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Guide to the ITIL library and its place in modern ITSM

Businesses are increasingly relying on technology, and IT teams are beginning to play a key role in companies' operations. The ITIL library (specifically its latest version ITIL 4: is a framework that gives IT teams the flexibility and stability they need to successfully support their business.

What is ITIL?

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a globally recognized set of best practices designed to help organizations get the most out of IT by aligning IT services with business strategy.

History of ITIL

The ITIL library was created in the 1980s by the British government. At the time of its inception, the government was looking for a set of standards to improve IT efficiency. Over time, the library has evolved and gained popularity as new versions are released. ITIL is currently owned by Axelos, a joint venture between the UK Cabinet and Capita. In 2019, they released the latest ITIL version 4, which takes a more holistic and flexible approach to ITSM.

ITIL vs ITSM: What's the difference?

To understand the difference between ITIL and ITSM, let's start by defining the latter. ITSM, or IT Service Management, is the process of managing the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers by IT teams. This includes all processes and activities for the development, creation, delivery and support of IT services. ITSM is service oriented. Its main principle is that IT products should be provided as services.

Thus, ITSM is a kind of methodology for delivering IT services to a business, and ITIL is a widely used set of practices for implementing ITSM in a business. For those familiar with Agile methodologies, the difference between ITSM and ITIL will remind you of the difference between Agile and Scrum. If ITSM (or Agile) is a methodology, then ITIL (or Scrum) is a framework for implementing this methodology.

Clearly, there is a close relationship between the two components: ITIL was built with ITSM in mind. But the difference between the two can be summed up in one sentence: ITIL is a framework or set of guidelines for implementing ITSM.

ITIL Framework

With the release of ITIL 4, the library has undergone changes that put it on a par with new technologies and ways of working such as Lean, Agile and DevOps. It provides teams with a cohesive framework focused on customer and business value. The latest update has made the ITIL library more flexible and adaptable. These changes are also reflected in the new ITIL 4 framework and guidelines.

So, for example, ITIL 4 introduced the Service Value System (SVS), the main input for which is an opportunity or need, and the main result is value. The ITIL SVS system includes the following components:

  • ITIL guidelines;
  • Control
  • ITIL service value chain;
  • ITIL practices;
  • continuous improvement.

A comparison of the ITIL 4 guidelines and the Agile Manifesto shows that the new version of ITIL supports ways of working in line with Agile principles.