ITIL takes on security management role

Implementing ITIL process improvements said to mitigate enterprise risk

Long touted for streamlining processes and reducing operating costs, the ITIL best-practices framework also helps mitigate enterprise risk, say its adopters.

This week at the IDC IT Service Management and ITIL Forum in New York, analysts and enterprise ITIL adopters discussed how process improvements now are providing security benefits. A November survey of more than 300 companies by IDC revealed that security had surpassed improved availability and lowered costs as a main driver for adopting the best practices laid out in ITIL.

Specifically, some 56% of survey respondents indicated security as a motivation for ITIL, close to 50% said they wanted to lower costs and about 47% thought ITIL would help improve availability at their organizations. More than 45% said problem-solving was a driver for rolling out process improvements, and nearly 45% indicated that reducing errors was a top driver for ITIL adoption.

"Any type of process standard going forward will give you a chance to set policies and processes around security," said Fred Broussard, research manager of PC and device management software at IDC, during a presentation at the one-day event, which drew more than 100 attendees. "For instance, you can ensure only authorized users gain access and better guarantee unauthorized access doesn't happen."

The survey response might indicate a growing need among enterprise companies to better secure corporate data and information, considering processes around security information management have been incorporated into ITIL Version 3, which was released earlier this year. Dave Howard, national business technology manager for Toyota Financial Services (TFS) in California, explained to forum attendees how security policy creation and governance has been incorporated into the upgrade and how TFS has created a Security Center of Excellence and an Office of Privacy that align with some of the recommendations in the best practices framework.

"It is important to do security management," Howard said. He also explained how TFS incorporated security into his service design package process, in which models of a service are built and multiple criteria are taken into account. For instance, throughout the process of creating a service, his team has to determine the service's ROI, as well as which security requirements are necessary to deliver it. "For every new release we plan to push out into the environment, we also create a risk model," he said.

ITIL may not provide the external protections of a firewall, but it can go a long way in securing internal resources and preventing data breaches that have become commonplace among US companies.

"Security [can] be the motivation for doing some of these processes, such as patch and change management, for instance, because improving processes will make security work better in situations such as access controls," said Tim Grieser, program vice president of enterprise system management for IDC.

In addition, according to enterprise companies using ITIL, security and risk management could be an easier argument to make when trying to get executive buy-in for adopting ITIL. The ROI for process improvements can be ambiguous and not realized for quite some time, so putting an executive's mind at ease with talk of reduced risk may be the better way to go.

Being able to say "this change will result in a reduction of risk" will get management's attention, according to Oryst Kunka, vice president of process design and architecture at The Bank of New York Mellon in New York. "Sometimes it's hard to point out dollars with process improvements, but companies understand risk. At The Bank of New York, ITIL has become a business advantage," he said.

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