In computer data center management, The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a customizable framework of best practices that promote quality computing services in the information technology (IT) sector. ITIL addresses the organisational structure and skill requirements for an IT organisation by presenting a comprehensive set of management procedures with which an organisation can manage its IT operations. These procedures are supplier independent and apply to all aspects of IT infrastructure. Since the mid 1990's, ITIL has been a world-wide de facto standard for IT Service Management.
ITIL is published in a series of books, each of which covers one topic. The names ITIL and IT Infrastructure Library are Registered Trade Marks of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which is an Office of the United Kingdom's Treasury. The content of the books is protected by Crown Copyright.
The recommendations of ITIL were developed in the late 1980's by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), which merged into the OGC in April, 2001 and disappeared as a distinct organization.
ITIL is an IT Service Management framework like ISPL, ASL, DSDM, and COBIT. ITIL is a set of best practices standards for IT service management. The CCTA created ITIL in response to the growing dependence on information technology to meet business needs and goals.
ITIL is built on a process-model view of controlling and managing operations.
Benefits of ITIL
ITIL benefits the IT community in many ways.
- It is comprehensive.
- It creates a common vocabulary. ITIL creates a glossary of tightly defined terms, which lubricates communication.
Overview of the ITIL frameworks
ITIL is defined by a collection of books that describe guidelines for different aspects of best-practice data center management. Taken as a whole, ITIL presents a comprehensive view of the field. The subjects of the individual books are refered to as sets; currently there are eight. The sets are further divided into disciplines, each of which is focused on a specific subject.
The eight sets and their disciplines are:
Service Delivery. What services must the data center provide to the business to adequately support it.
- IT Financial Management
- Capacity Management
- Availability Management
- IT Continuity Managment
- Service Level Management
Service Support. How does the data center ensure that the customer has access to the appropriate services.
- Change Management
- Release Management
- Problem Management
- Incident Management
- Configuration Managment
- Service Desk
- Planning to Implement Service Management. How to start the changeover to ITIL. It explains the necessary steps to identify how an organisation might expect to benefit from ITIL and how to set about reaping those benefits.
- Security Management.
ICT Infrastructure Management What processes, organisation, and tools needed to provide a stable IT and communications infrastructure, and is the foundation for ITIL service management processes.
- Network service management
- Operations Management
- Management of local processors
- Computer installation and acceptance
- Systems management
- The Business Perspective.
Application Management. How to manage the software development lifecycle, expanding the issues touched upon in Software development lifecycle and testing of IT services .
- Software Asset Management.
The following diagram shows the framework of ITIL.
From the beginning, the ITIL Framework has been publicly available (however, it is copyright protected). This means that any organisation can use the framework described by the OGC in its numerous books. Because of this, ITIL guidance has been used by a wide range of organisations including local and central government, energy, public utilities, retail, finance, and manufacturing. Very large organisations, very small organisations and everything in between have implemented ITIL processes. Each set in the diagram above represent a book. The Service Management set is the main discipline of ITIL split into two sections, Service Support and Service Delivery, the service management is concerned with delivering and supporting IT services that are appropriate to the business requirements of the organisations. There are four sets around the IT service management. First, planning to implement service management create the planning to implement ITIL inside an orgnisation. Then, the Business persperctive investigate if the services are efficient on the business and control the cost/revenue for the services. The right side is the ICT infrastructure which deal more with technical issues. The last side is the Application Management which address the complex subject of managing applications from the initial business need, through the Application Management lifecycle, up to and including retirement.
The scope and details of the Service Delivery set are defined in the book
The service delivery discipline looks at what service the business requires of the provider in order to provide adequate support to the business users (See Service support). The discipline consists of the following processes:
- Service Level Management
- Capacity Management
- IT Service Continuity Management
- Customer Relationship Management
- Financial Management
The diagram above shows the relationships between the processes. It is explained in the following subsections.
- Service Level Management
Service Level Management provides for continual identification, monitoring and review of the levels of IT services specified in the Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The process involves assessing the impact of change upon service quality and SLAs. The service level management process is in close relation with the operational processes to control their activities.
- Capacity Management
- Capacity Management supports the optimum and cost effective provision of IT services by helping organizations match their IT resources to the business demands. The high level activities are: Application Sizing, Workload Management, Demand Management, Modeling, Capacity Planning, Resource Management, and Performance Management.
