FAQ: ITIL origins, Version 3 explained

Developers of the IT Infrastructure Library plan to publicly release on May 30 the second large revision of the best practice framework. Here are some questions and answers to help explain the role ITIL could play in your IT shop.

Developers of the IT Infrastructure Library plan to publicly release on May 30 the second large revision of the best-practice framework. Here are some questions and answers to help explain the role ITIL could play in your IT shop.

Where did ITIL get its start?

ITIL was developed in the late 1980s by England's Office of Government Commerce, whose responsibilities include driving standards and best practices on government capital projects. The best practice framework focused on IT service management was widely adopted in the U.K. and Europe before gaining popularity among U.S. companies in the past five or so years.

Who is responsible for ITIL's maintenance?

The OGC continues to maintain ITIL intellectual property and oversee updates to ITIL, working with the IT Service Management Forum [itSMF]. The Stationary Office [TSO] in England publishes ITIL books and accompanying materials.

Is there an end-user organization dedicated to ITIL?

The itSMF is an independent user group focused on IT service management with 40 international chapters, including a U.S. chapter.

How many times has ITIL been updated?

The best practice framework was refreshed earlier this decade; updated books were released over the course of a few years starting in 2000. The final Version 2 books were released in 2006.

When is ITIL Version 3 expected to be available?

Efforts to update ITIL to its next version began in 2004 and the initial five books on Version 3 are scheduled to be released on May 30, 2007. Other supporting materials are expected to come out later in summer 2007.

What was the main driver for the Version 3 update?

Industry experts involved in refreshing ITIL say the best practice framework was updated to align with how IT operates within businesses today. The materials in Version 2 have been condensed into Version 3 along with new content, such as methods to measure ITIL's success and align IT efforts with business processes.

Does Version 3 provide more specific insight on how to get best practices in place?

ITIL advocates say Version 3 provides more prescriptive advice by way of use-case scenarios that have worked for others in real-world ITIL implementations. It includes tips to get started depending on specific circumstances. In addition, this version helps broaden ITIL's focus across IT disciplines and silos; content centers around managing the IT service life cycle across an enterprise company, rather than in pockets within various departments.

Will upgrading to ITIL Version 3 require new certifications for IT professionals?

The OGC reports existing ITIL qualifications will not be invalidated by the changes to ITIL because the core principles will not change.

Can IT managers continue with the current Version 2 books without falling behind?

ITIL process adoption is considered an ongoing project unique to each IT organization. IT managers can continue on their adoption path without worry of falling behind. Version 3 books will be available to end users as their best practice implementations mature.

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