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What is ITIL®?

By Darlene Goodman
Updated May 17, 2024
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ITIL® stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, and is a series of books and courses that outlines best practice methods for information technology (IT) management. ITIL® is used by thousands of organizations around the world. The methods can help IT service providers, IT directors and managers, and chief information officers to improve the quality of their IT departments’ services. It provides a map, also called the service lifecycle, of how IT functions, how it relates to the larger business world, and how it can potentially be improved. ITIL® is a registered trade mark of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the United Kingdom and other countries.

According to the ITIL®, there are five core aspects of IT management: strategy, design, transition, operation, and continual improvement. These five aspects cover the functions of an IT department from conception to operation to maintenance. The goal of the ITIL® process is to improve the quality of IT service to businesses, therefore the program focuses a great deal on creating an integrated relationship between business and IT service. The ITIL® materials offer IT managers detailed and comprehensive descriptions, checklists, and procedures that can be customized to meet the needs of a particular IT organization.

The ITIL® was originally published over 31 volumes between 1989 and 1995 in the UK. It was commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), which has since been replaced by the OGC, an office of Her Majesty’s Treasury. In its first release, the program’s use was limited mostly to the UK and the Netherlands, but it has since attained worldwide popularity due in part to its independence from commercial interests.

The system was later revised and condensed into a more user-friendly series of seven books published between 2000 and 2004. A newly revised Version 3 came out in 2007 as a series of five books covering the core aspects of IT, supplemented by print and web publications on complementary topics. Starting in 2007, the OCG contracted with the APM Group to manage ITIL® certification and instruction.

Courses offered in ITIL® allow IT practitioners to learn the best practice methods from accredited institutions. Managers who take the courses can achieve several levels of certification, depending on how much of the ITIL® the course covers. The levels range from an introductory course outlining the program’s fundamentals, to courses focusing on one of the key lifecycle concepts, to an expert level course that covers the five core books and some supplemental materials.

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