Posted by: buzina | January 27, 2010

The Past, the Present and the Future in IT service management


In a discussion I was looking for a way to distinguish Events, Incidents and Problems. I do think the distinction in ITIL(r) is a bit murky and not clear enough. So I refined it into a simple and easy to remember definition:

The Past


The past is what has happened. It does not mean you have to do something, but it can result in actions. You have to decide which actions – if any – have to be taken. This is the definition of Events.

The Present


This is what impacts the business right now. The present is the reason IT people are shouted at. You have to make sure that the present pain is relieved as quickly as possible (RIGHT NOW). If your present is not hurtful, there usually is no awareness of the present (in IT). IT is only noticed when it is causing trouble. This is the definition of an Incident.

The Future


This is where we all want to be. We believe the future to be a bright and shiny place where there are no troubles and everything is working in synch (probably fully automated). As for the current pains, we have to make sure that they do not trouble our nice image of the future. Getting there is dealing with Problems.

Everything starts in the past with an event. To me an event can be an alert from monitoring (CPU Load high, Connection dropped, process aborted, job failed, …) or a call from a customer. They report that something has happened, that may have an impact. What to do is:


  • Does it have an impact on the service now? If yes, open an incident (or correlate one)

  • Do we fear this may happen again and do we need to avoid this in the future? If yes, open a problem record (or correlate one)

  • Do we have a standard service option to satisfy the events needed actions? If yes, open a service request

  • Do we need to modify the environment to satisfy the events needed actions? If yes, open a request for change1

Each of these actions may be run in parallel based upon one or more events.



1: This is a bit of a legacy option to me. There should not be many changes created based solely on events. They should be made into standard service requests quickly. If they are not we do have an impact.


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