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COBIT vs. ITIL
 
By John Morency, Network World, 01/10/05
(http://www.networkworld.com/research/2005/011005cobit.html)
 
COBIT and ITIL are more complementary than they are competitive.  COBIT focuses on the definition, implementation, auditing, measurement and improvement of controls for specific processes that span the entire IT implementation life cycle.  As such, it is an excellent reference model for IT governance across the entire implementation life cycle.  The primary focus of ITIL is to provide best practice definitions and criteria for operations management.  More specifically, ITIL primarily focuses on defining the functional, operational and organizational attributes that need to be in place for operations management to be fully optimized in two key categories.  These categories are called Service Support Management and Service Delivery Management, each of which has a number of supporting subcategories.  The management subcategories for Service Support Management include Service Desk, Incident, Problem, Configuration, Change and Release management, while those for Service Delivery Management include Service Level, Financial, Capacity, Service Continuity and Availability. Each subcategory definition includes best practice criteria for many areas, including organizational support, cross management component integration, management reporting, product capability, implementation quality and customer service quality.  If your goal is improving the quality and measurability of IT governance across the entire networked application implementation life cycle or implementing a control system for improved regulatory compliance, COBIT probably would be a more effective choice.  On the other hand, if the objective is to continuously improve IT operations efficiency and IT customer service quality, ITIL would probably be the better bet.  However, one should not look at these comparisons as a COBIT vs. ITIL analysis. It's important to understand the design center differences of each approach and adapt them as needed to meet the specific requirements of your own unique environment. Given the substantial implementation experience with both standards that exists in the industry today, you'll have plenty of peers to call on for advice.  The even better news is that, unlike hardware or software products, their acquisition cost is extremely low.  Morency is a managing director of Transitional Data Services, a service provider in Hopkinton, Mass., that specializes in IT orchestration for small and midsize companies.