This Isn’t Your Dad’s ITIL

With the release of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 3 (v3) last fall CIOs now have a far more useful tool to help them provide their businesses with the services they need. Where ITIL version 2 (v2) was focused on how to provide the services you already provide better, v3 takes these best practices to the next level.

The books Service Strategy and Service Design are the too new offerings in v3 that make all the difference. These two books not only to show you how to run your infrastructure better but, just as importantly, they show you how to decide what services should be provisioned in the first place. This overcomes one of the biggest shortcomings of v2. v3 also takes a lifecycle approach to IT services that brings together development and operations; thus bridging the gap between two almost completely mutually exclusive parts of any IT organization.

v3 “would help CIO’s better align IT services with the business because it helps CIO’s to think about the technology in terms of services that the business uses and then to build your IT process(es) around those,” said Alan Cullop, CIO of NetJets, which manages the second largest airline in the world. “[I]t takes the same ideas and helps in terms of the ‘how to do it’.”

While v3 does take a large leap in helping CIOs utilize the framework to make better decisions, it is still iterative—v3 is based on v2, not a complete rewrite. This is means anyone who is using v2 can simply add what they need from v3. While there are no hard numbers on how many companies have adopted v2, Touchpaper CEO Graham Ridgway is seeing a marked increase in interest in ITIL just the past few months.

Quoting numbers from the Help Desk Institute, Ridgway said the interest in ITIL training from U.S. IT parishioners has increased from just 10% in 2000 to 30% in 2007. And now with v3 on the shelves, interest in “peaking.” This is good news for Touchpaper, which sells IT service and business management software that directly supports ITIL’s best practices.

“The new approach has resonated with U.S. audiences,” he said. “Other places where we do business, down in Australia and southeast Asia, again, it’s got a big excitement. It’s the two things of a very good strategic approach and very good approach to service lifecycle that, at two different levels, it grabs people’s attention.”


Another good aspect of v3 is it allows less mature IT shops to leap frog a little and put together a best-practices approach from the top down; before they have millions invested in hard-to-change architectures. But, unlike more mature shops, those in charge of putting in place what could amount to a radical change in the status quo, may meet far more staff resistance.

In more mature organizations or very large IT shops that run by best practices the changes outlined in v3 may or may not require a radical shift in thinking. What v3 brings to these practitioners is the “how to” portion that v2 lacked—how to think about IT as a service that supports a business; how to design your processes so they are business focused from the outset; how to get rid of the ones that are not; and how to “integrate” (not “align”) IT with the business.

“If a CIO has the resources to put ITIL v3 in place, then it is an improved tool for aligning with the business because it tells him how to run his business; how to decide on the business model, what services to provide, how to design them, how to bring them to life, how to run them (the bit ITIL v2 covered), and when and how to retire them,” said ITIL consultant and ITSM Watch columnist Rob England.

But, there is a “beast” waiting in the wings, cautions England.

“While this is all very good in theory, ITIL v3 is a big beast in practice. It remains to be seen just how many IT organizations can cope with the scale of effort required to do what ITIL v3 asks in order to actually achieve all this idealized stuff.”