‘’Like other popular trends of the time — CD-ROMs, large desktop computers, and brick-sized cellular phones — ITIL now appears to be an artefact of a bygone era when viewed through the lens of today’s IT operations/service management.’’

Do you agree?

Let us convince you of the contrary.

First of all, before discussing whether ITIL is still relevant or not, we should define what it is.

ITIL is a set of detailed practices for IT activities such as IT service management and IT asset management that focus on aligning IT services with the needs of business. In other words, it’s not books, it’s a philosophy about working with IT services. It currently comprises five books, each covering various processes and stages of the IT service lifecycle. 

However, it has gone through several revisions in its history <a href=""moneyman<. The original 30 books of the ITIL were first condensed in 2000 (when ITIL V2 was launched) to seven books, each wrapped around a facet of IT management. Later, the ITIL Refresh Project in 2007 consolidated the ITIL to five volumes consisting of 26 processes and functions – this is referred to as the ITIL 2007 edition. In 2011, another update — dubbed ITIL 2011 — was published under the Cabinet Office. The five volumes remained, and ITIL 2007 and ITIL 2011 remained similar. Then, ITIL 4, which was released in 2019, maintains the same focus on automating processes, improving service management and integrating the IT department into the business.

ITIL’s systematic approach to IT service management can help businesses manage risk, strengthen customer relations, establish cost-effective practices, and build a stable IT environment that allows for growth, scale and change.

ITIL 4, which is the latest version, contains nine guiding principles that were adopted from the most recent ITIL Practitioner Exam, which covers organizational change management, communication and measurement and metrics. These principles include:

  1. Focus on value.
  2. Design for experience.
  3. Start where you are.
  4. Work holistically.
  5. Progress iteratively.
  6. Observe directly.
  7. Be transparent.
  8. Collaborate.
  9. Keep it simple.


Regarding certifications, ITIL v3 certification scheme previously consisted of five levels: Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert and Master. Each level required a stronger depth of knowledge and understanding of ITIL. 

The certification scheme under ITIL 4 has been streamlined to include the ITIL Foundation and the ITIL Master exams.

The ITIL Foundation exam has two paths, ITIL Managing Professional (MP) or ITIL Strategic Leader (SL), which each have their own modules and exams.

The ITIL Managing Professional (MP) exam is designed for IT practitioners who are involved with technology and digital teams throughout the organization, not just in the IT department. This path will teach professionals everything they need to know about running successful IT projects, teams and workflows.

Modules include:

  • ITIL Specialist – Create, Deliver and Support
  • ITIL Specialist – Drive Stakeholder Value
  • ITIL Specialist – High Velocity IT
  • ITIL Strategist – Direct, Plan & Improve

The ITIL Strategic Leader (SL) exam is designed for those who deal with “all digitally enabled services,” and not just those that fall under IT operations. This path focuses on how technology directs business strategy and how IT plays into that.

Modules include:

  • ITIL Strategist – Direct, Plan & Improve
  • ITIL Leader – Digital & IT Strategy

Both paths can lead to the ITIL Master exam, which is the highest level of certification you can achieve with ITIL 4.

For those already in the middle of working towards a ITIL v3 certifications, credits will transfer over to the new certifications. Axelos recommends that all ITIL certification candidates continue the path towards ITIL master.


ITIL is used by organizations worldwide in all industries and sectors:

  • Large, medium and small companies. For instance, Google utilizes best practices from an integrated and holistic perspective. Other firms using ITIL are Aquilla Heywood (software provider), Amadeus (business solution provider for airlines and airports, Bimbo (international bakery), Walt Disney Company or Spotify. 
  • National, state, and local governments. Examples are: Essex County Council (municipal government), Internal Revenue Service (government agency) or US Department of the Interior (government agency).
  • Universities and education systems such as Ohio State University, Newcastle University and De Montfort University, that offer higher level education. 
  • Non-governmental organizations.


