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Vance Brown, CEO of Cherwell Software, makes the case for changes IT organizations must make to survive in the new economy in a recent BSMReview article.

But change is hard -- it requires people to alter their behavior, processes to be reinvented and technology to support the new business process. Vance states that "the cornerstone to effective change in information technology is to harness the necessary information to proactively make the right business decisions-at anytime from anywhere-and thereby truly aligning IT with business objectives."

With today's technology, business unit managers can utilize an iPhone or PDA device to proactively receive, and then act upon, the right information-at anytime, from anywhere. This enables people with sound processes to make the right business decisions. In order to make right, or "RITE" decisions, management must have data and information that is:

  1. Relevant to the mission, strategies, and objectives of the organization
  2. Integrated across all department "silos" and geographic locations
  3. Timely, so that the issues can be addressed and resolved before they become crises and
  4. Efficient, so that with the mounds of data, organizations can "manage by exception" and the automated best business processes can be enforced
What we all know is that Change is Inevitable .. How you control and manage it is optional.

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The focus of IT infrastructure management has never been static for very long. Very early on, for the very expensive mainframe systems, the focus was exclusively on job management and control to assure the absolute highest utilization rates. The 'glass house' was surrounded by technicians, operations managers, JCL specialists, etc., whose time was counted as relatively cheap when compared to the investment in hardware. This continues to be true as Business Service Management - the ability of IT to understand and adapt its operations to meet and support business operations - expands its presence in the market.

Over time, styles of computing changed,  the cost of  processor time dropped as available capacities grew exponentially - to the extent that in many instances applications were designed to run on its own server.  Keeping abreast of shifting cost equations,  management attention moved from the hardware to software to applications performance.

For an extended period of time, server utilization in the neighborhood of 10% was considered quite acceptable.  It became an accepted standard practice to over-provision infrastructure rather than risk running out of capacity when it mattered. Not surprisingly, capacity management and planning moved way down the scale of management focus.

Times changed.  Rising prices, escalating demand for power and energy raised their cost along with increasingly global competition combined to apply enormous downward pressure on the cost of computing.  Suddenly,  cost sensitivity  and infrastructure utilization levels became the new obsession.

Successful capacity management and forecasting resource utilization has moved to the forefront of operations management concerns.   New architectures, the capability to virtualize every aspect of the IT infrastructure from platforms to services combine with complexity in implementation have resulted in an operations infrastructure that is a capacity management nightmare. Existing planning and forecasting methodologies and tools designed for much less complex and dynamic operations are inadequate to cope with the new operations environment.

New capacity management and forecasting solutions are needed which are easier to install, deploy and use.  They must be automated to transparently scale and handle the complexity of dynamic operating environments that can expand to very large numbers. They must be flexible to respond and adapt to the infrastructure changes needed to support  evolving business needs. They must be able to handle both virtual and physical infrastructure as well as both mainframe and distributed platforms.

Really powerful tools will include the capability to integrate input and learned data to forecast potential capacity problems sufficiently in advance to take action to avoid the problem. They will allow 'what if' modeling and evaluation of alternative scenarios to find the best way to resolve or avoid a problem.  The solution will not require  capacity management specialists to provide useful information but will have the flexibility to allow specialists to perform more accurate and precise analysis.

This only scratches the surface of some of the characteristics required for capacity management. The point here is that capacity management provides a key element to the implementation of BSM in today's enterprise. Planning, forecasting and management links directly to business needs. Properly done, benefits can be realized in cost reduction, improved margins, better and more effective utilization of assets, resources and capital. Both IT and business managers should be looking into this important management function.
Back in 2007 when I was still at BMC Software as Global Best Practices Director I worked with their CTO, Tom Bishop who worked on setting up an industry taskforce to set a standard for CMDB connectivity. As always these taskforces take some time to document their goals and objectives and then to actually release a specification. Well it did take 2 years for the specification to be released. Back in July of this year, the Distributed Management Taskforce (DMTF) gave its approval for the CMDBf specification for supporting federated CMDB systems -- or as ITIL v3 says, a federated Configuration Management System (CMS). In this vision, multiple reconciled sources including management data repositories, discovery systems, etc. can provide a cohesive frame to support more effective service management in its broadest, cross-discipline sense.

