The Internet was defined in 1974, but, in 1995, Bill Gates wrote a book called 'The Road Ahead' and failed to mention how it would transform our lives. Similarly, Informational Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) first saw light of day in the UK in the mid 1980s. Today there is hardly a serious CIO who has not embraced this set of concepts and techniques for managing IT infrastructure, development and operations. However, it has taken a long time to gain traction and is only now gaining significant support in the US.
It appears something has to be right for the times. The Beatles' sound captured the energy of the 1960s. The Internet needed Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web in the early 1990s before it was viable. Similarly, IT's track record of failed projects, and increasing business scrutiny, made CIOs recognize that IT itself was not a silver bullet. If it was to work it had to be implemented and managed appropriately. In fact, the emerging popularity of ITIL is a reflection of how the IT industry has matured over the last 20 years.
ITIL itself has not stood still. It had a major revision in 2000 with ITIL 2.0 and just recently ITIL version 3.0 has been released. This required me to undertake quite a bit of research to update the material in a workshop I deliver on IT Best Practices. I strongly believe that ITIL, with its focus on services and processes, is a way that CIOs can leverage best practice to meet the relentless challenge of doing more with less. As such, I needed to acquaint myself with the differences in ITIL 3.0.
A major redevelopment
I had expected to find a few articles that outlined a checklist of these differences. Alas it was not that easy. It quickly became apparent that 3.0 represents a major redevelopment and advocates a different way of looking at the relationship between IT and the business. ITIL 2.0 looked at this challenge largely in terms of incidents and processes. An incident was an event such as a user problem or a software update. A process was the approach taken to address this task. ITIL sought to identify what incidents needed to be managed (e.g. configuration management, change management, demand management etc). However, each process could be addressed in isolation, even though their requirements were frequently interlinked. In fact, the typical starting point with implementing ITIL version 2 was to examine how mature and efficient were the core internal IT processes and to begin where these were weakest.
ITIL 3.0 takes a different tack. It embraces all of ITIL 2.0, and introduces a number of new processes. However, it repackages itself from a focus on individual processes to one of an integrated service delivery framework. It also introduces the concept of a lifecycle in the delivery of these services.