History of ITIL

ITIL originated in the United Kingdom in 1989 as a descriptive framework to create a uniform standard of best practices for the management of the government’s IT services. Almost three decades on, ITIL has grown into a comprehensive methodology for developing and managing IT services and lifecycles across a wide spectrum of industries worldwide.

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The Origin of ITIL


As the usage and dependency of IT systems became increasingly larger across various departments and agencies, the UK government sought to create a standardised system that would allow for more structured and efficient management of IT services. CCTA (Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, merged into the Office of Government Commerce in 2000) was tasked with developing the standard.


Following several years’ worth of extensive research, aided by input from several external private companies (including IBM and its Yellow Books), CCTA introduced the Information Technology Infrastructure Library in 1989. The ITIL acronym wasn’t immediately used (in fact, it wasn’t used until sometime in the 1990s), but the process model-based framework was quickly adopted by government departments across the nation.


The number of books grew over time, and by 1996, there were 30 ITIL books used by government IT departments. Despite the somewhat cumbersome implementation, ITIL was viewed quite favourably after several years of use.


Release to the public


In 2000, CCTA was subsumed by the newly-created Office of Government Commerce (OGC) of the HM Treasury (OGC would in turn be subsumed by the Cabinet Office in 2010 before being disbanded a year later, but that’s another story). In any case, OGC was quite excited by idea of releasing ITIL for use in the private sector owing to the absence of a lack of official standard in the IT sector, and promptly commissioned the creation of ITIL Version 2.


ITIL Version 2 was released to the public in 2005, and it became an instant hit. It would literally go on to create a national AND international standard for IT services management, in the form of the British standard BS15000 and ISO/IEC 20000 Service Management standard.

ITIL’s ability to increase the rate of success in the delivery of services and projects, at markedly reduced costs, powered its growth to stratospheric heights.


Today, ITIL is used by over 10,000 major organisations around the world, and ITIL training has become very commonplace in many workplaces. Aside from the British government, ITIL is also by the government of almost all developed countries. In the U.S., ITIL is used by many state governments as well as by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and U.S. Internal Revenue Service.


In the private sector, major companies which utilise the ITIL framework include Disney, Honda, Citigroup, Shell and Visa. Other behemoths such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, do not use ITIL directly; however, they have adopted best practices which closely mirror ITIL recommendations.




In 2013, the Cabinet Office transferred the ownership and management of ITIL to the newly-formed Axelos in a joint venture with Capita plc.