ITIL having hard time living up to hype

Many IT organizations working to improve IT service delivery and management processes depend on the best practices laid out in ITIL, but the framework isn't always seen as the panacea adopters expected.

BT INS  this week released findings of a worldwide survey of 300-plus IT pros conducted between July and August about their use of ITIL in relation to IT service-management processes. Results show that 51 percent of respondents use ITIL to improve on IT service management, but more (55 percent) depend upon in-house developed practices to tweak processes. ITIL stands for the Information Technology Infrastructure Library.

Other best-practice frameworks used by poll respondents include COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology), for 14 percent; ISO/IEC 20000, 11 percent; MOF (Microsoft Operations Framework) and FCAPS (Fault, Change, Accounting, Performance and Security), for 9 percent.

BT INS notes that the number of ITIL adopters has dropped off since a considerable uptick between 2004 and 2006, though 46 percent of those polled not using ITIL today said they planned to do so within 18 months.

"Perhaps [ITIL] is starting to hit a saturation point, or maybe the recent introduction of ITILv3 will drive new adoption in the year ahead," the report states.

Some 48 percent of respondents indicated that the latest version of the framework -- which proponents say adds more deployment guidance -- will "at least make some difference in their ability to incorporate ITIL" into their IT service-management plans. But 25 percent don't expect the update to affect their practices much or at all.

The poll also revealed that while a majority (69 percent) of ITIL adopters say the best-practice framework is meeting their expectations, fewer respondents found it to be critical to the success of their overall IT service-management project. For instance, 32 percent of those using ITIL today said it is very critical to the success of their goals, compared to 45 percent and 43 percent in 2004 and 2006.

"Three years ago expectations for ITIL were higher than warranted," BT INS says. "The reality of what it exactly can and can't do has lowered respondents' views of its criticality."

Also fewer survey respondents said they feel that they understand ITIL at both a conceptual and detail level. This year about 33 percent of those using ITIL reported they felt familiar with both aspects of ITIL, which is an increase from 2004 when 24 percent reported. Yet in 2006 43 percent reported they felt confident using the best practice framework.

"Perhaps this is another factor in this year's decline in ITIL being viewed as very critical for managing IT processes," the report concludes.

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