The CMDBf specification was first released by the CMDB Federation Workgroup in August of 2007, and the DMTF announced the creation of a working committee around the CMDBf specification on November 27, 2007. The Workgroup included BMC, CA, Fujitsu, HP, IBM and Microsoft in Q3 200. Some vendors left out wondered why they weren't included, but in this case small is beneficial. Keeping the group small was considered essential if progress was going to be made. Knowing how difficult it is to get busy people from different organisations together, I would agree that keeping it small and focused was the only way to get results, and 6 of the largest software vendors in the ITSM space is small, but powerful.  

Looking at the specifics, the CMDBf specification leverages SOA (Service Orientated Architecture) standards such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol ), XML (Extensible Markup Language) schema, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol ), and WS-I (Web Services Interoperability). It describes how APIs (application Program Interface) and calls to CMDB registration APIs can be pre-built into the management data repositories (MDRs) of management tool set providers. In this way, a federating CMDB can access data from a multiple MDRs using the query service defined in the specification. MDRs can push data to a federating CMDB using a registration service. The specification also supports CMDB-to-CMDB federation, as CMDBs can extract data from each other using the query service. In essence, the specification supports data access in a federated mode, as well as bi-directional data sharing across federated CMDBs.

Boy we like using acronyms! This is the first time I've really seen the term "Management Data Repositories" (MDR) used seriously and it's really what the CMS is all about, in my opinion. A term we should use when explaining the CMS to the Business, as it will resonate much more with them.

If such a vision is to become reality, then the industry needs a more consistent approach for federating multiple sources than the current rag-tag mix of adapters, APIs, and other technologies that still make federation, especially federation across multiple brands, such a painful experience.

For more information check out the DTMF announcements here >>
Business Service Management (BSM) is a process, a mindset, not a product (as Peter Armstrong would say) so it is not a technology in the first place.  It is strategic, however, so let's take a quick look at each of Gartner's choices and ask:

"What has this got to do with BSM?"

Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers. Cloud-based services can be exploited in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does re-arrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners.
My two cents: Managing cloud services demands that companies must have a BSM strategy which can monitor and manage the physical datacenter, virtualization, and the cloud - whether it be public, private, or hybrid. We need ITIL in the Cloud and robust Cloud Service SLAs.

Advanced Analytics. Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions. Fixed rules and prepared policies gave way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other applications. The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action. The new step looks into the future, predicting what can or will happen.

My two cents: OK, so now we know how to compete on analytics. But the decision-making process is much more complex than most people expected. Analytics are fine, but what we need is refined insight and critical understanding.  The Big Shift Index tells us about what we haven't thought about measuring yet! Where's BSM in all of this? Well, if your CRM and yoru ERP systems are mission-critical, then BSM ensures they deliver on their promise when you need it.

Client Computing. Virtualization is bringing new ways of packaging client computing applications and capabilities. As a result, the choice of a particular PC hardware platform, and eventually the OS platform, becomes less critical. Enterprises should proactively build a five to eight year strategic client computing roadmap outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

My two cents: Anytime, anywhere, on any device. BSM must be an integral part of managing virtualization to avoid virtual sprawl, if nothing else. Of course there's the end-user experience that needs monitoring as well.

IT for Green. IT can enable many green initiatives. The use of IT, particularly among the white collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise's green credentials. Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking. IT can also provide the analytic tools that others in the enterprise may use to reduce energy consumption in the transportation of goods or other carbon management activities.

My two cents: Virtualization and Cloud computing will help IT become greener faster, by reducing the datacenter footprint.  And virtual collaboration can reduce carbon emissions. Isn't optimizing asset usage a BSM function?

