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ITIL v3 launches with focus on IT service management

Megan Santosus, Features Writer
This week marks the launch of the IT Infrastructure Library version 3 (ITIL v3), the best practices framework designed for organizations that want to adopt a service management approach to IT with a new focus on incorporating the latest practices in IT service management (ITSM).

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"This update is designed to move organizations forward in ITSM thinking," said Rob Stroud, an ITSM evangelist at CA Inc. who served as an adviser for the ITIL v3 refresh. The content of ITIL v3 aims to reflect the realities affecting IT service management today, namely a more complex business and technology environment where outsourcing is commonplace.

The previous ITIL version comprised eight books that were introduced over a period of time beginning in 2000.This time around, there are five ITIL books, and all were published simultaneously. Previous ITIL versions were more descriptive in nature providing practitioners with advice on what to do, rather than how to do it. ITIL v3 is something of a departure by providing more prescriptive information. According to Stroud, ITIL v3 includes sample organizational charts, examples of process flows and practical advice on how to deal with third-party suppliers and measure their performance.

ITIL v3's focus on IT service management is reflected in the titles of its five books:

  • Service Strategies
  • Service Design
  • Service Introduction
  • Service Operation
  • Continuous Service Improvement
Thus, expect ITIL v3 to contain considerable guidance on the lifecycle of services, from initial design and development through integration, continuity, improvement and eventual retirement. "It's relatively easy to deal with the lifecycle for hardware, but if I'm developing a new banking system that's designed to work for 10 years, it's necessary to plan for that," Stroud said.

Business integration, not alignment

Stroud and others knowledgeable about ITIL v3 said the refresh provides ITIL practitioners with more of a business focus by emphasizing IT/business integration rather than alignment.

"There are very few business processes that exist without IT," Stroud said. "Ultimately, a bank, say, just can't conduct transactions without IT, and without integration the bank won't be in business." Alignment, he said, implies that IT follows in lockstep with the business, while integration puts IT on equal footing. "It's a subtle, but important difference."

The ITIL books guide practitioners to begin with a business strategy in order to understand what key systems and services are needed. "It's looking at things from a top-down approach, so that IT can spend 80% of its time on the 20% of services that are most important," Stroud said.

For the data center in particular, ITIL v3 brings with it a new perspective. "There has to be the ability to track every service that you provide to the business," said David Cannon, a principal at Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) ITSM practice who wrote the Service Operation book. "If I'm doing server administration, what am I actually doing to contribute to the business?" The people managing technology should not have to demonstrate their value -- the business should understand the value of IT, Cannon added. "The problem is that there is no link between what the business is getting and what IT is delivering." ITIL v3 aims to supply those links by providing guidance on such initiatives as service portfolio management and service catalogs.

Beginning June 5, the itSMF, an organization dedicated to IT service management, will conduct a series of global road shows to introduce ITIL v3. The road shows will be making U.S. stops in San Jose, Calif., on June 12 and Chicago on June 15. In the coming months, training programs specific to ITIL v3 will be available from a variety of sources, including CA and HP.

For practitioners who are already adept at previous ITIL versions, ITIL v3 is a natural progression toward IT service management, Stroud said, and the forthcoming education will build off of previous ITIL certification training. For ITIL neophytes, ITIL v3 can also be a logical starting point because it reflects current best practices in the industry.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Megan Santosus, Features Writer

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