Naming IT Services
First of all a key benefit of the ITIL library is that it provides a neutral (non partisan) common vocabulary for IT Service Management. Lets face it, if you put 10 IT professionals in a room and ask them what a service is and you will get at least 12 answers. Don't get me wrong I value creative flexibility as much as the next guy but when it comes to language I would prefer to avoid the Tower of Babel experience where people cannot understand each other due to an issue of communication. So to help things along here are some key ITSM definitions and rules for establishing the names IT Services and Systems.
Note: By this definition a service is a capability, not a technology solution or vertical domain such as a server environment or a business application in isolation.
- One or more technical or professional IT capabilities which enable a business process. An IT Service exhibits the following characteristics:
- Fulfills one or more needs of the customer
- Supports the customer's business objectives
- Is perceived by the customer as a coherent whole or consumable product
Note: The technology system is the complete composite of IT components from various technology domains which when brought together in a relationship represent a value-added technology solution; for example, a Local Area Network or an application system such as business application solution. A system is not referring to the application as a stand-alone element but to all of the components which build the complete solution (application, databases, servers and middleware, etc).
Based on these two definitions here are some key rules to bear in mind when developing a Service / System structure.
- An integrated composite that consists of one or more of the processes, hardware, software, facilities and people, that provides a capability to satisfy a stated need or objective. An IT System:
- Is a collection of resources and configuration items or assets that are necessary to deliver an IT Service
- Is sometimes referred to as a Technology Solution.
So you may be wondering why the insistence on the first two rules.
Consider that while an IT Service like Email is relatively constant both its underlying technology system and the organization which delivers it are both transient.
A few years ago you may have used CCmail and now your organization leverages Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange. Who knows what you will be using in the future. The point is that the service is constant and the technology changes.
Likewise today you may manage Exchange internally but tomorrow you may use an ASP model or you might choose to outsource it completely. The point is that a service is constant but who delivers it will change.
Troy's thoughts what are yours?
The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question "How can we eat?" the second by the question "Why do we eat?" and the third by the question "Where shall we have lunch?" ~Douglas Adams. 1981. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- A service always refers to a capability and not a specific technology
- A service does not make reference to an organizational function, department or structure. In other words it is organizationally agnostic!
- A service is supported by one or many systems. Eg: Messaging is supported by Backberry and Exchange
- There are three types of IT services (Business Application Services, Infrastructure Services and Professional Services)
- Any of the three types of services can either be customer facing or component/supporting services
- The moment you start publishing logical and sensible IT Services expect someone to ask you to tell them how much they cost