Robert N. Phillips
CEO, Lasotell Pty Ltd.

If you are involved in trying to understand the various facets of IT service delivery or of an IT organisation in general, there are two very useful models/methodologies you can investigate. They take all the mystique out of such tasks—including documenting them:

  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (CoBiT)—yes, that is the correct capitalisation.

The ITIL model is reviewed in this article (written by a certified ITIL Master, Chris Jones,) and the CoBiT model will be reviewed in a future issue.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the best known public, consistent, and comprehensive documentation of best practices for IT Service management. The ITIL methodology is used by many hundreds of organisations around the world; a whole ITIL philosophy has grown up around the guidance contained within the ITIL books (see the list).

ITIL consists of a series of best practices guidebooks for providing quality IT services, including the accommodation and environmental facilities needed to support information technology. Its usage is functionally encapsulated in British Standard 15000.

ITIL came into existence because organisations are becoming increasingly dependent on IT in order to satisfy their corporate aims and meet their business needs. They require high quality IT services—matched to business needs and user requirements as these evolve.

Each module is intended to facilitate the quality management of IT services and of the IT infrastructure in the organisation (the computers and networks—hardware, software, and computer-related telecommunications—upon which the systems and IT services are built and run). The codes of practice provide the insights for providing quality IT service in the face of budgetary constraints, skill shortages, system complexity, rapid change, current and future user requirements, growing user expectations, and so on. But like anything else, carrying them into practice requires the senior management to sign up. Crosby’s maxim that Quality is Free still rules!

As a measure of its overall value, organisations worldwide, both commercial and non-proprietary, have developed supporting products as part of a shared ITIL philosophy.

In total, there are six major streams to the comprehensive ITIL methodology, covering all major IT functions:

  • Service Support: focusing on the day-to-day processes for the support of operational IT services
  • Service Delivery: the key processes that ensure cost-effective IT service delivery that meets customer requirements in accordance with agreed service levels
  • Management: addresses planning and organisational issues and customer and supplier relationship management
  • Software Support: an end-to-end approach to software acquisition or development that facilitates giving adequate consideration to the operational phase of the life cycle
  • Business Continuity: extending disaster recovery planning to cover essential business processes
  • Business Perspective: providing business management with an insight into IT infrastructure concepts.

Each of the process sections contains several topics, or functions. The precise number of these topics is not normally defined, as the “library” is continuously being updated. The major focus of most implementations (and user certification) is largely around the first two sections. The Service Support and Service Delivery functions form the core of most ITIL-based operational Service Management functionality and implementations. However, these other functions are needed within an infrastructure to provide an overall, comprehensive, and consistent best practices implementation and operation.