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GCN : January 2013
14 GCN JANUARY 2013 • GCN.COM IF YOU'RE A GOVERNMENT IT professional, chances are you have at least a little experi- ence using an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). After all, the concept has been around for about 20 years. But with the advent of large- scale data center consolidation and the growth of cloud servic- es, ITIL as a resources manage- ment tool may be poised for surprising new growth. Those who manage government en- terprise architecture planning often require a solution like ITIL to help them plan, struc- ture and manage multiple sets of IT services -- especially as a means of tracking how those available IT services relate to specific business processes. The concept of ITIL is to use a centralized resource to describe the structure of the specific IT reference resources that have been made available within an organization. This can include both internal and external computing assets, with specific details on how they can be used for man- agement needs or decisions. Such a library often includes a detailed set of practices for how a service is set up for enterprisewide use. Once it s established, some organizations simply treat an ITIL as a compliance tool. But it can be used for more than that. A well-structured and implemented ITIL can be used to map IT services to the spe- cific needs of an organization s business flow. Today, government facilities such as NASA and the Navy s Second Fleet use an ITIL framework to improve the inte- gration, delivery and ongoing documentation for IT services delivery. IT managers can use it to coordinate services deliv- ery in a way that helps meet or exceed IT business objectives and (hopefully) to reduce service disruptions. ITIL as a management concept didn t catch on in the United States, but with the ap- pearance of ITIL v3, it s found a decent fan base here, includ- ing within government. ITIL v3 focuses on IT service lifecycle management, with the following pieces: Service strategy. This helps define the IT customer and the business functions that customer desires. It then sets up a structure for integrating the services required to meet the customer s IT needs. Part of this e ort is also to establish delivery costs so as to meet the required value parameters for a business function. This is a very important part of the equation as more cloud-based IT services become available. It helps organizations make informed decisions as potential costs (internal vs. external services) are reviewed. Service design. This en- sures that any system changes, or newly added services, are planned in a way that will meet customer expectations cost e ectively. This step leverages the initial service strategy by providing an enter- prisewide structure to help IT managers select the solutions and set processes -- specifically those that are needed to meet the needs of specific business processes. As this stage pro- gresses, it also establishes the tools needed to monitor and support the available IT solu- tions, while setting standards for measuring service levels and outcomes. Service transition. The focus here is on implement- ing and servicing the se- lected solutions. It also should include monitoring customer satisfaction to make sure the desired results from the system implementation or upgrade were achieved. It also may set the configuration rules for the end-to-end system. Service operation. Based on the rules set in the previ- ous phase, this phase manages the long-term delivery of the required services. Require- ments for management tasks are implemented here. Compli- ance with service-level agree- ments is monitored. System evaluations and remedial steps are taken if needed. Continual service improve- ment. Based on monitoring during the service operation phase, and on long-term user needs that may result in re- quests for new functions, this phase seeks to measure and improve the service levels. Developing an ITIL helps establish a baseline from which enterprise IT architects can continue to strategize, implement and expand. In turn, it also can be used to standardize IT services across an organization, leading to better economies of scale. Public sector CIOs continue to struggle to integrate such services into their large-scale enterprise architecture e orts. ITIL is an approach that seems to work for coordinating mul- tiple services. But it also takes a business process approach to that management, which is something many agencies need. • --- Shawn McCarthy is research director for IDC Gov- ernment Insights. WHY A 20-YEAR-OLD TRACKING TOOL HAS A NEW GOVERNMENT FAN BASE INTERNAUT BY SHAWN McCARTHY Some organizations simply treat an ITIL as a compliance tool. But a well-structured ITIL can also be used to map IT services to the specific needs of an organization's business flow.