Principles of SOA and ITIL

IT Service Management (ITSM) is in place to provide an infrastructure to support business operations.  To enables the distinct parts of the business to work together, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) serves as a method to pull the different IT components together.  But underneath both is a process framework to support the IT infrastructure and the IT components sitting on it, called ITIL®.  Most discussions in IT operations speak about the relationship between ITSM/ SOA and ITSM/ITIL®.  Very few speak to the relationship between ITIL® and SOA.

ITIL® supports SOA.  There are several guiding principles of SOA that are directly served by an effective implementation of ITIL®.  The purpose of SOA is to group business services together, but to do so in a manner that minimizes the dependencies required between them.  This requires that each service component has an appropriate level of autonomy to perform its own business logic with minimum impact from other sectors of the business, while having its requirements from those sectors fulfilled. Additionally, SOA looks to optimize the services to provide faster, more reliable operations to the business.

To fulfill on its commission, the IT infrastructure has to provide considerable flexibility to support each component, offering the appropriate storage, network, and application resources required by each service while keeping the costs of maintaining the IT infrastructure down.  This starts with proper planning and design of the IT solution, beginning with understanding the different requirements and service levels of each business sector..  ITIL® provides the process framework to identify those requirements and implement solutions to fulfilling them.

But the true support of SOA from ITIL® lies in continuous improvement.  As the business seeks to optimize their operations, the ability of the infrastructure to support that optimization should always be questioned.  If the IT solution does not support the desired optimization of the business, new services or changes to existing services within the ITIL® framework need to be initiated.  For this reason, IT providers should focus on the business they are supporting rather than the business of IT.   For ITIL® to support either ITSM or SOA, it’s not enough to simply maintain the IT environment, but to understand the context for maintaining it:  the customer’s business.