ITIL is growing in demand and some employers are paying a premium for certifications and experience in the best practices methodology, but the first question is what exactly is ITIL and is it right for you or your company?
If you've done your research into current IT certifications, you'll see that Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, is near the top of many lists. ITIL practices are designed to help companies identify areas where they need improvement, providing vendor-neutral guidelines on where to make specific changes to reduce costs and increase productivity.
For example, you may use ITIL practices to reduce helpdesk traffic by implementing self-help sections on your company's website or you may use ITIL guidelines to decide whether something is done in-house or by a third-party.
Keep in mind: ITIL is not a tool but rather a set of best practices pertaining to IT service and lifecycle management.
The History of ITILBefore we delve into whether you should implement ITIL practices, let's step back and look at its roots.
In the 1980s, the U.K.'s Government's Central Communications and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) formulated a set of recommendations that was designed to provide a "practical, no-nonsense framework for identifying, planning, delivering and supporting IT services to the business."
ITIL began as a library consisting of books that discussed specific IT service management best practices, based on recommendations from the CCTA.
After its initial publication Version 1 of ITIL consisted of more than 30 volumes from 1986 to 1996. In 2000/2001, ITIL Version 2 was consolidated into eight sets of books that grouped related process guidelines for the various aspects of IT, namely services, applications and management. In April of 2001, the CCTA was merged into the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).
The OGC announced ITIL Version 3--now known as the ITIL 2007 Edition--in May of 2007. It consisted of 26 processes and functions and contained in five core publications:
In July of 2011, ITIL was updated again. This update provided additional guidance with the definition of formal processes that were not previously well-defined, and corrected various errors and inconsistencies that had crept in over the years.
At this point, the OGC was no longer listed as the owner of ITIL, and it was consolidated into the Cabinet Office. The 2011 edition of ITIL is owned by the HM Government. As of January 31, 2012, ITIL certification exams have focused on the ITIL 2011 syllabus (the core principles of ITIL practices for Service Management), rather than that of the ITIL 2007 Edition.
The ITIL Qualification Scheme and Credit SystemThe ITIL Qualification Scheme uses a modular credit system called the ITIL Credit System. All ITIL and ITIL-related qualifications within the ITIL Credit System are assigned a specific credit value. As those credits are applied, the applicant qualifies to test for a higher level of certification. There are five levels of qualifications within the ITIL Qualification Scheme that include the following:
When a candidate completes a given level of the ITIL examination, he or she is given the certification and the attributed credits. Each level of certification has its own requirements, all of which include earning a specific number of credits.
ITIL Complementary QualificationsFortunately, the ITIL Credit System provides credits for other IT certifications (called ITIL Complementary Qualifications) the applicant has passed, including these:
Note: A maximum of six credits from ITIL Complementary Qualifications can be applied towards the ITIL Expert certification.
The official site of ITIL features a tool called the ITIL Credit Profiler, which helps potential candidates determine the total credit value they have attained, and provides them with general guidance on additional certificates they may want to obtain, based on their specific career objectives.
ITIL Certification Management Board
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ITIL exams are provided at three levels: Foundation, Practitioner and Manager. The certifications themselves are managed by the ITIL Certification Management Board, or ICMB. Originally, the ICMB included representatives from various international organizations, including the U.K. OGC, APMG, the Stationery Office (TSO), ITIL Examination Panel and Examination Institutes (EIs).
In 2006, however, the OGC, which owned the ITIL trademark, turned over the management of the ITIL trademark and the accreditation of examination providers to the APM Group. The APMG then contracted with EXIN, BCS/ISEB, Loyalist Certification Services, PeopleCert Group and other certification bodies, accrediting them as the official examination bodies.
These official organizations are now able to accredit official ITIL training providers and offer ITIL exams. Here is a list of accredited ITIL training partners as provided by the official ITIL site.
Each accredited certification organization uses the same questions, from the same question bank that was developed by the APMG. Only accredited training organizations are allowed to advertise, market and/or deliver ITIL certification courses to applicants.
Accredited Training Organizations and Examination InstitutesThere are a number of Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs)--those that have been fully accredited by an approved Examination Institute)-- that provide ITIL certification courses, both online and in person. A full listing of ATOs is provided here.
Additionally, there are many examination institutes (EI) that are accredited by APMG. These examination institutes are allowed to provide an ITIL examination scheme through specific accredited training organizations, and accredited trainers with accredited materials. A list of official Examination Institutes (EI) is also provided by the official ITIL site.
Test Your ITIL Knowledge on Sample ExamsPrior to taking any of the ITIL exams, you should be able to pass any of the sample ITIL exams that are available online. Additionally, you can download a sample ITIL exam from the official ITIM site in PDF form.
A list of online ITIL sample exams can be found here.
Additionally, Android OS and iOS have apps are available:
Rich Hein is a senior writer for CIO.com. He covers IT careers. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.