ITIL and ASL: divorced bodies of knowledge. How ITIL V3 failed to ask the experts.

Everyone who is interested in ITIL V3's credibility in the Application Management space should read the recent OGC white paper which shows how little ITIL used an existing respected on-hand body of knowledge.

The paper is ITIL V3 and ASL, Sound Guidance for Application Management and Application Development by Machteld Meijer, Mark Smalley and Sharon Taylor.

This paper is first in a 'series' from OGC. The conclusion of this paper is that ITIL and ASL are "Living Apart Together". The IT Skeptic's interpetation: they have divorced but stay in touch occasionally. The fundamental disconnect in how application maintenance is treated shows the irreconcilable differences

ASL positions Maintenance (including enhancement and renovation) within the scope of Application Management and defines Application Development as the function that produces new applications, not releases of existing applications. ASL sees advantages in clustering Operational Management of applications with Application Maintenance while ITIL prefers to separate them and cluster Application Maintenance with development of new applications.

Everyone is being very polite but reading between the lines I sense the frustration at how lightweight ITIL is in this domain:

The ITIL publications give sufficient guidance for organizations that manage commercial-off-the-shelf applications but if an organization maintains the applications and therefore actually modifies the source code, then ASL provides additional and necessary guidance.

"...sufficient ... but...". Close but no cigar.

What a shame that all this existing work has been done but not used, integrated or even referenced in ITIL V3. But then ASL is process-centric and process is out of favour in ITIL V3 so I guess it is no surprise. Can't have helped that it came out of the renegade Netherlands either.


And the ASL offer was on the table

I have it from a qualified source that the best practices from the ASL domain were presented to the authors of the books, specific Service Operation, and that they completely ignored the offer to fully integrate application management in the ITIL domain. We've had ongoing battles between application managers not willing to accept ITIL as a guiding framework and therefore splitting IT organizations down the middle on which would be the leading standard. Of course, some of the leading guru's in ASL are very opinionated (a quality very much approved in the Netherlands) and that might have clashed with the ITIL guru's.

I'm not a personal fan of ASL as such, I do not care much for the model. And I'm therefor very grateful to Mark Smalley (co-writer of the whitepaper from the ASL perspective) that he admits that ITIL3's lifecycle model can be considered overarching over the ASL version. That is a good start from the ASL BiSL foundation. And I am really disappointed that the authors of the ITIL3 books have not take the opportunity to return the favor and integrate the ASL best practices in the ITIL domain. That would have ended the discussion between application and infrastructure management and would have given the opportunity for a truly integrated approach to IT Service Management.

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