Reshaping the Data Center. In the past, design principles for data centers were simple: Figure out what you have, estimate growth for 15 to 20 years, then build to suit. Newly-built data centers often opened with huge areas of white floor space, fully powered and backed by a uninterruptible power supply (UPS), water-and air-cooled and mostly empty. However, costs are actually lower if enterprises adopt a pod-based approach to data center construction and expansion. If 9,000 square feet is expected to be needed during the life of a data center, then design the site to support it, but only build what's needed for five to seven years. Cutting operating expenses, which are a nontrivial part of the overall IT spend for most clients, frees up money to apply to other projects or investments either in IT or in the business itself.

My two cents: See previous two cents <<

Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work - one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing "external" information. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.

My two cents: Have you noticed that Twitter is having availability issues lately?  I wonder if they use ITIL or BSM?  Same story on Facebook. Maybe they use ITIL-Lite.  There are unfortunately, some documented productivity issues with social computing, but we have an effective solution for improving knowledge-worker productivity.

Security - Activity Monitoring. Traditionally, security has focused on putting up a perimeter fence to keep others out, but it has evolved to monitoring activities and identifying patterns that would have been missed before. Information security professionals face the challenge of detecting malicious activity in a constant stream of discrete events that are usually associated with an authorized user and are generated from multiple network, system and application sources. At the same time, security departments are facing increasing demands for ever-greater log analysis and reporting to support audit requirements. A variety of complimentary (and sometimes overlapping) monitoring and analysis tools help enterprises better detect and investigate suspicious activity - often with real-time alerting or transaction intervention. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these tools, enterprises can better understand how to use them to defend the enterprise and meet audit requirements.

My two cents: See this survey on security management best practices.

Flash Memory. Flash memory is not new, but it is moving up to a new tier in the storage echelon. Flash memory is a semiconductor memory device, familiar from its use in USB memory sticks and digital camera cards. It is much faster than rotating disk, but considerably more expensive, however this differential is shrinking. At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100 percent compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas including consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, it offers a new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

My two cents: Wrong? We're going to see cloud storage take over this area, and it may or may not use flash memory.

Virtualization for Availability. Virtualization has been on the list of top strategic technologies in previous years. It is on the list this year because Gartner emphases new elements such as live migration for availability that have longer term implications. Live migration is the movement of a running virtual machine (VM), while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server. This takes place by replicating the state of physical memory between the source and destination VMs, then, at some instant in time, one instruction finishes execution on the source machine and the next instruction begins on the destination machine.

However, if replication of memory continues indefinitely, but execution of instructions remains on the source VM, and then the source VM fails the next instruction would now place on the destination machine. If the destination VM were to fail, just pick a new destination to start the indefinite migration, thus making very high availability possible. 

The key value proposition is to displace a variety of separate mechanisms with a single "dial" that can be set to any level of availability from baseline to fault tolerance, all using a common mechanism and permitting the settings to be changed rapidly as needed. Expensive high-reliability hardware, with fail-over cluster software and perhaps even fault-tolerant hardware could be dispensed with, but still meet availability needs. This is key to cutting costs, lowering complexity, as well as increasing agility as needs shift.

My two cents: Now this is a BSM play if there ever was one!

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web. There are already many thousands of applications for platforms such as the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market and need for unique coding. It may take a newer version that is designed to flexibly operate on both full PC and miniature systems, but if the operating system interface and processor architecture were identical, that enabling factor would create a huge turn upwards in mobile application availability.

My two cents: Anytime, anywhere, on any device.  Didn't I write about that a few seconds ago? And don't we need our CMDB to track all these diverse devices and apps?

As you can see, I've attached Business Service Management (BSM) as an enabling IT strategy for just about all ten of Gartner's Strategic Technologies for 2010. And of course if it's a service provided by IT or even an external service provider, we're still going to need a Service Catalog for 2010. More on that in a later post.

