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ITIL best practices for enterprise CIOs

Tools and Technologies: Tackling IT Infrastructure Library v3 <<previous|next>> :ITIL FAQs, part 2

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ITIL v3 Service Transition: FAQs on Book 3

By Rich Schiesser, Contributor

18 Sep 2007 | SearchCIO.com

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 3 Core Book 3 on Service Transition offers ways to ensure that your design will deliver the intended strategy and can be operated and maintained effectively. Following a live expert webcast series on SearchCIO.com, Rich Schiesser answered the following user questions related to the book:

Where does the process of configuration fit into the new ITIL v3 scheme of things? Are there any improvements to the v2 processes?

The configuration management process is now part of the service asset and configuration management (SACM) process within the Service Transition phase. It has been integrated with asset management in order to provide a more comprehensive management of the service assets that help in the performance of the other service management processes. In ITIL v3, configuration management is just a set of tasks under the bigger SACM process, which now oversees a broader array of assets, called service assets.

The logical model used by configuration management has been enhanced and includes the services, assets and infrastructure and relationships among the configuration items. In addition, this logical model is the only model used throughout the different IT service management processes, and even by other business functions such as human resources, finance, the suppliers and their customers.
Ref: ITIL Service Transition book, 4.3.4

Why is testing a separate process?

The testing espoused by ITIL is a separate process from the build process simply because of the thoroughness of testing required for a successful deployment of a new or changed service into the live production environment. In ITIL v3, the Service V-model is used to represent the five levels of configuration and testing that are recommended. At level one, customer and business needs, testing looks at whether the service is fit for purpose and fit for use by the business users and customers. At level two, service requirements, testing ensures that the service acceptance criteria are met. At level three, service solution, service operational readiness testing is done. At level four, service release, testing looks at whether the release can be installed, built and tested in the target environment. Finally, at level five, component and assemblies, testing ensures that service component or assembly of components matches its detailed specification.

In knowledge management, what is informed decision making?

With respect to knowledge management, informed decision making means that, at any given time and location, the service provider staff has access to sufficient information on:

  • Who's using their services.
  • The current states of consumption or utilization of those services.
  • The current service delivery constraints.
  • The difficulties encountered by the customer that prevent them from fully realizing the benefits possible from the services.

Ref: ITIL Service Transition book, 4.7

Please explain the differences between a configuration management database (CMDB) and a configuration management system (CMS).

The CMS is a repository of information on configuration items (CIs), such as their attributes, history and details of important relationships with other CIs. The CMDB is a database used to store configuration records throughout their lifecycle. The CMDB resides within the CMS.

The CMS maintains one or more CMDBs, and each CMDB stores attributes of CIs, and relationships with other CIs. The CMS was created basically to remove the confusion in v2 that the CMDB represented just a single database that covers all CIs possible. The concept of the CMS to hold the asset and configuration information is more in tune with the reality that it is more usual to find multiple configuration databases that are linked together.
Ref: ITIL Service Transition book, 7.3

What tools are currently available to help build the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS)?

The SKMS represents a very broad set of knowledge that is needed to efficiently and effectively run IT services. As such, any good knowledge management tool can help, especially if it can implement or work with a CMS. Available products in the marketplace are very dynamic and your best bet is to research www.toolselector.com/, which is a Web site dedicated to tools for IT service management.

Please explain how the Definitive Software Library (DSL) is dealt with in ITIL v3.

The DSL has been replaced by the Definitive Media Library (DML). The DML is the secure logical library in which the definitive authorized versions of all media CIs are stored and protected -- the old DSL expanded in scope to cover not just software, but also other types of media that have to be controlled, such as databases and files. It is a single logical storage area, which may be linked to multiple locations. All software in the DML is under the control of change and release management and is recorded in the Configuration Management System. Only software from the DML is acceptable for use in a release.
Ref: ITIL Service Transition Book, 4.3.4.3

Rich Schiesser is a principal consultant at Pultorak & Associates Ltd. in Seattle