Do we have two flavours of ITIL now? The plot to end ITIL V2

As Castle ITIL gathers itself for another assault on ITIL V2, we should ask again: are they mutually exclusive? And do we want ITIL V2 killed off? And if we don't, why are they doing it?

Red Pineapple on this blog:

What I find strange is the humanization of actions and objects. Should we be dealing with this matter in such a subjective fashion?
Take eating as another example. It has a very well defined requirement, we eat or die. Some people use a knife and fork and others use chopsticks. We don't really care who uses knifes and forks and who uses chopsticks. Although many people say they love eating, no-one really says they love chopsticks (or knifes and forks!)
ITIL v2 and ITIL v3 should not have been numbered (as this assumes progression). It should just be called ITIL Knifes and Forks and ITIL Chopsticks, and love should have nothing to do with it.

Sharon Taylor and others speak very clearly about ITIL V3 superceding or replacing or refreshing ITIL V2. The king is dead, long live the king.

And yet if you listen, you can hear many people like Red (and me) talking about V2 and V3 as if they were alternatives. Who says process framework "versions" supercede each other? Does a software versioning model apply to IP? (and never mind that the software vendors service two or even three versions of their own product as a matter of course)

I said recently in a comment that they withdraw certification (and books?) but the framework will live on (a point made by "BoroMart").

I can see that retaining ITIL 2 holds up adoption of ITIL3, but WHAT IF THAT IS WHAT THE USERS WANT? Heaven forbid that the end users should get a say in what they are fed. ITIL V3 is big and complex. It is a superset of V2. It asks organisations to step up to a higher mark. What if they don't want to? What if they are not ready? What if some significant proportion of the market will NEVER be ready for V3? What if it is so complex and "mature" that it only appeals to a smaller, more advanced, more sophisticated subset of the market than V2 did? (What if it generates lots more revenue for the consultants?)

V3 completely lacks any sort of advice whatsoever on how to approach it, how to do it in phases, how to chunk it, how it relates to maturity models. Conventional wisdom is that every site is different and you can't describe an approach only an idealised end state. Until a few months ago the conventional wisdom was that you can't have an ITIL standard for products either. Now suddenly we do. Perhaps soon we will suddenly have an ITIL implementation approach (the meta-lifecycle as I call it) and a maturity model too.

Until we do, V3 is a big ask. If Castle ITIL want the resistance to go away they should provide some accessibility for the lowly ITIL beginner.

But of course the beginner isn't their constituency: the software vendors and ATOs and consultants are. And for them it is jolly inconvenient having to service two versions of ITIL. So never mind what the market wants , the focus is on what is most efficient and profitable for the real ITIL user group. How else can you explain refusing to sell V2 training or books to a market that wants them? If that market was the real customer would that happen?

And yet the rumours of it grow stronger. We won't get through 2009 without another attempt to declare V2 officially dead.


Good opportunity for a survey?

This would seem to be a good subject for a survey to see if users do, as you say, want to stick with v2, go with v3 or have both. It's users, as you say, who matter. I think that some training companies might prefer the simpler syllabus too - but that might not be what users want. We just don't know - apart from our gut-feel - which is a good time to measure!

ITIL V2 V3 survey

A survey? It has been done, by EXIN. It was open to all, and I promoted it here. The result: V2 please.

V2 User Group

Perhaps we could set up a V2 user group and purchase the rights to V2 and V1? After all if V3 is so great we wouldn't be a commercial threat ;-)


I suspect it wouldn't be a commercial threat. Having done the usual v2 work (service delivery and support) a number of years ago, I'm surprised there are organizations still looking to discuss v2. It seems bewildering to find IT shops who don't have some level of maturity, especially at this late stage.

Came across this slideshow today: Gartner seems to be making a decent living of version 3.

their own little world of unreality

Bewildering? Depends on the circles one moves in.

If - like most of the ITIL authors and the majority of the ITIL consultants and analysts - one works with ITIL-active Fortune 1000 companies in USA and Europe then yes all one hears is ITIL, most have done some, most are nervously willing to talk about V3. The few ITIL pioneers who are well down the V2 road and eagerly into V3 are of course the ones who seek out that same group of authors and consultants. So they all live in their own little world of unreality, reinforcing each others misconceptions about the general attitude to ITIL. And of course any vendors or analysts or consultants who do get around a wider audience aren't saying boo: keep the pedal to the metal.

Get out to the Fortune 500s who are not talking or hiring; talk to the medium size enterprises; or get out of USA and Western Europe; then I believe the story is different.

I'm personally aware of plenty of shops that have actually done five-eighths of sweet flock all about ITIL and even more who onluy vaguely know what it is, and of people talking to me from all over the planet with the same experience.

And your degree of skepticism, of course

The sad thing about that Gartner presentation is that it reminded me of exactly the sorts of things we used to cover on the old v1 manager's course, in fact of Mike Hill's day 1 introduction, when we had the time to put things into context and teach the delegates how to be business facing managers, and to actively cross fertilise with other management approaches because the ITIL silo hadn't been built in those days.

I'm getting fed up at the moment of people who think V3 was the first time ITIL mentioned the service catalogue, it is back there in v1. Someone will one day explain to me how an IT Service Strategy differs from an IT strategy.

The elephant in the ITIL room is that the experienced consultants know that even Fortune 1000/500/100 clients struggle to cope with the basics. The fancy stuff makes for a nice discussion on a C level away day but the users are still complaining about how long it takes to set up a new user account, and the customers that IT staff still talk buzzwords to them rather than producing and delivering services that do what it said on the can.

