Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Introduction to ITIL

By Elaine Lauritzen
What the heck is ITIL? You may have heard the term bandied about and you may have even heard a definition of the acronym, but what is it really and why should you care?
We all know that managing what we do in OIT is complex and that our customers, the university community, really depend on what we offer. So it’s extremely important that we do it well and that we truly understand how our work impacts our customers. ITIL should help us with that.
ITIL is a framework of best practices, studied over the years, in organizations all over the world, and put together for groups like us to use as guidance to improve what we do, without reinventing everything all over again.
The acronym ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It was developed in the UK in the late 1980s to improve IT Service Management in the UK government. It was initially a literal library of about thirty books that were each written around specific management practices for specific areas of IT. In 2000, the individual books were combined and re-written into seven core books, two of which became the primary focus for organizations interested in focusing on ITIL-based IT Service Management, the Service Support book and the Service Delivery book. Processes addressed within the Service Delivery book include the following:
  • Availability – This process is responsible for ensuring that IT services meets or exceeds targets. Key focus is reliability, maintainability, and serviceability
  • Capacity – This process ensures that adequate IT capacity is available to meet business requirements. A capacity plan aligns with business strategy to ensure IT capacity availability
  • Service Level Management – This process improves the quality of delivery of IT services by negotiating, documenting, and gaining agreement of the expected availability and support targets of Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Operating Level Agreements (OLAs), and supporting vendor contracts
  • Financial Management – This process provides the basis for running IT as a business and developing a cost conscious and cost effective organization
  • IT Service Continuity – This process produces plans for the recovery of systems which support core business functions in the event of a disaster or other significant impact to our services
Processes and functions addressed within the Service Support book include the following:
  • Service Desk – This function provides a single point of contact for users to report incidents or request services
  • Incident Management – This process focuses on the rapid restoral of service to our customers for incidents experienced in their use of our systems, and helps to minimize impact on overall business operations
  • Problem Management – This process has a goal of minimizing the impact of incidents and problems in our systems by proactively searching out trends and then initiating work to determine the root cause and get fixes implemented
  • Change Management – This process focuses on quickly and effectively handling changes in our production environment while minimizing risk or disruption to services
  • Release Management – This process works with Change Management to look at all changes in a holistic point of view and ensures that the changes are packaged and ready to be released into the production environment
  • Configuration Management – This process delivers core data about our environment including what devices and items we have, how we use them, and, most importantly, the relationship between those devices in delivering IT Services to our customers. This allows the other processes to use that data to assess risk, restore services, find root cause, etc.
Just recently, ITIL has been revised again into ITIL V3, which is a set of five books that address all of the previously documented processes plus more, and pulls them all together in a more cohesive manner. Additionally, it puts it all together in a continuous improvement cycle. Those books are:
  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement
ITIL processes are a big part of what OIT Process Management Teams will be working with. Nearly everyone in OIT plays major roles in many of these processes. Look for more information to come about this work and the opportunities you will have to participate in.

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