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What Is ITIL? Common Sense, Written Down

Written by Andy Trainer – Mon 27 Aug 2012

what-is-itil-logoWho better to explain exactly what ITIL® is, and how it can help you and your business, than our lead ITIL trainer Giles?

Recently, I saw the exam results from the last “Foundation Certificate in Information Technology Service Management” (a.k.a. "ITIL Foundation") training that I ran at Silicon Beach. Congratulations to all the attendees – you all passed!

But what is ITIL and why would you want to book onto the next ITIL course at Silicon Beach?

First published in 1989, the IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL for short, is in its third version. Variously described as “advice and guidance for IT service management”, “a best practice framework for ITSM” and “common sense written down”, ITIL is, as its name suggests, a collection of books. The library currently contains five volumes which describe a life-cycle for IT services, from conception, through delivery and optimisation, into obsolescence and retirement. Last year alone, more than 100,000 people worldwide sat ITIL exams and increasingly, certification at Foundation level or higher is seen as prerequisite for consideration for jobs in IT support and delivery.

ITIL describes practices for managing IT services which are properly aligned to business requirements. In other words, business need drives the technical implementation, and not the other way round. To properly support businesses’ needs, IT Service Providers need to co-ordinate specialist activities and allocate resources correctly to support and development tasks.

This begins with understanding your customers and what their business requirements are. So ITIL begins by defining “a strategy for services, to provide services for strategies” (sic). In other words, the needs of actual and potential customers determine the services a provider puts in its catalogue. That’s “Service Strategy”.

Having determined “what” the customer wants, “Service Design” identifies viable solutions for “Service Transition” to implement – the “how”. These tactical initiatives, controlled by Change Management, ensure that the operational services delivered are in line with the needs of business customers. A good way for the service provider to stay in business! “Service Operations” describes generic support processes and practices, like Incident and Problem Management (fault fixing), monitoring and Event Management, which ensure that customers consistently derive proper value from the services they have contracted for. Service Level Management documents and reports on what “value” is and what level of service is “proper”.

But customer requirements and needs are a moving target, as businesses operate in dynamic environments, so “Continual Service Improvement” is a compulsory part of service provision. It ensures that changing requirements are met, and costs reduced so the provider and their customers can remain competitive.


None of these ideas is new. Much of ITIL’s advice and guidance is drawn from service industries outside the world of IT, like airlines, hotels, restaurants and local government. ITIL represents a distillation of more than 30 years of collective, generic experience of IT service provision – “common sense, written down”.

So, whether your goal is to satisfy the keyword search filters applied to your CV; require an ITIL Foundation certificate because you have aspire to holding higher service management qualifications; need to tune up your ITIL knowledge from earlier versions; or just feel you need to be let into the secret of what it is that makes ITIL so widely accepted, check out the Silicon Beach schedule! . It would be a shame to waste time reinventing the wheel.

The ITIL course that just ran not only enabled everyone to pass their exam, but was made up of a great mix of people from local firms, small, medium and large. A useful networking event, and lots of different perspectives represented, I’m looking forward to delivering the next one.

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