ITIL's Next Chapter

The IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, gets a new caretaker in January. Here's what joint venture Axelos has planned for the best practices.

Jonathan Feldman, CIO, City of Asheville, NC

October 23, 2013

4 Min Read

In April, a joint venture between the U.K. government and Capita was announced that would take possession of the storied ITIL intellectual property. On Wednesday, the principals of the venture, dubbed Axelos, answered community questions at a "town hall" meeting at the FUSION 13 IT service management conference.

A quick summary of the venture was provided by Shari Brunette, president of itSMF USA. The joint venture still includes the British government, which owns 49%; Capita, a business process outsourcing firm, owns 51%. Peter Hepworth, CEO of Axelos, emphasized that it's "business as usual" until January, which is the planned official launch of the new venture. All professional qualifications (such as ITIL) will remain valid.

Hepworth says that the aims of Axelos are "quality, relevance, growth, collaboration, and innovation" and that there are five routes that he sees to the growth: the existing portfolio of intellectual property, new products, a focus on international business, a focus on the ITSM community, and seeking verticals to do business with. He described the Axelos "onion" concept first laid out in July, in which the core of ITIL is relatively stable, with the outermost layer being community owned. He promised town hall attendees new initiatives and an increase in ITIL value in the future.

Here's how Axelos responded to questions about the new venture.

How do you see various best practices such as devops and Agile mingling with ITIL?

Frances Scarff, head of best management practices for Axelos, said that they're focused on making sure that they have the right mechanisms and hooks in the onion model so that other best practices that complement ITIL can be integrated and make sense within the overarching model.

What's the intent for continued alignment with ISO 20000?

Philip Hearsum, Axelos ITSM portfolio manager, said ISO 20000, an international standard for IT service management, "is an example of how we're going to coexist. We see a symbotic relationship between 20000 and ITIL. 20000 is what you have to do and ITIL is how you do it."

How can Axelos support practitioner orgs with a clear and simplified copyright?

Scarff said, "As it currently stands, the IP licensing was based on U.K. government needs," and Axelos is trying to make it possible to modify the licensing model so that it is "not overly burdensome." They're going to try to make it simpler to see what the rules are and how to get the necessary licenses. "Where it's appropriate, they'll be free licenses, though we'll have paid licenses as well," she said.

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Can you address an industry buzz that there will be a significant increase in pricing?

Hepworth: "We're focused on value... we're also investing, investing in new products and marketing. That's never happened before [to the ITIL intellectual property]. Yes, next year, we're looking for fair value for our products and investments."

Separating the training and examination roles in the training process would be a major change; instructors would no longer be able to proctor exams for their participants. What's happening?

Scarff acknowledged that this has been raised as a quality issue in some territories that use the ITIL IP. "We're looking at it under the quality banner; we haven't quite decided how to approach it. But as soon as we start to formulate the approach, we'll be working out what would be a reasonable plan. It's a long-term issue that's been raised that we'll look at and we need to find the right long-term solution."

How much longer do you see IT remaining as the cornerstone of ITIL? As practitioners we're seeing ITSM evolve into enterprise service management.

The fundamental principles of service management remain the same across the enterprise, said Hearsum, "but we know that we'll need to consider that closely in the future."

Are you developing gaming and simulations as a part of your strategy?

"No, we don't actually have plans," said Hepworth. "I spent the last seven and a half years in the video game industry, and there's a little bit too much being made of that connection." However, he says, "we are definitely interested in any mechanisms like that to bring best practices alive, to make understanding more effective, whether it's serious games or gamification. We're definitely interested in ideas but we don't have plans for it right now."

Hearsum also acknowledged that "we do understand that there is a potential to engage the people entering the workforce via more than just books."

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Feldman

CIO, City of Asheville, NC

Jonathan Feldman is Chief Information Officer for the City of Asheville, North Carolina, where his business background and work as an InformationWeek columnist have helped him to innovate in government through better practices in business technology, process, and human resources management. Asheville is a rapidly growing and popular city; it has been named a Fodor top travel destination, and is the site of many new breweries, including New Belgium's east coast expansion. During Jonathan's leadership, the City has been recognized nationally and internationally (including the International Economic Development Council New Media, Government Innovation Grant, and the GMIS Best Practices awards) for improving services to citizens and reducing expenses through new practices and technology.  He is active in the IT, startup and open data communities, was named a "Top 100 CIO to follow" by the Huffington Post, and is a co-author of Code For America's book, Beyond Transparency. Learn more about Jonathan at

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