ITIL documentation (Ref: Service Transition Publication) includes Definite Media Library as a part of Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS).  This has always been a key debate points in training and consulting discussions for me – the reasons for the same, will be given below.

I also had an interesting Twitter interaction with Mr. Stuart Rance (one of the authors of the Service Transition publication 2011) on the same, yesterday.  Some  of the points of this discussion also will be explained along with my further views on the same.  Realized later, that the 140 character restriction of twitter was constraining the ability to explain viewpoints clearly and hence this post took shape.

Prior to getting into the specifics, let us look at some of the pointers about the DML and SKMS from ITIL, and based on my interpretation of the same:

As per ITIL 2011:

The definitive media library (DML) is the secure library which contains the master copies of all controlled software in an organization. The DML should include definitive copies of purchased software (along with licence documents or information), as well as software  developed on site. Master copies of controlled documentation for a system are also stored in the DML.  Electronic assets in the DML are held within the SKMS.

The service knowledge management system (SKMS), is concerned, as its name implies, with knowledge. Underpinning this knowledge will be a considerable quantity of data, which will also be held in the SKMS.

My interpretation of the same was like this:

  • Since DML contains some ‘information assets’ such as controlled documentation, technical information about the software etc – these should automatically become part of the larger SKMS.
  • Hence, “DML will be ‘stored’ in SKMS” is a wrong way of putting it. The information assets stored in DML will also form part of the SKMS.
  • There are other service assets / CIs stored in DML such as: Bought-in software with their media, in-house built software etc. These assets won’t really fit in the ‘data-information-knowledge’ spectrum in the SKMS context.  Such assets won’t be part of the SKMS.

Now, in my interaction with Mr. Stuart Rance, he has given me a few interesting view points on this:

In a response to my query regarding inclusion of DML in SKMS, he said:

“ITIL SKMS holds all data/information/knowledge assets. This includes DML”

And further added the following points during the interaction:

“Software and licenses are usually stored in the form of data and information.”

This is a point of discomfort to me: It looks a bit stretch to say anything stored in digital format is data/information,  specifically when you look from a Knowledge Management context.

My thoughts are:

  • The software and licenses in themselves are service assets/CIs – and not information/data, irrespective of being stored in physical or digital form.
  • The information about the software/licenses, the technical documentation about those etc (which also could be stored in DML) are data/information/knowledge and will form part of SKMS.

This was Mr. Rance’s view on why those software and licenses are equated to data/information in ITIL:

“Depending on the context those are data. Think backups, integrity/availability/confidentiality etc.”

This is a valid point – but when one thinks about backups and C-I-A etc of the software and licenses, one is largely concerned about Information Security , availability, continuity etc of the (information) assets ( just like any other service assets/CIs), and not as data/information from a Knowledge Management perspective.

So, my interpretation of the relationship between SKMS and DML remains:

  • SKMS includes all data/information/knowledge stored and managed in any part of the Service lifecycle. This includes the data/information/knowledge assets that are part of the DML. However,
  • SKMS does not necessarily include the whole DML itself – as DML contains service assets/CIs that are not in the purview of Knowledge management/SKMS, as well.

Expecting some valid inputs to correct/fine-tune/re-affirm my perspective above…