and report the service delivered
- of course manage suppliers and contracts
- ...and so on
That (and much more) is ITSM. That's what we need to do. Cloud doesn't eliminate any of it. It doesn't even radically change any of it. There is merely some adjustment required at the detail level.
Those who want to throw away what we have achieved with ITSM are like the tulip merchants and e-commerce pundits trying to abolish gravity.
An analogy is medicine. There are those who think "Western" medicine is one thing and there are other valid modalities (there goes that pernicious post-modernism again) such as Chinese or alternative medicine. This isn't true. "Western" medicine is whatever has been proven to work. One side of "Western" medicine is commercially driven. If something really works the industry falls on it with glee. the other side is driven by a desire to make people well. If something works the researchers fall on it with glee. The reason homeopathy hasn't been adopted is because it is B.S, the selling of water. The reason acupuncture hasn't been greatly adopted is because it only slightly works, due to the indirect stimulation of sticking pins into you. There is no mystic Chi flowing through you - there are nerves and blood vessels and lymphatic ducts, and acupuncture teaches us little new about how they work. Waving hands over you makes you feel better because its nice to have a kind person near you trying to make you feel better. Chiropractors make you feel better because they really do know how to massage the skeleton and its muscles. Period. None of them have access to something that orthodox medicine doesn't. None of them get better results. They appeal to superstition and desperation and ignorance of science.
Since there will be a few people reading this who are silly enough to believe in alternative medicines, try another analogy: ... on the other hand don't. The medicine analogy is a good one, I can't be bothered concocting a second for the credulous. Wise up. There are no totally new sets of rules, only the evolution of knowledge.
Back to the cowboys
Cloud so appeals to the IT cowboys. They think it's a return to anarchy, to the freedom of the wide open range. Sorry boys, ITSM's still gonna fence you in. Business survives on control. ITSM describes IT controls.
Pink Elephant have renamed their big annual conference from "IT Service Management" to just "IT Management". This is correct. Service is one language for describing what IT does. No matter how you look at it, what frame of reference or language you use, it's the same stuff: management. Innovations may make us describe it differently, they certainly may make us change the way we do parts of it - Cloud will - but it is all the same principles underneath. medicine describes how the body works and what fixes it. Consultation, diagnosis, monitoring, prognosis, treatment, medication, surgery, prevention, intervention... they'll always be there, only the details will change.
And I don't think the service language will lose importance. it's all about the customer and that should always be our main focus, so ITSM will always describe the primary perspective on IT.
Just in case someone comes up with that even more hysterical "With Cloud there is no IT any more", let me say I'm using the term loosely to refer to Information Engineering or Information Management, not specifically the management of in-house technology toys.
The proponents of "Cloud kills ITIL" or "Cloud kills ITSM" or even "Cloud kills IT" are victims of a too-narrow world-view, dominated by those tech toys. Cloud makes it possible to outsource much of the Stuff which appears to be a huge effect in their little worlds, but it does nothing to remove the need for management of information and management of service. In fact it raises new complexities of supplier management, sovereignty of data, confidentiality, configuration and so on. We will continue to need IT Management for ever and we will continue to need ITSM to describe it. And ITIL is likely to be an important component of that for a while yet.
Those who accuse ITSMers of falling behind are missing the point: Cloud is just a new technology. ITSM is the new, more evolved way of thinking.
ITIL changes slowly, about every seven years on past performance. COBIT 5 is coming out at the end of next year - it will be interesting to see if it has embraced any of this change.
In the meantime we are all learning and working it out. Few more so than Rodrigo who's right out there on the front edge of the wave.
"Best practice" or I prefer "generally accepted practice" is about what's proven. That takes time. Someone has to go there first and try it. In fact several have to try it so we can (nearly) all agree on what works.
But spouting bile and derision on the established frameworks because they are waiting to see what falls out is counter-productive. And expecting the business to drop everything and let the techs off the leash so they can find out what doesn't work at the business's expense is deluded. Cloud is experimental and will remain so until mainstream business can see how it is to be controlled in order to protect the organisation.
Those who have spoken to me recently know I'm thinking about how ITSM needs to adapt as much as anyone. We await the results of Cloud experiments to give us the evidence to make sensible decisions about that.]