General discussion

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  • #2250144

    All Things Old are New Again


    by silentknight ·

    Recently two IT buddies and I were playing golf (between the three of us we have 80+ years of IT experience…we’re all under the age of 60). The topic of discussion: ITIL, SOA and other related issues.

    What struck us all as funny: Most large firms had or were implementing these practices 20 years ago. These and other “programs” were born out of the mainframe era. Funnier still: while technology has advanced, the problems and challenges faced by IT Management have not changed significantly. The world of IT seems to re-invent the wheel each generation.

    Three lessons learned:
    1) IT Best practices are useless if they are not tied to and do not further the business strategy.
    2) Benchmarking of costs or performance against other organizations is pretty much irrelevant if the other organizations don’t share your goals or business strategy.
    3) You can spend a lot of money implementing what is now called ITIL and SOA…and in the end, it won’t save you a lot if you don’t change the culture of the business and/or the IS organization first.

    Any other lessons learned out there?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3275659

      Perhaps I’m argumentative

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to All Things Old are New Again

      1) IT best practises are usefull for overcoming the NIH(not invented here) syndrome. They are usefull for stimulating ideas on change and improvement. But only a fool would think you can just apply someone’s elses program to their organization. And if no one tried to do anything more than implement someone else’s best practises, we’d never have any new best practises.

      But consider the alternative. Too many places plod on with the same tired models that don’t work well, and often no one has the energy to improve things. I think sometimes I’d rather be at a place where new practises were tried and failed than to be stuck in a place with 1960s business practises that is slowly sinking into oblivion.

      2) Benchmarking – like best practises, it can provide valuable information, if you are mature enough to be able to put it in the context of your own business. You should benchmark against those in your own industry. Benchmarking against every kind of business is not helpful.
      And again you have to balance things out. I actually created a spending benchmark based on blending two types of SIC codes.

      3) ITIL or CMM or Six Sigma or any other framework is a framework for formalizing your existing processes, but the process of implementing it does highlight weaknesses that get addressed. A framework is nice, but what is really required is a committment and effort at all levels on the idea of continuous improvement. The committment has to involve both a resource committment and a cultural change.


      • #3219008

        ITIL or CMM or Six Sigma

        by earth$$ ·

        In reply to Perhaps I’m argumentative

        If you look at the best practices in any of these approaches (ITIL or CMM or Six Sigma) the basis is understanding business and IT working together. You will find out in the next year a new approach from another business or consulting group selling the next best solution. Nothing has changed over the past 30 years, you still have (Input, Process, Output) Garbage in and Garbage out


        1970’s IT Person

        • #3217830


          by bigbigboss ·

          In reply to ITIL or CMM or Six Sigma

          ITIL, CMM, and Six Sigma all make sense in terms of producing a quality product. However, studies has shown that product quality do not necessarily means profits. There are a few companies making notoriously buggy systems and making huge amount of profit, and there are very good products that did not get sufficient market share to make a profit.

          I digressed…

    • #3276431

      People Process Technology – in that order

      by twohills ·

      In reply to All Things Old are New Again

      1) As you say, work on the culture first, then the processes, then the tools… with some overlap but start in that order.
      2) you could base your processes on astrology instead of ITIL and you’d still get some improvement. there is a placebo effect where examining your processes in any context improves them
      3) there is zero evidence for the effectiveness of ITIL (see That’s not to say it isn’t effective – it geenrally is – but we can’t prove it.

    • #3216008

      What is ITIL?

      by stress junkie ·

      In reply to All Things Old are New Again

      There are entirely too many acronyms in this business. While we’re at it I don’t remember what SOA means either. All I can think of is the TCP/IP term “source of authority”.

      • #3215898

        ITIl is the sea change in IT

        by twohills ·

        In reply to What is ITIL?

        Man you need to get with it. In the operations half of IT (as compared to the development half) ITIL is the only game in town. Finally after 30 years IT becomes a profession, like engineering, instead of a cowboy club for anyone who can bang two routers together. Atlast there is generally accepted practice, and certfication tht people understand that practice. In a few years you won’t get a job in IT ops if you aren’t certified in ITIL so get reading. Wikipedia is as good a place as any to start. For the contrarian viewpoint see

        ITIL = IT Infrastructure Library
        SOA = service oriented architecture

      • #3219074

        IT Infrastructue Library and Service-Oriented Architecture

        by johnniebg ·

        In reply to What is ITIL?

        They stand for IT Infrastructue Library and Service-Oriented Architecture. Further information is available at

        I hope this helps.

    • #3219128

      IT is a cyclical business

      by sr10 ·

      In reply to All Things Old are New Again

      Well, architecturally speaking, what’s the difference between a web browser and a 3270 terminal?

      IT swings like a pendulum do (only a lot slower):
      fat client <-> fat server
      outsource <-> insource
      integrated solution <-> best of breed
      generalists <-> specialists
      centralized <-> decentralized

      • #3219002

        IT Go Right, Go Left

        by earth$$ ·

        In reply to IT is a cyclical business

        I totally agree. If there is a good Acronym, you will probably find a group of consultants with their hands open waiting for money. The mainframe legacy is dead but IBM is now offereing a new mainframe called T-Rex. One mainframe has been replaced by 10-100 servers. Now vendors are selling one big server or should I say Virtualization

      • #3217827

        slight difference

        by bigbigboss ·

        In reply to IT is a cyclical business

        There is a slight difference. You can have Javascript in a web browser. You can also call up applets in web browsers. Can’t do that with a 3270.

        • #3217826

          Ahh, one more

          by bigbigboss ·

          In reply to slight difference

          You can also send out a page to a web browser which instructs it to go to another machine to get the next page. Can’t do that with 3270.

    • #3217828

      few more lessons

      by bigbigboss ·

      In reply to All Things Old are New Again

      4) You can be successful implementing any change in business only if the management really understand the what and the why of the change, and really wants it badly and not paying lip service because it is the buzz word of the day.

      5) Don’t do it unless you can get it all done in a year or so.

      6) If the change will not produce perceivable increase in profit in less than two years, you don’t have a hope of it being maintained.

    • #3217823

      Remember Virtual Machines ?

      by bigbigboss ·

      In reply to All Things Old are New Again

      VM is hot now. It was hot in the early 70’s too.

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