Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
The OGC (Office of Government Commerce) in the UK developed the Information
Technology Infrastructure Library in the mid 1980’s. ITIL originally begin as a series
of books that outline a comprehensive set of “best practices” for Information
Technology (IT) service management. ITIL promotes a qualitative, rather than
quantitative approach to achieving IT service management results that are aligned
with business. It acts as the enabler to cement business effectiveness in the use of
As organizations shift from understanding IT to fully utilizing the capabilities of it
they need to understand how to take a business approach towards this
phenomenon. It is quite common for business units to work alongside in a company
(i.e. marketing and operations) this needs to be the same with other various
business units and the IT department. As IT progresses it gives organizations tools
that have never been available before and it opens the doors to new and exciting
ITIL focuses on the service aspect of IT, which allows organizations to improve their
credibility, effectiveness, while at the same time reducing costs. ITIL has become the
most widely accepted IT best practice, process management framework in the
ITIL emphasizes the importance of providing IT services to satisfy business needs in
a cost effective manner. Many IT organizations are attempting to become more
customer oriented to demonstrate their contribution to the business. The library
can help IT organizations achieve this.
ITIL provides a consistent and comprehensive approach to service management
ranging from software products to consultancy, training, and qualifications. The
common approach brings with it a common language of ITIL terms, which permits
better communication between IT and suppliers.
History of ITIL
ITIL has had a long history of development, and many IT professionals believe that
ITIL grew out of the yellow books, which were best practices and guidelines that
were used in IBM during the 1980's, however it wasn't until the middle of the
1990's that ITIL become a formal library of IT best practice frameworks. The newest
version of ITIL (version 3) was released in May of 2007. The ITIL v3 has been
anticipated by many IT professionals all over the world for the last few years. It
contains five core texts, which are packaged in the publication, they include: Service
Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual
The original ITIL library included several books that covered specific themes in IT
Service Management. However, after the original publication, the books in the
library grew to over 30 volumes. Since 30 volumes can be cumbersome, difficult to
read and digest and expensive to purchase as a complete set, the second version of
ITIL has been consolidated.
ITIL v2 was packaged differently; version 2 was sold in sets that related to process
guidelines and included several different aspects of IT including application services
and IT Management. It should be noted that the most popular sets being sold in ITIL
v.2 include the services set, specifically Service Support and Service Delivery. While
these two sets are by far the most popular, the ITIL library used as a whole is
extremely comprehensive and a good foundation for any business using IT
The Structure of ITIL
ITIL is divided into three major areas: Service Support, Service Delivery, and
Security Management. Within the Service Support category, ITIL includes the
following key disciplines:
• Service Desk
• Incident Management
• Problem Management
• Change Management
• Release Management
• Configuration Management
While these terms are undoubtedly familiar to many IT personnel, the formalization
that ITIL brings to these disciplines is typically far beyond the level of sophistication
in the majority of IT organizations. Additionally, the distinctions and separation of
tasks within each of the support disciplines are also significantly more defined than
most IT organizations have implemented in the past
For instance, the majority of IT shops have not traditionally drawn a distinction
between Incident Management and Problem Management, or between instances of
incidents and problems. ITIL, on the other hand, clearly defines these as separate
disciplines with their own unique set of processes. IT support personnel can be
quite confused by ITIL's specific use of the terms incident and problem if they have
been using these terms interchangeably, or if they think that an incident becomes a
problem when it can't be solved by Level 1 support.
Unfortunately, educating support personnel on these complex relationships is
sometimes glossed over, to the detriment of the support process.
A Review of the Disciplines
First, a bit of ITIL review about the objectives of Incident and Problem Management.
The objective of Incident Management is to restore service as quickly as possible.
Therefore, an incident is active until service is verified as restored. The objective of
Problem Management is to minimize the economic impact of service disruption by
diagnosing the root causes of incidents, gathering information on known errors and
by providing work-arounds, temporary fixes, and permanent fixes.
