This paper discusses the various elements of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). It refers to a collection of information service management (ITSM), which focuses on aligning information technology services with business needs (Fry 5). ITIL is published in a sequence of five major publications, with each stage covering the lifecycle of an ITSM. According to Vetterani (7), ITIL highlights ISO/IEC 20000, which is the International Service Management Standard for Information Technology. However, there is a difference between the two. ITIL highlights the procedures, processes, checklists and tasks, which are not specific to an organization. ITIL enables organizations to launch a baseline for implementing, planning and measuring strategies. According to De Jong and Kolthof (8), ITIL is deployed in demonstrating the fulfillment of the strategy and measuring improvement. It is also imperative to recognize that ITIL, as an acronym, is a registered trademark of United Kingdom’s Cabinet Office. Because of this move, the ownership of ITL is now listed as being with the HM Government instead of OGC.
History of ITIL
As a reaction to the increasing reliance on information technology, the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) of the government of UK in the 1980s developed a collection of recommendations. The CCTA recognized that without standard practices, both the private sector contracts and government agencies had begun developing their IT management standards independently. According to Fry (3), ITIL was established as a set of books, each of which covered a specific practice in the Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). The number of books rapidly increased to more than 30 volumes after the first publications between 1989 and 1996. In 2000, in order to make ITIL more available and affordable, ITIL v2 combined the publications into 8 sets, which grouped associated process standards. The main objective of this was to match the various aspects of IT management, services and applications. The sets for Services Management that included Service Support and Service Delivery were the most widely deployed, understood and circulated of all the ITIL version 2 publications.
In April 2001, the CCTA was integrated into the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which was an office of United Kingdom Treasury. This was followed by the publication of ITIL version 2 in 2006. In May 2007, the merged organization issued version 3 of the ITIL that was also known as ITIL Refresh Project. ITIL v3 comprised of 26 functions and processes that are now grouped into 5 volumes. The volumes are arranged around the notion of service lifecycle. ITIL v3 is also recognized as ITIL 2007 Edition. OGC formally announced that the certification of ITIL v2 would be withdrawn and introduced a key consultation pertaining how to proceed. Recently, in 2011, the ITIL 2011 Edition was published. It provided an update to the previous edition of 2007. However, OGC is no longer the owner of ITIL because of the merging of OGC into the UK’s Cabinet Office. The HM Government owns the ITIL 2011 edition.
Overview of ITIL 2007 Edition
The 2007 Edition of ITIL is an expansion of the v2. The 2007 edition fully replaced v2 because of the completion of the withdrawal period on June 2011. The 2007 edition offers a more holistic view of the full life cycle of services. It covers complete IT organization and supporting components needed, in order to deliver sufficient services to the customer. On the other hand, version 2 focuses on particular activities that directly linked to service support and delivery. Most of activities provided by v2 remained unchanged in the 2007 edition, though some considerable changes in expressions were launched to enable the extension.
The HM government has published a summary of changes. In relation to the previous edition, the ITIL 2011 edition comprises of five primary publications that include service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and service management. According to De Jong and Kolthof (6), the 2011 Edition is a revision of the ITIL framework, which addresses considerable additional standards by highlighting the official processes that were initially meant, though not identified.
As the origin and central point of the ITIL Service Lifecycle, the Service Strategy (SS) offers standards on prioritization and guidance of service-provider investments in services. In general, the service strategy focuses on assisting IT organizations to develop and improve over long-term. In the two scenarios, service strategy depends tremendously on market-driven framework. The major areas constituted in the services strategy include business-case development, service value definition, service assets, service provider types and market analysis. The various process covered in the service strategy include Service management, service portfolio management, financial management for IT services, demand management and business relationship management.
