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An Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) is a framework of “good” practices for delivering information technology (IT) services to users or customers. These IT services might include things such as help desk support and incident, problem, change, release and configuration management. Implementing ITIL® standards allows an organization to align with a certification standard set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) called ISO/IEC 27001.
The concept and practices of ITIL® standards began evolving in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. The U.K. government was obtaining IT services from different vendors and needed a way to ensure that the services were delivered uniformly across branches of government. Working with IT service vendors, the U.K. government developed the framework. The framework has continued to evolve.
An organization can expect a number of benefits from implementing ITIL® standards. Customers understand what to expect from service providers. Costs can be lowered as standard processes are followed. The root causes of problems is determined, so the problems can be resolved.
The ITIL® standards or framework are built on the concept of five life cycles. The life cycles include service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement. Each life cycle builds upon the previous one.
The base life cycle is service strategy. The organization that is offering IT services according to the ITIL® framework must identify its market and the services that it chooses to provide. The services need to be of value to the customer. A plan to most effectively use capabilities and resources should be made. After the service strategy is developed, the service can be designed.
In the service design life cycle, systems for service management are determined. Management and technical architectures also are developed, as are processes, measurements and metrics. After these elements have been identified, the service transition life cycle can begin.
In the service transition life cycle, the services are moved from the development phase into production, where they will be used by customers. In the transition phase, guidance is needed on controlling service changes and on moving the management of services between vendors. The transition phase leads to the service operation life cycle.
The actual delivery and support of services is fully realized in the service operations life cycle. This life cycle also encompasses management of incidents, problems and events. No process is perfect, so the ITIL® standards next provide for continuous improvement.
The final life cycle is the continual service improvement life cycle. In this phase, all stages of the ITIL® standards life cycles are analyzed with a view toward improving quality of the service, life cycle and the basic processes. ITIL® standards are a framework of good practices that IT service organizations can use to deliver services to their customers. The framework, with its five service life cycles, aids organizations in designing effective service offerings and delivering the services efficiently.