- IT Continuity Management
- IT Continuity Management helps to ensure the availability and rapid restoration of IT services in the event of a disaster. The high level activities are: Risk Analysis, Manage Contingency Plan Management, Contingency Plan Testing, and Risk Management.
- Availability Management
- Availability Management allows organizations to sustain the IT service availability in order to support the business at a justifiable cost. The high level activities are: Realize Availability Requirements, Compile Availability Plan, Monitor Availability, and Monitor Maintenance Obligations.
- IT Financial Management
- IT Financial Management assesses the Total Cost Of Ownership.
The scope and details of the Service Delivery set are defined in the book
- OGC Staff (2000). Service Support. Stationery Office. ISBN 0113300158.
The service support ensures that the Customer has access to the appropriate services to support the business functions.
To a business, customers and users are the entry point to the process model. They get involved in service support by asking:
- Asking for changes
- Needing communication, updates
- Having difficulties, queries.
The service desk is the single contact point for the customers to record their problems. It will try to resolve it, if there is a direct solution or will create an incident. Incidents initiate a chain of processes: Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, Release Management and Configuration Management (see following sections for details). This chain of processes is tracked using the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), which records each process, and creates output documents for tracability (Quality Management).
The Service Desk acts as the central point of contact between service providers and users/customers, on a day-to-day basis. It is also a focal point for reporting Incidents and making service requests. It handles incidents and requests, as well as providing an interface for other Service Management activities such as Change, Problem, Configuration, Release, Service Level and IT service Continuity Management.
The Service Desk keeps users informed of the service events, actions and opportunities that are likely to affect them. The Service Desk is in the direct line of any impact on the Service Level Agreement and as such needs rapid information flows.
To meet both Customer and business objectives, many organisations have implemented a central point of contact for handling Customer, User and related issues. This function is known under several titles, including:
The Service Desk differs from the Help desk and Call centre offering a more globally-focused approach, which integrates business processes into the Service Management infrastructure. It not only handles Incidents, Problems and questions, but also provides an interface for other activities such as customer Change requests, maintenance contracts, and software licences.
The objective of the Service Desk are:
- Providing a single point of contact for customers
- Facilitating the restoration of normal operational service with minimal business impact on the customer within agreed levels (SLA) and business priorities.
The common Service Desk functions include:
- Receiving calls, first-line customer liaison
- Recording and tracking incidents and compliants
- Keeping customers informed on request status and progress
- Making an initial assessment of requests, attempting to resolve them or refer them to someone who can
- Monitoring and escalation procedures relative to the appropriate SLAs
- Indentifying problems
- Closing incidents and confirmation with the customers
- Coordinating second-line and third line support
The first goal of the incident management process is to restore a normal service operation as quickly as possible and minimize the impact on business operations, thus ensuring that the best possible levels of service quality and availibility are maintained. 'Normal service operation' is defined here as service operation within Service Level Agreement (SLA).
ITIL terminology defines an incident as:
- Any event which is not part of the standard operation of a service and which causes, or may cause, an interruption to, or a reduction in, the quality of that service
The definition means that an incident is a problem but without a root or cause. If the incident has a root, the incident become a problem or a known error (see the next section). Examples of incidents:
- service not available
- application bug
- disk-usage threshold exceeded
- automatic alert
- printer not printing
- Service requests
- request for information/advice/documentation
- forgotten password
The main incident management processes are the following:
- Incident detection and recording
- Classification and initial support
- Investigation and diagnosis
- Resolution and recovery
- Incident closure
- Incident ownership, monitoring, tracking and communication
The incidents that cannot be resolved quickly by the Help desk will be assigned to specialist groups. A resolution or work-around should be established as quickly as possible in order to restore the service.
Incidents are the result of failures or errors in the IT infrastructure . The cause of Incidents may be apparent and that cause be adressed without the need for further investigation, resulting in a repair, a Work-around or an RFC to remove the error. The following diagram shows the relationship between incidents, problem, known errors and RFCs.
A problem can be a result of several incidents, and it's possible that the Problem will not be diagnosed until several incidents have occurred. Handling a problem is different from handling an incident and therefore is covered by the problem management process. Then the problem becomes a Known error which means that the problem has been successfully diagnosed and for which a Work-around is known. Finally the request for changes (RFCs) is the procedure to modify the system by resolving the known error, this process is covered by the Change Management.