Financial Management for IT services is an aspect of best practices specified by ITIL. The major objective of process of ITIL is to provide a cost-effective and accurate stewardship of IT resources and assets deployed in IT services. It is deployed in planning, controlling and recovering the costs used in offering IT services agreed, and negotiated to in the service-level agreements (SLAs). In general, the essential objective of financial management for IT services is to provide an ultimate transparent evaluation of what an organization is expending on IT resources. In most scenarios, this evaluation of effectiveness is deployed to develop metric-based and intelligent cost-cutting strategies. For an internal information technology organization, the objective can be to provide a cost-effective stewardship of the information technology resources and assets used in offering IT services. For an outsourced IT company or a separate entity organization, the objective of financial management is to enable full accounting of resources used on providing IT services in order to be capable to attributing the costs to the services provided to customers.
Financial management for IT services has three sub-processes that include budgeting, IT accounting and charging. Budgeting allows organizations to plan for forthcoming expenditure. Therefore, the organizations cut down the threat of over-spending and ensure that revenues are available to cover the predicted expenditure. In addition, budgeting enables organizations to contrast the real costs with the initial predicted costs to enhance the reliability of budgeting forecasts.
IT accounting is related to the amount of cash spend in delivering IT services. IT accounting enables organizations to perform different financial evaluations, in order to measure the effectiveness of IT service delivery and determine where costs savings can be applicable. Various elements of costs can be deployed in controlling the accounting of an organization. This includes capital costs, operational costs, direct costs, indirect costs, fixed costs and variable costs. Capital costs refer to any form of purchases that would have enduring value like building infrastructure. Operational costs refer to the daily expenses incurred by the organization, such as monthly salaries and electrical invoices. Direct costs refer to expenses that are straightforwardly attributed to single customer or service, and purchasing a dedicated server that cannot be shared. Fixed costs refer to expenses incurred for long periods such as lease contracts. These costs do not vary in the short term. Charging offers the capability to assign the costs of an IT service relatively and fairly to the consumers of those services. Charging might be deployed as an important step towards IT organizations that operates an independent business.
ITIL service design (SD) package offers recommended guidance on the design of IT processes, services and other elements of the service management effort. More importantly, design in ITIL includes all the aspects relevant to service delivery of technology, and not technology itself. Therefore, service design deals with how a planned service solution interacts with the technical environments and larger business. According to Vetterani (41), the design work is merged into a single Service Design Package (SDP). De Jong and Kolthof (7) also highlight that service design package, together with other information concerning services, are run within service catalogues. The various processes covered include service-level management, availability management, capacity management, IT Service Continuity Management (ITSCM), Information Security Management System, and supplier management.
According to Vetterani (7), service-level management offers monitoring, continual identification and appraisal of levels of IT services, stipulated in the Service-level agreements (SLAs). This management guarantees that arrangements are in line with the internal IT support-providers and external supplier. The service-level management process involves evaluating the effects of change upon SLAs and service quality. Fry (65) pointed out that this process is closely related to the operational process to regulate their activities. The pivotal role of these services makes it the inherent place for establishing and monitoring metrics against a benchmark.
According to Fry (77), this process is the central interface between the organization and customers. The process is responsible for about four roles. The first role is ensuring that the established IT services are provided where and when they are supposed. The second role is communicating with the capacity management, availability management, incident management and problem management to guarantee that the necessary levels are attained within the resources agreed with the financial management. The third role is producing and upholding service catalogs. Service catalogs refer to lists of regular IT service alternatives and agreements availed to customers. Lastly, the process is responsible for guaranteeing that the suitable IT service plans are available, in order to support the continuity requirements.
According to De Jong and Kolthof (65), availability management aims at enabling organizations to maintain and support the business at reasonable costs. The high-level actions realize and compile availability plan, availability requirements, monitor maintenance requirements and monitor availability. Availability management comprises the following: reliability, maintainability, serviceability, resilience, and security. Maintainability refers to the capability of IT component to be restored to, or to remain in an operation condition. Serviceability is the capability of an internal supplier to function under third-party agreements. Resilience is a technique of keeping IT services dependable. One such technique of resilience is redundancy. Security is the integrity, confidentiality and availability of data.
