The Shortcut Guide to IT Service Management and Automation

by Rebecca Herold


The Shortcut Guide to IT Service Management and Automation provides an insightful overview of IT service management and the service management life cycle. Author and compliance expert Rebecca Herold demonstrates how technology acts as a strategic differentiator by enabling business growth, driving operational efficiencies to lower maintenance costs, optimizing outcomes, and reducing IT risks. This excellent new guide discusses how the ITIL v3 framework can facilitate the delivery of high-quality IT services across the complete service management life cycle. In addition, the framework can help to align IT operations, applications, and strategies to achieve better governance, compliance, and efficiency across the IT environment, ultimately demonstrating the true value of IT to business units.

Herold also addresses emerging challenges such as how to quickly correlate events across numerous diverse systems, and coordinate rollouts of virtualization and unified management of new applications. Many of these processes are now outsourced, so The Shortcut Guide to IT Service Management and Automation includes a discussion of the considerations for choosing a service management process vendor. Throughout this eBook, the important topics related to automation to support these processes are highlighted.


Chapter 1: Business Value of Service Life Cycle Management for IT Operations

Operational efficiency and effectiveness in the business environment requires a keen understanding of the complex nature and interactions among software, hardware, and personnel. It is also necessary to automate as many processes as possible with a definable, repeatable pattern of execution or flow as possible. Today’s complex IT systems contain more constants and variables than any single human mind can process and comprehend in a meaningful way, simply because humans are ill-equipped to handle so much information at once.

Within modern IT operations, there is tremendous unharnessed potential. There are also immense gaps among diverse, multi-disciplinary architectures, infrastructures, and platforms in use. To compound these problems, IT must cope with rapid proliferation of issues related to absorbing existing business infrastructures, acquiring new equipment, dealing with human error, and working from an often incomplete view of centralized management and task automation across heterogeneous environments.

ITPA represents the convergence between routine tasks and best practice initiatives addressed through software-centric approaches. Traditionally, automated interactions have been handled using batch scripting and on-site custom programming tools and techniques. Modern computing and telecommunications enterprises process millions of transactions through diverse organizational infrastructures and various systems that execute thousands of different tasks, many of which are similar in nature, though individual execution details may differ. Establishing cohesive operation and centralized software management across an entire IT infrastructure and all its various components and elements presents significant challenges, particularly during routine system maintenance, and can drain resources and time. In fact, task automation’s biggest appeal is the time and effort it frees so that IT staff can do more than put out fires or deal with the crisis du jour.

Chapter 2: Service Transition, Change, and the Service Desk

As I was preparing to write this chapter, I spoke with several IT practitioners who indicated that they were using ITIL. Most of them indicated they were using ITIL V2. I was somewhat surprised that when I asked them when they were moving to ITIL V3, most answered something to the effect of, “We went through enough pain with ITIL V2. What’s the point of moving to V3 if we already have built our service processes around V2? What’s the big difference?”

ITIL V3 Perspective of Service Transition

So, what is the big difference between ITIL V2 and ITIL V3? I discussed the differences Chapter 1; however, it is worth taking a closer look at the differences as they reflect the changes in business focus. Table 2.1 compares and contrasts the high-level business issues for ITIL V2 and ITIL V3.

Chapter 3: Service Operations and Business Service Management

Before launching into a discussion of Service Operations, let’s first step back and think about what the term means to level-set our discussion. Your Service Operations are basically what you are doing on a day-to-day basis to take care of business, which include providing effective and efficient delivery and support of services to ensure the business meets its goals and objectives.

With regard to IT, Service Operations is doing what you can each day to ensure value for your internal business customers, your organization’s external customers, and your service providers. Service Operations is where you demonstrate to your customer the quality and value of IT to the business. It is where you deliver on your IT service level promises.

As an IT leader, you want your Service Operations to be stable, scalable, allow for design changes as necessary to support the business as it changes and grows, and to stay within the predefined service level agreements (SLAs). How do you do so effectively and efficiently? This chapter explores detailed process guidelines, tools, and methods for handling Service Operations from not only a reactive perspective but also from the oft-overlooked proactive viewpoint.

Chapter 4: Automating the Service Life Cycle

A significant benefit of ITIL V3 is how it aligns IT throughout the entire business enterprise by looking at the IT Service Lifecycle and promoting Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) defines CSI as, “A stage in the Lifecycle of an IT service and the title of one of the Core ITIL publications. Continual Service Improvement is responsible for managing improvements to IT Service Management processes and IT Services. The Performance of the IT Service Provider is continually measured and improvements are made to Processes, IT Services and IT Infrastructure in order to increase Efficiency, Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness.” As a quick recap of some of the concepts covered in the previous chapters, the primary change from ITIL V2 to ITIL V3 is that the processes defined within ITIL V2 were taken and structured around a Service Lifecycle within ITIL V3 to better align with how business works and to put more focus on service as opposed to separate processes.

Of course, the processes and functions are important, and necessary, but they are secondary to delivering and supporting the services. Under ITIL V3, processes exist to plan for, deliver, and support IT services, making the Service Catalog a key component of IT Service Management (ITSM).