IT Service Catalogs and Request Portals: A Key Difference

Thought Leadership for
IT Service Management Professionals

IT Service Catalogs and Request Portals: A Key Difference

Posted by Don Casson

Mon, Jan 25, 2016

There is a lot of confusion around the difference between a Service Catalog and a Request Portal. 

One of the critical distinctions is this:  The Service Catalog is strategic, and the Request Portal is tactical. 



The Service Catalog is a strategic tool aligned with the business strategy. The IT Service Catalog should enable employees to better do their jobs.

The Request Portal is tactical and transactional – or requests and fulfillments.  We use the term “transactional” because requests typically involve 2 parties that have a kind of reciprocal relationship with the other. 

Further, a Service within the Service Catalog ought only be defined by combining the components defined within the Service Portfolio. In fact the Service Portfolio is the “factory” from which the Services are developed.

The Service Catalog is proactive. Services are defined in the catalog after analysis of the potential value, or cost / benefit – then identifying the service description, its options, costs, owner, dependencies, metrics and so on. All the information is based upon the strategy of the organization.

For example, if the enterprise strategically wants to move away from SQL DB towards Oracle, it would proactively define the parameters of the Oracle Service offering for the catalog, to encourage its use.

On the other hand, the Request Portal is reactive. It lists items that answer the question “what do you want to do”? For example, “I want to access the Oracle database.”

Last but not least, here’s something to think about.  Every request is actually taking action against some Service.  As you look at the Requests you have – can you identify the related Service? 

If this topic interests you please check out the slides and recorded event from our webinar, Service Catalog vs. Request Portal: 6 Characteristics That Set Them Apart. It covers this topic in greater depth. 


About the Author

Don Casson is CEO and co-founder of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm leading 
Fortune 500 companies to dramatically transform their IT operations. Feel free to contact Don at


Topics: Service Catalog, ServiceNow, Service Request Catalog, IT Consulting, IT Service Catalog, ITSM, IT, Request Portal, ITSM Strategy, Service Catalog Webinar


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