The Skeptical Informer, April 2011, Volume 5, No. 2

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

As I said in the last newsletter, we're going quarterly now. I also said " have a few ideas for annoying Castle ITIL, including a hot one which awaits the Drupal 6 upgrade to give it a platform". Despairing of getting to Drupal 6 (still haven't had time) I went ahead with the idea anyway, and the Free ITIL petition was the result. The story is a tortuous one so even regular readers will struggle to recall all the details. Here is a synopsis. Early on I uncovered this: "OGC stay one step ahead of government policy in their commercialisation of ITIL". Then OPSI were critical of OGC's handling of the Van Haren licence. Later OGC got Prince2 back under control as well as ITIL. We learned that OGC are a commercially-oriented agency. Then OGC started throwing their weight around with ITIL and Prince2 community, via their agents APMG and TSO, which pissed people off. I uncovered the UK's new Open Government License (OGL), but got a stonewall response from Castle ITIL , and then OGC moved to lock the existing arrangement in for two more years just before an official audit came out about their OPSI compliance (It's toothless, and funnily enough it was delayed until after the contract renewals. I haven't blogged on it) So I decided to take the issue on with a petition calling for ITIL to be set free under the OGL, and I published further explanation of the rationale. The response was sad but not unexpected: an apathetic 150 signatures on the petition and "a single-digit salute from the Brit. Gov." I like to think I've caused a few ructions behind closed doors but no cracks appeared in Castle ITIL. It's a truth that all business is cynical, and government business more than any. Now in the later half of my life, I derive quiet amusement by idealistic efforts to change the world. I ought to have known better than to fling myself at the cold stone walls - in fact I did. But it seemed like fun and it was, watching the pollies and bureaucrats scuttle to justify their actions. And you never know: Joshua just had to find the right resonant note to bring down the walls of Jericho (in analogy if not in fact). As I said on the blog recently, in the context of other idealistic initiatives around ITSM,
We need a movement (no bad-taste jokes thanks folks). And I'm beginning to think that, whatever Seth Godin and all the social wonks try to tell us, you cam't synthesise a movement. You gotta wait until it spontaneously ignites (as Aale also observed recently). ITIL was a pretty unlikely hit when it happened. I suspect the next will be just as unexpected. By all means keep floating stuff but expect most to go nowhere - don't expect to predict the hit.
I hope to meet more of you in Copenhagen and Ottawa and Perth and Wellington in the next few month. If I do, tell me you read this newsletter! Meantime hang on tight and don't get complacent. Japan's already feeble economy just took a body blow. The world's supply chains will be staggering as I write this, especially in the automotive industry, thanks to Japan's inability to meet its just-in-time commitments for parts. Portugal just went to the wall. Iceland is reneging. China is showing structural cracks. 100 municipalities in the USA are predicted to go bankrupt this year. You could hunker down and stash every dollar, or you could spend them like you won't have them tomorrow. Consider profligacy as your social duty to keep the economy warm. My family had a lovely time in California and Nevada recently, and my wife did her bit to prop up the US retail economy. Hence the pictures. P.S. Once again I had fun with April 1st - be careful as you read the posts below...


I bet you came looking for free sources of ITIL. Come on, admit it.
We don't condone content piracy here. The following links will show you some legitimately free ITIL resources:

And while you are browsing, check these out:

The Free ITIL Movement is an informal community for those who wish to support the following proposition:
We the supporters of the Free ITIL Movement call upon the Cabinet Office of Her Majesty's UK Government to honour the spirit of the government's policy on transparency and public data, and the letter of the United Kingdom Government Licencing Framework (UKGLF), by releasing the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) under the terms of the Open Government Licence (OGL).

A recent blog post made me angry. This is one cause of the Dev-Ops divide: ignorance of what the other side does. I expect some of that in the trade, down at the coalface amongst Dev and Ops practitioners. I don't expect it from Forrester analysts.

"Run IT as a business". What a mantra. It is of course rubbish. You run business as a business.

"What if..." "What if..." So many great minds, and a few not-so-great ones, are trying to "solve" ITSM right now. It's a geek thing. It's a man thing.

Right now the ITSM community seems to be abuzz with suggestions for open contribution repositories for ITSM knowledge and discussion. As one who has had a few cracks at this, let me assure you that if you build it, they won't come.
[Updated: let's compile a list of sites, see below]
The ITSM road is littered with the rusting wrecks of open ITSM bodies of knowledge (BOKs). Open ITIL, the ITIL Wiki, the ITIL Open Wiki, the ITIL Process Wiki, the People's Liberation Front of Judea...