The ITIL process is organized by ITIL V3 (ITIL 2011) around the five service lifecycle stages. Each stage is focused on a specific phase of the service lifecycle:

  • Service strategy. Decide on the strategy of serving customers. Starting from the assessment of customer needs and the market, the service strategy process will determine the services that the IT organization will provide and which features need to be developed. The ultimate goal is to enable IT organizations to think and act in a strategic way.
  • Service Design. Strategies generated in the Service Strategy stage are turned into action. Services and processes are designed and plans are implemented to have a better service management. This is the productive and creative part of the ITIL lifecycle in IT services. Here, service owners are able to design services that would best delight customers. Also, it is here that attention to detail as well as foresight is a key factor for success. It is important that the correct team is allocated to implement this stage of the ITIL services lifecycle.
  • Service Transition. Services and processes designed in this stage are transitioned into a live environment. This stage includes preparation of services and processes for the live environment. It also includes testing before going into the live environment. After this stage, services and processes are provided to their customers. It is important to test all possible scenarios that may arise in the live environment. It is for ensuring that there are no glitches when the customers start to use the service. Thoroughness is key in this stage of the ITIL lifecycle.
  • Service Operation. Ensure effective and efficient delivery of IT services. The service operation process includes satisfying user requests, solving service failures, repairing problems, and performing routine operation tasks. At this stage, the organization is bound to service level agreements with customers. So the service owner must ensure that the organization complies with the agreement.
  • Continual Service Improvement. To use methods from quality management in order to learn from past successes and failures. The Continual Service Improvement process aims to continually improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IT processes and services, in line with the concept of continual improvement adopted in ISO 20000.

When each phase of the ITIL lifecycle for IT services is managed correctly, the organization can rest assured that their services will be aligned with their business strategies. During the ITIL lifecycle, the service solutions will be designed according to all the requirements set out during the Service Design stage. They will be flawlessly implemented into a live environment for customers to use. The continuous nature of the Continual Service Improvement stage of the ITIL lifecycle for services ensures that any optimization that can be done regarding the performance of the service will be done. Also, it guarantees that the service will progressively grow into a service that becomes more and more profitable over time.


Bearing this in mind, it begs a simple question: is ITIL still relevant in the era of DevOps and hybrid cloud? There are two opposite perspectives. Let’s look into them.

On the one hand, some people think that even with updates, ITIL is outdated. Over the last few decades, ITIL has played a crucial role in shaping how the industry views IT operations. It has created a widespread workload-first philosophy — sequential, plan-oriented, and predicated on setting up devices to handle specific workloads first and worrying about maintenance later.

The premise is that technology work can be segmented, as you’d find in a factory, and that aligning infrastructure around key workloads will simplify operations and result in greater efficiency. That is, the initial and continued emphasis on managing IT infrastructure is misaligned with modern enterprises’ goals of better managing services and the customer experience.

IT’s shift toward DevOps has flipped the script on how organizations plan and manage work in the digital era and presents an existential challenge to the legacy ITIL framework. Organizations are increasingly adopting agile development over conventional ITIL-derived waterfall methodologies, replacing a test-at-the-end approach with more iterative continuous integration frameworks.

The continuous and dynamic relationship between development and operations teams lies in direct conflict with ITIL’s sequential nature. Even with its most recent updates (26 processes and four core functions), ITIL’s approach still encourages operational and data silos and ignores IT’s general shift toward more service-centric operations.

There are three critical areas where ITIL falls short.

Today’s enterprise IT is software-defined and service-oriented. It’s private, public, hybrid, and multi-cloud. It’s virtualized, containerized, and increasingly automated. It’s fundamentally and markedly different from how things were even five years ago. So why should organizations rely on management methodologies developed well before the industry’s maturation and evolution?

