ITILv3's future uncertain in many IT shops

IDC survey shows two-thirds of the companies polled have no plans to adopt ITIL Version 3, or are uncertain whether they will adopt the process framework in the next three years

IDC surveyed more than 300 companies to learn more about their use today and future plans for the best practices laid out in the ITIL process framework, as well as whether migrating from Version 2 to the newly released Version 3 is on their IT project agendas for the near future.

IT shops working to implement the best practices of ITIL Version 2 might have hit a snag when the process framework's owners updated it earlier this year, because now about two-thirds of companies polled report they are uncertain about the future of ITILv3 at their organizations.

IDC on Wednesday shared the results of a poll it conducted in November with more than 300 companies. The research firm found that nearly 50% of the IT shops it polled were implementing an IT maturity model and best-practices framework. Of those, more than 65% reported they had ITIL at work to some degree within their organizations. Yet, when asked about plans to migrate to the latest version of the process framework -- ITILv3, released earlier this year with more 'how-to' guidance -- a majority of survey respondents hadn’t determined their migration plans for the next three years just yet.

"We found about one-third of current ITIL users plan to implement to Version 3 within the next three years," said Fred Broussard, research manager covering PC and device management software at IDC during a presentation at the IDC IT Service Management and ITIL Forum in New York. The one-day event, which drew more than 100 attendees, combined presentations by IDC analysts, vendors such as Axios Systems and IBM, and enterprise companies using ITIL today.

Dave Howard, national business technology manager for Toyota Financial Services (TFS) in Torrance, Calif., explained to forum attendees his take on the differences between the two versions. He said in many ways his organization had been using the 'concepts' laid out in Version 3 before the process framework owners officially articulated those concepts in the upgrade.

"As we created service management processes, we found we were hitting a ceiling against trying to provide value to the business," Howard said. "When we saw the concepts in Version 3, we realized the upgrade was recognizing the business relationships. We had starting using Version 3 concepts on our own to better align IT with the business."

While two-thirds of survey respondents indicated they were uncertain if ITILv3 was in their future plans, one-third intend to tackle the upgrade. In the near term, about 7% of U.S. organizations plan to upgrade to Version 3 in the next six months. And about 12% of international companies also have it on their agendas for 2008, IDC reported.

"For companies moving forward with ITILv2 and integrating to Version 3, incident, configuration and service desk are good places to start," Broussard said.

TFS' Howard recommended that those IT shops just starting with ITIL should jump right into the latest version, and that those still in the design phase should continue with Version 2 and incorporate the principles of Version 3 as they go. He advises companies that have partially implemented Version 2 to base their improvements on the tenets of Version 3, and organizations that are in the implementing and mature phase of their ITIL implementation to base any improvements they make on the updated version.

Quoting a paper from an unnamed analyst, Howard concluded that IT shops looking to migrate from ITILv2 to Version 3 "don't need to restart the whole project, but they do need to carefully assess what they want to focus on with V3."

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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