IT Service Continuity Management (ITSCM) constitutes the process by which arrangements are put in place, in order to guarantee that IT services can continue and recover after the occurrence of severe incidents. This process does not only concern reactive measures, but also concerns practical measures. ITSCM is considered by owners of the applications as a recovery of information technology infrastructure, in order to provide IT services. However, as of 2009, many organizations practiced the far-reaching process of business continuity planning (BCP) in order to ensure complete business process continues regardless of the occurrence of a severe incident. ITSCM involves the following: assessing the alternatives for recovery, developing contingency plan, prioritizing the activities of conducting business impact analysis (BIA) and reviewing the plan regular basis.
Service transition (SR) concerns the provision of services required by an organization into operation use. According to Fry (9), services transition frequently covers the project side of IT instead of “business as usual” (BAU). Service transition also encompasses topics like change management in the “business as usual” environment. The various ITIL process under service transition include service asset and configuration management, change management and release and deployment management.
Change management targets at ensuring that the standardized techniques and procedures are deployed for effective handling of every change. Vetterani (34) defined change as any event resulting in a new condition of one or more Configuration Items (CIs). The major objectives of change management include reduction in back-out actions, minimal service disruptions, and economic utilization of resources involved in the change. The popular change management terminologies include Change, Request For Change (RFC), ITIL v2 and ITIL 2007. Change, as a terminology, refers to the modification, addition or subtractions of CIs. RFC is a form deployed in recording details of a request for change. RFC is often sent an input to change management by the requestor of change.
Service asset and configuration management majorly focuses on upholding information concerning configuration items, such as assets, necessary in delivering IT services. Configuration management refers to the traceability and management of each element of a configuration from the beginning to end. Configuration management encompasses the following: planning, identification, change control, change management, release management and maintenance.
The team for software migration and automated distribution of hardware and software deploys release and deployment management. Effective hardware and software control results in tested, licensed and version-verified hardware and software. Such hardware and software function as planned when launched into the present infrastructure. According to De Jong and Kolthof (5), release management has the responsibility of quality control during creation and implementation of new software and hardware. Quality control ensures that every software and hardware fulfills the demands and processes of a business. The major goals of release management are planning the launching of the software, planning and adopting procedures for both installation and distribution, efficiently managing and communicating customers’ expectations during the designing and launching of releases, and finally, regulating the installation and distribution of the changes to systems. According to Fry (67), release management objectively focuses on safeguarding the live environment and its services via the deployment of formal checks and procedures.
Service Operation (SO) aims at providing best practice for attaining the provision of agreed levels of services to both customers and end-users (De Jong and Kolthof 85). In this case, customers refer to individuals paying for the service and negotiating the SLAs. As highlighted in the ITIL service operation package, SO refers to the component of the lifecycle where the value and services are directly delivered. In addition, the management of problems and equilibrium between cost and reliability are considered in this volume. The key functions of service operations include application management, technical management, service desk and operations management. The various processes encompassed in this volume include event management, request fulfillment, incident management, problem management and access management.
Service desk, as a function of service operation, is majorly linked to lifecycle of service operations. The tasks encompassed by this role include handling requests and incidents, and offering an interface for ITSM process. The features of service desk operations include single point of entry, single point of contact (SPOC), single point of exit, data integrity, and streamlined channel of communication. Service desk is also referred to as help desk or call center. Call centers are concerned with professional handling of large volumes of calls. On the other hand, help desk is concerned with managing, coordinating and resolving incidents at primary support levels.
The function of application management involves a collection of best practices that improves the quality of software development through the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Software Asset Management (SAM) is central topic of ITIL version 2 and has close associations with the application management function. SAM refers to the practice of incorporating process, people and technology, in order to enable software usage and licenses to be systematically assessed, tracked and managed. The objective of SAM is to decrease human resource, and IT expenses.
