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ITIL® – IT Infrastructure Library® – and IT Service Management

ITIL® (the Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a best-practice methodology for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on the end-user rather than on the technology. It is the most widely used approach for ITSM in the world and is used by organizations including Disney, NASA, HSBC, HP and the IRS.

Find out about ITIL and the relevant ITIL books, tools and various ITIL qualifications and training options. You can buy the ITIL 2011 Lifecycle Publication Suite from IT Governance’s ITIL store.

On this page:

A beginner's guide to ITIL
What is ITIL?
The benefits of using ITIL
History of ITIL; ITIL 2011 update
Service Level Agreements
ITIL resources
ITIL and ITSM toolkits
ITIL training and qualifications
ITIL, ITSM and ISO20000 certification

A beginner’s guide to ITIL

If you are new to ITIL®, IT Service Management and ISO20000, our free ITIL Beginner's Guide provides a comprehensive introduction. Enter your email address below and we will send you our green paper immediately.

What is ITIL?

Developed by the UK’s Cabinet Office, ITIL (the Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a best-practice methodology that provides a clear framework for the identification, planning, delivery and support of IT services.

ITIL’s core principle is that IT services must be aligned with the requirements of the organization and underpin all processes, and that IT services should be a business driver, facilitating change, growth and meeting business goals.

There are five core titles in the ITIL Publication Suite that map the entire Service Lifecycle:

You can buy the ITIL 2011 Lifecycle Publication Suite from IT Governance’s ITIL store in soft cover or in PDF format.

The benefits of using ITIL

ITIL has been adopted by thousands of organizations around the world, including NASA, HSBC and Disney, and is supported by a wide range of service providers including IBM, Telefonica, HP and BT.

The main benefits of adopting ITIL are:

  • improved customer satisfaction;
  • increased staff retention;
  • increased ROI in terms of IT;
  • improved staff morale;
  • a more transparent approach towards IT costs and assets; and
  • improved delivery of third party services.

ITIL provides guidance on how to manage IT infrastructure to streamline IT services in line with business expectations. It is a best-practice framework, presenting the consolidated experience of organizations worldwide on how best to manage IT services to meet business needs.

Although organizations cannot achieve certification against ITIL, it is widely used as a method of preparation for achieving ISO20000 certification. Read about ITIL, ITSM and ISO20000 below >>

Individuals can, however, achieve ITIL certification. Read about ITIL qualifications below >>

History of ITIL; ITIL 2011 update

ITIL was originally developed during the 1980s by the UK’s Central Computer and Telecommunication Agency (CCTA). The CCTA created ITIL Version 1 as an approach independent of vendor technology, able to cater for organizations with differing technical and business needs.

The CCTA later became the Office for Government Commerce (OGC), and then became part of the Cabinet Office who, as the copyright owner, updated ITIL and published Version 2.

There was another refresh in 2007 when the library was republished as Version 3. Following an extensive review project, updated versions of the core ITIL books were released on July 29 2011. The idea behind the 2011 refresh is that the guidance becomes easier to navigate, learn, read, teach and adopt. However, the ethos and core concepts from the ITIL 2007 editions have remained the same.

On July 1 2013 AXELOS was launched as a joint venture company, formed by the Cabinet Office with Capita plc., to run the Best Management Practice portfolio, including ITIL. AXELOS now owns the intellectual property of the Best Management Practice portfolio and will also assume the management of all existing licensing schemes, and the accreditation and support of examination institutes, training organizations, and consulting organizations.

ITIL has been widely adopted across the world, in both the public and the private sectors, and is now recognized as best practice for IT service management. It is deployed in organizations of all sizes and types.

You can order the 2011 updated versions of the ITIL books from the IT Governance ITIL store in various formats here >>

Service Level Agreements

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are at the heart of ITIL and are used to describe agreed levels of service between a service provider and a customer, and are applicable both inside and outside an organization. See our SLA information pages for further guidance.

ITIL resources

Ensure you use only genuine ITIL books, courses and tools. Unofficial publications, websites and toolkits are not guaranteed to align with best practice.


As an official distributor for TSO (the official publisher), we distribute the full range of official Cabinet Office ITIL publications across the US. The core ITIL library comprises five books, all of which are included in the ITIL Lifecycle Publication Suite, which you can order now for immediate shipping.

