What Is ITIL? A Comprehensive Guide to the IT Infrastructure Library Framework

BY IT GLUE | February 29, 2024

In our digital age, understanding how to optimize IT services is crucial for businesses to thrive. This guide to the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework offers a deep dive into how it streamlines IT service management, aligns services with business needs and promotes ongoing improvement. We’ll explore ITIL’s beginnings, its evolution through various versions, why it’s essential and the benefits it brings to the table. 

As we navigate through the tangible benefits ITIL delivers, it’s evident that a robust documentation platform is indispensable. Enter IT Glue, a comprehensive documentation solution designed to support and enhance ITIL documentation practices, making IT operations more efficient and aligned with business goals. IT Glue ensures that all your IT documentation is organized, easily accessible and secure, helping IT professionals maintain top-notch service management standards. Learn how IT Glue can help you leverage the ITIL framework to its fullest and take a step towards improving your IT service management.

What is ITIL?

ITIL, or IT Infrastructure Library, is a framework designed to optimize IT service management. It provides a set of practices for aligning IT services with the needs of the business, ensuring seamless operations and fostering continual improvement.

What is the relationship between ITIL and ITSM?

ITIL and ITSM, or Information Technology Service Management, go hand in hand. ITIL serves as a robust framework supporting the broader discipline of ITSM. This collaboration enhances organizational efficiency by ensuring that IT services align with business needs.

What is ITIL certification?

The ITIL certification program is a structured pathway that validates one’s proficiency in implementing ITIL practices. It consists of various levels, each signifying a different depth of understanding and skill in applying ITIL concepts.

Who needs ITIL certification?

Individuals seeking ITIL certification include IT professionals, service managers and anyone involved in delivering IT services. The certification is highly valued by companies that prioritize efficient IT service management.

What is the origin of ITIL?

ITIL originated in the UK in the 1980s and was developed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA). Its main goal was to standardize IT practices in government agencies.

How many versions of ITIL are there?

ITIL has undergone three revisions since its inception, with the latest version being ITIL 4. The revisions aimed to adapt to changing technology landscapes and improve the framework’s relevance.


In the initial version of ITIL, the focus was on establishing a basic framework for IT service management. It laid the groundwork for later versions, emphasizing the importance of structured practices.


With the introduction of ITIL v2, significant changes were made to enhance the framework’s effectiveness. This version, released in the early 2000s, marked a shift toward a more comprehensive approach to IT service management. The changes aimed to address gaps in v1 and incorporated a broader perspective on service support and service delivery.


ITIL v3 marked a significant expansion, introducing the ITIL Service Lifecycle, which became a cornerstone of the framework. Each stage in the lifecycle played a crucial role, as seen below:

IT Service Lifecycle

  • Service strategy: Aligning IT strategy with business objectives.
  • Service design: Designing efficient and effective services.
  • Service transition: Managing changes to services and infrastructure.
  • Service operation: Ensuring the ongoing delivery of services.
  • Continual service improvement: Iteratively enhancing services to meet evolving needs.

4 P’s of ITIL v3

  • People: Focused on the individuals and teams involved in service delivery.
  • Process: Emphasizing the importance of defined and managed processes.
  • Product: Managing the technology and tools used in service delivery.
  • Partners: Collaborating with suppliers and partners to enhance service quality.

9 guiding principles of ITIL v3

These principles provide a holistic approach to service management, emphasizing:

  • Focus on value
  • Design for experience
  • Start where you are
  • Work holistically
  • Progress iteratively
  • Observe directly
  • Be transparent
  • Collaborate
  • Keep it simple

