The MOST Important OSI Layer for Business IT Service Management Pros

Originally published on LinkedIn August 7th, 2019.

Fellow geeks, techie people, IT professionals, business people, leaders, students, friends, family… everyone(!), I am about to amaze you with my psychic powers (!) and then I will teach you something cool. Are you ready?

Here we go…

In two guesses, I will read your mind. You either:

1 – Clicked to read this out of some level of genuine curiosity, and NO preconceived opinions on the OSI


2 – Clicked because you DO have views on the OSI, and may be slightly offended by my headline.

I realize you may be dazzled by that indisputable display of my telepathic powers, but I confess, that wasn’t magic. The truth is, I simply know that there are factions of tech evangelists out there who have strong opinions on the OSI model already, who might be enticed by my headline.

Many OSI-officionados would instantly say I’m wrong right from the start, because complete ITSM is comprised in equal functional value of all the layers, inherently, and so I have offered a false premise. They’re wrong.

Many domain-centric pros would make a case why some other layer than that which I champion most highly is most critical to leverage for success in business markets today. They’re wrong too, industry immaterial.

And, there’s still many holdouts out there who don’t even think in terms of OSI regarding IT, telecomm, and technical delivery. To each their own, but in any case we must recognize the value of the OSI in establishing a universally recognized standard that has aided quite a bit in achieving innovation in interoperability and connectedness with its layered approach.

In any case, I’m here to tell you, with more than two decades of experience in these things, that unequivocally, without a doubt, hands down, no question about it… the PHYSICAL layer is absolutely the most important OSI layer to master for the highest level of success in overall IT & telecom service management.

I acknowledge that even if the physical layer of connectivity is good to go but the other layers are not that the results will be the same. Things don’t work. In a way though, actually, THAT idea is the false premise. The reason the physical layer is so much more important is because the scope of it goes beyond the circuit itself.

It is in the physical layer that the hardware exists, produced at the physical layer in real life (IRL). All the other layers depend on the physical layer for existence at all to be managed.

It is at the physical layer that the coder or engineer types to put input to machine. Even if you’re so awesome that you program speech to type, the words you speak are the physical layer in action that sparks your inputs to manifest in application.

Just the same, it’s at the physical layer, IRL between people, that training and development occurs to teach ALL the domains of the OSI to the experts in each of the other layers. It’s at the physical layer, IRL, that people build business relationships and print hard copy contracts to state the various layer requirements and SLAs to be met… and shake hands.

The example for others to follow in leadership is set in the physical layer.

The physical layer is what drives the need for IT service and defines what all layers must deliver against. It is at the physical layer that happiness is achieved. Time is a reality that exists in the physical layer.

It’s at the physical layer that customers will be either visibly pissed off or your biggest promoter based on you and your team’s ability to provide excellent IT connectivity and support, which can make or break your business, or career.

I could go on. However, I think my point is made. From the individual to organizational level how well you do things right on the physical layer will be the biggest impact on how well your IT can deliver service, technically.

In ITSM, leadership in the Service and Management that goes with IT means investing most heavily in the physical layer to ensure the highest enduring class of service end to end across every layer of the OSI.

If you get the physical layer right, your IT will work just like magic.

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