Information Technology Service Management
This paper was written to provide background information relevant to IT Service Management. These include an overview of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), as well as a discussion of the major considerations in ITSM; specifically, IT-business alignment, ITIL process relationships, the IT environments commonly encountered in ITSM applications, and the general demands of software products that support one or more of the ITSM processes. The management of information technology (IT) within businesses has experienced a major shift over the past 20 years.
IT had been traditionally used as a back-office operation, designed to support the internal operations of a company. IT had, at times, operated almost independently of the business; it was not uncommon for IT to operate in a silo, where IT staff was not particularly concerned with how the systems they managed supported the business, as long as they were working. IT errors and shortcomings were generally experienced only by the business employees, so IT had little direct impact on the quality of service provided by the business to its customers.
(Macfarlane & Rudd, 2001) With the emergence of the Internet as a critical medium for conducting business, IT’s role in the business changed significantly. No longer could IT departments hide in the background and operate seemingly independently of the business; IT was now an integral component of the business. No longer are the effects of IT’s shortcomings limited to the business itself, but are highly visible to customers, and poor service can have a direct impact on the success or failure of the business.
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This shift in IT usage and exposure prompted a different method of managing IT, from focusing specifically on the IT components and devices themselves to managing IT by the services it provides the business. This method of managing IT is called IT Service Management (ITSM). (van Bon, 2002) IT Service Management (ITSM) is a process-oriented management philosophy designed to support the provision of quality business IT services through the effective and efficient allocation of IT resources and by aligning IT with the goals of the business itself.
ITSM, and in particular, the ITIL framework of ITSM, has become increasingly popular in the United States over the past several years, and is expected to become highly prevalent in most businesses in the coming years. This is driven by several factors: challenges in managing the increasing complexity of IT environments, federal mandates such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and the first quality standard for IT management (ISO 20000) due to become widespread in the coming years.
Quality management of IT is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity. (O’Neill, 2006) Although ITSM is process-oriented, companies often employ software tools to support or automate portions of these processes. As IT environments become more complex, and as businesses are held more accountable for their IT activities, these software tools are becoming increasingly important in effectively and efficiently managing a business’ IT resources and services.
Finding the right software to support a business’ ITSM processes is critical; these software tools often carry costs into the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars to purchase and implement, and selecting the wrong tool can have a tremendous financial and service quality impact on a business. IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) describes a set of best practices for IT Service Management. It was designed as a way to align internal IT departments with the business itself, and to promote the efficient and effective use of IT in support of quality business services.
Originally developed in the U. K. in the 1980s by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (now part of the Office of Government Commerce), ITIL is widely recognized as the de-facto worldwide approach to ITSM, and is utilized by thousands of companies and organizations around the world. It is the basis for the ITSM standards BS 15000 and ISO 20000 (van Bon, 2002). ITIL is defined in a series of books, but the core of ITIL resides in two books: Service Delivery and Service Support.
These two books outline the 10 processes and one function present in effective and efficient IT Service Management. Each area will be described below. Service Delivery The purpose of Service Delivery is to determine the resources necessary to provide quality IT services to users and customers, and to ensure that these resources are utilized in a cost-effective way. Service Delivery views the IT infrastructure from a tactical perspective, and consists of five processes. A brief overview of each process is provided below:
Service Level Management. The goal of Service Level Management is “to maintain and gradually improve business aligned IT service quality, through a constant cycle of agreeing, monitoring, reporting and reviewing IT service achievements and through instigating actions to eradicate unacceptable levels of service (“Service Delivery”, 2001, 27). ” The key component in Service Level Management is the Service Level Agreement (SLA). SLAs are negotiated and documented levels of IT service that the business agrees to provide to a customer or user.
The IT infrastructure is monitored to ensure that these SLAs are met. Financial Management for IT Services. The goal of Financial Management for IT Services is “to provide cost effective stewardship of the IT assets and the financial resources used in providing IT services (“Service Delivery”, 2001, 61). ” This process is used to ensure that financial resources are being utilized effectively and efficiently (via budgeting and accounting), as well as charging for services if necessary. Capacity Management.
The goal of Capacity Management is “to understand the business requirements (the required service delivery), the organization’s operation (the current service delivery), the IT infrastructure (the means of service delivery), and ensure that all current and future capacity and performance aspects of the business requirements are provided cost-effectively (“Service Delivery”, 2001, 121). ” This process balances supply versus demand and cost versus capacity to utilize the right level of resources (capacity) to provide a quality service.
IT Service Continuity Management. The goal of IT Service Continuity Management is “to support the overall Business Continuity Management process by ensuring that the required IT technical and services facilities can be recovered within required and agreed business time-scales (“Service Delivery”, 2001, 163). ” This process deals with the ability of IT to recover from an unexpected event or disaster to attain an agreed-upon level of service within a specified timeframe.
Availability Management. The goal of Availability Management is “to optimize the capability of the IT infrastructure and supporting organization to deliver a cost effective and sustained level of availability that enables the business to satisfy its objectives (“Service Delivery”, 2001, 212). ” This process is responsible for making sure that the IT services are available according to the agreed-upon levels defined in the SLA.