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 Round Table
15 November 2006 | ITSM
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ITSM Roundtable November 2006
BearingPoint, BT, Pink Elephant and Ken Turbitt from the IT Services Consultancy discuss ITIL certification, education and operating overseas in an exclusive ITSM gathering

Qualifications and training standards are often met with questions in regard to their relevance and applicability to industry. With an ever-increasing demand for qualified IT staff, the value of ITIL certifications has come under close scrutiny, creating debate amongst members of the IT industry. Whether these certifications are necessary and whether the level of qualification should be increased are amongst the issues we highlight here in our exclusive ITSM roundtable, where we've gathered four of the sector's most influential figures. Further debate focuses on the necessity of ISO/IE20000 and ITIL frameworks, as software tools are integrated into the theme of what is currently the way forward for IT businesses.

Michael Mulicka - Director of Strategy for BearingPoint's Asset, Service and Demand Management (ASDm) practice. His 28 years in IT have been focused on advancing the enterprise IT management agenda. He has extensive experience in IT management, strategy and architecture, systems development, integration and delivery, mergers and acquisitions, and outsourcing. Mike oversees ASDm's business and solutions strategy, and does senior level advisory and business consulting related to IT management and transformation.

Alan McCarthy - Director, EMEA - Pink Elephant.As co-founder of Pink Elephant in the UK in 1991, Alan has been instrumental in the promotion of ITIL in the UK market. As the original treasurer of it SMF, he also has long standing relationships with all of the industry players who are prominent today. With over 30 years' experience in the IT industry, he is a leading proponent for IT service management and the benefits it brings to organisations.

Ken Turbitt - Managing Director, IT Services Consultancy Ltd. Ken set up ITSC in 2002 to assist organisations in their IT to Business alignment planning, with advice and guidance based on his 23 years of IT experience and Best Practices knowledge. Ken has an ISEB ITIL Manager qualification for more than 12years and Gartner qualified TCO consultant for more than 8 years. Ken was a founder member of the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (member since 1985) "Outsourcing special interest" group. Ken is also Global Best Practices Director at BMC Software, and on their Thought Leadership Council.

Monique Shivanandan - Director, Operational Integrity, BT Exact. She is responsible for global operations of BT's IT estate in the UK, US, Europe and Asia Pacific. With a team of over 3000 IT professionals worldwide Operational Integrity build and run the core services and critical systems for BTs network and business operations. Monique is a direct report to Al-Noor Ramji, CEO BT Exact and is a member of BT's IT board and IT committee.

Are any of the components of the ITIL Certification Board being revised in line with the ITIL refresh? Will the process of gaining certification become easier or harder?

Monique Shivanandan: Our understanding is that all existing qualifications will remain valid but that training providers are likely to provide 'refresher' courses.

Alan McCarthy: In line with the ITIL refresh, the responsibility for the accreditation and certification schemes for all best practices owned by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has recently been awarded to the APM Group (APMG). This contract replaces the existing contracts with the ITIL Certification Management Board (ICMB), which covers the Examination Institute for Information Science (EXIN) and Information Systems Exam Board (ISEB). These two examination boards have managed all ITIL examinations so far.This means increased responsibility for the APMG but a loss of the EXIN's and ISEB's dominant position. The EXIN's and ISEB's contracts with OGC to deliver the ITIL exams run until June 2007; after this period they can continue delivering exams only if they reach an agreement with the APMG.This will mean very little for the students and the current examination certificates will remain valid. There will, no doubt, be changes to the courses and examinations after the launch of ITIL v3, but I don't think they will be harder or easier; they will just reflect the new ITIL version. And I expect that training companies will offer upgrade sessions for people with the current certification.

Ken Turbitt: As in independent consultancy I've no idea! Not being a member of the ICMB, I do not have access to this information, perhaps the OGC is best placed to answer this one in conjunction with Sharon Taylor, the Chief Architect of ITIL v3. Currently the process is not difficult, only time consuming. It appears to take too long to obtain the results following the Managers/Masters exam. Again, this is for the ICMB and its relationship with the ISEB and EXIM, then they must work with the course providers to streamline the process.

