The Skeptical Informer, October 2010, Volume 4, No. 4

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

The ownership and governance of ITIL content and commercialisation grows ever messier and cloudier, as does itSMF's role in the whole thing. Sometimes it is all just one big Castle ITIL and one is never sure just who is in whose pocket and who's watching who. The IT Skeptic has come into possession of a puzzling document: the itSMFUK Chairmans Report for 2010. The puzzling bit is wondering just what itSMFUK is for. itSMF at an International level seems to have a dawning realisation that it just might exist for the membership, but that is clearly not so in the UK. itSMFUK seems more than anything to be a commercial money-making operation. Member organisations grow by growing membership. Member organisations work on creating added value for their members in return for the membership fees. The only mention of the members in the Chairman's report is once in a small paragraph at the bottom of the first page, mentioning a reorganisation of the Special Interest Groups (which are a value-add service for members). The rest of the report reads like one from a multinational's Board. They've been spending too much time with the British Computer Society who suffer from a similar megalomaniac affliction. It opens with
In 2010, in keeping with many organisations and our fellow chapters in the movement, itSMF UK has continued to feel the pressures caused by the global economic downturn. It’s also fair to say that we face increased competition from organisations delivering services in the same market space that we operate in.
"Competition"? "Market spaces"? If that competition is ISACA and/or BCS, I'd like to think close cooperation between professional bodies in the interest of exploring synergies for the membership would be in order, not seeing them off and squabbling over turf. Later
Since its inception as BS15000 (and latterly ISO/IEC 20000), the itSMF UK name and people have been synonymous with the development and growth of the standard. During 2010, the management board recognised that our operational capability and marketing reach was unlikely to see the pace of development that the global market requires.
Whatever happened to promoting the good word of standards? itSMF should not exist to financially exploit them by selling them to a "global market". All this vendor-speak coming from itSMF makes me most uncomfortable. My favourite "world-conquest bit of the report is
the ever popular Service Talk remaining the world’s leading IT service management journal.
I doubt that many people outside the UK have even seen Service Talk let alone read it regularly. I've blogged before about how Service Talk is a parochial provincial publication. I said then
I can't help noticing that it has a column by someone called Barry Corless who apparently is the Chair of itSMF. Funny i thought that was David Cannon. there's a lovely two-page spread about a conference in London. How about the conferences in Melbourne, Helsinki, Nashville and Bangkok? there's two pages on IOSM too, but no mention of ICSM or PRISM? Surely the rollout and progress of PRISM is big news worldwide? perhaps the most exciting news was Nottinghamshire County Council's adoption of Hornbill. The international ramifications are immense. I wasn't so excited by the discussion of the UK's Energy Efficiency legislation. perhaps you'd be interested in an article on the impact of NZ's new labour laws on call centres? I tried to call a few of the phone numbers in the ads but just got error tones. I guess they need the UK country code first eh?
"remaining the world's leading journal" can only be a swipe at the new itSMF International magazine At Your Service (disclosure: I wrote one of the articles in the first edition). Someone needs to tell itSMFUK the sun has long since set on the Empire and the colonials no longer require their patronage. The most fascinating part of the Report is this:
Perhaps the most exciting venture of the year is working alongside APMG to produce a brand new set of ITIL qualifications to be titled the “Analyst Series”. Due for a November release, individual ITIL processes (Change, Problem and Service Level Management in Phase One) will be featured with instruction in softer skills required to perform the roles featured alongside traditional ITIL skills. Courses will focus on “How to” more than “What” with a very practical bias with syllabuses following the job roles defined by SFIA.
Castle ITIL seems to have reversed their previous objections to alternate ITIL certification schemes. It remains to be seen how these courses fit with the existing certification scheme. Will they earn points? Will they be governed by the same mechanisms? Will they be quality controlled in the same way? [Quiet up the back. I didn't say it was good governance or QA - I just think we should be consistent.] Why are we allying ITIL with SFIA? which is an even more closed proprietary framework than ITIL. Who will profit from the new courses? Who is funding the development? What is itSMF International's involvement? Do itSMFUK members know all about this? Whiffy. Like that other great multinational, BP. P.S I'm doing a presentation on Dead Cat Syndrome at CC Learning's upcoming conference in Wellington, so I thought we'd have some nice pictures of cats for this edition. P.P.S. Please welcome to the blog Rambling Sid Realitsm, who has two songs posted in this newsletter. Rambling Kid Realitsm I hope you'll all make him welcome alongside those other blog characters The ITIL WizardThe ITIL Wizard Chokey the ChimpChokey the Chimp and the IT SwamiThe IT Swami


The Five-Percent Club is that elite group of the (less than) 5% of organisations who actually succeed in justifying and implementing a CMDB, or the more modern and equally nutty CMS.

Technical vs Business service catalogue: we had a go at this argument previously but I am discussing it again over on LinkedIn and I have - I hope - a clearer way of stating the position. The popular perception of a Technical Service Catalogue is that it described different service entities than a Business Service Catalogue. That's just plain wrong. It gives IT staff entirely the wrong attitudes and mindset. So here is my shot at a definitive statement of position on Technical vs Business Service Catalogue. For any organisational unit, for the services that are the outputs across the boundary of that unit, there is only one service catalogue ...and only one set of services.

Oh dear. “The heart of ITIL is the CMDB”? No it isn’t. Not unless you are looking at ITIL from underneath. Yet another example of inside-out thinking instead of outside-in. Do customers care about the CMDB more than the Catalogue? No. Is ITSM about being customer-focused and service-centric? Well, I thought so.