ITIL 2011 Lifecycle Publication Suite The ITIL 2011 Lifecycle Publication Suite
The ITIL titles are structured to be read as a five-title series, each building on the work of the other. The links between the titles have been enhanced and made clearer in the 2011 versions. The Lifecycle Publications Suite is also available as a downloadable PDF.

The most useful ITIL resources are the ITIL books themselves. However, there are several additional titles that will act as useful guides to help you understand ITIL:

The Official Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle ITIL Foundation Handbook 2011 (Little ITIL)
This official pocket guide from the Official Publisher of the ITIL manuals is a quick reference that will help you to prepare for and pass the ITIL 2011 Foundation exam.

If you are entirely new to ITIL, IT Governance suggests the following introductory guides:

ITIL Service Lifecycle The Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle, 2011 edition
This guide is an official introduction to the 2011 edition of ITIL and to IT service management in general. It provides a summary of the core guidance provided in the Lifecycle Publication Suite and explains information on each stage of the service lifecycle.
ITIL Foundation Essentials ITIL Foundation Essentials is a distillation of critical information to help you understand how to pass the ITIL Foundation exam. Aimed at self-study candidates, ITIL community training delegates, itSMF/BCS members and V2 Foundation Certificate holders who have yet to take an upgraded exam, this pocket guide is fully aligned with the ITIL 2011 core volumes.

ITIL and ITSM toolkits

Adopting IT service management best practice within an organization can be a difficult task. At IT Governance we have a range of toolkits to simplify the process and enable you to achieve adoption on your own:

ITSM, ITIL & ISO20000 Documentation Toolkit
Adopt ITIL and achieve ISO20000 certification quickly, easily and cost-effectively with the most up-to-date toolkit on the market. This toolkit is complete with the latest versions of ITIL and ISO20000, and makes implementation easily achievable.

ISO20000 Documentation Toolkit
This toolkit contains a set of policies, procedures and templates to assist any organization implementing key elements of an ISO20000 service management system.

ITIL training and qualifications

ITIL has a comprehensive qualification scheme that allows IT service management professionals to gain recognition of their level of ITIL and ITSM management competency. The syllabuses for the ITIL qualifications are all based on the books in the ITIL Lifecycle Publication Suite.

ITIL certification for individuals and practitioners is supported by a structure of examination and certification. There are currently four levels of ITIL certification:

  • Foundation
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • Master

IT Governance provides a wide range of ITIL Instructor-Led Virtual Courses, which bring you the best elements of both e-learning and public training courses, offering you the structured approach of a classroom-based course delivered in the comfort of your own home.

To support your ITIL certification studies, it is always wise to invest in a range of materials that will guide your learning process and give you the best possible chance of passing the exams you have chosen to take. IT Governance offers a leading range of study guides for both ITIL Foundation and Intermediate studies:

  • ITIL Foundation eClass
    This online e-learning course is accredited by the OGC and will help you pass your Foundation Exam.
  • Passing Your ITIL Intermediate Exams
    This book offers details about the Intermediate exams, how to prepare and how to achieve the target competencies needed in order to pass the exams.
  • ITIL Key Element Guide Suite
    Each one of these pocket guides supports a particular one of the core ITIL titles, providing a handy quick reference no-nonsense guide to the key information.

ITIL, ITSM and ISO20000 certification

ITIL is widely used as a method of preparation for achieving ISO/IEC 20000 certification. There practical relationship between the various books and guides to ITIL, IT Service Management and ISO 20000 is shown below:

Relationship between books and tools

Although they are integrated, ITIL and the ISO20000 series serve different purposes. The ISO20000 series primarily provides an independent best-practice standard that is suitable for independent third-party certification audits.

The purpose of ITIL is to provide advice on best practices in IT service management. It includes options that may be adopted and adapted by organizations according to business need, local circumstances and the maturity of the service provider. ISO20000 sets the standards that service management processes should aim for.

Download an official guidance paper by Jenny Dugmore and Sharon Taylor on the relationship between ITIL and ISO/IEC 20000, ITIL® V3 and ISO/IEC 20000.

You can order the ISO20000 standard itself, as well as ISO/IEC 20000 – A Pocket Guide from IT Governance’s comprehensive ISO20000 bookstore.


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