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What is ITIL®?

There are numerous standard definitions of what the Information Technology Infrastructure Library® (ITIL®) is and its purpose, but in real terms, what is ITIL?

Simply put, ITIL is a set of best practice guidelines designed to assist businesses and information technology providers improve the delivery of IT services.  A common theme is that IT providers and their associated wares (servers, networks, and applications) should be thought of as a means to an end, an end that benefits their customers. Customers, as defined in ITIL, are any users of the services, be it an external client or an internal business unit.

There has been a change in focus during recent years in that IT providers (both external companies and internal departments) are being asked to be more productive.  In addition, rather than just maintain the necessary services and systems, they have to deliver value to their customers.

In the past, it wasn’t always obvious which IT function enabled which business outcome. In order to make this IT / business alignment clearer, it is now recommended that businesses deliver service-orientated IT solutions to customers.

ITIL promotes this approach in which ‘services’ can be made up of various partners, teams, servers, networks and applications. However, regardless of the composition of a service, the purpose is to deliver an agreed level of functionality, quality and reliability to the customer.

ITIL takes you from the conceptual stages of service creation through to operational management and then back again to see if things can be improved.

It is a common misconception that the entire ITIL framework has to be implemented before benefits can be gained; in practice, this is not the case. Both a staged implementation and a tailored approach are viable options for organizations.

To summarize, ITIL is in its 3rd version (with a 2011 update) and describes a standardized approach to IT Service Management, which can help address common problems and optimize various aspects of IT service delivery.

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About this author:

Jon Francum

Jon is the Director of Training at Ashford Global IT.

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