While professionals world over were struggling (and many are even continuing to struggle) to get the ‘Service catalog’ right as per ITIL V2, ITIL V3 has introduced the concepts of Business and Technical service catalogues!

These concepts takes the Services in the Service catalog and build their linkages/relationships to Business units and  processes (in Business Service catalog) and underlying IT systems (Technical Service catalog).

However, let us analyze a couple of points : Why these two views of the catalog and How to approach for putting those in place?

Question 1:  WhyBusiness service catalog (BSC) and technical service catalog (TSC)?

ITIL states that BSC will make the SLM process more proactive and pre-emptive.

How? Let us look at it this way: Business is well aware of the criticality and impact of business functions and processes. So, when they need to decide the service levels of IT service(s), the key thing they would like to know is : which all business functions/processes are dependent on that particular IT service(s). Hence, linkages of IT services to the business processes/functions is a key input to the business/customer and the BSC provides just that.

Technical service catalog (as ITIL mentions)  is useful for building of OLAs, UCs etc – from an SLM point of view. Now for a core technical person in the IT, his/her ownership (or responsibility)  might be limited to a particular system or network component or activity within IT. Now, for him/her to understand the criticality of the component/activity, he need to get a perspective of which all services are dependent on (and will be impacted by) that particular component/activity – and the TSC just provides that.

Thus a combination of BSC and TSC will provide an excellent model and view of how the services and underlying components/sub-services are linked to the business.

Question 2: How to build it?

The word ‘relationships’ springs up the thoughts in our mind about the CMDB ( or the CMS). The obvious approach should be to build the service catalog as a part of the CMDB (CMS), where in:

  • the attributes will show all the required details of the service (satisfying the basic service catalog purpose) and
  • the relationships can be used to build the ‘Business Service catalog’ view and the ‘Technical service catalog’ view.
  • the status of the service can be updated on the CMS.

And yes, this approach is a part of the ITIL V3 documentation, which states the points like  : ‘ many organizations integrate Service portfolio and Catalog as a part of CMS‘  ‘defining each service as a CI’ etc.

Building the service catalog as a part of CMS is a situation with fair enough clarity. However, a few key considerations become evident, when you look deeper into this approach:

  • The relationships in a CMS or CMDB are typically among CIs. While this is straight forward in the case of technical Service catalog, in the case of Business Service catalog there can be a bit of confusion:
    • To show relationship of an IT Service (assume that is identified as a CI) to the business units and business processes, do we need to identify and manage those business units/processes as CIs too? . This need to be handled carefully to comply with the CI definitions of : “A configuration item (CI) is an asset, service component or other item that is, or will be, under the control of Configuration Management.” – where as a business unit or a process is typically not!. This factor can be addressed by bringing only bare essential details of the business function/process into the CMS, and putting adequate controls/interfaces/process to ensure configuration management is updated when any of those details change.
  • Another approach could be, to put  the details of the related business units/processes into the CI record of the Service itself (which makes that information more or less another attribute of the CI).

Would like to hear  further thoughts on these:

  • How mature the Service catalog implementations are, globally?
  • Are there any further points to justify the need of business and technical service catalog?
  • Any other points/challenges/approaches in implementation of the BSC and TSC?