ITIL Solves Many SOA Adoption Headaches

By Loraine Lawson

Could ITIL and IT service management be the solution to the often-cited challenges of SOA implementations: governance, managing service level agreements, and tackling complexity?

The writers of “ITSM and ITIL Alleviate SOA Headaches” certainly seem to think so. And they make a darn good point – particularly if you’re already on board with ITIL. Those of you who haven’t implemented ITIL or IT service management may well raise a critical eyebrow, given that ITIL can be a major challenge to implement in its own right.

Still, the writers – who work for Hewlett-Packard – make a compelling case for why ITIL might just be the way to manage and even leverage SOA in the long run. They argue that ITIL and ITSM, used together, can address the three major challenges of SOA: governance, quality and management. Much of the article is devoted to developing this argument.

ITIL and SOA do seem to be traveling along the same adoption path, at least in the U.S., where companies have traditionally drug their collective feet on ITIL adoption.  This year, research firms predict ITIL adoption will grow in the U.S. to 75 percent, and in Global 2000 companies to 80 percent by 2010. Likewise, SOA is expected to be used in more than 80 percent of new mission-critical applications and business processes, according to the article.

And there definitely are synergies between the two, which those who use ITIL are realizing. This is the most convincing argument offered in the article for a relationship between ITIL adoption and SOA success:

SOA implementations with proper governance result in customers that are most satisfied with their overall implementation strategy. Results from a recent Ovum Summit report show a high correlation between a customer’s level of satisfaction with SOA and the depth and breadth of commitment to ITSM best practices and tools, which includes service desks, asset and configuration management tools, IT portfolio management tools and business service management (BSM) performance monitoring dashboards.

ITIL and ITSM are all about managing IT resources to the best benefit of the business, so it makes sense that they could both be useful tools in monitoring and managing SOA. And with ITIL version 3.0, scheduled for release tomorrow, ITIL is supposed to become even more useful for managing IT to the benefit of the business.

If you’d like to learn more about ITIL and are unsure where to start with ITIL, check out IT Business Edge’s recent ITIL special report.

On the other hand, some say Business Process Management is the killer app for managing SOA. I’m definitely not saying BPM and ITIL are mutually exclusive – that would be folly – but if your end goal is simply to address the three key challenges of SOA, well, it seems a BPM suite would be the easier option.