For the first 16 years of his career, Dave Osman thought that he was providing IT in alignment with the business. But in the last two years, the global engineering lead of Deutsche Bank’s ITIL alignment project has realised just how wrong he was.
As head engineer supervising the investment bank’s project to establish the business service management (BSM) model of IT, in which IT resources are allocated and managed in line with the business services they underpin, Osman has seen just how disconnected IT service delivery was from the requirements of the business.
To explain that disconnect, Osman uses the analogy of travel. “My business wants to get from point A to B. So in the past, my reaction as the IT department would be to say ‘OK let’s give them a car’. But what if they want to travel across water?”
In the past, says Osman, IT has let its technological focus dictate the services that it provides for the business. In working towards the BSM ideals recommended by ITIL, Deutsche Bank is trying to reverse that. “We spend our time worrying about tools. But the business process should be the focus of our work,” he says.
The bank is now two years into what it believes will be a five year journey to a pure BSM IT model. At the Future of Software Conference 2006, Osman shared some of the experience he has gained in that time.
The ideal situation from which to begin the journey to BSM is one in which the IT infrastructure is largely homogeneous, according to Osman. If IT resources are integrated natively, and follow the same system of classification, he explains, the job of mapping the interdependencies between resources and business processes is far simpler.
Osman believes that the first step to BSM is asset management, even though the ITIL guidelines make little mention of it. And while many vendors offer configuration management databases (CMDB) that automatically discover resources and how they are interconnected, without comprehensive asset management processes in place, this information will be of little worth, he says.
David is responsible for engineering core infrastructure process and data solutions for Deutsche Bank. He is currently leading the bank’s ITIL alignment project. During his 18 years industry experience, he has specialised in systems management-related solutions, and has championed the use of asset management within core enterprise initiatives.
Auto-discovery tools for the CMDB “will just give you a whole lot of data you don’t understand, unless you can relate that data to business processes”. Such tools should be used to map virtualised environments, where they could be invaluable, Osman notes.
For many, asset management is often an after-thought in BSM projects; companies become excited about the capabilities of the technology without fully considering the work involved in populating it with the necessary information, believes Osman. “Everybody knows what a CMDB can do once it’s up and running, but nobody wants to think about the process of getting the data into it,” he says.
One of the lessons from the Deutsche Bank move towards BSM was the need to engage heads of departments. Deutsche had initiated ITIL training for this group back in 2004, and the initial results were promising: they were all hugely excited about the possibilities, Osman reports.
However, they soon all wanted service desks established for their department’s exclusive use. “They didn’t understand that we were doing this for the company, not for the individual departments,” recalled Osman. “Persuading investment bankers to share was not an easy task.”
It is also important to understand how BSM fits with other software strategies that exist inside the organisation, says Osman, particularly with service-oriented architecture.
“SOA implies a certain choice of technology. But to achieve BSM does not necessarily require web services, although they may be preferable,” he told delegates. “We want an infrastructure that supports business services, and in some areas we can do that without web services.”
And he warned against seeing SOA adoption as an easy way to achieve BSM, which still requires exhaustive asset management processes and a business process focus even with web services.
“Some people see SOA as a quick fix, but if the foundation of the SOA is confused, then all you have done is move the problem up a layer in the infrastructure,” he said.