ITSM History IT service management (ITSM) evolved naturally as services became more and more underpinned in time by the developing technology and changing business needs as well as customer’s perception and demand. In its early years, IT was mainly focused on application development – all the new possibilities seeming to be ends in themselves. During the 1980s, as the practice of service management grew, so too did the dependency of the business. Meeting the business need called for a more radical refocus for an IT service approach and the ‘IT help desk’ emerged to deal with the frequency of issues suffered by those trying to use IT services in delivery of their business. At the same time, the UK government, fueled by a need for finding efficiencies, set out to document how the best and most successful organizations approached service management. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, they had produced a series of books documenting an approach to the IT service management needed to support business users. This library of practice was entitled the IT Infrastructure Library – ITIL® to its friends. A formal standard for ITSM, The British Standard 15000, largely based on ITIL® practices, was established and followed by various national standards in numerous countries. Since then the ISO 20000:2005 Standard was Introduced and gained rapid recognition globally. ITIL®’s next revision began in the mid 1990s, until 2004. Version 2 of ITIL®, as it is commonly referred to, was a more targeted product – with nine books – explicitly bridging the gap between technology and business, and with guidance focused strongly on the processes required to deliver effective services to the business customer.

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Today’s ITSM and ITIL®
In 2004, the OGC began the second major refresh initiative of ITIL®, in recognition of the massive advancements in technology and emerging challenges for IT service providers. New technology architectures, virtualization and outsourcing became a mainstay of IT and the process based approach of ITIL® needed to be revamped to address service management challenges. After twenty years ITIL® remains the most recognized framework for ITSM in the world. While it has evolved and changed its breadth and depth, it preserves the fundamental concepts of leading practice.

Why is ITIL® so successful?
ITIL® is intentionally composed of a common sense approach to service management – do what works. And what works is adapting a common framework of practices that unite all areas of IT service provision toward a single aim – delivering value to the business. The following list defines the key characteristics of ITIL® that contribute to its global success:>

  • Non-proprietary
  • Non-prescriptive
  • Best practices
  • Good practices

Which Stream to Choose?
A very common question many people have in their minds after doing their ITIL®V3 Foundation is which stream and which intermediate exam to choose from? Should it be the Lifecycle Stream or Capability Stream? The next question that comes to one’s mind is “what’s the difference between the two Intermediate streams?” In other words, what are the differentiating factors of the two streams that one should consider while pursuing the intermediate level certification? Let’s have a look at the course content of the two Intermediate Streams:

Capability courses cover the Roles and Technology & implementation Considerations in all the following modules: Release Control & Validation (RCV) Operational Support & Analysis (OSA) Service Offerings & Agreements (SOA) Planning, Protection & Optimization (PPO)

Course Content of the Capability Stream RCV

  • Change Management
  • Release & Deployment Management
  • Service Validation and Testing
  • Service Asset & Configuration Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Request fulfillment
  • Service Evaluation


  • Event Management
  • Incident Management
  • Request Fulfillment
  • Problem Management
  • Access Management
  • Service Desk
  • Technical Management
  • IT Operations Management
  • Application Management


  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Service Catalog Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Demand Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Financial Management


  • Capacity Management
  • Availability Management
  • IT Service Security Management
  • Information Security Management
  • Demand Management
  • Challenges, Critical Success Factors and Risks

Lifecycle courses cover the principles and processes in all the following phases Service Strategy (SS) Service Design (SD) Service Transition (ST) Service Operation (SO) Continual Service Improvement (CSI) SS

  • Defining Services and Market Spaces
  • Conducting Strategic Assessments
  • Financial Management
  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Managing Demand
  • Driving Strategy through the Service Lifecycle
  • Critical Success Factors and Risks


  • Processes
  • Service Design technology related activities
  • Organizing for Service Design
  • Consideration of Technology
  • Implementation and improvement of Service Design


  • Service Transition related activities
  • Organizing for Service Transition
  • Consideration of Technology
  • Implementation & improvement of Service Transition


  • Common Service Operation Activities
  • Organizing Service Operation: Functions
  • Technology Considerations
  • Implementation Considerations
  • Challenges, Critical Success Factors & Risks


  • Methods & Techniques
  • Organization for CSI
  • Technology for CSI
  • Implementing CSI
  • Critical Success Factors and Risks

While the above course contents of the two streams may appear to be quite alike, the focus and target audience for each stream is, in fact, very different. And while Foundation provides a good overview of ITIL® V3, it is in the Intermediate courses that the processes and stages come to life.

THE DIFFERENCE The Lifecycle Stream

  • It consists of Five Certifications; wherein each certification is based on one Service Lifecycle phase i.e. Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation & Continual Service Improvement.
  • Lifecycle stream focuses on executing and implementing a complete stage of Service Lifecycle. Lifecycle lays emphasis on the phase, process relationships, roles, responsibilities and implementation considerations but it pays less attention to the processes.
  • Lifecycle modules are meant for those that are working “on” the processes and are responsible for ITSM implementation. If one’s role is more of strategic nature i.e., setting policies, managing the processes, and organizing for processes. The target audience for Lifecycle stream includes: CIOs, CTOs, Managers, Supervisory Staff, Team Leaders, Designers, Architects, Planners, IT Consultants, IT Audit Managers, IT Security Managers and ITSM trainers involved in the ongoing management, coordination and integration of operation activities within the Service Lifecycle.

The Capability Stream

  • It consists of Four Certifications, which are process oriented and provide a deep understanding of the V3 processes and functions, how they are applied and how they act together.
  • Capability stream focuses on improving & implementing existing related processes.
  • The syllabus is more prescriptive and covers a detailed view of the inputs, activities, concepts, metrics and outputs of each process.
  • Capability modules are meant for those that work “in” the processes and are responsible in carrying out the daily process activities. The target audience for Capability stream includes: Business Process Owners, Business Managers, and Operational Staff in Service Portfolio Management; Service Catalogue Management; Service Level Management; Demand Management; Supplier Management; Financial Management and Business Relationship Management.

The final module of Lifecycle & Capability stream is Managing Across the Lifecycle Certification (MALC) that leads to achieving ITIL® Expert. MALC looks at the dynamics of the Service Lifecycle with a strong emphasis on organizational change. One can pursue courses from both the streams and earn the required number of credits to pursue ITIL® Expert. So, the choice between Lifecycle and Capability courses depends on the knowledge that you require to manage your skills in order to enhance your current role, functions, responsibilities, activities and objectives, where you stand at the moment in your ITSM journey and what you are trying to achieve in the short term.

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