Wednesday, December 3, 2008

ITIL v3 and the Cloud

First off, for those not familiar with it. What is ITIL? Here's the Wikipedia definition:

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of concepts and policies for managing information technology (IT) infrastructure, development and operations.

ITIL is published in a series of books, each of which covers an IT management topic. The names ITIL and IT Infrastructure Library are registered trademarks of the United Kingdom's Office of Government Commerce (OGC). ITIL gives a detailed description of a number of important IT practices with comprehensive checklists, tasks and procedures that can be tailored to any IT organization.

I didn't think much of the early versions of ITIL. I thought they were too techie focused. However, the latest version (v3) is a different ballgame. It starts to focus on the whole area of Service Management. This includes Service Strategy, Design, Transition, Operation, and Continuous Service Improvement. All critical components for running a SaaS or Cloud Computing environment.

If you're thinking of using services from the Cloud or building your own, or even for services running within an enterprise, you could do worse than reading the ITIL v3 books. From experience, I've seen how the methods, guidelines and processes can make a huge difference. I believe a sensible approach should be taken to its use rather than blindly following it word for word. One great thing about it is that it introduces a common vocabulary which is half the battle.

If you only get one thing from ITIL it should be the Utility and Warranty concepts.

  • Utility is perceived by the customer from the functionality (or attributes) of the service that has a positive effect on the performance of tasks associated with desired outcomes.
  • Warranty is derived from the service being available when needed, in sufficient capacity or magnitude, and dependably in terms of continuity and security.

In many environments, too much emphasis is put on the Utility side (i.e. the functionality) of a software service or application and not enough on the Warranty aspects. In the world of SaaS and Cloud computing, the warranty pieces are just as important, if not more important.