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Lead Image © Dioptria, sxc.hu

New ITIL framework and certification


Article from ADMIN 54/2019
ITIL version 4.0 has undergone a fundamental revision and is now headed into the age of the cloud and DevOps.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is now more than 30 years old. The currently most widespread standard for managing IT processes and services is renewing itself with an upgrade to the IT philosophy.

The primary goal of IT management frameworks is to bring order to the heterogeneity of different systems, processes, and responsibilities that has arisen as a result of the evolved IT landscape. The idea is for processes and procedures to run systematically and comprehensibly, which means careful planning of updates, hardware changes, and software roll-outs; checking the effects of changes in advance; and keeping services continuously available wherever possible.

Made for the Cloud and DevOps

The restructured ITIL 4 now has two key elements: the Service Value System, which roughly maps the Service Value Chain from ITIL 3, and the Four Dimensions Model. ITIL also defines a number of guiding principles that have to be observed across the board, some of which are found elsewhere (e.g., software and management philosophies such as Lean and DevOps). Roles and functions from ITIL versions 2 and 3, on the other hand, were abolished and are now part of ITIL 4 practices. (See the "ITIL in a Nutshell" box.)

ITIL in a Nutshell

The ITIL [1] framework was developed in the 1990s by the British government's Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA). The rights to the ITIL brand are now held by Axelos, a joint venture in which the British government in the form of the Cabinet Office still holds almost half of the shares. In addition to ITIL are other IT management frameworks, such as FitSM, COBIT, and the enhanced telecom operations map (eTOM), now known as the Business Process Framework, which is commonly used in telecommunications. However, ITIL is probably the best known and most widespread framework.

Version 2 of ITIL described basic IT management and inventory processes, but as IT increasingly came to understand itself as a service provider in the next step of the IT evolution, this version was no longer sufficient. Some elements were missing in terms of the structure, delivery, and quality assurance of the IT services provided, whether internal or external. These were supplemented in ITIL 3, which was adopted in 2007. Not surprisingly, this third version also did not long have a trouble-free life, with technologies and strategies like cloud, Lean, continuous delivery, and DevOps pushing to the fore. The framework therefore was restructured in version 4.

The guiding principles are orientation on added value (starting with the current situation and how it is upgraded), a step-by-step approach based on feedback, cooperative behavior and transparency (i.e., collaborate and promote visibility), a holistic view, a simple and practicable approach, optimization, and automation.

Four Dimensions Instead of Four Ps

Earlier ITIL versions referred to the "four Ps" (people, products, partners, processes). This concept has now been replaced by four dimensions:

  • Organizations and people
  • Information and technology
  • Partners and suppliers
  • Value stream and processes

These dimensions must be taken into account in every step, process, and action according to ITIL. The Service Value System, in turn, is subdivided into a value chain with six defined individual activities, which roughly correspond to the Service Lifecycle described in ITIL 3, but with a different structure:

  • Plan
  • Improve
  • Engage
  • Design and Transition
  • Obtain/Build
  • Deliver and Support

Here, Plan means a comprehensive planning process for all products and services of the entire organization – comparable to the Service Strategy of ITIL 3. The Improve activity is new and is designed to ensure continual improvement of products, services, and practices across all value creation activities. Engage includes a detailed requirements analysis, and Design and Transition ensures that services and products have the desired quality, are correctly priced, and are available on the market. Obtain/Build procures the necessary components in line with specifications and provides them for service delivery, and Deliver and Support refers to delivery of the product or service with the agreed features and support.

Service and Process Management

The 14 general management practices read like a business management manual and include strategy, portfolio, architecture, personnel, change, project, and supplier management, among others. The continual improvement process is noteworthy. Together with the Improve activity cited as part of the Service Value System and the seven-step improvement process already known from version 3, it is intended to ensure continual improvement in service delivery.

Furthermore, the framework designates and describes 17 service management practices (Table 1A) and three technical management practices (Table 1B). The change control service management practice was previously referred to as change management. The IT infrastructure and platform technical management practice pays particular attention to the cloud.

Table 1

ITIL 4 Management Practices

A. Service Management Practices       Service configuration management
     Availability management       Continuity management
     Business analysis       Service design
     Capacity and performance management       Service desk
     Change control       Service level management
     Incident management       Service request management
     IT asset management       Validation and testing
     Event management/monitoring B. Technical Management Practices
     Problem management       Software distribution
     Version management for DevOps and the waterfall model       IT infrastructure and platform
     Service catalog management       Software development

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