The Skeptical Informer, August 2008, Volume 2, No. 8

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

The big news from the IT Skeptic this month - special advance notice to you good readers of this newsletter - is that the IT Skeptic's new book Introduction to Real ITSM is available now.

  • This book is for those who work in Information Technology (IT) and for those who have IT done to them.

    This book is not about ITIL. Really. Real ITSM™ is a tongue-in-cheek satirical look at what the real-life practices might be, as compared to the idealised models in frameworks like ITIL or COBIT or ISO20000 or ...

    In the tradition of “real ale”, Real ITSM is the genuine thing as it is found on the streets, not the sanitised commercial offerings marketed to the masses.

    Through humour we can explore some of the disconnects between the idealised framework and its actualisation in the dysfunctional cultures so common in real ITSM.

  • You can read several more extracts from the book on the Real ITSM website and this month's pictures are of course from the book.

    I know there are a few ITIL authors read this: I'm beginning to empathise and my little book was a doddle compared to the ITIL books. So excrutiating was the experience that I plan to do it again, with Owning ITIL, which will be out this year I swear! You can register for advance notice of that if you wish.

    Maybe it is the stress of birthing a new book but I've been a bit stroppy this month. I apologised for my tone when the red mist came down over an upcoming itSMF conference. Sorry again - I try not to get abusive. Elsewhere I've been giving the vendors a serve: Managed Objects, HP and BMC. Makes a change from the poor old itSMF who at least have the right intentions. We bloggers walk a fine line with this stuff - I welcome any advice from those knowledgeable in the law. I feel sympathy for itSMF but less so for the ITIL Training industry which continues to disappoint with their commercial voraciousness at the cost of the trainees' and community's best interests.

    We have a few pictures for the IT Skeptic's Rogues Gallery and I look forward to more contributions. Best photo by the end of this month which includes IT Skeptic clothing, hat or mug (or book) wins a free copy of Introduction to Real ITSM.

    P.S. I'm hearing rumours about ITIL V3 exams on Prometric - can anyone provide more info please? Email me. You can quickly create a gmail account if you wish to remain anonymous: you wouldn't be the first :-D


    Vendors are making a fuss about their Root Cause Analysis (RCA) features in their tools. People Process Things once again: who says Root Cause is in the technology?

    We asked the question Who are the mysterious ITIL Qualifications Board?

    The definitive answer is given here by LCS

    The vendors like to tout auto-discovery as a feature that solves the problem of discovery - how to populate a Configuration database and keep it populated. It isn't. [Oh alright, I'll call it a CMDB so long as we all understand I don't mean the ITIL-defined dream model].

    There are varying degrees of point-stretchedness, with so many products that claim to "deliver" or "support" or "monitor" ITIL.

    With the release of the new format for ITIL V3 Intermediate exams, once again APMG and the ITIL Qualifications Board have opted for maximising profitability and sellability of product for the ITIL Version 3 training industry over maximising the quality of the resulting trainee.


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    Recent podcasts

    A podcast of the original article itSMFUSA declares who it thinks was Julie Linden
    So itSMFUSA believes James Prunty is Julie Linden. I look forward to seeing the outcome of this suit as I would love to know the truth of this. Whether a lawsuit will ever reveal the truth is another question.

    Classic Skeptic

    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.

    From the blog

    We have a great discussion going regarding Root Cause. As usual so much comes down to precise definition of terms. What does Root Cause mean?

    This post has been podcast
    Computerworld has revealed

    The U.S. chapter of the IT Service Management Forum has filed a defamation lawsuit against a former executive director, alleging that he attempted to discredit and damage the organization via comments posted on a blog under a fictitious name

    Guess which blog.

    [Updated: I have apologised for the tone of this posting and moderated the language.]
    The ITIL establishment is still up to its old ways. Take a look at this (read it here: it is secret - you can't read it anywhere else) [updated: now you can again]

    This post has been podcast.
    This is a CATEGORY 1 Crap Factoid alert from Chokey the Chimp at the IT Skeptic's Crap Factoid Warning Service. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Be on EXTREME danger alert for CF "CMDB savings of more than $1 million per year". BMC and Forrester are shovelling it. [Update: the IT Skeptic's own assessment of the numbers here.]