The value of the ITIL Practitioners certification for specific disciplines has been criticised as being inadequate in both setting and meeting peoples' expectations. Do you think this criticism is warranted?

Michael Mulicka: The value of certifications in general is often misunderstood. Regardless of assertions made by sponsoring organisations that certified professionals will demonstrate a specific level of expertise, managers need to have realistic expectations. The value of any certification that doesn't mandate real-world experience and results (and most don't) is by definition limited to the academic realm. If managers understand that their investment in certification results in people that understand the theory well and that those people will still need time to mature in their roles, meeting expectations shouldn't be a problem. ITIL doesn't seem particularly worse in this regard but is certainly no better, either. I'd like to see more certification programs include real-world experience and results, similar to what Six Sigma requires at the black belt and master black belt levels.

Ken Turbitt: In my opinion, yes. The concept of a practitioner is that they specialise in a certain area only, and not across the whole of IT Service Management. With that in mind, the content and detail needs to be much more comprehensive and taken from real life industry. The trainers may need to pull in appropriately skilled specialists in the area being taught. Qualifications are only worthwhile if they are recognised as being to a known standard or skill or knowledge. This needs to be made very clear and become much more detailed.

Monique Shivanandan: Our experience in BT is that in at least one instance, a series of exams followed by a group of our people all had the same exam questions. We found that people do not learn a great deal more than in the foundation course, suggesting better value would be gained by getting a group of people from a given environment to take real issues they face and to apply what they have learnt into their workplace. One method we are exploring in parts of BT in other subject areas is that the theory is taught in an initial session, followed by a period of 'practice in the field' where each delegate puts the theory into practice on a specific project. Finally, delegates come back together after a period (normally around 3 months) to share learning and to present their projects for certification. Our question, is whether there is an intention to expand the practitioner's course (currently focused on only 2 books) to take into account the expanded focus of the ITIL refresh?

Alan McCarthy: The practitioner certificates are aimed at those who are responsible within their organisation for designing specific processes within the IT service management discipline and performing the activities that belong to those processes. The practitioner's certificates focus on the depth of understanding and application of those subjects, treating each subject as a speciality. Until recently, each process was treated separately, because the benefits of ITIL are realised through integration of processes and criticism of these courses was probably justified. EXIN has recently introduced the multi-process practitioner courses, such as Change, Release and Configuration Management practitioner. These cluster courses address the needs of the customer much better. However, there is still a train of thought that argues that these courses should be taken a stage further and delivered over a period of time, much like an NVQ, where the student has to prove competency through practical application in his or her workplace. I agree with this sentiment and think this should be investigated further, but for the time being the current multi-process practitioner courses fulfil a much-needed requirement.

How should a business justify the costs of ITIL certification for its IT staff? Is it recommended that everyone be certified or just a select few?

Michael Mulicka: Each organisation will benefit to a different degree from not only certification, but from ITIL itself. ITIL is more important as a lingua franca for IT service management than as a formula for managing IT. Broad knowledge of ITIL basics across an organisation can be helpful to ensure people are working towards common goals, and one way to accomplish this is Foundation level certification, but even that is not always necessary. It would be very hard to argue for certification of large numbers of people at higher levels. If people aren't applying it every day in their jobs, they'll quickly lose it anyway. Practicality is essential; where certification is deemed valuable, target certification levels should be linked to job descriptions. For example, I could understand a scenario where process owners are certified at Practitioner level and managers responsible for setting direction are certified at Manager level. Justification for something more than this should be considered very carefully.

