The Skeptical Informer, July 2008, Volume 2, No. 7

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

CMDB remains a hot topic on the blog. Any post about CMDB attracts plenty of attention, and Google searches on “CMDB” remain a major source of traffic. This worries me on three levels:

CMDB is a technology. There is still disproportionate attention paid to the tools and geeky whiz-bangs and not enough to culture and process.

CMDB is the wrong technology. It is nice to have a Configuration database of some form, but the most important technologies to Service Management are the Service Desk, the systems and network monitoring console, and SLA monitoring and reporting. Vendors argue these tools “need” a CMDB under them but remarkably most of them seem to work fine without one.

CMDB can’t be done. I think my views on that are clear by now. As Siki Gunta put it, CMDB is a journey not a destination. (My old mate Graeme Fish at CA says “the first three times I remember to attribute it then it’s mine”). It is great that so many people are setting out on the journey, but I think all the interest comes because they are finding out it is HARD if you treat CMDB as a specification not an ideal. And don't get me started on SKMS.

I did doubt my faith and asked people to prove me wrong about CMDB. I got one report of one CMDB, no info on the business ROI, and a great informal survey from itSMFUSA 2004. An informal survey on the blog showed only 15% of sites had something called "CMDB" after years of ITIL Version 2. I'm not wrong about CMDB. It is a geek fantasy.

This relates to a big learning on the blog this month: how ITIL seems to have a bet each way - it wants to be proven and bleeding edge at the same time. From that comes the idea that CMDB is all about the journey not the destination. If Castle ITIL cared about the users, it'd broadcast this message REAL LOUD before the users all bloody themselves on the rocks of CMDB.

The biggest event for the website this month was a vendor of digital IP stealing mine. The explanation was that contracted help had created the content and so no-one knew it was nicked. This might be a reason but it isn't an excuse. It was patently obvious it came from somewhere else and 30 seconds with Google would have shown where. Next time I'll publicly blame and shame, and I'll consider legal action. I loathe lawyers but I could use the money.

The ITIL Establishment up at Castle ITIL (OGC, APMG, TSO, itSMFI) continue to demonstrate that they wouldn't know a user community if it stood up in their breakfast cereal. APMG "survey itSMF members" and 92% of my readers who are itSMF members don't know what they are talking about. OGC decide the collaborative IP-sharing ITIL Live Portal will be a paying product... when it finally appears. Someone needs to drag this lot kicking and screaming into the new millenium.

This time next month I hope to be telling you about my new book. If you would like an advance peek, see the Real ITSM website. Best photo contributed by end of August wins a copy. Send us your photo wearing an IT Skeptic T-shirt or cap, or waving an IT Skeptic coffee mug, and you can join the Rogues Gallery of IT Skeptics.

Finally, I've been re-reading my biography of Antoni Gaudi after my friend Antonio gave me a statuette of one of the monsters from Park Güell. What a guy (both of them, but I'm referring here to Gaudi). Next time someone bangs on at you about a "new paradigm" or a "radical transformation" or other vendor crap, go look at Gaudi's work and see what a real new paradigm looks like. This month's pictures are from Gaudi's work.


This post has been podcast
Can the five core ITIL V3 books be compressed into one without significant loss of content? Yes it would seem so, looking at the itSMF's ITSM Library book Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL V3. How useful is the result? Worth having but still not an all-out replacement for the Five for the simple reason that it isn't the official version.

We have been discussing ITIL busines cases. In a previous post we talked about presenting any business case strategically. In this final post we apply that to ITIL.

Make sure the way the case is explained does these things:

If you are a visual person like me you may find a diagram helpful in understanding just what ITIL Version 3 means, what has changed. The diagram has been moved to here (it's still free!).

This post has been podcast

Why is Project Management all but invisible in ITIL V3?

The IT Skeptic's poll on ISO20000 activity levels yielded some interesting results. Statistically invalid but interesting in a fun way.

The world has forgotten the ITIL principle of "adopt and adapt". And ITIL suffers as a result.

Is Risk Management the "lost process" of ITIL V3?

A proposed question for the ITIL Expert exam:
Who of the following is the Queen of ITIL?
a) Queen Elizabeth the Second
b) Pippa Bass
c) Sharon Taylor
d) all of the above

This post has been podcast
OGC is celebrating the first year of ITIL V3. What do we have to show after a year? I'm underwhelmed.


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Pondered the ramifications, debated the implications, now there is only one thing left to do: get the t-shirt! Or coffee mug or mouse pad...

Recent podcasts

A podcast of the original post

OGC is celebrating the first year of ITIL V3. What do we have to show after a year? I'm underwhelmed.

A podcast of the original postITIL V3: where's the portal?
Long ago in a time far away, OGC promised an ITIL Live™ Portal to augment the impending new ITIL V3. "It's coming..."

A podcast of the original article An IT Skeptic book review: Foundations of ITSM based on ITIL V3

Can the five core ITIL V3 books be compressed into one without significant loss of content? Yes it would seem so

A podcast of the original post The people who determine the future of ITIL training, qualifications and certification
Now that OGC have outsourced ITIL certification and trainer accreditation to APMG, a private for-profit company, let us look at the people who influence the shape of ITIL V3's slowly emerging qualifications system.

