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Next ITIL upgrade promises more how-to guidance

Consultants, vendors and users refresh the best practice library with more specific how-to advice

By , Network World
April 19, 2007 10:03 AM ET

Network World - For IT shops looking to adopt a best practice framework, but lacking a clear understanding of how to do it, an upgrade to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library could provide some missing assistance.

ITIL was developed in the late 1980s by England’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and laid out 10 core processes IT shops should implement to streamline operations, improve service levels and cut costs associated with network downtime and manual labor. ITIL didn’t lay out how to get the processes in place, because there was no set of guidelines that could apply to multiple IT organizations.

That is expected to change when the developers of the British best practice framework publicly release on May 30 ITIL Version 3, which is said to include more specific guidance on getting the processes in place to optimize IT service delivery and management.

“Past versions of ITIL provided guidance around what to do, but offered less insight into how to do it," says Sharon Taylor, president of IT service management consultancy Aspect Group, Inc. (AGI) in Ottawa, Canada, and chief architect of ITIL Version 3.

“We have made improvements as to how to execute the best practices, but still took a holistic focus because the market that uses ITIL is very diverse," Taylor says.

How ITIL will change

The refresh process, which started in 2004, included input from the consultant, vendor and user communities. The updated texts were written by five pairs of U.K. and U.S. authors and then sent to 700 reviewers for edits, revisions and consistency checks. Taylor says this version will provide “more prescriptive guidance" and move ITIL adoption plans from the service desk — where many ITIL initiatives get their start — up to the boardroom.

“The user community has focused its recognition of what ITIL is on two operational areas: service support and service delivery," she explains. “Version 3 takes a life-cycle approach to IT service management and expands beyond operational practices to move ITIL discussions to executive offices. ITIL is evolving alongside how IT is evolving within businesses."

The most obvious difference between ITIL Version 2 and Version 3 will be the reduced number of books included in the upcoming release, which reflects the more direct approach this version takes, ITIL experts say.

“ITIL Version 3 assumes knowledge of Version 2 and it assumes IT practitioners understand there are 10 ITIL processes," says George Spalding, executive consultant at Pink Elephant, a consultancy offering training and certification courses in ITIL.

Version 2 detailed those 10 core processes, broken into two primary subject areas. Service support included guidance on incident, problem, change, configuration and release management processes. Service delivery provided insight into service-level, financial, capacity, availability and continuity management processes.

Version 3 puts that content into a set of five books that cover service strategies, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement.

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