Monique Shivanandan: The justification for ITIL is firstly to deliver genuine improvements in service to our customers. Incremental revenue is also a powerful justification, with more and more customers only wanting to do business with us if we use ITIL processes and/or are registered to ISO/IEC 20000. Cost savings are brought about by the use of repeatable and consistent processes, being a key factor in an increasingly cost-conscious environment. Repeatability is part of our strategy to structurally reduce our costs, and ITIL is a key part of this. ITIL's focus on problem management also means people adopt a structured approach to resolving underlying issues, which save costs. Only targeted employees need to be certified. As part of the skills communities we are setting up, all service managers will be required to have foundation level ITIL certification. Depending on their role, they may also be required to achieve more advanced certification levels. In the wider organisation we will use ITIL awareness to achieve consistency in vocabulary as everyone talking the same language is a significant benefit (ideally, IT systems would use the language of ITIL as people follow processes, so no specific ITIL training would be required). Finally we can implement training at lower cost by innovating as far as delivery is concerned, for example by using different media. For some students, BT now uses a CBT package for many people who follow the foundation course.

Ken Turbitt: As with any ROI assessment, it's going to be different for different organisations. However, most of the cost savings are achieved through educating the whole ITIL implementation team and those expected to run/manage the services thereafter. Gaining the knowledge at the outset, ensures a common understanding, common goals and language. This reduces the risk of mistakes, bad assumptions and silo mentality, all of which lead to poorly delivered projects, over-runs, exceeded budgets and failure to achieve the initial goals. I've known, and worked with, organisations who have trained all their staff to Foundation, all IT Managers to Manager level and even the 'Line of Business liaison to IT' person. This facilitated a fast, integrate, and professional ITIL implementation. The costs were more than justified in the overall project. Being more specific is not feasible with a generic question. In regards as to whether everyone be certified or not, one cannot be generic here, as every business is different, has different levels of experience in managing staff and the HR responsibilities. However, I've seen many organisations invest in the training, and ensure those with Manager level certification their own specific project management responsibilities. Those with practitioner responsibilities in a specific area, 'own' the operation of that responsibility, and those with Foundation are the 'others' who are involved, influence or service a part of the overall solution. These tend to be the successful implementations. Yet, I've also seen businesses who invest in the training and then wait months or longer before initiating the implementation project. By the time it happens, most have not used the new skills and forgotten many key elements, though perhaps it has assisted in the planning. As always, it's a good thing to plan, manage and ensure the timing is current, for that return on investment. As ITIL has such a large momentum at present, especially in the US, we are also finding that staff get trained early and then move on, or are 'poached' to another organisation, needing that qualified skill urgently. So it certainly needs to be managed and controlled.

Alan McCarthy: ITIL accreditation demonstrates that an individual has met the standards in service management as set by a recognised and respected examination certification board. The certification of an organisation's IT staff is proof that the people delivering and supporting your (the customer) IT services and systems are of a recognised level of competence and that the IT organisation takes the delivery of service seriously and in a professional manner.Having said that, I would not advocate that everyone in the IT services organisation needs to be certified. Certainly the people running and managing the core processes should be certified, and certified at different levels - Foundation, Practitioner and Manager. Everyone, however, needs an understanding of service management. These people would need a good overview so that they understand what the organisation is trying to achieve and how service management will achieve it.

In the UK we are working closely with a number of universities to deliver MSC (Master) level qualifications in IT service management. Do you believe this approach should be adopted in order to develop more rounded IT graduates?

Michael Mulicka: Formal university education in this space is something long overdue, but it's a tough nut to crack. As IT grows in complexity and the pace of change quickens, the IT Service Management challenge and its business importance grow in kind. The fundamental goals of delivering repeatable, high quality service remain, while the environment and scope constantly evolve. Hopefully, advanced degree programs would bring fresh ideas and independent research to bear that could help us, as an industry, get out in front of this situation once and for all. The problem is, how do you make this stuff appealing? No matter what the business value, young people are not likely to want to jump straight into professions that are seen as 'back office to the back office.' Where there are degrees, there needs to be interesting careers. An IT Service Management degree would need to include a strong dose of business discipline (e.g., financial management, resource planning, product design, etc) resulting in a graduate who understands what it means to run IT as a competitive service business.

