Networks

Cheeseburgers on the Grill: ITOM on the Menu

March 25, 2020

Cheeseburgers on the Grill: ITOM on the Menu

The IT industry loves its acronyms. From ACK to ZTP, if it’s a thing in IT, it has an acronym. But if any industry goes more over the top on acronyms than IT, it’s business. Business has acronyms for everything. Whether you WFH (work from home) or you’re IAM (in a meeting), you can DM (direct message) people about GTD (getting things done) before the EOD (end of day).[i] The best acronyms come about when IT and business get together and make acronym babies, like ITSM and ITOM. Of course, ITSM (IT services management) and ITOM (IT operations management) aren’t the only acronyms resulting from the union between business and IT interests, but these days, ITSM seems to be a darling.

In this three-part series, we’ll look at ITOM and start with a brief introduction to it. We’ll then look at two trends in ITOM: automation and AIOps.

Can I Have Your Cheeseburger? ITOM and ITSM in Simple Terms

Defining your terms is always a good place to start. The Gartner Information Technology Glossary has definitions for ITSM[ii] and ITOM[iii], but frankly, both are dense. Let me give you an analogy instead.

You want to get a cheeseburger at Dicks, a Pacific Northwest restaurant icon. You walk up to the window and tell the cashier you want a cheeseburger. The cashier enters your order in her till, which sends your order to the kitchen. Another employee runs your cheeseburger to your window. In this analogy, Dicks is your IT department, the cheeseburger is an IT service, and all the things needed to fill your cheeseburger order fall into the realm of ITSM. That is, ITSM encompasses everything needed to deliver IT services to others. The consumers of those IT services might be members of the IT department, other employees in different departments, or external customers.

In contrast, ITOM covers the things needed to support the network infrastructure delivering the IT services. In our analogy, ITOM is the grill, the fryer, the freezer, and the mop to keep the kitchen floor clean. The consumers are largely the IT department itself.

Of course, ITSM and ITOM are interdependent. You can’t deliver IT services without a functioning IT operation, and for the most part, an IT operation’s raison d’être is to deliver IT services. This interdependence makes the argument about which is more important a bit silly; you can’t have one without the other. Still, ITSM gets more press because of who consumes it. After all, everyone might need services—even members of the IT department themselves—and an outage affecting IT operations only “matters” if the outage also impacts service delivery. But just because one is the flashy sister doesn’t mean the other isn’t as important.

In real life, ITOM includes physical things like switches, servers, and firewalls in the data center or enterprise network and all the tools needed to make sure everything runs to spec. These tools might include the following things:

  • Performance monitoring tools
  • Configuration management
  • Security, intrusion detection, and prevention
  • Troubleshooting tools

In the next two parts of this series, we’ll look at two trends in ITOM. We’ll look at automation first and end the series with a look at AIOps. Until then, keep doing your thing!

[i] See https://www.themuse.com/advice/your-ultimate-cheat-sheet-to-deciphering-the-123-most-common-business… , https://7esl.com/business-acronyms/, and https://abbreviations.yourdictionary.com/articles/business-word-abbreviations.html 2M2H, IMO.

[ii] https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/itssm-tools-it-service-support-management…

[iii] https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/itom-it-operations-management-software


A lawyer and a network engineer walk into a bar… No, really. Micheline Murphy retired from the law in 2016 after a nearly two-decade career practicing criminal defense. In 2019, her technical works had over 10,000 views. She also writes for the CLN Women in Networking space on topics of importance to the everyday engineer, both men and women. Micheline covers topics such as the difference between diversity and inclusion, how to become a better public speaker, and Imposter Syndrome.