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ITIL v3: FAQs from your peers

ITIL expert David Pultorak answers frequently asked questions about ITIL v3.

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) underwent the first major refresh to the standards in seven years with the release of version 3 in May. This latest version offers additional guidance to users on how to improve internal and external processes within their organizations.

Following a live expert webcast on, David Pultorak answered the following user questions related to ITIL v3:

What is ITIL V3, and why is it getting a lot of attention lately?
ITIL is a set of best practices on IT service management that is currently documented on several books published by the England-based OGC [Office of Government Commerce]. The history of ITIL dates back to 1989, but suffice it to say that ITIL has become the de facto standard for IT Service Management. What ITIL has done worldwide is to establish the language and standards for the important IT practices that can help keep IT operations focus on providing business-aligned IT services.

Today, more than 200,000 copies of the ITIL library have sold worldwide, and more than 15,000 companies worldwide are adopting ITIL best practices. ITIL has also proven effective in helping IT organizations, with more than 97% of adopters saying benefits were derived from it, and with 69% of them claiming tangible and measurable benefits achieved.

If ITIL V2 had already proven beneficial, why was it rewritten to create ITIL V3?
ITIL is all about best practices, and certainly these best practices have to adapt to the changing business and technology landscape. ITIL was already updated almost 10 years ago from version 1 to version 2. You can easily imagine the amount of changes to the business and IT industry that have occurred since then -- things such as the Internet, outsourcing and globalization were not yet a concern.

ITIL V3 is mainly an updating of the best practices in order to keep up with the present environment, as well as set the stage for developments that are just beginning to be adopted, such as virtualization, insourcing and multisourcing. The need for business and IT alignment is now considered as insufficient, and in its place is an IT operation that is integrated into the business operations, creating an ecosystem between the two.

Besides the content of ITIL that is changing, are there other significant changes being implemented with ITIL v3?
Yes, and they are significant. First of all, the structure of the ITIL best practices has been completely reworked in order to provide a complete coverage of the lifecycle of a service, from its strategy and design to its continual improvement. ITIL v2 is strongly focused on IT operations, with the body of knowledge mainly grouped into Service Support and Service Delivery. With ITIL v3, the ITIL Service Lifecycle concept is introduced, and guidance is now organized according to five phases: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement.

Secondly, with respect to how the knowledge is published, there will now be a core set of books that will contain the generic best practices, and these will be supplemented by complimentary publications that tackle technology-, industry- and implementation-specific guidance. By separating the generic from the specific guidance, ITIL can remain current and significant without requiring a complete rewrite of the entire library.

Thirdly, ITIL also includes a set of qualifications that helps assess the skills of IT practitioners with respect to ITIL. With ITIL v3, these qualifications are being expanded to allow for greater modularity and customization, with the ability to follow specific career paths within the IT organization.

To help with the transition to ITIL v3, there will also be bridging courses for both ITIL v2 Foundations and Managers certificate holders.

What is involved in getting the Advanced SM Professional Diploma -- a separate course and test?
The advanced-level diploma assesses an individual's ability to apply and analyze the ITIL v3 concepts in new areas. More details can be found on the official ITIL Web site.

If you have taken the managers' course but have not passed the exams, do you get credit towards ITIL v3 certification?
No. You have to pass the exams in order to be credited towards v3 qualifications. Any ITIL v2 manager who wishes to gain the v3 diploma can take a bridging course and pass an examination. The three-day course covers the new concepts within ITIL v3 and fully integrates the benefits of the lifecycle approach.

What do you recommend if you do not have any ITIL certifications? Should you get your v2 master's and then do the bridging exam, or follow the new v3 curriculum?

Following the new v3 curriculum would be best, as it prepares you to take the future courses on v3 without having to learn and unlearn some v2 concepts that may not be exactly the same in v3, such as how the processes are organized. The only possible drawback of following the ITIL v3 curriculum is the waiting period for the advanced v3 courses. If this is an issue, then taking specific v2 practitioner courses may be the best option as it helps you address the specific service management processes, which might be urgent for you. Anyway, most of the specific service management process guidance continues to be valid in v3.

Does your group offer courses on how to upgrade from ITIL v2 to v3?
Yes. At present we have an ITIL v2 to v3 Update course for ITIL v2 Foundations-certified IT professionals. The syllabus is based on ITIL v3 Foundations, coupled with an emphasis on what has changed between v2 and v3. It will be revised to the official ITIL v2 to v3 Update syllabus.

Where can I purchase the new ITIL v3 core books?
The ITIL v3 publications are available in hard-copy book format, PDF format and online-access format from the official ITIL publisher:

David Pultorak is CEO of Pultorak & Associates Ltd. in Seattle and a veteran ITIL consultant and contributor to various service management publications.

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