A request for new additional service is often not regarded as an incident but as a Request for Change (RFC).
The goal of Problem management is to minimize the adverse impact of Incidents and Problems on business that are caused by errors within the IT infrastructure, and to prevent recurrence of incidents related to these errors. A ‘Problem’ is an unknown underlying cause of one or more incidents, and a ‘Known error’ is a problem that is successfully diagnosed and for which a Work-around has been identified. The CCTA defines problems and Known errors as follows:
A problem is a condition often identified as a result of multiple Incidents that exhibit common symptoms. Problems can also be identified from a single significant Incident, indicative of a single error, for which the cause is unknown, but for which the impact is significant.
A known error is a condition identified by successful diagnosis of the root cause of a problem, and the subsequent development of a Work-around.
Problem management is different than incident management. The principal purpose of problem management is the detection, resolution, and prevention of incidents; incident management records the incident.
The above diagram shows the details of the problem management process. The problem management process is intended to reduce the number and severity of incidents and problems on the business, and report it in documentation to be available for the first-line and second line of the help desk. The proactive process identifies and resolves problems before incidents occur. These activities are:
- Trend analysis;
- Targeting support action;
- Providing information to the organization.
The Error Control Process is an iterative to process known errors until they are eliminated by the successful implementation of a change under the control of the Change Management process.
The Problem Control Process aims to handle problems in a efficient way. Problem control identifies the root cause of incidents and reports it to the service desk. Other activities are:
- Problem identification and recording;
- Problem classification;
- Problem investigation and diagnosis.
The standard technique for identifying the root cause of a problem is to use an Ishikawa diagram, also referred to as a cause-and-effect diagram, tree diagram, or fishbone diagram. An Ishikawa diagram is typically the result of a brainstorming session in which members of a group offer ideas to improve a product. For problem-solving, the goal will be to find the cause and effect of the problem. The following diagram is an example of a Ishikawadiagram
Ishikawa diagrams can be defined in a meta-model.
First there is the main subject, it’s the backbone of the diagram what we try to solve or improve, the main subject is derived from a cause. The relationship between a cause and a effect is a double relation, a cause is result of effects, and the effect is the root of causes. But there is just one effect for several causes and one cause for several effects. The following example shows an application of the meta-model.
Configuration Management is a process that tracks all of the individual Configuration Items (CI) in a system. A system may be a simple as a single server, or as complex as the entire IT department. Configuration Management includes:
- Creating a parts list of every CI in the system.
- Tracking of the status of each CI, both its current status and its history.
- Tracking all Requests For Change to the system.
- Verifying and ensuring that the CI parts list is complete and correct.
There are five basic activities of Configuration Management:
- Planning: The Configuration Management plan covers the next three to six months in detail, and the following twelve months in outline. It is reviewed at least twice a year and will include a strategy, policy, scope, objectives, roles and responsibilities, the Configuration Management processes, activities and procedures, the CMDB , relationships with other processes and third parties, as well as tools and other resource requirements.
- Identification: The selection, identification and labelling of all CIs. This covers the recording of information about CI's, including ownership, relationships, versions and unique identifiers. CIs should be recorded at a level of detail justified by the business need, typically to the level of "independent change".
Control: This gives the assurance that only authorised and identifiable CIs are accepted and recorded from receipt to disposal. It ensures that no CI is added, modified, replaced or removed without the appropriate controlling documentation e.g. approved RFC, updated specification. All CIs will be under Change Management Control.
- Status Accounting: The reporting of all current and historical data concerned with each CI throughout its life-cycle. It enables changes to CIs and tracking of their records through various statuses, e.g. ordered, received, under test, live, under repair, withdrawn or for disposal.
- Verification and Audit: This is a series of reviews and audits that verifies the physical existence of CIs, and checks that they are correctly recorded in the CMDB . It includes the process of verifying Release and Configuration documentation before changes are made to the live environment.
The CCTA defines the change management process this way:
- The goal of the change Management process is to ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all changes, in order to minimize the impact of change-related incidents upon service quality, and consequently improve the day-to-day operations of the organization.
