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Information technology IS a service…

Information technology IS a service…

The current job is that of Service Architect. This is one of those roles that simply didn’t exist a few years ago, and is primarily concerned with ensuring that when the project team have done their high-profile thing and launched the new application, there’s a fighting chance it will continue to work for a few years more. It’s not all that glamorous, despite the “Architect” label but, in my humble opinion, is something that needs to be done and, if done properly, adds a lot of value to the end users.

The trick is to treat the service as a service, not as someone’s application running on someone else’s heterogeneous collection of tin and wires inside someone else’s network. The end user doesn’t care less about how it works; all he wants is for it to be there when he logs on and to know where to turn if something doesn’t happen like it should. And modern systems are so closely knitted together that it’s quite hard to separate out the application from the infrastructure anyway. But hey, it’s challenging and it pays the mortgage.

You might think, then, that the IT professionals I deal with would welcome the work I do. Guess what; it seems they don’t.

I had a long debate this week with a technical team who can’t see why there might be a slight reluctance to allow them to log on to the live system and modify some of the code and data to ensure things work as they should or, more worryingly, to make it work differently because that’s what a user has asked for.

Another team has asked us to enable a set of things that we don’t turn on normally – mainly because they blow a gaping hole in the security regime we have to observe – so that they can make in-line changes remotely rather than by logging in properly and having their work tracked by the Change Manager (known in the trade as “Doctor No”…).

And now I have to write a report for another manager to explain exactly what it is I’m going to produce for his project and how it helps them deliver it. I’m tempted simply to answer “If I don’t do this piece of work, your project won’t be allowed to go live”, but I guess I’ll have to be a little more diplomatic than that. And I know for certain that when I then produce the draft Service Design for review, the first thing they’ll ask for will be a detailed breakdown of the standard support model we are contracted to offer to all the client’s many departments

The thing is, I’ve been arguing that IT is a service for many years. It’s no longer a young industry, after all; something I’ve been working in for 40 years can’t exactly be described as being in its infancy (and yes, I am that old…). The people that run these IT teams have grown up with IT in the same way that they’ve grown up with decimal currency and 70 mph speed limits on motorways. So why the utter refusal to understand that if you’re delivering a service, perhaps spending some time working out how that service is constructed and maintained is such a radical idea.

One day it will sink in. Until then, of course, I’ll just have to keep doing it for them.

About the author: Alan Watts

Alan has worked in IT for most of the last 35 years, and first went freelance in 1996. He has been a PCG member from its start and has been spreading the message that freelancing is a professional career choice for many years. Alan also runs Malvolio’s Blog, a personal but highly informative take on the life of the modern freelance.

Alan Watts, Principal Consultant, LPW Computer Services

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited

Image: IT Crowd iPhone Wallpaper by drumminhands

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