Alan McCarthy: Absolutely, we have been trying since the inception of ITIL to get universities to recognise the value of ITIL and to include it in their graduate programmes. Graduates need more than a knowledge of Cobol programming! In the past, the focus has been on technical aspects. This, I believe, has contributed to the perception of the 'techie' who works in the IT department. ITIL describes the best practice for managing the support and delivery of IT services. The majority of graduates will move through into management positions. ITIL will give the graduate a better business perspective on IT and would make their qualification more appropriate. It would give them a more vocational knowledge rather than a theoretical knowledge.

Ken Turbitt: Absolutely, in fact in some US universities I've been in discussion with, are seeking to do just that, together with information from vendors and consultancies. IT is now a major critical part of any business, and therefore deserves a degree level certification with some ITIL roots, together perhaps with some other complimentary best practices, like CobiT and certifications like ISO/IEC 20000. The more we train the professionals of the future in these Best practices and standards, the more it will become an accepted way of working within the IT profession.

Monique Shivanandan: This can only be a positive move, and we would be happy to work with you to develop concrete plans to do this. We would be interested to learn of plans for cooperation in other countries with universities and think that courses at the different universities should be consistent with one another if we are to avoid confusion in the industry. Any courses need to be grounded in practicality and we suggest that one module in the course should include an element of consultancy training.

For organisations with regulatory and IT governance requirements, would you recommend using ISO/IEC 20000 as a prescriptive IT governance framework and ITIL as the underpinning best practice process framework, and why?

Michael Mulicka: No framework should be recommended categorically. Further, no framework should be taken as a prescription. ITIL and ISO20000 are good aids, but they are far from definitive or complete. There are other aids (e.g., CoBIT) that are just as valid and should be considered as well. Every organisation is different, and needs to consider carefully how to apply the many opportunities at its disposal, in order to achieve the best value. Organisations and environments evolve and adapt over time - if they're good, the frameworks will as well. Framework decisions need to be made at points in time, then revisited as part of a continually evolving IT strategy linked directly to the business.

Ken Turbitt: Actually, no. For IT Governance requirements I would much rather recommend CobiT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology) and that underpinned by ITIL; which goes into more detail in one of the four main focus areas within COBIT, that of support and delivery. Once that is in place, then it is worth seeking an ISO standard, to show/prove you've gained a level of maturity tha is intenationally recognised. As ISO20K came from BS15000 which was heavily based on ITIL, I'd rather recommend an implementation methodology based on the whole of IT management, which has its focus on aligning IT goals and objectives with the Business Goals and Objectives in a measurable way. As COBIT was created by and for auditors, it makes more sense to use this as a Governance aid, especially in the area of measuring compliance and alignment.

Monique Shivanandan: ITIL is very focused on Service Support & Delivery, even though in theory its scope is wider. But even in the wider ITIL agenda, there are some aspects that ITIL only touches on,for example, product management. Using ITIL as a best-practice framework is fine, but only covers a part of the business integration that customers require from Networked IT services. Putting in a restrictive IT Governance Framework such as COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology) appears to us to solve only part of the overall problem customers have of integrating their business operations into a single networked IT platform. We prefer an outcomes-based approach, backed up by ISO/IEC 20000.

Alan McCarthy: It is important to keep in mind the principles that a governance model should cover when effectively deployed in an organisation. In short, IT governance is primarily concerned with supporting the objectives of enterprise governance and, in doing so, should establish the basis for sound and aligned provisioning of services to the business customer. The ultimate driver for good governance should be in relation to meeting business goals and complying with regulatory and risk management issues facing enterprise governance. Frameworks such as COBIT can assist in providing a scope of what areas IT governance covers. But whereas models such as COBIT can provide a scope of what elements need to be in place, it is necessary to strategically select a collection of best practice frameworks covering the various areas of IT management. These provide the focus needed to understand the requirements at a level of detail that can be executed. ITIL and, therefore, ISO/IEC20000 can be used as a framework, though not necessarily a prescriptive framework, to support governance issues. It just depends what the governance issues are. For example, ITIL will address some of the IT control requirements of Sarbanes Oxley, but not everything.

