ITIL's seven-year itch finally ready to be scratched

Standards to be upgraded this week

Technology vendors try to develop new releases and upgrades at a regular pace to keep their users happy and their profits up. But it has been seven years since the U.K. government agency that develops the ITIL specification updated the IT service management guide -- a situation that finally will change when an upgrade becomes available this week.

Version 3 of the IT Infrastucture Library is scheduled to be published on Wednesday by the U.K.'s Office of Government Commerce. ITIL sets out methodologies for managing an IT organization and processes such as help desk operations, as well as procedures for change management. The update covers some new areas that have emerged over the past seven years as major IT concerns, particularly outsourcing and security.

Michael Cardinal, a business analyst at State Farm Insurance in the U.S., has yet to see ITIL Version 3. But Cardinal, who is also on the board of directors of the IT Service Management Forum USA, said that he isn't expecting copies of the new release to fly off the shelves in the U.S. because companies here have been relatively slow to adopt ITIL compared with companies in Europe.

Cardinal added that a company's level of interest in Version 3 may well depend on how far along it is in implementing ITIL overall. Vendors, which make their living off of service management, will be the first to work with the latest release of the specification, he predicted. But for most user companies, "I think it's going to take a little while for it to settle in," Cardinal said.

The ITSMF, an international professional association that has its U.S. headquarters in California, is a member of the ITIL Certification Management Board. It also is working with the U.K. Office of Government Commerce and two other organizations to hold a series of ITIL Version 3 informational roadshows, including events that will be held next month in San Jose and Chicago.

Stephen Hoadley, who heads the local chapter of the ITSMF in Boise, Idaho, said he is looking forward to the new version because he expects it to improve the ability of ITIL to integrate with other technology standards. "That's kind of what I'm hoping for," said Hoadley, who works as a service-level manager at Albertsons, a grocery store chain based in Boise.

One of the standards that ITIL Version 3 is supposed to be more tightly integrated with is Cobit, formally known as the Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology. Cobit is a framework for governing IT and evaluating internal system controls, and it is increasingly being used by companies to help with their Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance procedures.

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