Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the most widely accepted approach to IT service management, as it contains the best practice frameworks drawn from both public and private sectors in the world.

ITIL mainly describes how IT resources should be organized to deliver business value, documenting processes, functions, and roles of IT service management. It is supported by thorough qualifications schemes, accredited training organizations, also implantation, and assessment tools.

The need for the ITIL came about in the 1980s when the British government was dissatisfied with the inefficiency of the IT service quality provided to them. The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CTTA) was tasked to develop a framework for an efficient and financially responsible use of IT resources. The Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management (GITIM) was the earliest version of ITIL.

Many large companies in Europe adopted the framework during the early 1990s. ITIL was used in both government and non-government organizations. As it became popular both in the UK and across the world, IT changed, and consequently so did ITIL evolve.

In 2000, the CCTA became part of the newly formed Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which eventually published a certification system. In the same year, Microsoft used ITIL as the basis to develop their propriety Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF).

The version 2 (V2) of ITIL was released in 2001, wherein the service support and service delivery books were enhanced to become more concise usable volumes, which consequently became the focus of the ITIL.

The version 3 (V3) of ITIL, published in 2007, adopted a lifecycle approach to service management with greater emphasis on IT integration. It consisted of 26 processes and functions and contained five core principles: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement.

ITIL 2011

On July 29, 2011, ITIL was updated again. This update provided additional guidance on the definition of formal processes that were not previously well-defined and corrected various errors and inconsistencies that had crept in over the years.

ITIL 2011 is not a new version (e.g. V2 to V3) of ITIL but an update designed to resolve any errors in the text and diagrams, both in content and presentation; address issues with regard to clarity, consistency, correctness and completeness; and review the Service Strategy publication to ensure that the concepts are explained in the clearest, most concise and accessible way possible.

Below is a summary of the ITIL 2011 main changes specifically to each core principle:

1. Service Strategy

Concepts clarified, no change to the overall message, more practical guidance, and examples. The new process of Strategy Management for IT Services covers developing and maintaining business and IT Strategies.

2. Service Design

Concepts and principles are clarified, added the Design Coordination process and quite a bit of work to simplify the five aspects of Service Design, design of the service portfolio and service catalog.

3. Service Transition

CMS and SKMS have been restructured to clarify the concepts and some material added on how to use a change proposal. Also, SACM has new content relating to asset management, release and deployment, and Change evaluation.

4. Service Operation

Work done on all processes and the relationship between application management and application development has been clarified. Expanded section on problem analysis techniques and more material added on managing physical facilities.

5. Continual Service Improvement

Work done to clarify the seven-step improvement process and its connection to Deming’s PDCA. The CSI model is now referred to as the CSI approach, and the CSI register concept has been added. Quite a bit of work on defining relationships from CSI to other phases of the lifecycle.

ITIL V3 Certification

At this point, the OGC is no longer listed as the owner of ITIL, and it was consolidated into the Cabinet Office. HM Government owns ITIL 2011.

As of January 31, 2011, ITIL V3 certification exams have focused on the ITIL 2011 syllabus—the core principles of ITIL practices for service management, rather than that of the ITIL V3 2007 edition.

The ITIL Certification Scheme uses a modular credit system called the ITIL Credit System. All ITIL and ITIL-related qualifications within the ITIL Credit System are assigned a specific credit value.

When credits are applied, an applicant qualifies to test for a higher level of certification. There are five levels of qualifications within the ITIL Certification Scheme that include the following:

1. ITIL Foundation, which scores candidates with 2 credits, consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. No prerequisites are required to take this examination. It deals with key elements, concepts, and terminologies associated with ITIL service lifecycle management.

2. ITIL Intermediate Level, which scores the candidate with 15 or 16 credits, is open to candidates who have already passed the ITIL Foundation exam and have completed an accredited training course. The intermediate level includes two elements: Service Lifecycle examinations: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continual Service Improvement as well as Service Capability examinations: Planning Protection and Optimization, Release Control and Validation, Operational Support and Analysis, and Service Offerings and Agreements.

3. ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC), which scores the candidate with 5 credits, requires the candidate to have passed the ITIL Foundation exam, along with an additional 15 credits from passing ITIL Intermediate exams, giving them a minimum of 17 credits in order to take this exam. This is also the gateway exam to achieve ITIL Expert Level.

4. ITIL Expert Level requires the candidate to have accumulated 22 credits that have been gained by passing the ITIL Foundation, Intermediate Level, and MALC exams.

5. ITIL Master Qualification requires the candidate to be already ITIL Expert-level qualified. To achieve the ITIL Master Qualification, candidates must “explain and justify how they selected and individually applied a range of knowledge, principles, methods and techniques from ITIL and supporting management techniques, to achieve desired business outcomes in one or more practical assignments.”

A candidate obtains certification and attributed credits whenever he or she completes a level of ITIL examination. Each level of certification has its own requirements, all of which include earning a specific number of credits.

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