In areas such as India and the Middle East, there are significant cultural differences to the way business operates in comparison to the West. How can international organisations and consultants address these differences without compromising the tenets of best practice?

Michael Mulicka: As long as the term 'best practice' isn't taken too literally, this shouldn't be a problem. Again, one needs to be cautious about being overly prescriptive. The fundamental tenet, 'doing what's proven to be effective,' provides the guidance. Core ideas should be reflected in practices and policies that should work in context to achieve repeatable results.

Alan McCarthy: These cultures typically have very strong organisational hierarchies, which reinforce organisational structures that are based around technical domains or silos. This can seriously inhibit organisations that are trying to establish cross-functional collaboration across technical support areas to support the end-to-end service concepts essential for implementing IT service management best practices. It therefore becomes imperative to introduce key performance indicators for both teams and individuals that are based on process performance across organisational silos so that each technical domain is reliant on the performance of the others. So, to achieve individual and team performance goals, collaboration between different technical hierarchies becomes essential. In order to further encourage this cross-functional collaboration, individuals should have reward systems aligned to KPI achievement. This means that success can only be rewarded though process team performance.

Ken Turbitt: Actually, India now has the most Manager qualified ITIL specialists anywhere, the huge move to off-shoring for cheaper labour has allowed these people to gain knowledge quickly and show to investors and new clients that they are as good as anyone. In fact many are very well qualified anyway. Soon they will have good experience to and not just the theory. These people want and need to compete, not just on a value basis, but on a quality basis, so they are adhering to good disciplines and want to more and more. Consultants from Europe, US etc need have no worry in the Middle East and India, in fact consultants have been working in the Middle East as the main source of expertise for decades. In India, the new employees are highly educated and now many have the ITIL manager's certification, you'll find no problems in ensuring good practice is used and understood, they want it, as opposed to being forced upon them.

Monique Shivanandan: BT trade on the basis of our brand and people values (trustworthy, helpful, inspiring, straightforward, and 'heart') and underpinned by a strict code of practice requiring people to be professional and to meet regulatory and legislative frameworks in the countries in which we trade. We would expect a level playing field with all companies promoting trade, trading fairly and transparently. This question is based on a sweeping underlying assumption that the US and Europe have higher standards than other parts of the world. This is not necessarily true. Take, for example the high level of standards required for IT Service management in India, where there are almost as many companies certified to ISO/IEC 20000 as there are in the UK (source http://itsmf.co.uk-certifications).

With so much hype around ITIL-compliant tools within the industry, many struggling IT service improvement projects have now complained of the unavailability of good integrated ITSM tools that can actually support the ITIL framework and deliver what they promise. What advice and key supplier questions would you suggest to assist organisations in selecting the right tool?

Michael Mulicka: ITIL is a process-oriented framework, so I find the reasoning that a lack of tools is a barrier, highly ironic. In fact, too much of a focus on tools can be at best a red herring, and at worst, dangerous. Any technology supplier can claim that their tool is ITIL compliant, but it's left to the customer to determine what that really means to them. Having a 'ITIL compliant' tool doesn't mean the level of an organization's processes will automatically rise simply as a consequence of deploying it. Also, it says nothing about the value the organisation will derive from the tool, and value is where the real focus should be. If an organisation is relying on technology suppliers to somehow codify ITIL in software, they're going to be waiting a long time-and they're missing the point.

