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ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)

 The ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a framework designed to standardize the selection, planning, delivery, maintenance, and overall lifecycle of IT (information technology) services within a business. It is designed to increase efficiency and ensure predictable service delivery. ITIL allows IT administrators to become business partners rather than back-end support. ITIL best practices and guidelines align IT department actions to business needs, and allow IT departments to adjust them as the business changes.

ITIL started in the 1980s, when data centers decentralized and adopted more geographically diverse architectures. This practice led to discrepancies in process and deployment and resulted in suboptimal or inconsistent IT services performance within organizations.

The United Kingdom's Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, (CCTA), recognized the importance in recognizing IT as a service and implementing consistent practices throughout the IT service lifecycle. They developed Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management (GITIM). ITIL prnce2 belfast v1 was released by the organization in 1989.

The CCTA was merged into the Office of Government Commerce in 2000 and ITIL v2 was released the next year.

ITIL v3 was created in 2007. It was then updated in 2011 to incorporate feedback from users and the training community as well as correct errors and inconsistencies.

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The U.K. The U.K. Cabinet Office and Capita PLC founded the company in 2013. The mission of the organization is to "make people and organizations more productive by providing practical guidance and content that draws from real-world experience as well as developing best practices."

Axelos, a global best-practice company, currently oversees ITIL development. Axelos announced the latest ITIL guidelines in 2017, and released ITIL v4 and related modules throughout 2019 and 2020.

ITIL Process Framework

Every iteration of ITIL provides updated documentation and certifications that prepare administrators for the current infrastructure and types of services they offer. ITIL's framework does not provide a checklist for best practices implementation. Instead, organizations assess and implement those aspects that are most relevant to their needs.

Over time, the ITIL standard has evolved to address changing IT environments.

In 1989, ITIL's goal was to standardize IT service management (ITSM). This iteration provided an overview for organizations on how to streamline services, and enabled admins to start to think about best practices.

ITIL v2 provided admins with a more consistent and applicable structure for service support delivery. It also included actual processes that organizations could follow.

ITIL v3 provides a wider view of IT services and includes guidelines for service strategy, design and transition, as well as operation. It also provides guidelines for companies to improve their services. The core publications in the book are a collection of best practices for each phase of ITSM. These books and their core concepts include:

  1. Service Strategy.This document describes the business goals and customer needs and how they can be aligned.
  2. Service Design.This article outlines the practices used to produce IT policies, architectures, and documentation.
  3. Transition to ServiceAssists with change management and release procedures. Also guides admins during environmental interruptions or changes.
  4. Service OperationProvides information on how to manage IT services on an ongoing, monthly, and annual basis.
  5. Continual Service Improvement.This course explains how to improve and update the ITIL process framework.

ITIL v3's stages, processes and procedures are still valid and widely used.

ITIL v4 is designed to help IT admins navigate the ins and outs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and provide guidance for the role of IT management in a service economy. ITIL v4 accommodates newer approaches, such as DevOps, automation, containers and microservices, and the cloud, and it emphasizes the integration of IT services management with other areas of a business.

ITIL v4 presents four dimensions of service management: organizations and people, value streams and processes, information and technology, and partners and suppliers. These dimensions are used to map service value chains and systems.

ITIL v4 also contains 34 practices. These are resources and activities that help to accomplish a goal or perform work. ITIL has renamed processes to be recommendations that can guide an organization in any situation, regardless of its goals, management structure, or work type. These practices can be broken down into three types:

  • Management practices that include projects and portfolios, enterprise risks, continuous improvement, employee and talent, relationships, and suppliers
  • Service management practices include business analysis, service design, continuity and monitoring, incident management, change management, IT asset management and monitoring.
  • Technical management practices that cover software development, deployment and infrastructure.

Certificates

ITIL adoption and maintenance require certified and trained experts to guide companies and their IT staff. ITIL is used by businesses such as Microsoft, IBM, and Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE), to establish their internal operating guidelines.

Admins complete ITIL training and certification with a combination of classroom training and a written certification exam. ITIL v3 provides five main certifications.

  1. FoundationThis certification is for entry-level professionals and covers the key concepts, elements, and terminology that are used in the ITIL service lifecycle. It also contributes to management services.
  2. Practitioner.This level allows professionals to adapt ITIL to support their business goals. Administrators can enroll in the course anytime after they have received a Foundation certificate. This module covers organizational change management and communication, as well as metrics.
  3. IntermediateThis certification covers different ITSM components, but requires more knowledge than Foundation-level exams. This track can be divided into two parts: service lifecycle and capability modules.
  4. Expert.Administrators will be interested in demonstrating the whole ITIL scheme at this stage. ITIL professionals acquire a range of skills that are relevant to ITIL best practices. To become an expert, admins must have completed 17 credits in previous modules.
  5. Master.Administrators at the Master level need to describe how they have chosen their areas of study, principles, and methods as well as how their organization used them to achieve desired business outcomes. Master status does not require a certification exam. Instead, admins must complete a series written assignments and interview.

ITIL v4 consolidates these into four certification programs. Foundation and Master are still available, but they have been combined into two tiers.

Management Professional.Administrators need to demonstrate technical and practical knowledge of how to manage successful IT-enabled teams, services, and workflows. This certification requires three modules: "Create and Deliver and Support", "Drive stakeholder value," and "High-velocityIT" plus a fourth strategist module called "Direct, Plan, and Improve." Administrators must either be Expert or have completed 17 credits. This designation can be obtained by ITIL v3 Experts through one course and one exam.

Strategic LeaderThis level requires knowledge of not only IT operations but also digitally enabled services and business strategies. This tier shares the "Direct Plan and Improve" strategist module. Administrators who have that designation must complete the leadership module "Digital and IT Strategy" to get this one.

Administrators can monitor their certification progress using a credit system that assigns credit values to each segment.

Administrators need to accumulate credits at both the intermediate and foundation levels in order to be certified in ITIL.

ITIL: The benefits and the drawbacks

ITIL does not only cover basic, rote IT skills. This certification examines how admins can use their knowledge to improve the organization's overall operations and align with business practices. Administrators will now be able to apply their knowledge in a more comprehensive manner when managing all aspects of IT management. This is why ITIL certification has six key benefits.

  1. Improved goal alignment between IT and business departments
  2. Customer satisfaction and improved service times
  3. Lower operational costs through better utilization of resources (digital, physical, and human).
  4. Visibility of IT assets and costs increased
  5. Service disruption management and response streamlined
  6. Flexible service environment that is more flexible and can easily adapt to changes

The principles behind ITIL v4 -- focus on value, iterative progress, collaboration, visibility and transparency, simplicity, and automation -- aim to expand ITIL's relevance to software developers, service management practitioners and businesses.

ITIL is also a great foundation for organisations that don't have a service framework or best practices. It allows admins to specialize in their jobs.

ITIL has its advantages, but ITIL can also have some drawbacks.

  1. Training can be time-consuming and complex. Staff expertise is essential for successful implementation.
  2. ITIL rollouts may take many years to implement and refine.
  3. ITIL initiatives offer little to no short-term returns.
  4. ITIL initiatives may require changes that can disrupt existing processes and infrastructure.
  5. ITIL's long-term nature can be easily disrupted by short-term initiatives and projects.

Administrators need to be careful about how ITIL is implemented by management. Although it is an industry standard, it doesn't necessarily solve compliance or personnel issues. Although it can help with process development, the implementation guides don't always account for newer processes or technologies. ITIL implementation takes time, training, and expertise. Organizations must ensure they have the right resources and that their employees are certified before undertaking an ITIL implementation.

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