American ITIL

IT Infrastructure Library may underpin many SOA efforts.

Lately, the best practice guidelines of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) have started to wash up on North American shores. And, increasingly, analysts are attempting to make the link between ITIL and SOA; the latest being a linkage statement from Ovum's Mary Johnston Turner. The question is, are enterprises ready to assimilate the best practices of ITIL while simultaneously pursing service-oriented architecture. Does one have anything to do with the other?

Survey finds some linkage between SOA and ITIL

Ovum just released a study of 333 US companies that points to a connection. The consultancy found that 27 percent of large enterprises have SOA deployed in at least some areas of their IT infrastructure. However, about 20 percent also say SOA has created unexpected complexity -- traditional IT management processes and tools are not always up to the task of monitoring and managing SOA applications. SOA deployments require as much support and investment in infrastructure management as they do in developer kits and testing tools.

In fact, the survey found a high correlation between a business' level of satisfaction with SOA and their commitment to managing IT as a set of services. Leading-edge SOA adopters, in fact, are more likely to be also adopting IT infrastructure library (ITIL), service desks, asset and configuration management tools, IT portfolio management tools and business service management performance monitoring dashboards.

ITIL, in the words of its sponsor (UK Office of Government Commerce), provides "a cohesive set of best practice, drawn from the public and private sectors internationally. It is supported by a comprehensive qualifications scheme, accredited training organizations, and implementation and assessment tools." Key processes covered by ITIL include service desk, incident management, problem management, configuration management, change management, and release management.

Ovum's Johnston Turner observed that "ITIL provides a very well defined framework for operational business processes in a number of areas. That's a great way to get started. It gives people a common language and common framework."

In a previous post at this site, I quoted D.L. Tyler, who agreed that ITIL may even pave the way toward better SOA. "Companies look to SOA for lots of reasons, to integrate systems, to create visibility, to standardize on XML, or whatever. Yet, no matter the purpose of the initiative or the desired end state, I have found it easier to implement SOA in environments that have ITIL. Remember, SOA is not about Web services, it is about an approach that creates agility and responsiveness in both IT and business. That responsiveness to environmental conditions requires monitoring, reporting, and responding; ITIL focuses on just that."

As is the case with SOA, however, ITIL runs the risk of being oversold by vendors as a relatively quick fix. It's not -- ITIL is an ongoing commitment on the part of employees to become versed in best practices. Both SOA and ITIL are based on changes in the way enterprises do things, and will take time to permeate and show solid ROI.

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