The Evolution of a Definition

The definition of an IT service has certainly evolved:

IT Service (ITILv1):    A set of related functions provided by IT systems in support of one or more business areas, which in turn may be made up of software, hardware and communications facilities, perceived by the customer as a coherent and self-contained entity. An IT service may range from access to a single application, such as a general ledger system, to a complex set of facilities including many applications, as well as office automation, which might be spread across a number of hardware and software platforms.

IT Service (ITILv2):    A set of related components provided in support of one or more business processes. The service will comprise a range of Configuration Item (CI) types but will be perceived by Customers and Users as a self-contained, single, coherent entity.

IT Service (ITILv3):  A Service provided to one or more Customers, by an IT Service Provider. An IT Service is based on the use of Information Technology and supports the Customer's Business Process. An IT Service is made up from a combination of people, processes and technology and should be defined in a Service Level Agreement.

Service: A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.  The term service is sometimes used as a synonym for core service, IT service, or service package.

In ITIL v3 an outcome based definition of services moves the IT organization beyond just alignment to the business but to actual integration.  In today’s world there are few business strategies, activities or tasks that do not include some underlying IT component in the form of a service. These services should enable desired outcomes by enhancing the performance of associated tasks and reducing the effects of constraints.  While some services enhance performance of tasks, some may actually perform the task itself reducing the need for expensive human intervention. 

Over the years the definition has changed to incorporate a more business/customer focus in defining what an IT service is.   Ultimately we must deliver services that always have at least three underlying factors, Utility (fit for purpose) does it do what the user needs, Warranty (fit for use) is it available when demanded with enough capacity, security and continuity to insure agreed levels of performance and without which our services could not deliver Value to our customers.


Rob La said…
Great thoughts on the evolution of the definition Professor. I know that this topic generates a lot of passion on my team and I might borrow these concepts to shed light on the topic.

The concept of Value in Services intrigues me. I know about gathering requirements for Utility and Warranty, but how do you suggest we approach measuring value?

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