For all the good it’s done for the industry in the past, ITIL fails to sufficiently meet the demands of modern IT teams in three key areas:

  1. The shift to a service orientation. IT’s evolving focus on the customer experience means it must dedicate more time and resources to application development and maintenance. ITIL-derived IT operations focus on component monitoring, while in the DevOps era they should emphasize service-level management.
  2. The transition to DevOps and continuous deployments. Customers want what they want, and they want it now. Sequential software development lifecycles (Waterfall) focusing on step-by-step design, testing, and maintenance actions don’t offer the speed, agility, or adaptability to deliver products and services to market, creating a massive competitive disadvantage for old-school dev shops.
  3. The rise of enterprise complexity. IT as a whole has radically transformed in the last few years. The introduction of microservices, containerization, cloud-native workloads and serverless computing all are more complicated than the old ITIL methods were built to tolerate.

So what’s the new model?

In ITIL’s peak, its biggest benefit was protection against failure due to organizational change. Change controls protected vital IT infrastructure against misconfigurations or other lapses that led to system downtime, the most important performance metric for a supporting-role IT team.

But today’s IT doesn’t just play a supporting role. It’s an active, willing contributor to organizational success; the driving force behind the modern enterprise. Today’s ITOps must be agile, efficient, and flexible enough to service not just planned workloads, but also modern IT environments built on a model that supports continuous change, automated deployments, and interchangeable components.

Forward-thinking IT organizations have realized that empowering service and line-of-business owners with a management model aimed at maintaining websites, apps, portals, and other customer touchpoints first is the real key to gaining a strategic edge.

The IT world is markedly different from what it was the last several decades. The emergence and proliferation of cloud-based technologies has introduced a slew of challenges around managing and securing more endpoints, devices, and services that ITIL framework developers couldn’t possibly have envisioned. As such, it’s time for IT leaders to reconsider their support models, adopt more contemporary, service-centric operations, and leave ITIL in the past where it belongs.

On the other hand, there are a number of people that think quite the opposite. 

ITIL has been around for about 4 decades now, and over this time, it has shown that the answer to whether it is useful or not is definitely yes. In fact, ITIL updated its courses recently bringing out the latest ITIL 4 version of the certifications, and this has made ITIL become even more relevant in today’s times. The main reason why people believe that ITIL is worth it is because the ITIL framework is focusing on shifting organizations from optimization focused models to customer-centric ones. What we witness today is a change of power from enterprises to customers.

Before the launch of ITIL (v3, 2011), many have dismissed ITIL as a relic of a different age. The launch of ITIL v3, 2011 established ITIL as a fundamental foundation, offering stability and value within evolving enterprises. The core concepts of ITIL have been further refined with the update of ITIL 4 in 2019. This update marked an immense leap in the ITSM world. The update has placed strong emphasis towards agility, flexibility and innovation in ITSM, emphasizing on the continuous relevance of ITIL in industry 4.0 and proving that it is far from becoming an artefact any time in the visible future.

The rapid levitation of cloud-based technologies, DevOps, etc. may have questioned the seemingly rigid architectural methods of ITIL in the past. However, the core values of ITIL have remained valid and critical for enabling businesses and organizations to transform. According to AXELOS, owner of the ITIL framework, the updates are progressively matching the agile and dynamic tech architecture. To keep up with times, the ITIL framework has evolved with a paradigm shift from waterfall to agile.


Adoption of ITIL 4 can bring a lot of benefits to the organizations and practitioners alike.  In the new version, the framework accords strategic importance to ITSM by placing it in the wider context of customer experience and value co-creation. The main benefits of ITIL4 are: 

  • Holistic Approach to Service Management 

Understanding how all the parts of the organization (ITSM, development, operations, business relationship and governance) work together in an integrated way is key to a holistic approach to value creation. This provides end-to-end visibility and appropriate controls which is essential to the achievement of organizational agility, faster time to market, quality, optimized costs, and reduced risk through continual improvement and innovation. 

