A long time ago in a reality quite close to home, Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) was quite different than it is today. The creation of the smartphone and other mobile devices has revolutionized how people interact with both information and technology, and the IT industry has had to move forward quickly in order to keep up with the crazy pace set by technology advancements.
The Beginning of ITIL
Back in the 1980s (that “long time ago” we were talking about), the government began to develop a way to provide a consistent level of IT services across many different departments and agencies. To this end they developed a collection of “best practices” called the Information Technologies Infrastructure Library, now known simply as ITIL. By the 1990s, ITIL had become an almost bible-like tome of knowledge that was the most widely accepted and most commonly used framework for companies around the world in addition to the government agencies for which it had originally been developed.
Fast forward a couple of decades to 2014, and you’ve got an entirely new reality for IT and ITSM. During those decades, technology has developed at an incredible rate, and we have seen the introduction and wide adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) and other cloud-based services. Despite its last major version being released in 2007 and updated in 2011, ITIL has been there through all of these changes. Today, many companies still use ITIL regularly and say that its framework has stood the test of time.
We should be clear—ITIL is not and has never been organization specific. Instead, it describes procedures, processes, tasks and checklists that can be applied by any organization for establishing IT integration. It allows the organization to establish a baseline that can be used to measure, plan and implement IT structure and changes. The 2007 edition (and 2011 update) of ITIL includes five distinct volumes:
- ITIL Service Strategy
- ITIL Service Design
- ITIL Service Transition
- ITIL Service Operation
- ITIL Continual Service Improvement
The Future of ITIL
If you’re worried about ITIL not being relevant in the near future, you should know that a new incarnation is in the works. In 2013, the government sold ITIL to Axelos, a privately-owned startup, and tasked them with revamping ITIL to make it more relevant to service management needs in today’s reality of cloud services, SaaS and mobile integration. Axelos’ official ITIL website has this to say about ITSM and ITIL:
“IT Service Management (ITSM) derives enormous benefits from a best practice approach. Because ITSM is driven both by technology and the huge range of organizational environments in which it operates, it is in a state of constant evolution. Best practice, based on expert advice and input from ITIL users, is both current and practical, combining the latest thinking with sound, common sense guidance.” 1
Their plans for ITIL seem very promising. They don’t seem to have any plans to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Talking about the cloud, mobility, self-service, automation and DevOps, the head of Axelos, Kaimar Karu, has been quoted as saying that they are “working closely with practitioners around the world to develop ITIL...” 2 It sounds like ITIL is in good hands with a company that isn’t going to rush into putting out an inferior product just to get a new version on the market. That means that a new version could still be a few years away.
ITIL isn’t going anywhere. The good news is that as our new reality continues to shift and change, ITIL will be shifting and changing with it. That being said, receiving good ITIL training is as important today as it was 20 years ago.