Israel, where do agile practices fit into this? Just about everywhere as well?

What Matters is the End Goal

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Its strange how history repeats itself, fashions go in cycles, and every generation comes to them for the first time thinking these things are new, innovative and revolutionary. I guess it's because we're still human and we still need to learn the same lessons over and over again. We want to listen to advice, but can't, we want to learn from the past, but don't, we all want something that's called "common" but is far from it - sense!

May years ago now the company I worked for at the time brought a new concept to the marketplace. The analysts jumped onto it and made it their own and the market hype was all over it, it was the direction all business had to get to. Eight or more years on and we're still moving in that direction, the buzz died down, but the capabilities slowed and the term used changed from IRM to BSM.  However BSM was actually only a subset of what IRM aimed to achieve. With the complexities we find ourselves in today, with Virtualisation and Cloud computing the issues are still the same only in some cases magnified and the responsibility of ownership is moving. More and more the Business is, and will continue to, relinquishing ownership of the delivery of services to the employee (who make up the business) and allow suppliers to take over. It's something that has happened for centuries now. We moved from self-sufficiency to being reliant on others. Once, we all had wells in the garden to provide water for the household, now it's all provided through piped services. Once, we had to make our own small generators for the electrification of the Home, Farm or estate, now it's all provided through piped services. The list goes on, and so it is and will continue to be within the IT environment. Hence the need for Service Management to ensure we all have the disciplines, controls, standards and processes in place, controlled and managed to ensure delivery as required by the customers, whomever they may be.  Why did we move this way? Well for various reasons, economies of scale, cost savings, and to allow us to focus on our core competency without being dragged down by day to day necessities of life.

A slide on my website shows what is required to support the employee, who is at the centre of the business, and how these are more and more being delivered via services as depicted around the circumference of the sphere.  This slide goes back 8 years or more, so not new, but it appears it was rather a vision of the future, and more and more I can see it being fulfilled. Whether we use the same term or not is irrelevant, what matters is the end goal. Something that Geoffrey Moore of Crossing the Chasm fame predicted at roughly the same time.

Check out the slide and let me know if you see it being slowly fulfilled:


Explains Richard:

Initially, compliance was an externally imposed distraction, representing just one more burden on an over-stretched enterprise and IT staff. But now, compliance activities not only provide data about current practices but also highlight areas where increasing the level of control could yield greater efficiencies in operation.

Read The Path to Compliance as a Business Strategy »
In the current economic environment, and baring in mind what catapulted us into it, there are three terms that are coming up more and more. These terms have always been considered within IT and business operations, however the spotlight is now turned and directly highlighting these rising stars. So I thought today, I'd dip in a little into all three areas.

Let's start with Governance. The dictionary defines it as "The act, process, or power of governing; The state of being governed." The word Govern means to "rule with authority; conduct policy and affairs of state".  But I like the Wikipedia version, which actually highlights some component parts, often forgotten:

"Governance relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists either of a separate process or of a specific part of management or leadership processes. Sometimes people set up a government to administer these processes and systems.

In the case of a business or of a non-profit organisation, governance relates to consistent management, cohesive policies, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility. For example, managing at a corporate level might involve evolving policies on privacy, on internal investment, and on the use of data.

In terms of distinguishing the term governance from government (both of them nouns) - "governance" is what a "government" does. It might be a geo-political government (nation-state), a corporate government (business entity), a socio-political government (tribe, family, etc.), or any number of different kinds of government. But governance is the kinetic exercise of management power and policy, while government is the instrument (usually, collective) that does it."
What I find interesting here is that many will be happy to define the process, the policies and responsibilities that go to make up the Governance standard, but few tend to clearly define the expectations, grant authority or power in a clearly defined manner and even fewer verify the performance of the governance being complied with. In fact as you see from the latter part of Wikipedia's definition, Governance is what a "government" (business entity in our case) does, however unlike a state the business does not invest in "policing" of policy to ensure adherence and enforcement. Hence the problems with the Banks having policies in place, but no policing to ensure brokers, traders etc adhered to them, or interpreted them correctly. As always Policy needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART).
Risk. This one is even more interesting, as the scale or level is different for different people, businesses and Governments. It is often determined by place, time and people. Crossing a road in the Australian outback without looking, is of lesser risk than crossing a road in downtown New York or London. Again going back to the dictionary we find "possibility or change of danger or loss or harm."  Risk is something we expose ourselves to, wittingly or unwittingly, based on experience, knowledge and analysed fact. So good old Wikipedia (it can be useful you know!), explains it well I think:

"Risk is a concept that denotes the precise probability of specific eventualities. Technically, the notion of risk is independent from the notion of value and, as such, eventualities may have both beneficial and adverse consequences. However, in general usage the convention is to focus only on potential negative impact to some characteristic of value that may arise from a future event.

Risk can be defined as "the threat or probability that an action or event will adversely or beneficially affect an organization's ability to achieve its objectives"[1]. In simple terms risk is 'Uncertainty of Outcome', either from pursuing a future positive opportunity, or an existing negative threat in trying to achieve a current objective."
The link back to Governance here is the part which highlights that risk will adversely or beneficially affect an organisation's ability to achieve its objectives. We need to ensure when creating our Governance policies we take into account the risks of adherence to that policy and the breaking of it. Adhering to a policy exactly may actually be a risk, as it may prevent innovative thinking or action which may generate new or more business areas or focus. This is why we need to understand and analyse the risks and be pragmatic in measures taken. Going back to the Banking example earlier, the brokers/dealers interpreted the policies in a manner that allowed for greater risk taking and greater rewards (at the time), however no-one appears to have "policed" the exposure and therefore change in risk and deviation from policy. Highlighting that the two areas (Governance and Risk) must be linked for effectiveness.
Now the "policing" element that should ensure both of the above are being SMART.
The Compliance element. Back to the dictionary and we get "in accordance with" and what I love about dictionaries is that they force you to look up other words with are used in defining others! So "accordance" is to be in accord with, and "accord" means to agree or be consistent. So compliance is to be consistent with, and agree to, something. In this case the Governance policies laid out. This is the "measurable" element and needs people and tools to carry out the reviews (policing) to report back on how consistent or inconsistent things are. Again, it's an element often ignored and seen as an expensive overhead. But we've all seen the expense of not having it in place with the Banking world! Jumping into Wikipedia again, it really helps me out, as it refers to the policing element too.

"The act of adhering to, and demonstrating adherence to, a standard or regulation. There is considerable regulation in the UK, some of which is from EU legislation. Various areas are policed by different bodies, such as the FSA (Financial Services Authority), Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Information Commissioner's Office and others."
Interesting that it highlights the policing body of the FSA which should have measured the inconsistencies and risks of the non adherence to the Governance policies laid down by the UK Government, The EEC and the Banking Code of Conduct etc. As mentioned earlier failing to do all three areas well can have costly consequences, not just for you, but for a much much wider audience.

So when setting our governing policies within our groups, departments, organisations, sectors, states, countries and geographies we need to ensure we consider all three areas of Governance, Risk and Compliance to be effective and realistic. We in IT have guidance in many areas to help us, the most notable one being CobiT which in turn refers to and compliments ITIL. The Service Strategy book in ITIL v3 providing much more guidance than in the past. Most sectors have guidance too, so it's best to look at both to ensure your IT policies are aligned to the business you work within, as often IT is expected to measure and monitor against these policies as the "policing" mechanism.

Bringing all this down from the 35,000ft view the one area that still needs addressing in many organisations is Asset Management. We often have our policies set in place as to which standard builds can be purchased (having negotiated with suppliers). We understand the risk of interruption to service when we implement the asset (h/w or s/w) by analysing the Asset Db or the CMDB (CMS), but we often fail with the "policing" compliance element. If we have automated data collection tools in place, great, but we also need regular manual audits to verify the accuracy and quality of the data. This element is often ignored. So no matter where you are within the organisation these three areas of GRC need to be considered for your own protection and that of the business you work within.

