ITIL: The Information Technology Infrastructure Library

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a framework that presents a number of ideas and policies. These ideas and policies are intended to bring about the delivery of high quality information technology services, while efficiently using a companies resources.

ITIL, which is pronounced “eye-till,” was developed by the United Kingdom’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency(CCTA.) ITIL became the standard that IT Providers had to adhere to in order to provide service to the UK Government and by the mid 1990’s many companies worldwide began following the business practices presented in ITIL. Today, ITIL is still owned by the CCTA, but the Office of Government Commerce currently maintains the library.

Implementation vs Management

ITIL has roots in the 1970’s and 1980’s when several books were penned concerning the large scale management of IT companies. These books differed from other publications of the time in that instead of only dealing with the questions about technological implementation, they also dealt with large scale IT management. This concept of not predominately focusing on implementation, but also addressing management issues, would help pave the way for the development of the ITIL.

ITIL Today

Today, after several major revisions, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library is made up of 31 journals. It originally entitled “Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management Methodology,” but this name was changed by Roy Dibble of the CCTA, who wanted the publications to be seen as guidance rather than as a formal method.

Structure of the ITIL

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library is divided into two major sections and is composed of 11 different disciplines. The two major sections are Service Support and Service Delivery.

Service Support is mainly focused on the Users of the IT services. The primary concern in Service Support is that the user has access to the appropriate services to support the business functions.

To that end the customer’s main point of contact is with the service desk. The service desk will try to resolve the issue or will create an incident which initiates a chain of processes aimed at dealing with the incident.

The other major section, Service Delivery, deals more with the actual IT systems themselves and the relationship between provider and customer.

Popular ITIL Practices

One company that has claimed much success with ITIL is Proctor & Gamble. Proctor & Gamble stated that they saved $500 million dollars over the course of four years by following ITIL guidelines.

Perhaps one of the most popular initiatives presented by the ITIL, which is also credited by Proctor & Gamble with saving a great deal of money, is the “Follow the Sun” management process.

The Follow the Sun Management process involves staffing network data and operations centers around the world in different time zones. This can be done in such a way that it allows for all of its data centers to be fully staffed from 8 am to 5 pm in each locations local time without adding extra staff.

Other concepts of the ITIL include standardizing desktop equipment and using volume licensing agreements, which has also been shown to reduce costs in some cases.

Common Misconceptions about ITIL

Many people often forget that ITIL is not really a tangible product, but is actually more of a concept. ITIL is in essence only a guide of best practices that can in some cases save money, time, and provide for a better relationship with IT Providers.

When it was first developed, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library was intended not as a sure fire method to save money, but instead as a way for the government to rate their IT service providers. This confusion is in many ways a bi-product of the many sites that sell ITIL books or other ITIL related services.

For most US companies there is generally no requirement to follow ITIL verbatim, but when applied and interpreted correctly it can be an effective tool in Information Technology.

Using ITIL Successfully

It is often the case that just taking some action is better than doing nothing at all and ITIL can provide a great place to start for companies that do not already have experience with IT Systems, as well as those that do not have a product that is specifically IT related. ITIL is also scaleable, meaning it can be applied on to businesses of all sizes.

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