The ITIL-SOA Connection

How to increase SOA project satisfaction.

ITIL is about creating IT operations from a services perspective: Meeting and anticipating customer needs is the goal, not just exacting a technology function. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is about using or developing software that maps to specific business processes so they can be combined as a set of services to accomplish existing and new tasks easily and consistently. Both ITIL and SOA view ITs role as delivering services to the business, to achieve the businesss needs. They should dovetail nicely, says Ed Holub, a research director at Gartner.

At some enterprises, adoption of SOA can expose that the traditional IT management processes and tools are ineffective for monitoring and managing SOA applications. SOA deployments require as much support and investment in infrastructure management as they do in developer kits and testing tools.

To provide an infrastructure capable of handling the complex interactions of its services, SOA needs something like ITIL underneath, says Rudy Wedenjoa, director of enterprise operations management at General Motors, which has both ITIL and SOA efforts under way.

An August, 2006 Ovum study showed that companies that use ITIL or equivalent service management practices are twice as likely than other firms to report that they are meeting their IT and business goals.

Conversely, the process orientation of SOA provides a way for IT operationsnot just business unitsto implement processes as services. That gives IT itself a platform that is flexible, so it can adapt its own processes in step with changing business needs, notes George Spalding, a vice president at consultancy Pink Elephant. For example, an SOA-oriented IT system for managing network access could more easily and quickly support mobile users than a traditional monolithic system designed for just inside-the-firewall desktops.

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