I hope this has been educational and helpful I know it helped my own clarity of thought.

[Cross-posted at the ITP report]

EOL Technology

Bill Keyworth outlines a process to help turn the end-of-life problem into an opportunity to better serve the needs of your business constituents and IT staff, thereby moving to a desirable state of Business Service Management (BSM).

Read: Mitigating Risk for End-of-Life Technology >>
BMC Software announced yesterday the acquisition of Tideway Systems Limited, a UK-based, privately-held IT discovery solution.  As outlined in the press release, there is always goodness in IT delivering greater value to their business community through improved understanding of what IT assets are owned, what constitutes their relationships and inter-dependencies, where they are located and who owns them.  Tideway's contribution to that value is unquestioned.  (See Israel Gat's story on the acquisition announcement). 
BMC indicated that "the new offering supports the complete set of discovery requirements for BSM and features deep integration with BMC's Atrium Configuration Management Database (CMDB)." The yet-to-be fulfilled promise deals with the deeper integration of Tideway's IT discovery and BMC's Atrium Configuration Management Database (CMDB).  I'm assuming deeper integration as a result of the acquisition, else why the need to buy out their premier IT discovery partner ...except to remove that premiere offering from the grasp of BMC's competitors? 

Unknown is the impact to Tideway's existing partners such as Oracle and ASG Software Solutions.  What about the other 60+ Tideway partners and those customers who are dependent upon Tideway technologies?

We're also wary of any tool that promises to support the "complete set of discovery requirements for BSM" ...when true Business Service Management (BSM) requires discovery and mapping of most business oriented assets.  For example, does this mean that BMC is promising to support all types of business assets, including communication assets, manufacturing assets, inventory assets and transportation assets ...all of which include embedded IT components leveraged by commercial applications?  That would truly be impressive.

Finally, as IT management becomes more of a gating factor for the successful implementation of cloud computing, the BMC recognition that "visibility into the data center" and the need to "model, manage and maintain applications and services" is critical for cloud environments is welcomed. We believe the Tideway acquisition puts BMC in a stronger position to build a cloud-based CMDB which could become a core competence within BMC's solution suite, should they decide to pursue this value proposition. 

Welcome to

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Agile BSM

Discussion around Business Service Management (BSM) has been ongoing for years ...and years ...and years. Yet it remains a fairly immature dialogue as vendors scope BSM to capitalize on their respective product offerings; as IT organizations struggle to articulate the desired end state; and as industry analysts deliver unique perspectives for purposes of differentiation.

Fortunately, the purpose of BSM is so fundamental, so basic, and so obvious ...that vendors, IT organizations, business managers, analysts and editors intuitively "get it" ...dwindling the confusion that so frequently accompanies newer technology concepts. This website is dedicated to the BSM dialogue by whoever wishes to participate. There is no fee to join content that requires a subscription ...and no censorship of reasonable ideas and questions.

IT has been, is and will continue to be hammered for being disconnected from the business needs of the customer that IT serves. Sometimes the IT organization is adequately connected to the business entity, with the value simply unrecognized. More often, IT is guilty of diversionary focus on technology silos that business doesn't care about. BSM is the discipline that aligns the deliverables of IT to the enterprise's business goals.

That discipline comes in the forms of activities, technologies, tools, metrics, processes, best practices and people. BSM creates a laser focus on those deliverables generated by IT into something that is meaningful to the business community. If the IT deliverable is of no importance to the business function, then IT should eliminate or repackage it into a service that carries appropriate business value. BSM success is entirely dependent upon the willingness and skill of both IT and business to have an effective two way conversation party without the other is doomed to failure.

Read my complete introduction: The Why & What of Business Service Management

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