Change management is responsible for managing change process involving:
- Communications equipment and software
- System software
- All documentation and procedures associated with the running, support and maintenance of live systems.
Any proposed change must be approved in the change management process. While change management makes the process happen, the decision authority is the Change Advisory Board (CAB), which is made up for the most part of people from other functions within the organisation. The main activities of the change management are:
- Filtering changes
- Managing changes and the change process
- Chairing the CAB and the CAB/Emergency committee
- Reviewing and closing RFC’s
- Management reporting
The change management process is important because everything changes and, in business, where life is sufficiently complex already, the reliance on information systems and technology causes management to spend an astonishing amount of time.
Release Management is used for platform-independent and automated distribution of software and hardware, including license controls across the entire IT infrastructure. Proper Software and Hardware Control ensure the availability of licensed, tested, and version certified software and hardware, which will function correctly and respectively with the available hardware. Quality control during the development and implementation of new hardware and software is also the responsibility of Release Management. This guarantees that all software can be conceptually optimized to meet the demands of the business processes. The goals of release management are:
- Plan to rollout of software;
- Design and implement procedures for the distribution and installation of changes to IT systems;
- Communicate and manage expectations of the customer during the planning and rollout of new releases;
THe focus of release management is the protection of the live environment and its services through the use of formal procedures and checks.
Planning To Implement Service Management
The scope and details of the Planning To Implement Service Management set are defined in the book
- OGC Staff (2002). Planning To Implement Service Management. Stationery Office. ISBN 0113308779.
How to introduce ITIL practices into an existing organization.
The scope and details of the Security Management set are defined in the book
- Cazemier, Jacques A.; Overbeek, Paul L.; Peters, Louk M. (2000). Security Management. Stationery Office. ISBN 011330014X.
ICT Infrastructure Management
The scope and details of the ICT Infrastructure Management set are defined in the book
- OGC Staff (2002). ICT Infrastructure Management. Stationery Office. ISBN 0113308655.
The Infrastructure Management set describes server installation and acceptance, operations managment, system management, and network management.
The Business Perspective
The scope and details of the Business Perspective set are defined in the book
- OGC Staff (2005). The Business Perspective. Stationery Office. ISBN 0113308949.
The Business Perspective covers a range of issues concerned with understanding and improving IT service provision, as a part of the entire business requirement for high IS quality management. These issues are:
- Business Continuity Management describes the responsibilities and opportunities available to the business manager to improve what is, in most organizations one of the key contributing services to business efficiency and effectiveness.
- Surviving Change. IT infrastructure changes can impact the manner in which business is conducted or the continuity of business operations. It is important that business managers take notice of these changes and ensure that steps are taken to safeguard the business from adverse side effects.
- Transformation of business practice through radical change helps to control IT and to integrate it with the business.
- Partnerships and outsourcing
The scope and details of the Application Management set are defined in the book
- OGC Staff (2002). Application Management. Stationery Office. ISBN 0113308663.
The Application Management set covers the life-cycle of software development projects, with particular attention to gathering and defining requirements that meet business objectives.
Software Asset Management
The scope and details of the Software Asset Management set are defined in the book
- OGC Staff (2003). Software Assett Management. Stationery Office. ISBN 0113309430.
Managing software assets.
This section gives an introduction to process theory, which is the basis for ITIL process models. A process is a connected series of actions, activities, and changes etc, performed by agents with the intent of satisfying a purpose or achieving a goal. A process model enables understanding and helps to articulate the distinctive features of a process. When a process has been defined it should be under control to be manageable, the process control is the process of planning and regulating, with the objective of performing the process in an effective and efficient way. The output produced by a process has to conform to operational norms that are derived from business objectives. If products conform to the set norm, the process can be considered effective (because it can be repeated, measured and managed).If the activities are carried out with a minimum effort, the process can also be considered efficient. Process results metrics should be incorporated in regular management reports.
The model shown above is a generic process model. Data enters in the process, is processed and then the data comes out, the output has been measured and reviewed by the process control. This very basic description underpins any process description. A process is always organized around a goal. The main output of that process is the result of that goal. The approach underpins the ‘plan-do-check-act’ cycle of any quality management system. Plan the purpose of your process in such a way that the process action can be audited for successful achievement and, if necessary, improved.
Last updated: 05-15-2005 13:40:33