As the last two posts discussed, I recently received a series of questions from a LinkedIn contact about how a data center operations group uses various ITIL processes. The last question that he asked was whether or not a service catalog can exist for data center services.
The short answer is yes. A service catalog can be created to list the types of services normally offered by a data center operations group.
The long answer is still yes, but there are numerous aspects to consider. The first aspect that’s important is whether or not the data center operations group is part of an organization that directly sells IT into the open market (what ITIL calls a “Type III Service Provider”), or if they’re a shared services provider within an organization that sells something other than IT into the open market (what ITIL calls a “Type II Service Provider”). A type III service provider’s catalog will contain services that are offered to external customers, whereas a type II service provider’s catalog will provide supporting or “technical” services offered to internal customers of the data center operations group.
Another aspect to consider is how customers will interact with the catalog and what level of detail will be required to enable these customers to make effective decisions about getting the various services offered. In some organizations, a brief catalog with minimal details works best, while in other organizations a catalog with more description and information is what’s needed. Every organization is different and anyone building a service catalog must understand the specific needs of the organization before building a service catalog.
A data center operations group might also want to consider what services would ultimately reside within their catalog. A service catalog represents a service provider’s approach to one or more market spaces. It’s possible for an organization to have one service catalog that covers multiple market spaces or to have several catalogs aligned to individual market spaces. Ideally, the organization will start with a simple solution that can be improved and adjusted as time goes on.
While service catalogs can definitely exist for a data center operations group, the creation of service catalogs should be approached very carefully because they represent significant investments of time and money. One of the simplest pieces of advice that I often give customers that are creating a service catalog is that they should look at what other organizations have done in this area. Many organizations have service catalogs that are publicly available on the Internet which can be used as models for an organization’s own service catalog.
Many types of organizations can benefit from listing their services in a service catalog, including those groups involved in data center operations.