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: (more…)

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Release management (the current Release & Deployment management in ITIL®) process is (as it should be) covering all releases those are deployed into the IT Service environment.

Traditionally in the IT domain, the ‘release’ term is more associated with software than hardware or any other assets. However in ITIL®’s approach to ITSM, the release always been ‘a collection of authorized changes’. These authorized changes can be software, hardware, their combination (service, servers, and infrastructure), configuration changes etc.

Having said this, though ITIL® principally goes with an all-encompassing definition of the word ‘Release’, the documentation of Release & Deployment Management often seem to slip into a (probably unintentional) bias towards Software.  Such an inconsistency can lead to some significant misinterpretation of the best-practice, and the focus of release management can get confined into software alone.

Let us look at how ITIL® (specifically referring to the 2011 edition)  introduces the Release and deployment management process:

The Scope of Release includes: ‘Physical assets such as servers, network, virtual assets, Applications and software, Trainings, Services including agreements and contracts’

However, the stated objectives of Release and Deployment contain statements like:

“…and that all release packages are stored in DML and recorded accurately in CMS”

“Deploy release packages from DML to live environment…”

DML is for software media components. So where are release packages containing Hardware stored?  In DML itself?  Such an interpretation unfortunately doesn’t fit with the definition and explanation of DML – where in, the references are only include Software and media components. (These references to DML are more prominent in 2011 edition, though was there for v3 as well).

Can Definitive Spares (DS) be the area where the Hardware components are controlled prior to deployment to the production environment?  One tends to think it could be. But that is no where referred.

Coming back to the central point of this post, to create a right interpretation of the scope of ‘Release’, it is important that the following one of the following points are taken care of – either in the ITIL® documentation, or by the practitioners during the interpretation of the same:

·         The Scope of Definitive Media Library (DML) should be extended to include ALL release packages. Unfortunately in such a case it will cease to be just a ‘Media Library’. Definitive Release Library (DLR) anyone?

OR

·         Keep the scope of DML as is; but set aside/define definitive storage areas for storing and controlling release packages that contain non-software and non-media components (such as hardware) and refer to them from the release management process- the same way DML is referred from release management.

Till this is taken care of effectively, release and deployment management process scope can get constrained to only Software – which would be unfortunate and ineffective.

Any thoughts/ different view points out there on these are welcome…