ITIL (the IT Infrastructure Library) began life in the United Kingdom government in the late 1980s. It was published in a series of books (31!) between 1989 and 1995 by the Central Communications and Telecommunications Agency which is now part of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). Version 1 was generally used internally within the UK.Version 2, authored by the OGC and published by the The Stationery Office (TSO), reached international distribution. It was published in a revised set of seven books between 2000-2004; however, it was the “blue book” and “red book” from this series that shaped the understanding of the framework in the US. Version 3 was distributed in 2007 in six books (and various complementary publication). While the earlier versions of ITIL were somewhat disjointed, Version 3 takes on a more mature holistic life cyle perspective and is further integrated into business processes. ITILv3 presents 24 processes in six core books.

  • Introduction to Service Management
  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continuous Service Improvement

ITIL 2011 is largely a clean-up and refinement of v3, further emphasizing the business connection by defining a business relationship management process. [For a more entertaining history, check out A Completely Unauthorized Biography.] ITIL is not proprietary and free to use, although the documentation is not in the public domain. It’s available, but at a cost. Its not a methodology or standard, but a framework. The business-oriented additions to v3 are admirable, but the core value of ITIL is still in the codification of IT operations processes laid out in v2’s blue and red books. Those core ITIL processes are as follows.

An excellent seven-minute presentation on the basics of ITIL is available on the official site here. A more detailed written overview of v3 from the ITsmf is available here. A paid DVD-based training class I can recommend for an overview is Jill Knapp’s ITIL V3 Foundation Exam Video Mentor. These resources provide an overview that will allow one to converse about ITIL, but the real value can only be realized by the hardcore IT manager who struggles with processes to keep production tight, efficient, and running.


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