The heart of ITIL is the service catalogue.

A transcript of a recent performance by the famous and fragrant folk music performer Rambling Kid Realitsm, of his popular number "Home on the Range":

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, saddle-down down in your seats now and share with me this sad ditty about a broken-hearted compu-geek, lost in the bowels of an office building, chilled to the bone amongst cheerless racks of servers, locked into the server room. He pines for the open range of his home WAN with a LAN in every room and wireless to the skies, where he can run barefoot through the root passwords and administrator privileges, free to trash and crash and rebuild on his lordly whim, king of his domains. Oppressed by evil managers who cut down his privileges and block his passwords, he weeps at the pain their soulless quest for reliability brings upon him, and slumped behind the storage array he sings this sad lament....

Perhaps it is just New Zealand, but I'm seeing a pattern amongst a majority of clients where IT operations business as usual (BAU) is crumbling under the load of project work.

Apparently ITIL people are obstructing the Cloud. Once again the poor techno-geeks' creative brilliance is stifled by unnecessary process.

Wizard Wisdom

Hi Mr Wizard,

I have a confusion between a SLA & an Under Pinning Contract, In a production enviroment suppose if a Telecom Circuit goes down, If we engage the service provider for Incident management/RCA, we speak about the SLA there. But we actually agree an Under pinning Contract with the Service Provider during provision of the telecom circuit. How are under pinning contract & SLA related and what is the difference ? Can you please Clear my doubt.




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Classic Skeptic

I have an analogy for CMDB - it is like a Swiss bank account. Allow me to paraphrase some of the conversations I've had around CMDB:

From the blog

The latest buzz in IT is of course Agile, and its bastard spawn DevOps. I've written before about how the change is becoming the steady state and stability the exception; and how the old mainframe-centric concepts of change control will have to adapt. I'm even confident that concepts from agile will play an important part in that. But nothing in that warrants the frenzied hype around agile right now. And most of all, nothing in that warrants letting the IT cowboys out of the corral.

Here is part two of the transcript of a recent performance by the famous and fragrant folk music performer Rambling Kid Realitsm (see part one here):

...Now my next song is for all the software vendors in the audience. It's called "If All I Had Was a Hammer"

Why did OGC get control of ITIL licensing content back from the British Government agency (OPSI) that is tasked with making government IP freely available to the public or at least free from monopolistic trading on it? Did TSO spit the dummy at the competition for their ITIL product sales? Or is it just that OGC are tasked with becoming a profit centre instead of a body for the public good? And where does that leave all the volunteers who so willingly contribute to the promotion and translation of ITIL? Who are they working for? We've had our share of commercial dirty deeds in ITIL's past but this latest lot may be the most troubling. (and check out this amazing video from the 1970s: AC/DC in their early days on Australian TV)

Most of the folk reading this have never seen a mainframe hex dump. No it has nothing to do with excrement. It is like the huge diagnostic file your PC decides to write in a crisis just when you'd rather it was rebooting so you can get on with work. But when a mainframe produced one back in the 1980s it came out on the old green line-flow paper. Many of you haven't seen that either. A six inch thick stack of continuous fan-folded paper. Miles of it streaming out. Maybe it did have something to do with excrement after all.

Here's my theory on why so many IT projects fail to deliver the expected result: we underspend on what matters.

Who does the service desk serve? That comes back to what the support service is there for.

I can't imagine why this strip made me think of the IT Skeptic:

Pearls Before Swine

© Copyright Pearls Before Swine

Implementing ITIL is easy. Really. Here are the secrets of Easy ITIL:

So there we all were brow-beating this poor guy on LinkedIn because he asked what other Remedy options he should buy [without much idea of any business requirement]. I too put the boot in, but on reflection I realised we were all being sanctimonious and patronising.

There are a few ITSM processes that almost certainly end up needing an underpinning technology.

The #1 way to reduce the service restoration time (MTRS) of incidents is seldom mentioned, not at all in ITIL: training drills. If IT were the military we'd knock a server over once a month just to see what people do.

When I worked at one dysfunctional site, we got quite good at recovering from total disaster, especially good at crisis communications to the business and between ourselves. But not because we drilled. Sadly the real world was our practice ground.

Recent ITIL certification stats published by EXIN that originate from APMG show clearly that over quarter of a million ITIL certifications are issued every year (extrapolating the 9 months of stats).

200,000 of them are V2 and V3 Foundations. V3 Foundations outnumber V2 Foundations by about 6:1. So every year we certify another 200k ITILers. Think about it: three years of V3 certs, plus a decade of V2 certs. There was a rumour a while ago on twitter that we'd passed the million. I have no doubt it was true. As Mythbusters would say: "plausible"

Pssst, itSMF International is calling for nominations for the International Executive Board but it's a secret so don't tell anyone ok?

If your local chapter is on the ball they will have told you... or not. Since itSMF has no international means of communication other than the website, it's a bit disappointing it is not there.

ITIL V3 did a little word dance around what "good practice" and "best practice" mean which had more to do with political semantics and digging themselves out of a hole than it did about what the terms really mean. It ought to be straightforward:

Perhaps I missed it but I've never seen this idea described before: all sites should have a register of variances from best/generally-accepted/good practice frameworks such as ITIL.

There's a lot of rubbish on the Web about ITIL (not on this blog of course). Take Service Owner. Actually there's a lot of rubbish in ITIL about Service Owner, or rather a lot of ambiguity and not a little outright contradiction. So it's hard to blame other web authors. But really, look at this:

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