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How does the service concept in ITIL align with SOA?

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David Sprott: How does the service concept in ITIL align with SOA? What should practitioners do to integrate SOA and ITIL practices?

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  • ITIL v.3 aligns with OASIS SOA RM very close. The ITIL's "spirit and letter" are service-oriented as well as the text refers and uses many SOA terms from that standard.

  • ITIL services are of the general kind rather than SOA type of services. They are not meant to be part of a real end to end IT delivery process even if they can be seen as part of the ITIL lifecycle.
    The IT department can be organized as a set of SOA services though.

  • Those familiar with only ITIL V2 often scoff at the thought that ITIL could serve as a governance framework for SOA. Based on their perspective, they would be correct since V2 focused more heavily on operational processes rather than service lifecycle. With ITIL V3, the focus of the framework shifted toward what can only be accurately described as service-orientation (this is an excerpt taken from the article referenced below).

    I wrote an entire article on this at InfoQ: http://www.infoq.com/articles/itil-v3-soa-governance

    Using ITIL V3 as a Foundation for SOA Governance

  • ITIL and SOA "services" are fundamentally different concepts (one describes IT organizational functions, the other discreet computing functions) but are similar in that they define services in terms of the IT/business relationship and are designed with ongoing change in mind.

    Also, ITIL and SOA themselves are loose conceptual frameworks (dare I say states of mind) rather than concrete methodologies or implementations. The two are very complementary, especially in environments that appreciate the merits of business architecture and technical architecture.

  • Implemented ITIL best practices and functions can drive continuous improvement of service automation units which have service qualities detailed in service level agreements, governed by service policies. From the perspective of the user experience, the "service" may be the result of a compound, layered, loosely-coupled "stack" of dependent capabilities reaching from the user, through business process and standard capability layers, to service abstractions of real-world entities, which may in turn use service utilities in various combinations, which may reach back by their turn to source systems on technology in diverse environments or even to partner sources. The policies and SLAs would be very relevant resource in an ITIL managed environment. Having established and monitored a measurable set of repeatable procedures, it is possible to know whether or not the business service capabilities are improving.

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