Long ago, in the age of prehistoric computers and software, gigantic computers that filled entire rooms roamed the land. But soon, in the 1980s, computing technology evolved from centralized computers and servers to distributed systems. The executives hired experts to help them, the first IT technicians, but weren’t satisfied with the level of service they were receiving. And so began the struggle to align service expectations with reality, the inception of the age-old tale of long suffering IT technicians versus their executives.
In the halls of the British government, after much wig scratching and tea consumption (okay, maybe not — only courts of law and the royal court wear wigs), a solution was reached. Why not just create a set of guidelines? Bloody brilliant! The British government congratulated themselves and ordered a round of ale (at least in our minds that’s how it went). And so, ITIL (then known as Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management, because this was before acronyms were widely used so they didn’t bother to shorten it to something easier to say) was born.
ITIL Today: A Paradox
Flash forward to today. ITIL (pronounced “eye-till”) replaced GITIM, and in its most updated form exists as intellectual property that’s licensed by AXELOS. In theory, ITIL still totally works, and plenty of people still get ITIL certified. But a lot has changed in the years since it first began (remember the fashion trends in the 1980s? Yeah…). For something that touts itself as the best thing to happen to IT service management, the silver bullet to all your IT woes, it’s certainly not seen that way by many of the people who actually work in today’s modern IT environment.
Many skeptics focus on its inability to adapt to modern technology, and some also expound upon its controlling nature when it comes to delivering a service within the enterprise that doesn’t jive with new agile workflows. Some arguments don’t even bother to beat around the bush on why ITIL isn’t cool anymore (Greg Ferro’s blog, “Why I Hate ITIL So Much,” is of particular note). The bottom line: The standards that were set forth in the British government of the 1980s just can’t keep up with the proliferation of IT in nearly every industry and every department today.
Is ITIL Obsolete?
While blog writers and journalists wage war on the subject of ITIL, it doesn’t change the fact that many business still have ITIL in place, or would like to implement it. Furthermore, many ITSM solutions currently use some form of ITIL to guide their processes, and those pillars are used in many industries for their day-to-day operations. No one likes whiners, and while critics have excellent arguments, they don’t offer any actionable solutions that can fill in all those holes they’ve poked into ITIL. So what’s to be done?
Let’s be real: Sometimes, getting rid of a current method, no matter what its issues are, can cause more harm to your processes, and set you back significantly. So instead of ripping out ITIL’s cords and throwing it in the trash, is there a way to adapt ITIL to the modern enterprise? Can we find a happy, realistic ITIL medium? What if we put on our grown up pants and knuckle down to find a solution to ITIL?