Look at the Exin survey and the number of people now undertaking ITIL training. What percentage of those do you think will ever find advice on writing a ITIL service strategy useful?

ITIL v3 has a use, and it has codified some things that were missing from earlier versions, but they aren't exactly revelations to those of us who have been around ITSM a long time. A lot of hands on people just want a basic toolset to get things done. That is why v2 still has value, and why, like Dave Jones, I still refer to v1 when it makes sense to do so.

James Finister
Wolston Limited

Memory is a bit fuzzy, but I

Memory is a bit fuzzy, but I remember the V2 coverage on service catalog/service portfolio amounted to about a couple of healthy paragraphs or so in the totality of all the books. V1 wasn't much better. Doesn't seem to be, IMHO, something worth getting fed up about.

This view that there's nothing new under the sun -- one generation of guidance aimed at addressing a process or business problem is the same as all other generations -- is pessimistic and self-defeating, even if it's not intended to be. It denies that there can be improvements, incremental or radical, in reshaping ideas to accomplish goals. I disagree with this.

What's the difference between an IT strategy and an IT Service Strategy? The same difference between, say, a PMO and a TMO. Or a service catalog and an excel spreadsheet. Or a truck driver and a race car driver. They may share similar tools and methods, but their primary object of desire and intent differ enough to call them different disciplines.

And if, in the year 2009, and in economic conditions we live in, there remain IT shops (small, medium or large) whose users are still complaining about how long it takes to set up a new user account, and the customers complain that IT staff still talk buzzwords, perhaps the problem isn't with the version of ITIL. Maybe, just maybe, the users need a different IT shop altogether.

Missing the point

Yes, service catalogue was only mentioned in passing in V1 and V2. I don't have either in front of me, but a paraphrase would probably be something like "a list of the services you offer" Behind all the hype I don't see v3 has moved on that far, but vendors have latched on to it as a silver bullet replacement for CMDB.

I didn't say there weren't improvements in v3. Service Transition was a much needed addition. However overall I judge a framework by its effectiveness in improving the quality of service, and the ITIL v3 training appears to be a retrograde step as things stand. I think I've strived more than most for innovation in ITSM.

I disagree with you about the difference between a service strategy and an IT strategy - the implicit point I was making is that an IT strategy that doesn't consider the service aspect isn't a good IT strategy, whereas creating a separate service strategy makes it appear as a bolt on extra. How do they differ in desire and intent?

And finally, in the real world where I live there are a lot of shops, including some big names on the supplier side who fail to deliver the basics? In the economic conditions we live under the basics will become increasingly important, and that extend to sourcing ITSM training that makes a visible difference.

Service Perspective and Alignment


the implicit point I was making is that an IT strategy that doesn't consider the service aspect isn't a good IT strategy, whereas creating a separate service strategy makes it appear as a bolt on extra.

Agree with you on this. By coming at it from a service perspective, everyone involved (development, operations, support, facilities, etc.) in the service lifecycle can find their fit -- no one is left out! While each constituent may have a different view into it, ultimately all come together to help ensure that the customer intent is fulfilled. The degree to which that is accomplished is one measure of how well aligned the constituents are.


V2 - V3

I can only speak for my own situation and we aren't touching V3 with a barge pole.
Too complicated, too abstract and too boring. V2 is hard enough and dull enough.

We have the V3 books but they are gathering dust. The V2 books are well thumbed.
People can (just about) get their heads round "Change" and "Incident". Anything else (I include "Configuration") is a step too far.
For us, just now.

btw I've just read this from Tasos Symeonides, CEO, Axios in the latest issue of "ServiceTalk":

"Although in a recent survey we found organisations need to pay a premium of 40% for staff with this [ITIL] qualification, this is an expense worth incurring.."
"..Staff that are ITIL qualified, especially V3, have the business acumen needed to communicate with business leaders and align the work of the IT team with wider organisational goals."
Ha, ha! I almost split my sides. As a lowly V2 qualified Manager my saddness at my relative lack of business acumen would surely be reduced by the extra 40% on my bottom line. If it existed.

Magic instant business acumen from Axios

That is just side-slappingly funny. "the business acumen needed to communicate with business leaders ". I suppose ITIL V3 Advanced is going to produce Middle-East mediators.

Readers of Introduction to Real ITSM will recall

Fundament candidates are immediately equipped on graduation to participate meaningfully in decision-making workshops for their organisation’s ITSM projects or to deliver the same training professionally to others.
As candidates pass each of the Interpretive modules, they can confidently be relied on to design processes, manage teams, and as the name implies interpret the Real ITSM wisdom into something adapted to their own organisation, based on their prejudices, biases and whims.
Once a candidate achieves Expert status, they will be transformed overnight into an expert able to advise corporations on the strategy and design of multi-million dollar ITSM project or manage those same projects to an assured successful completion.
So important, and magical, is the transformation into ITSM Expert that all graduations are to be performed in an initiation ceremony. Each ATO is free to design their own initiation, so long as it includes secret signs, table-tennis paddles and chickens.
The Qualification scheme for the highest level of all - Real Expert - has not been agreed yet, nor may it ever be as it is unlikely to be economic for anyone to achieve it.
Ascending into Real Expert status can only be achieved by either (a) transcending mortal form or (b) being one of the old boys in the inner circle before the qualification was announced.

Once again the book is upstaged by reality

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