Industry split over ITIL v3 predictions

Some market watchers say take-up of the latest IT Infrastructure Library will be slow, but vendors and training companies are rushing to develop courses that cover the new version

The latest revision of the IT Infrastructure Library is about to become official, but even its most vocal proponents can't agree on just how long it will be before the latest version of the increasingly popular services management approach makes a real impact on businesses.

The first five books that make up IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) v3 have been in development since 2005, and are due for official publication on 30 May. Vendors and training companies are already rushing to develop training courses to cover the new version, but some market watchers argue that it will be some time before it has any discernable effect on most enterprises.

"We believe that most companies will still continue rolling out version 2," said Ken Turbitt, global best practices director for BMC Software, which was heavily emphasising the imminent release at its UserWorld conference in Prague last week.

Turbitt suggests that it will be between 18 months and three years before ITIL v3 has widespread uptake, in part because it doesn't represent a radical break from the approach offered by earlier versions. "It's not as highly different as some people seem to think."

One key difference, he suggests, is that v3 takes a more all-encompassing view, encouraging businesses to implement ITIL practices across the board rather than merely in certain operational aspects.

"Most people who implement ITIL have taken a silo approach," he told ZDNet Australia. "Most people say they've got ITIL, but they've only got little pockets."

Others involved in the process predict a speedier uptake. "You'll find a lot of vendors who haven't bothered with ITIL suddenly coming in," said Accenture director Michael Nieves, who was involved in the collaborative authoring process for the latest release.

"The market may be surprised by the fast take-up of version 3. There will be huge sales of the books."

Nieves suggests that the familiarity of the concepts discussed in v3 will lead to quicker adoption. "Much of this is already done by organisations — maybe not with the same rigour, but it's there."

The process of creating the ITIL books — which are built through contributions from multiple organisations to ensure there's no bias towards particular vendors or technologies — remains a difficult one.

"There's a cacophony of voices," Nieves acknowledged, although that didn't mean that compromise was always the order of the day: "The worst thing we could have done is try to please all of them."

For enterprise users, a dose of pragmatism may be the best approach. Thomas Schiller, chief technology officer for Toyota Motorsport, said that his organisation, which already makes extensive use of ITIL principles, would consider v3 but didn't want to become bogged down in unnecessary details. "We don't want to become a paper factory," he said.

In its original implementation of ITIL, the biggest challenge was dealing with cultural resistance, Schiller noted. "People own stuff. They were frightened that we'd monitor them. When they understood, they came on board, but it was a long process."