Monique Shivanandan: I have four points to make in answer to this question:

* The industry is moving to agreed service levels for processes. The focus will be on procedures and on end-to-end business requirements. One consequence of this is that having excellent individual tools is not the answer-they need to be integrated to give the desk at the front end-to-end visibility and control. Key to this integration is the underlying data format, and we would advocate the use of the principles of Open Systems Integration as the "glue" for data exchange between applications. Integrating applications in this way through an industry "open architecture" avoids the high costs of integrating different tools on a bespoke basis. Any tools adopted will need to have Interworking functionality-in particular, data sharing- with other tools as part of their base requirements.* An essential part of this open architecture is the requirement to build "layers of independence" in the IT Service management strategy. This would mean, for example that the user interface would be independent from the "engine" application. This would enable different customer requirements for visibility to be taken into account without needing to revisit the underlying engine each time.* The goal of any IT Service provider is best in class delivery at world-class cost. Focusing first on excellent process delivers best in class delivery-possibly at high cost. Focusing first on effective tools may deliver cost savings, but is unlikely to enable providers to put "blue water" between themselves and their competitors-excellent service cannot be reduced to a suite of excellent ITIL software tools. Those who manage to install an iterative and dynamic dialogue between the two are those likely to rise to the difficult challenge of delivering both-and they will be those who lead the field. * Buying the tool, then creating the processes to fit the tool is not a strategy we would recommend. ITIL Processes should first be developed that work for your own company, and then be used as the basis for this iterative and dynamic dialogue.

Alan McCarthy: Too often, organisations experiencing difficulty in delivering IT services look to technology as the silver bullet to cure their ills. A large amount of money is spent on hardware and software solutions that may or may not be a proper fit for their organisation. Add to this the lack of political will, or power to gain consensus around IT processes and policy, and a consistent story is uncovered: one of tools being misused, incorrectly configured, or grossly underutilised due to a lack of defined and deployed processes. Software and hardware tools are important and indispensable assets in IT organisations. The starting point with tool selection should always be to first look at the way the IT processes work. As more and more organisations realise this they are starting to embrace best practice models for determining tool selection criteria. Conversely, tool vendors are moving their product towards a convergence and standardisation of workflow and terminology, based on the best practices in the market. The starting point for any tool selection should always be: get your processes in order first, align them with ITIL, then find the best match for your processes by using the well-defined selection criteria already developed.

Ken Turbitt: Ifone looks at the Pink Verify scheme we can see 15 vendors with seven of the core ITIL processes, four vendors with six and nine vendors with five, all within the enhanced status. This would indicate quite a few vendors have a fair element of the core ITIL processes built into their tools. Perhaps they are not marketing it successfully to the organisations looking in the market. Some key and obvious questions to ask would be:

* Have you attained Pink Verify Advanced status? If so, for how many of the key processes?

* Is your ITSM suite fully integrated at a process level?* Has your ITSM suite been made up of acquired elements, or built as a suite? * Does you solution have a Federated CMDB to facilitate the ITIL CMDB capability?* Please provide "x" number of customer references of ITIL implementations using your suite.* Please provide reports from Industry analysts detailing your ITIL solution as an integrated suite, and your position within the market (ie. magic quadrant style)

 These are simple questions that should ensure the organisation find a vendor with an integrated suite capable of providing and ITIL solution.

Industry opinion is divided over the value of buying a 'tool kit' or purpose designed 'off the shelf' ITSM software tool. Do you believe that non-specialist IT staff are sufficiently qualified to build what is, essentially, a business tool?

Michael Mulicka: Non-specialist staffs are no more or less qualified to build an ITSM solution than they are to build a funds transfer system or a retail point-of-sale system. There are dozens of considerations that contribute to whether an organization should build or buy any software solution. More important considerations are whether or not the idea has an executive sponsor and champion, whether it has been syndicated well and has strong support from stakeholders, whether requirements are clear and well managed, and whether expectations are set realistically from the outset.

Alan McCarthy: No organisation should even consider building its own tool. In my opinion this is a complete waste of time and money and would be indicative of the 'techno-centric' IT department, as opposed to the 'business-centric' IT department. Over recent years, almost all tool vendors have been aligning their ITSM tool to ITIL. A few have developed their tool around ITIL processes from scratch. There are many tools in the market place that will provide an excellent off-the-shelf solution, so the thought of an organisation building their own ITSM tool is ludicrous.