An extra-long 28-minute podcast of the series of posts on Big Uncle

Big Uncle is a name for the concept of “benevolent security”. Privacy is a dated concept, disappearing fast. People get all tied in a knot over this, but the consequences are only as bad as we let them be. Like any technology, there will be evil applications and there will be good ones. There are upsides which the IT Skeptic investigates.

A podcast of the original post
How does IT Operations get control of "the other half"? How do we stop them chucking dead cats over the wall for us to own? It is pretty straightforward.

Classic Skeptic

This article has been podcast

Don't fall for the demo: anyone can set up an asset database with enough relationship bells and whistles on it to fool themselves and others that they have a CMDB.

From the blog

[Update 2018: I heaped scorn on MyCMDB, but it was clearly a visionary implementation of ChatOps. Sorry Managed Objects.]
CMDB vendor proponents are often full of wind but this one is blowing a gale. What are they smokin' over at Managed Objects?

Readers of this website can be assumed to have a certain non-conformist spirit and at least a modicum of independent thought, so "Rogues Gallery" is an appropriate name for images of readers. Send us your photo wearing an IT Skeptic T-shirt or cap, or waving an IT Skeptic coffee mug Wally-fashion, and you can join the Rogues Gallery of IT Skeptics.

Radical concept: to roll out new processes you need to talk to people. Firing emails at them does not count.

The IT Skeptic’s little brother is so excited by the iPhone he wrote an article about it.

The word "governance" is in danger of total debasement. ISO38500 may be only half-cooked but that is because it arrived just in time... or perhaps too late.

Chokey the Chimp was happy we weren't seeing any CFs in May, but I knew something would come along, and I might have guessed EMA would oblige. I might also have guessed it would be CMDB-related.

This article has been podcast

Perhaps the saddest sight in the ITIL world is organisations that adopt ITIL processes when the old ones were working OK. Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen.

We had a survey of implementation of CMDB in organisations. As we always say the results are invalid in that the sample is self-selecting (a) because they are IT Skeptic readers and (b) because they voted. But it serves the same purpose as those questionaires in air-head magazines: idle titillation.

So for the amusement of you lot, here are the results:

This may not come as a surprise to you, but it does to me. I - along with The ITIL Imp - was under the misapprehension that the ITIL Live Portal was going to be free. Nope.

Just how does itSMF involve the members? What does itSMF International do for international communications? How did the ITIL Qualifications Board survey the ITIL "community"?

Here is an interesting article proposing the concept of portfolio lifecycles. The idea is that IT is about managing the lifecycles of portfolios of things, and the main portfolios are

  • services
  • technology products
  • assets
  • human resources (I prefer "staff": HR is inhuman)
  • information

It may surprise you that someone as pig-headed as the IT Skeptic ever has doubts, but I do wonder if I am right about the impracticality of building a CMDB (let alone a SKMS). AFAIR, only one reader has said "this can be done and I've done it" and he works for mega-corporations. What about other readers? Drop me a note if you have a CMDB.

The IT Skeptic asked a while ago about which books folk use most. I looked at my ITIL books and I can see I'm using ITIL V3 Service Transition and Service Operation most, based on the highly scientific metric of page markers and dog-ears.

The itSMF USA Bylaws are good, but one phrase describing its Purpose caused me (and others) to double-take and may need some re-work.

This post has been podcast
Long ago in a time far away, OGC promised an ITIL Live™ Portal to augment the impending new ITIL V3. "It's coming..."

Sorry about the outages over the last 24 hours. WestHost has had a power problem. It is one hiccup in normally superb service. Wonder who their UPS manufacturer is eh?

It occured to me today that defending your digital IP is like having a puppy [warning: yet another puppy analogy].

Please everybody look up "proprietary" in the dictionary and understand that ITIL is proprietary. I can't believe that every single ITIL vendor is illiterate, so I have to think they are spreading a Crap Factoid. And boy! how it is spreading!

It genuinely makes the IT Skeptic sorry to say that a major ITSM content vendor has seemingly stolen my content. This kind of thing shouldn't happen. Be aware that Two Hills actively polices our intellectual property and will aggressively defend it.

I accuse ITIL of being parochial and ignoring other frameworks, but examples can be found elsewhere.

In previous posts we have been looking at ITIL business cases. The last one looked for the strong arguments for ITIL. There are some common weaknesses.

The IT Skeptic adheres to a purist usage of the word "governance" which aligns closely with the new ISO38500 standard. The word is often used to mean management: running a business unit or function. This is just plain wrong. But somewhere in between is a set of activities in a grey area.

We have been discussing ITIL business cases in some previous posts. Now let's get down to the nitty gritty: where is the value in an ITIL project?

The keys to a strong ITIL business case are some basic things:

• There ought to be low-hanging fruit. If there are no real short-term gains you will never hold the attention of either grass-roots participants or senior management.

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