Therefore, while an incident is active only until service is restored, a problem
continues to be active until appropriate outputs (e.g. work-arounds, permanent
fixes) are published and implemented. This means that incidents and problems are
not synonymous. Neither do incidents become problems. Rather incidents,
problems, and changes each have a many-to-many relationship with the other two.
The Service Desk
The service desk is the central point of contact between users and IT. More than just
a help desk, the service desk has a broad range of responsibilities, including
delivering high quality support, identifying and lowering IT costs, supporting
process and technology changes, ensuring user satisfaction, identifying business
opportunities, receiving and tack calls from users, attempting to resolve issues at
initial contact, escalating incidents, notifying users of progress, and maintaining
agreed-upon service levels.
A capable service desk cohesively assembles all of these requirements, supporting
the business and freeing IT to create new ways to respond to market indicators and
Key aspects to the Service Desk:
-Maintain Control with Incident Management-
An incident is anything that a user would report to the service desk, including
application problems, hardware problems, requests for assistance, request for
enhancements, or suggest changes to procedures.
ITIL has the ability to distinguish between incidents and problems. Incident
management keeps business in control by restoring normal service operations as
quickly as possible when an incident arises, with minimum disruption to the
Under ITIL, incidents are tracked and managed each time they recur, making it easy
for IT to spot trends, perform root cause analyses, and eliminate previously chronic
problems. As a result, no incident is accidentally overlooked, making compliance
with service level agreements easier. In addition, everything possible is done to
solve incidents at the first point of contact.
-Improve Responsiveness with Problem Management-
A problem is the unknown underlying cause of one or more incidents. A problem
becomes a known error when the root cause is understood and a temporary
workaround or permanent alternatives have been identified.
When infrastructure errors do arise, problem management minimizes their effect on
the business and proactively prevents their occurrence. ITIL’s structure, repeatable,
and measurable processes reduce the frequency of such errors and speed their
Specifically, ITIL recommends that problems be carefully monitored, tracked, and
clearly related to incidents. Since multiple incidents are often related to the same
problem, they should be sorted so that the relationship can be easily and quickly
determined, enabling quick identification of the root cause. All affected users should
be kept informed of the progress of the incident by the service desk.
-Achieve Enterprise-Wide Visibility with Configuration Management-
Configuration management provides logical model of IT infrastructure by
identifying, controlling, maintaining, and verifying all existing configuration items.
The Configuration management database is the foundation of the ITIL framework,
listing every configuration item that an organization must manage. One of the
hallmarks of a strong ITIL Is advanced enterprise inventory and metadata gathering
and storage capabilities, resulting in enterprise wide visibility into development
progress and process.
Without complete and well-organized inventories, data becomes hard to find,
integrate, or change, and business loses agility. An inventory of enterprise-wide
applications and documentation provides a structure view of relevant information
for all software configuration items, regardless of the technology used to develop or
serve the application. In a robust inventory, there is no need to understand the
underlying technology, server structure, network, folder, or library information in
order to observe or manage software.
-Improve Business Processes with Change Management-
Throughout application lifecycles, changes occur. Bugs are discovered,
enhancements created, and processes modified. All of these changes must be
carefully and effectively managed. This is impossible to do without consistent
change management processes.
ITIL offers a defined method for recording, justifying, approving, and coordinating
changes (Requests for Change or RFCs). RFCs are controlled by ensuring the proper
people, approvals, quality assurance, and processes are applied to each step of the
change. ITIL categories changes as minor, significant or major. This classification
dictates the authorization processes applied to each RFC.
ITIL encourages the submission off change requests by users throughout the
enterprise, keeping organizations dynamic and flexible. Without a process for
handling ongoing change, improvements to business process are limited.
ITIL also recommends role-based authorizations. Assigning responsibilities to roles
and basing process decisions on these various authorities prevents code from being
released to production before it is ready.
