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Are APIs the New ITIL?

From one side, as-a-service providers speak to customers in the language of APIs, while outsourcing providers speak in the language of ITIL. Like leaving one’s native country, the frustration of dealing with a new language can lead to single syllables and frantic hand gestures. Stanton Jones elaborates on this clash of the IT service platforms in an article for Computerworld.

The ITIL and API

The ITIL language grew out of a culture that was concerned with how internal IT was handling its interactions (especially its financial interactions) with the business customer. ITIL providers and its buyers use the language of ITIL to communicate, external IT to internal IT: for instance, between operations and service portfolio management. Application programming interfaces (APIs) function on a different set of principles that allow developers to “subscribe” to business functionality without the risk of exposing its implementation.

Worlds Collide

Until recently, these two worlds existed separately. But in the last 36 months everything has changed. XaaS providers speaking an API-ish language are disrupting the traditional ITIL chain of communication with the business, displacing IT systems admins and sourcing managers from the conversation. After being approved by the business, says Jones, it’s these same XaaS providers that must then communicate with the ITIL people:

Understand and accept that API-based XaaS adoption will continue at a torrid pace, and yet ITIL-based managed services buying will continue as well, albeit at a slower pace. The two will co-exist for many years to come. The key is having a framework to determine which delivery model is appropriate for which business process or application.

Just because providers won’t agree to sign a master services agreement, it doesn’t mean that they can’t get along! Developers who use APIs to do rapid prototyping can still operate within an expanded risk framework for internal IT. In a democratized IT environment, there may be any mix of API and ITIL service provision, concurrent with the business’s needs.

Eclipse of the ITIL

Then there are fears that APIs will do more than displace ITIL. Is this another instance of technology replacing its human-based counterpart? In a way, says Jones, it is. But he doesn’t see ITIL becoming extinct. Buyers will continue to slice up technology towers, and those towers will need to be evaluated, sourced, orchestrated, and governed by real people who speak the old ‘mother tongue’ of ITIL.

Read the original article at:


Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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