Ken Turbitt: Non-specialist IT staff could probably not build any tool, let alone an ITSM one. However, I do think that Business people can contribute to the design and process flow of such a solution, and then leave it to the IT specialists to fill in the gaps and build the solution. Base the solution on some industry standards out there, by taking into account CobiT and ISO/IEC 20000 too. After all, if I think of the ITIL refresh, some of the authors are not technical people, but IT process people and even business process people. They can certainly design the processes and service life-cycle, but it would ultimately need IT specialists to "translate" this and build into an integrated process automation solution. Think of it in terms of the experience we gained from the ERP revolution. Business consultants review and design the new business processes model, and then the IT specialists, (SAP, Oracle etc) make it work within their applications. We should be thinking in a similar model. The good news is that these two worlds are slowly coming together with the acceptance of BSM in the market. Or then again, maybe I misunderstood the question!

Monique Shivanandan: Based on the answer we gave above, we would not recommend off-the-shelf tools, at least for large implementations. There may be a market for smaller companies and their implementations. We do not believe that non-specialist IT staff are qualified to build an off-the shelf solution. At the same time, specialists have to take their guidance from the business. Interworking across organisation and discipline boundaries are the key to a successful IT business tool As a service provider, and not an IT service within a single company, our requirements are slightly different. IT departments are focused on one customers, so have narrower requirements.

How sensitive is the business software sector to the concept of ITIL? Do you believe software tool vendors are delivering solutions that genuinely support the high standards and requirements set by ITIL?

Monique Shivanandan: Individual isolated products have been available, and in some cases companies are stating that they have ITIL-compliant modules. But few of these tools are fit for purpose of a company like GS, since not designed to handle the level of complexity that our customers require to manage their services. We are beginning to see signs that vendors are talking to each other, but as far as we are aware, this has not yet resulted in integrated solutions on the ground based on a common standard for data interchange.

Alan McCarthy: As I've already said, over the past few years the ITSM tool vendors have been vigorously aligning their tools to ITIL - they all want to claim that they are ITIL compatible. Many of these tools were originally developed around the requirements of the 'old style' help desk and have evolved into integrated ITSM tools aligned with ITIL. There are also a small number of vendors that aligned themselves with ITIL right at the beginning and developed the tool totally around ITIL. Whereas the others just jumped on the ITIL bandwagon later on. This latter group has lived and breathed ITIL throughout their development lifecycle. So, generally speaking, the business software sector is sensitive to the concept of ITIL, but the majority is sensitive simply because their customers are demanding it.

Ken Turbitt: It depends what you mean by sensitive here. Business software vendors like SAP, Oracle etc are more and more aware of ITIL and are entering the ITSM market by developing their own tools or acquiring ones to integrate. Some specialist vendors and process integrators are integrating or mapping ERP systems into ITSM systems from a process perspective. This will only increase as Business Service Management takes hold. IT is being seen much more as a key Business function and enabler, and as this happens, the division between the two former empires will blur.More vendors have invested more to automate the key ITIL processes, just look at the Pink Verify list of vendors and the amount of alignment. ITIL has become more widely accepted as the de-facto standard so vendors have had to invest to fulfil the client demand. Very few vendors cover all Service Support and Service Delivery though, the majority tend to stick with just Service Support, as more fully integrated suites come into the market the more ITIL processes can be automated. Key players here are BMC with the former Remedy product suite. This vendor has the advantage of the Process automation application (ARS) enabling all the application built on top to automate the Service Support applications across the whole solution suite, enabling end to end process integration seamlessly. Add to that the traditional BMC tools for Enterprise systems management and their new federated CMDB, and they have one of the best ITIL compatible suites with Service Support and Delivery, fully integrated in the market, not procured specialist tools coupled together. They also have this solution capable of delivering BSM for the client, fulfilling the ITIL Business Perspective recommendations.

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