ITIL v3 certification levels

  • Foundation: The Foundation level serves as the entry point into ITIL certification. It provides a fundamental understanding of key ITIL concepts, principles and terminology. Individuals at this level gain insights into the ITIL service lifecycle and basic practices, laying the groundwork for more advanced certifications.
  • Practitioner: The Practitioner level focuses on applying ITIL concepts in a practical context. It emphasizes the implementation of ITIL principles within the workplace. This certification equips individuals with the skills to address real-world challenges and improve service management processes.
  • Intermediate: The Intermediate level is a modular certification, offering specialized tracks based on specific areas of the ITIL framework. Each module delves deeper into the practices and processes related to a particular aspect of ITIL, such as service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement.
  • Expert: The Expert level signifies a high degree of ITIL mastery. Individuals at this level demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the entire ITIL framework and its application in diverse organizational contexts. Achieving Expert certification requires the completion of multiple Intermediate modules and the Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) module.
  • Master: The Master level represents the pinnacle of ITIL certification, showcasing individuals who have applied ITIL principles to achieve significant business outcomes. To attain the Master certification, candidates must demonstrate practical experience, contribute to the IT service management field, and present a successful work-related project that incorporates ITIL practices. This level acknowledges not only theoretical knowledge but also the ability to drive meaningful improvements within an organization.


ITIL 4 builds upon the foundations of v3, introducing new elements to adapt to modern IT practices and business environments.

Service Value Chain

An evolution from the IT Service Lifecycle, the Service Value Chain consists of:

  • Planning
  • Engagement
  • Design and Transition
  • Procurement/Building
  • Deliver and Support
  • Improve

4 dimensions of ITIL 4

Building on the 4 P’s from v3, these dimensions consider:

  • Organizations and people
  • Information and technology
  • Partners and suppliers
  • Value streams and processes

7 guiding principles of ITIL 4

These principles guide organizations to:

  • Focus on value
  • Start where you are
  • Progress iteratively with feedback
  • Collaborate and promote visibility
  • Think and work holistically
  • Keep it simple and practical
  • Optimize and automate

ITIL 4 governance

Governance in ITIL 4 involves:

  • Directing: Directing in ITIL 4 governance refers to the strategic oversight and decision-making processes within an organization. It involves establishing clear objectives, defining the strategic direction and ensuring that resources are aligned to meet business goals. This aspect of governance guides the organization in making informed and effective decisions.
  • Monitoring: Monitoring plays a crucial role in ITIL 4 governance by continuously assessing and observing the performance of services, processes and activities. It involves the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics to track progress, identify areas for improvement and ensure that the organization remains aligned with its goals.
  • Evaluating: Evaluating in ITIL 4 governance involves the systematic assessment of processes, services and overall performance. It includes analyzing data, measuring outcomes against established criteria and conducting regular reviews to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Evaluation is integral to the continual improvement aspect of ITIL, fostering a culture of learning and adaptability.

ITIL 4 continual improvement

Continual improvement remains a central focus in ITIL 4, ensuring that organizations consistently enhance their services.

ITIL 4 management practices

These practices include:

  • General management practices: General management practices in ITIL 4 involve universal principles applicable across various business domains. These practices include areas such as leadership, communication, information security and organizational change management.
  • Service management practices: Service management practices in ITIL 4 are specific to the delivery and management of services. Examples include service design, service level management, incident management and problem management. These practices ensure effective and efficient service delivery.
  • Technical management practices: Technical management practices in ITIL 4 focus on the technical aspects of managing IT services. This includes practices related to technology and infrastructure, such as deployment management, infrastructure and platform management and software development.

ITIL 4 certification levels

The certification levels in ITIL 4 encompass:

  • Foundation: The Foundation level in ITIL 4 provides a fundamental understanding of key concepts, terminology and principles within the ITIL framework. It serves as the entry point for individuals seeking to build their expertise in IT service management.
  • Managing Professional: The Managing Professional level in ITIL 4 is designed for practitioners who wish to delve deeper into the practical application of ITIL practices. It consists of modules covering various aspects, including creating, delivering and supporting services.
  • Strategic Leader: The Strategic Leader level in ITIL 4 focuses on the strategic and leadership aspects of IT service management. It equips professionals with the skills needed to shape and influence organizational strategy.
  • Master: The Master level in ITIL 4 represents the highest level of certification, acknowledging individuals who have demonstrated exceptional mastery and practical application of ITIL principles. Achieving Master certification involves contributing significantly to the field and completing a complex work-related project.

Why is the ITIL framework important?

The ITIL framework is crucial for organizations as it establishes standardized practices, fosters a stable IT environment, aligns IT with business goals and ensures continual improvement.

What are the benefits of ITIL?

