The Skeptical Informer, January 2010, Volume 4, No. 1

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

The New Year brought me work, which felt like rain in a drought, but the economists hedged their bets and muttered about the fragility of the recovery. And at last the grinding winds of spring and the unseasonable freezing southerlies finally let up and a late summer came in a skittish unsettled way, endlessly threatening to go back to the ugly weather. The economic climate and the natural climate are much the same right now. Experts argue endlessly about how real the changes are, and whether disaster looms or not. The northern USA is deep in snow and unemployment continues to climb. It does us good to learn from history, in order not to repeat it. Reading about the lives of rural New Zealanders in the 30s and 40s and 50s remind me just how easy we have it now, still. And just how hard life can get. So we won't be celebrating with a new deck or an upgraded car, or even a flat-screen TV, not just yet. Every week a wind comes up or it swings to the South, just to remind me it takes a lot of non-change to declare a change really happened. Is life better in 2010 than 2009? I don't know, ask me in 2011. Meanwhile beyond the real world, the arguments have continued to run hot on LinkedIn, and on the IT Skeptic blog, over the links between Incident and Problem Management, and what is Problem Management. This is the most extraordinary state of affairs: twenty years of ITIL and (a) this isn't thrashed out and (b) this isn't clearly documented. Pundits pontificate pompously. Neophites nervously negotiate. Ignorant idiots illude. It's a mess. Peter Brookes recently compared IT to psychiatry in the 50s - it's a good analogy. ITSM seems immature, informed by superstition, lacking in sound scientific fundamentals. (Actually I think Peter is generous in suggesting psychiatry has moved on much). Sure other professions debate, but from a sounder basis than a cacophany of ill-informed personal opinions. (We like to think the discussions on the Owning ITIL group are of a higher calibre - you be the judge) Images public domain from US National Archives: Dorothea Lange/NARA Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress Gottscho, Samuel H. /Library of Congress Lewis Hine/NARA If only New Zealand's National Archives had such an enlightened approach to content I'd be running Kiwi photos instead]


It is pernicious the way the vendors and analysts talk as if CMDB is a given. In fact it is more than a given, it is “the heart and soul of service management” apparently, according to an email about an itSMF Brighttalk. No it isn’t. 95% of sites don’t have a CMDB. Perhaps that explains why service management is so heartless and soulless. And now it is happening with CMS - which by the way doesn't exist. [Updated January 2010]

Why not? Everyone else has tried to list what they are, right after they tried to define what Cloud Computing is. My turn.

Three loosely connected thoughts about root cause:

Wizard Wisdom

Dear Wiz;
I manage a large workgroup of telecom techs that see ITIL as just a framework for the Service Desk and feel the processes should not apply to them and the work they do (supporting WAN transmission equipment, PBX systems, Base Radio systems, etc...). Are there references to implementing ITIL within a Telecom organization?

Dear Mr Wizard

I am certified in ITIL V3 foundation and my company is planning to implement ITIL at one of our client's site.


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Classic Skeptic

This article has been podcast.

This recent comment on this blog "the OGC could have done a better job of communicating during the process" comes from someone - if it is who I'm pretty sure it is - who is well placed in the ITIL "elite". That is my #1 point in all my ITIL V3 postings.

All this British public service "you'll know when we decide it is time to tell you" stuff is not how new versions of all standards/frameworks are developed, and I don't think it is best practice.

From the blog

Is a British Government website inaccurate or is APMG TSO operating without a license?

It's a tough life being a consultant. Here is a peek behind the scenes at the IT Skeptic working on IT governance research in one of the corporate breakout areas on the Two Hills headquarters campus:

[Updated with a Health Warning] Recently I wrote "It seems Technical Service Catalogue is often misunderstood to mean a catalogue of different services from those in the Business Service Catalogue. It's not. It is a different view of the same services". And those views are quite complex.

It is not too late to sign up for Pink Elephant's 14th Annual ITSM Conference in Las Vegas next month. I'll see you there. If you come along, we'll be introducing an entirely new feature: an Exhibit Hall Optimizer. I have created the EHOBOK, the Exhibit Hall Optimizer Body Of Knowledge, as a tool for you to extract maximum value from the vendor exhibits, usually a dead zone for some of us at a conference. Check it out on the Conference blog and discover important principles such as

With a new itSMF Board meeting as we speak, perhaps it is salient to review what we got in 2009 as members of itSMF and ISACA, two similar-sized organisations with supposedly similar functions and similar annual membership fees. I've written before about how the two are chalk and cheese, and that remains true.

Automate to make systems more reliable. Automate to make them more effective. Even automate to make them more efficient. But don't automate to eliminate people, at least not if the system is mission critical. You need even more highly trained, professionally-alert staff, to step in when it all goes pear-shaped. And it will.

It seems Technical Service Catalogue is often misunderstood to mean a catalogue of different services from those in the Business Service Catalogue. It's not. It is a different view of the same services. ITIL SD 4.1.4 sadly refers to "supporting services, shared services" within the TSC which I think contributes to the confusion, but diagram 4.3 makes it clear - the services are the same in both, just the perspective and detail differ because of the different audiences: internal and external.

For all those who have paid lots of money to be accredited ITIL V3 training organisations (ATOs), be aware that APMG-International the Examination institute (EI) - as compared to their parent APMG Group the official OGC accreditor of all EIs - is not directing any business your way if you accredited through another EI. You know who your friends are in the ITIL world.

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