    [updated: it seems salient to revisit this post. To the vendor who proudly declared on this blog that your product is "ITIL aligned" you might like to measure that "alignment" against this list. ("Aligned" is the new slippery-speak now that "compliant" is on the nose)]

    The IT Skeptic’s ITIL Compliance Alignment Criteria

    Readers may vaguely be aware of an "ITIL Qualifications Board" but who knows anything about it? Who is on it? When does it meet? What is its charter? Where are the records? How much does it impact my life in ITSM?

    I was just about to delete the two hundred and second bit of spam commenting when I thought: no, let the folks see this crap.

    So look at this [Oops accidentally deleted it. You'll have to take my word for it]. Illiterate. Useless. Insultingly stupid. I clean this stuff up regularly like puppy piddle.

    It is interesting that three quarters of the scientifically invalid sample of readers who actually responded to our survey on "IT has no respect for or understanding of customers and users" either agreed or partly agreed with the statement. This could mean one of several things:

    • IT is particularly hard on IT
    • Never give process geeks a "maybe" option
    • IT has no respect for or understanding of customers and users

    You'd like to think we would be making some progress on this one by now.

    Let's try another (with a less satanic node number this time): "Lack of Management Commitment seriously affects project delivery in our organization". How do you feel about that statement?

    Not considering that there is quite a lot of discussion about the usage of the acronyms MTBF, MTTF, MTRS and so on, this is simply wrong (or at least inconsistant):

    MTBSI = Available time in hours / Number of breaks
    MTBF = (Available time in hours - Total downtime in hours) / Number of breaks

    Available time to my understanding is the time the service is up and running properly. Some people call it "uptime", though that is easily confused with the moment in time the service comes up. So it should be:

    Available time in hours = uptime = Total time - downtime


    I enjoyed a recent blog post ITIL® v3 One Year On from John Griffiths at Fox IT, except for one point. ITIL v3 closer to the real world? No way.

    * Agree
    * Disagree
    * No opinion

    According to the logo on the top left of the itSMF USA website, itSMF USA is a registered trademark. But " ITSMF is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to fostering upper-level executive talent among African-American IT professionals".

    When I wrote about speaker eligibility for the upcoming itSMF International Chapter Leadership Conference (CLC), I got mad and I allowed that to cloud my judgement and affect my language. I was rude. I apologise for the tone of the posting, to Ken Wendle whose name was on the document in question, and to itSMF in general. I'll understand if you speak to me like that when next we meet, but I hope I can keep things on a more professional level here on in. Sorry.
    I have edited the posting to moderate the tone.

    An IT Skeptic has gotta love a website called IT Project Failures so a special thankyou to Terry Doerscher for pointing us to it. It is a fascinating read. Nice to see SAP featuring at the top today - what a surprise.

    When I was at CA, they were pretty good at acquisition of companies. HP struggles.

    I recently had to reiterate that there is no money in this blog. Not yet, not for want of trying but see my latest article on IT Career Planet for a skeptical view of getting rich on the internet. I haven't given up yet but I have no illusions about the odds.

    Something different today: some ITSM philosophy for your consideration... and debate.

    A thread of discussion on this blog makes it clear that there are differing perspectives of Change. In order to further muddy the waters, here is the IT Skeptic's Change Model which attempts to draw those perspectives together.

    [Updated: added point 3]

    Software vendors love the old bait-and-switch. Readers are invited to contribute examples.

    itSMF International has announced that the ITSM Library (itSMFI's own product for must be about a year now) is a Good Thing. "Any concerns that itSMF International has expressed regarding these books have now been resolved".

    It may come as a surprise to some readers that there is such a "log". We have referred to it in the past, and it was through our frustration with it that the IT Skeptic launched BOKKED, the Body Of Knowledge Known Error Database.

    itSMF International has announced an IT Service Management research journal. I just noticed that "Applications close on the 12th July 2008 at midnight" for "researcher, reviewer, sponsor, or member of the editorial board".

    Since itSMF still has no global single channel of communication to members you may not have heard. If interested, get on it quick.

    Let's have an experiment. View the following cartoon from GamingWorks' ABC, Attitude Behaviour and Culture, and then tell us your response to the statement "IT has no respect for or understanding of customers and users":

    Now this is something itSMFUSA seems to do well: encouraging academic involvement in ITIL

    what is the UK equivalent? or other countries? or International?

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