  • Focus on co-creating business value

While the focus of ITIL V3 was on IT services lifecycles (development, deployment, improving and retiring), ITIL 4 has a focus across the entire organization. The four dimensions that are essential to creating value for all stakeholders, including customers are as follows: 

  • Organization and People 

This dimension is essentially about the people aspect of ITSM. The organizational culture needs to support its objectives: the right level of staff capacity, competencies and skill sets are required for value co-creation to take place. Organizational structure (horizontal or vertical), roles and responsibilities, adequate Governance and effective communication are some other key considerations to focus under this dimension.

  • Information and technology 

This aspect applies to both service management and to the services being managed. This dimension includes information created, managed, and used in the course of service provision and consumption. The technology part considers components like storage, network, databases etc. that make up the service as well as technology that support service management at the enterprise level. 

  • Partners and suppliers 

Value is increasingly achieved through co-creation. Partners and suppliers play a vital role in the design, development, delivery, and continual improvement of services. The breadth and depth to which organizations integrate suppliers into their value chains depends on many factors like in-house capabilities, sourcing strategy, relationship, cost etc. 

  • Value streams and processes 

It is critical that the different parts of the organization work in an integrated and coordinated way to create value. ITIL 4 introduces the service value chain which is an operating model that helps map how a value stream (the delivery process of a service) flows across various activities from demand to supply. Organizations should map a value stream for every product or service to provide a complete, end-to-end picture of how value is created. 

  • Improved Business and IT alignment 

With a flexible operating model in the form of Service Value System (SVS), the framework offers opportunities for better alignment of Business and IT whereby IT contributes work in tandem to realize organizational goals. This not only improves quality of service but also leads to higher customer satisfaction by reducing risks and cutting down time to market.

Apart from those mentioned above, some other benefits are:

  • Stronger alignment between IT and the business
  • Improved service delivery and customer satisfaction
  • Reduced costs through improved utilization of resources
  • Greater visibility of IT costs and assets
  • Better management of business risk and service disruption or failure
  • More stable service environment to support constant business change


Although we can not deny the fact that some people have strong opinions about ITIL not fulfilling today’s IT needs and not providing value anymore, we must disagree with this. As it happens, we, as students, have found several applications that will be quite convenient for us in the near and far future. ITIL will definitely be a great help to us and many other people interested in this field, bearing in mind that we are living in the era of digitalization. If we want to focus our studies on digital marketing, software management, or big data for instance, we can surely make use of ITIL and expand our knowledge. We are sure it will soon be a sort of title that will add value to our CV, and it will have even more prestige.

All in all, it is safe to say that ITIL has been very beneficial and valuable, and will continue to be that way for many years to come. Having seen how it works, how it is often reviewed and adapted to current necessities, and what purposes it has, we can clearly confirm that its useful period is not even close to being over.


“Lucía Jerez Gómez. I am a Management and Technology student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, passionate about technology, digitalization and fashion. I also love to spend time with my family and friends. @lucíajerez ”

“Javier Rodríguez Martínez. I am a Management and Technology student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, passionate about cars and Artificial Intelligence. Next year I will be studying in San Diego as an exchange student and I´m looking forward to it. @javierrodriguezmtnez ”

“Paula Canosa Ramos. I am a Management and Technology student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, passionate about sports, philosophy and animals. My dream is to travel the whole world. Next year, I will be studying in Florida to expand my cultural knowledge experiences.  @paulacanosaramos ”

“Lara Lütjens Machés. I am a Management and Technology student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, passionate about travelling, as I´m an exchange student from Luxembourg. Some of my hobbies are sewing and investing. @lara-lutjens-maches ”

“Lucía Bricio Cebrián. I am a Management and Technology student at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, passionate about business and sports. I also like to travel a lot and learn new cultures. Next year I will be studying at Edinburgh as an exchange student, I´m so excited. @luciabricio ”


Javier Rodríguez (100431336)

Lucía Bricio (100430917)

Lucía Jerez (100429996)

Lara Lütjens (100442736)

Paula Canosa (100430136)

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