As the presses roll on the third version of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a preview suggests its focus is maturing beyond processes to business alignment.

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) first developed ITIL 30 years ago. And while some will say this update can’t come too quickly, others are likely to be questioning whether they can get to grips with v3 in the midst of implementing v2.

Gartner is predicting that ITIL penetration within companies of less than 1,000 employees will by 30% by 2010, while it will be in use by 60% of companies with larger headcounts.

Gartner analyst Ed Holub reportedly thought v3 was a substantial update. "Rather than being tactically focused on improving distinct operational processes, this version is more strategic. It will probably have more appeal to the CIO-level person, rather than just the people running infrastructure operations," Holub, research vice president for IT Service Management told "We do see it as becoming the de facto best practice guidance for IT services.”

The more high-level focus of the ITIL v3 release has also seen its ten authors reduce the previous version’s nine books down to five, while those who have taken the most common "foundation level" ITIL v2 exam are unlikely to have to take additional courses. Although Gartner is likely to move to the v3 course later this year and vendors and trainers are likely to respond quickly to its detail.

Highlights of the latest version of ITIL include:

  • Service strategy – aligning the role and requirements of IT with business goals
  • Service design – identifying processes that can deliver on strategy efficiently and cost-effectively
  • Service transition – deals with change management in more detail, including guidance on testing agility, mitigating risk and the speed of response of the IT department to business needs
  • Service operation – creating and managing effective processes
  • Continual service improvement – to measure the cost and quality of IT services

ITIL v3 is officially launched next Tuesday.