Event management is a process indicating that something is functioning as required. This results into an incident being clogged. According to Fry (24), events might also indicate normal activities. They also show the need for routine intercession such as changing tapes. Fry (34) suggests that event management relies on monitoring. It provides and identifies notifications, while scrutinizing status of the component. Management tool polling the CI might detect events. After the detection of an event, an incident, problem or change might occur.
Service management aims at aligning and realigning IT services to the dynamic needs of business by detecting and adopting the necessary changes to the IT services supporting processes of the business (De Jong and Kolthof 67). The view of service management of improvement refers to the perspective of the business of quality of service, even though it aims at enhancing the process of efficiency through the entire lifecycle. In order to manage improvement, service management should evidently delineate what needs to be measured and controlled.
According to De Jong and Kolthof (7), service management should be treated like other service practices. As such, there needs to be an open training, planning, and ongoing scheduling in order to be effective. Service management should be scheduled and planned, like process, with defined inputs, activities, and roles. According to Vetterani (67), service management and Application Performance Management (APM) are like two sides of the same coin. This is because they both concentrate on improvement.
Organizations Using ITIL
Organizations that have adopted ITIL in their IT Service Management (ITSM), might be capable of attaining conformity and ask for certification under ISO/IEC20000. It is important to note that there are some differences between ITIL and ISO/IEC20000. For instance, an organization can acquire ISO20000 qualifications without implementing or recognizing the concept of ITIL of Known Error that is often regarded as necessary in ITIL. Examples of organizations using ITIL include the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), which uses ITIL as its basis for the development of Framework for ICT Technical Support (FITS). According to De Jong and Kolthof (56), there are not less than 20000 companies in the US along using ITIL. Other world biggest organizations using ITIL in the US include Boeing, IBM, Barclays, and Procter & Gamble (De Jong and Kolthof 76).
Strengths of ITIL
The first benefit of using ITIL is improved customer relationships and satisfactions. The design of ITIL ensures that everyone focus his or her attention on the customers’ needs and user experience instead of concentrating on technology issues (De Jong and Kolthof 76). Additionally, increased customer satisfaction results in better relationship between the business and customers.
The second benefit of using ITIL is improved reliability and service quality. By implementing effective standards, organizations can deliver their services more easily and consistently to established levels. According to De Jong and Kolthof (78), support teams are capable of restoring services faster and reducing both disruption and down time. In addition, organizations are also able to meet their contractual and legal conformity requirement.
The third benefit of ITIL is the optimization of the delivery of service across the supply of chain. According to De Jong and Kolthof (67), ITIL provides considerable opportunities for standardization and simplification across trading people or organizations. It offers models and processes to assist organizations cooperate with suppliers and customers in order to make logical business decisions on cost optimizations.
Drawbacks of Using ITIL
De Jong and Kolthof (56) forwarded a criticism concerning the architecture of ITIL. ITIL does not directly deal with business applications running on IT infrastructure. It does not also enable a mutual working association between operations and development teams. The trend towards a mutual working relationship is called DevOps. However, this trend is associated with increased release rates of applications and adoption of agile software methodologies. According to Vetterani (89), conventional service management do not support increased release rates of application. This is because they lack automation.
Information Technology Infrastructure Library focuses on aligning information technology services with business needs. ITIL 2011 edition comprises of five primary publications that include service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and service management. Service Strategy (SS) offers standards on prioritization and guidance of service-provider investments in services. ITIL service design (SD) package offers recommended guidance on the design of IT processes, services and other elements of the service management effort. Service transition (SR) concerns the provision of services required by an organization into operation use. Service operation (SO) aims at providing best practice for attaining the provision of agreed levels of services to both customers and end-users. Service management aims at aligning and realigning IT services to the dynamic needs of business by detecting and adopting the necessary changes to the IT services supporting processes of the business.