Cost visibility, effectiveness and reduction

Proper implementation of ITIL brings forth several benefits related to cost management and effectiveness:

  • Cost reductions: ITIL facilitates cost reductions by optimizing resource use. Improved efficiency in digital, physical and human resources contributes to overall savings.
  • Reduced IT operations costs: By streamlining processes and enhancing resource utilization, ITIL leads to a reduction in operational costs, promoting cost-effectiveness.
  • Establishment of cost-effective practices: The framework is designed to guide organizations in developing and adopting cost-effective practices for utilizing hardware and software resources efficiently.
  • Increased visibility of IT costs and assets: ITIL enhances visibility into IT costs and assets, providing a transparent view of resource allocation and facilitating informed decision-making.
  • Transparency: Through the establishment of standards, ITIL enhances transparency into IT costs and operations. It transforms IT administrators into frontend business service partners, fostering collaboration across departments.

Standardization and stability

ITIL contributes to standardization and stability within the IT environment, ensuring predictability and adaptability:

  • Primary goal of standardization: Standardization is a key goal of the ITIL foundation. It creates predictable IT environments, simplifying risk management, problem-solving and process streamlining.
  • Building a stable environment: ITIL builds a stable environment that accommodates growth, scale, and change. This stability is crucial for maintaining a flexible service environment that can readily adapt to evolving requirements.
  • Flexibility in service environment: The framework promotes a more flexible service environment capable of adapting swiftly to changes, fostering agility within the organization.

Organizational alignment

Alignment between IT and business objectives is a core benefit of ITIL, fostering strategic collaboration:

  • Stronger alignment between IT and business: ITIL leads to stronger alignment between IT and business goals, enabling the development of new business services and capabilities.
  • Better goal alignment: It enhances goal alignment between IT departments and the broader business, ensuring that IT initiatives contribute directly to achieving organizational objectives.
  • Strategic alignment: Similar to the DevOps methodology, ITIL seeks to unite business operations and IT departments. It enhances communication, translating business strategies and goals into actionable technical requirements.
  • Centered on addressing business issues: ITIL guides IT organizations in centering their focus on addressing broader business issues rather than confining their role to IT-centric challenges.

Improved productivity and service delivery

Enhancements in productivity and service delivery are notable outcomes of ITIL implementation:

  • Improved IT productivity and employee satisfaction: ITIL contributes to improved IT productivity and heightened employee satisfaction, creating a positive working environment.
  • Optimized use of skills and experience: The framework ensures the optimized utilization of skills and experience within the organization.
  • Enhanced service delivery: ITIL results in improved service delivery, positively impacting revenues and customer satisfaction.
  • Improved delivery of third-party services: ITIL specifications serve as standards for service delivery in third-party services procurements, ensuring consistent and high-quality service delivery.

Stronger customer relations

ITIL elevates customer relations by focusing on professional service delivery:

  • Improved customer satisfaction: Through a more professional approach to service delivery, ITIL enhances customer satisfaction.
  • Strengthened customer relationships: By delivering efficient services that align with customer needs, ITIL strengthens relationships and builds trust.

Risk and disruption management

ITIL aids organizations in managing and mitigating risks, disruptions and failures:

  • Assistance with risk management: ITIL assists in managing risk, disruption and failure by providing structured approaches to identify, assess and address potential issues.
  • Streamlined service disruption response and management: The framework ensures a streamlined response and management process during service disruptions, minimizing the impact on operations and users.

Support and document ITIL implementation with IT Glue

IT Glue plays a crucial role in enhancing and documenting ITIL initiatives by providing a standardized and smart framework. This framework makes it easy to comprehensively document every aspect of any IT environment, adhering to industry standards and advanced frameworks to improve IT operations. It offers ready-to-use templates and an intelligent design that automatically helps you manage all assets, passwords and SOPs. This ensures SLAs are met reliably, customer relationships are strengthened and business objectives are not just met but surpassed. Explore how your organization can seamlessly adopt the ITIL framework in IT Glue with a personalized demo.

By seamlessly navigating the intricate realms of ITIL with an intelligent IT documentation solution in your tech stack, organizations can elevate their IT service management, drive operational efficiency, and foster a culture of continual improvement. Join us on this enlightening journey as we unravel the layers of ITIL’s evolution and best practices, empowering you to optimize your IT operations.

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