Ideally, these roles and responsibilities are assigned to the system when automated
workflow features are initiated, they take into account the roles that are assigned to
the system and the responsibilities and authorities defined to each role. This system
of checks and balances is easy to update, simple to use, and ensures that defined
ITIL processes are strictly adhered to.
Application change management resides at the core of a comprehensive ITIL
solution. Approval authorization processes combined with sophisticated rules of
capabilities and the diagramming of complex workflows are automated, with no
By automatically storing, approving, and verifying RFCS, change management serves
as a kind of wrapper around the entire application lifecycle. Careful and effective
management of change is essential to building robust, bug-free software in all of its
-Integrate Business and IT through Service Level Management-
ITIL guidelines offer a process for managing and improving service levels to ensure
that the provider, who may be an internal department, an external outsourcing
company, or a third party supplier, meets the commitments to the user. Where
service levels are not being met, corrective action can be taken.
ITIL recommends that details of all Service Level Agreements (SLAs) be maintained
in a service catalogue containing the features of all services offered.
ITIL solutions greatly enhance service levels by offering a single point of control
from which to monitor SLAs. All process-related information stored and reports are
generated to analyze response and resolution times. Workflows automate service
processes, and dashboards provide real-time information on service levels before
levels decline unacceptable.
ITIL also automatically create and deploy service level statistics, providing an
invaluable tool to management. Business is empowered to improve service levels for
software delivery, facilitating overall business operations.
The largest benefit of an ITIL service desk as it enables an organization to improve
processes which allows it to;
-Improve resource utilization -Be more competitive
-Decrease rework -Eliminate redundant work
-Improve upon project deliverables -Improve availability, reliability
-Justify the cost of service quality -Integrate central processes
-Communicate roles/responsibilities -Develop performance indicator
While the advantages usually far outweigh the disadvantages, there are a couple of
criticisms that are worth noting including the idea that most IT professionals
consider ITIL a holistic approach to IT management. While ITIL is comprehensive,
even the publication itself does not consider itself a holistic approach to IT
In addition, there are also accusations by some IT professionals that following only
the ITIL due to its acceptance by many IT managers as the authoritative source has
actually led to many businesses to skip pragmatic solutions for their specific
business needs. Finally, another criticism of ITIL is that while some topics are
covered extensively and are of high value, other topics may not receive enough
emphasis with quality being uneven in certain publications.
Because implementing ITIL means also that you have to change the mind setting of your
employees, it is a very difficult process. It means getting the technicians to be more aware of
service and business. There are a lot of emotions involved so the implementation leader
must be not only a project leader but also a people manager.
Just like other large implementation projects it's a process that takes a lot of time and
usually the period of time is underestimated. Much too often companies with external help
want to implement ITIL to fast, which causes a lot of problems. The best way to implement
ITIL is doing it in several stages making sure that every stage is done properly and you gave
the project the proper place in your organization.
There is no such way as a standard procedure to implement ITIL, because it is a set of best
practices, you can take from the set what you like for your organization and fit it in.
Organizations, especially large ones need to understand the specific aspects they want to
get out of ITIL. Without understanding the specific parts they want, it will create a larger
mess which will ultimately put employees in hard situations.
Change itself is a very difficult idea for employees to accept, especially when it affects day to
day life. Before an organization (large or small) decides to move forward with a project
such as this it is vital that all employees understand what is happening and the necessary
step for the project to be completed.
Before using the ITIL best practice approach to IT service management, your
organization needs to evaluate some questions. This is an assessment from a
strategic plan to implementation, and beyond.
1. Where is the organization now?
2. Where do we want to be?
3. How do we get where we want to be? (Is ITIL the best approach?)
4. How do know when we’ve arrived?
These questions give you measurements and analysis needed to define your current
IT department. This allows the organization to discover areas in which they are
currently successful and how to leverage those opportunities to less successful
areas of the IT business.