It was one of the great ITSM philosophers, Jan van Bon who first explained to me that Problem Management is but a special case of Risk Management.

In a purist theoretical sense he is right, but on a practical level I think the distinction is useful. It is certainly entrenched.

A LinkedIn discussion which I have now lost (LinkedIn having one of the worst search capabilities on the planet) asked about how to get Development to provide Level 3 support to Production incidents. It's a people problem.

The world has really screwed up with owning IT, like a bad parent screwing up a child's upbringing and letting them develop bad habits.

ImageThe problem with too many ITSM consultants is that they are binder-chuckers. ITSM consulting is not about inventing a process. It is about enacting cultural change.

Further to my recent post on Free ITIL, several people are still asking "Why?", so let me elaborate a little on why it should happen and why you should support the idea.

The online world is used to free content. In many minds, this has come to mean free as in free beer not free as in free speech, i.e. gratis not libre. This is unfortunate but not part of the discussion today. Here we are talking about free libre content. It is how the 21st Century world will work.

Wizard Wisdom

Dear Wiz, I am just starting to dive into the V3 material in preparation for the exam and I am getting a bit frustrated, the new core volumes are not clear in what the goal and objectives are...I mean I know what they are, but they don't actually document them specifically like they did in V2, so pending what material I am reading it can vary slightly. I can piece it together with commonsense , but the concern is the exams are generally very precise in how they want you to answer, as in V2 you had to know the goals, objectives I alone in this confusion?

Dear Mr Wizard

Is ITIL the best tool available?

IT Guy

Oh Great ITIL Wizard,

What do you think of these ITIL process maps. Are they worth it? It looks to me just something else to update, however, if put to actual and continual use, they could be a tremendous benefit. Especially for a company that is just starting to implement ITIL best practices...

Much appreciated,


Dear Mr Wizard

Can you share your thoughts and approach on how you define the tailoring guidelines for a service industry?



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Classic Skeptic

Too many software vendors stretch the facts when claiming ITIL support in their products. Perhaps they misunderstand ITIL.

When IT advice is being handed out, by frameworks and books or by the chattering internet, there is much talk about the importance of having "executive support". It is tossed about in lots of contexts that involve cultural change or process improvement - my own one just happens to be ITSM: ITIL V3 etc. This is one of the most repeated glib statements in the IT world. What if you don't?

From the blog

I heard today that COBIT 5 will have only 27 processes, to align better with ITIL V3. Clearly ISACA have buckled under, surrendering to the momentum ITIL has in the industry. What's next? Allowing ITIL certifications as credit towards COBIT? For those interested the details are:

Finally some sensible use of social media in service management!

The recently announced prISM "professional recognition for it Service Management" is great in theory but I fear it is flawed in execution.

A guest post today from Aale Roos:

Knowing how Rob loves the CMDB ;) I thought I should publish my latest survey results here instead of ITSM Portal.

It is always a wonderful experience to meet members of our virtual community in person, and I get not one but four opportunities to do that in coming months.

The response to calls for an open ITIL has been disappointing, but perhaps should have been expected. It amounts to a single-digit salute from the Brit. Gov.

Do you think OGC and OCEG went to the same design firm for their logos?

The itSMF International Board has settled down for the year, after the departure of Michael Kum.

Wanted: an IT organisation to test the hypothesis that improving configuration procedures (and team) with some proper cultural change (not decree) will lead to the same benefits as implementing a CMDB, but at much lower cost.

When you are a company of one, there are limited opportunities to test your IT strategies. So let me share one with you readers for feedback. This year Two Hills Limited is going Cloud.

I got a piece of spam today that staggered me with its stupidity, before it gave me a good chuckle. It's bad enough to share.

It is getting so as we have to talk about the current state of the ownership of ITIL, and where that might be heading

OGC has renewed the outsourcing contracts for TSO to publish ITIL books and APMG to accredit ITIL training. And if I have this right, TSO defends the copyright and APMG defends the trademarked brand. The renewal is for two years - it could have been renewed from one to five years. It just feels odd being part of a supposed professional community and this is all we hear. This must be what it was like being a resident of a medieval estate: the news filters quietly down from the castle long after all is done and dusted.

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