ITIL We Meet Again

ITIL We Meet Again

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides a detailed description of important IT practices with comprehensive checklists, tasks and procedures that can be tailored to any IT organization.  Implementing ITIL is a critical IT strategic project for Goddard Space Flight Center.  It is also a critical aspect of implementing NASA’s upcoming agency-wide IT acquisitions, I3P.  Because of its importance, I asked the NASA agency lead, Cliff Ward and my center lead, Esmond Marvray to give my leadership team an overview at my leadership retreat last week.

I first met ITIL in the 1980s.  That’s also when I met my then soon-to-be future husband, Doug Cureton.  I was a happy-go-lucky IBM Virtual Machine Systems Programmer.   As a young Baby Boomer with a one-pot-per-day coffee habit sustained by lots of carbohydrates, I excelled in IBM Assembler Language and had great logic and problem determination skills.  He was a process oriented Data Center Manager managing one of the Department of Justice central mission critical data centers.  A Traditionalist with a healed ulcer, he managed a tight ship with high availability and low incidents of operator error.  Oh, the good-ole-days – when programmers wrote real code; 5 nines didn’t mean 6 sigmas; and Data Centers weren’t on people’s desks. Teddy Bear - VM Mascot that makes you feel warm and fuzzy

I remember one day, I was writing an Assembler Language Program.  I was trying to tell a printer to “do something” and had no documentation.  So, I just went through all the half-word hexadecimal possibilities (ok, ok, I know that was real geeky!) and wrote down what happened.  A little dull, but the only way with no doc.  Just storing commands into storage, seeing what happened, jotting it down, and repeating… 0000, 0004, 0008, 000C… etc.  So, to pass the time away, I called my girlfriend Stephanie.  Next thing I knew, the system froze.  Oh, crap girl, let me call you back.  As I’m staring at the screen in shock and horror, Doug Cureton appears at my door. In the delightful drawl of a West Virginia coal miner’s son, he asks … What have you done … this time? Oopsie.

So, in his problem management log, he records – Unknown error systems programmer reviewing core dump.  Whew! Then asks me to do him a favor and look over this ITIL stuff he just got.  He wanted to know if he should do anything with it. Of course after that oopsie, I had to look at them.  Interesting, but if you had Doug Cureton, you didn’t need ITIL.

Recently, I was having dinner with a Twitter colleague, Kevin Behr where we were lamenting the “power-off/power-on” and the “re-boot” generation.  He learned his craft from his father’s knee – a mainframe computer engineer.  Oh, I bet he loved the smell of solder in the morning after preventative maintenance – it smelled like victory.

Looking back to the good-ole-days, the need to capture knowledge and practices from folks like Kevin’s Dad or Doug Cureton seemed clear.  In today’s complex world of large IT integrators (gulp) and diverse sourcing strategies it is even more critical to convert the oral history and tradition of a rich era into knowledge and information that can be shared and applied across organizations.  Furthermore, our ability to collaborate on many levels will be inhibited if we don’t successfully step up to this challenge.

Oh, the good-ole-days.  Though I’ve traded reading hexadecimal dumps for working mega Sudoku puzzles, I haven’t traded the values that I learned in an era gone by.  The importance of this to the learning IT organization is crucial.

Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

3 thoughts on “ITIL We Meet Again”

  1. oohh how things have changed over the years 🙂 I have to say though that most people I have talked to about ITIL have said it is as dull as dishwater.

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