ITIL v.2 was released in 2001 and lasted until 30th May 2007, when it was officially replaced by ITIL v.3. This essentially meant the publication of five new 'core' guides and the introduction of new, credit-based ITIL qualifications. However, the ITIL v.2 books are still available in print and online format from TSO (the official ITIL publishers), and the ITIL v.2 qualifications are still offered and recognised as industry standards.
So what is the difference between ITIL v.2 and ITIL v.3? Which is the version best for you? If you already have an ITIL v.2 certificate, do you need to upgrade or refresh your skills?
IT Infrastructure Library - the books
The ITIL books form the basis for ITIL qualifications and practice, and are designed as 'best practice' guides for providing IT services. They have been written by expert IT service managers, and contain input from professionals from a wide variety of industry backgrounds.
ITIL v.2 contained eight core titles, of which only two were commonly studied. Service Support (describing best practices for day-to-day IT service management) and Service Delivery (best practices for planning IT service provision) were not only the most familiar ITIL v.2 guides, but also formed the two fundamental streams of the ITIL v.2 Practitioner and Service Manager qualifications.
The six remaining titles are: ICT Infrastructure Management, Planning to Implement Service Management, Application Management, Business Perspective (volumes one and two) and Software Asset Management.
One aspect of ITIL v.2 that the ITIL Refresh Board wanted to alter was the process-based structure of the library. This led to the introduction of a new concept, the Service Lifecycle, around which the ITIL v.3 volumes were to be focused. The purpose of using a service lifecycle framework was to improve the design logic, through which specific process elements could be introduced at the appropriate stages.
The five core ITIL v.3 volumes are:
- Service Strategy (how to develop a business-driven strategy for IT service management)
- Service Design (how to design a system to support the strategy of choice)
- Service Transition (how to transition the new system to the production environment)
- Service Operation (how to support operations in the long-term)
- Continual Service Improvement (how to continually improve the IT services provided)
The chief purpose of restructuring ITIL was to provide more clearly-defined and specific guidance for IT service management best practices, and to 'fill in the gaps' that emerged through the earlier, process-based approach. In addition to the new structure, therefore, ITIL v.3 also introduced 12 new processes and 3 new functions to the library.
Using ITIL in a modern business environment
Another new feature in ITIL v.3 was the focus on IT service management within the real world - hence the emphasis on a 'business-driven' strategy. Like PRINCE2 and MSP, the new ITIL aimed at eliminating processes and practices that had ceased to provide benefit to the business or organisation.
The ITIL Diploma
The concurrent use of ITIL v.2 and ITIL v.3 has led to confusion over which version is 'better'. As there is no date currently set for phasing out the old examination system, many individuals and organisations still follow the v.2 qualification pathway.
Individuals requiring ITIL qualifications fall into four main groups:
- Qualified in v.2 and intending to continue training in v.2
- Qualified in v.2 and intending to convert to v.3
- Unqualified and intending to train in v.2
- Unqualified and intending to train in v.3
For those already qualified in ITIL v.2 it is tempting to continue training in the same format. This has advantages in terms of immediate cost and consistency, but it does mean that students are not updated on the processes, functions and concepts new to ITIL v.3.
For this reason, ITIL has produced two 'Bridging' courses, one designed to enable individuals qualified in ITIL v.2 Foundation to study for ITIL v.3 Intermediate qualifications, and the other to enable individuals qualified in ITIL v.2 Practitioner to become ITIL v.3 Experts. There are clear advantages to IT service managers in gaining the most up-to-date qualifications for creating strong CVs and applying for new service management positions.
Individuals who have not yet qualified in ITIL v.2 are most likely to choose to begin with ITIL v.3, as the ITIL Successful Candidates Register indicates - there are already more than three times as many ITIL v.3 qualified students as those who have the ITIL v.2 certificate. This reflects the sharper focus on real-world business strategy, and the more logical structure of the ITIL v.3 course.
ITIL of the future
Just like PRINCE2 and MSP, ITIL strives to provide users with a methodology focused as closely as possible on practical management processes and techniques. The new ITIL is designed to draw together the best aspects of ITIL v.2, in order to develop a coherent, consistent and up-to-date guide to service management practice. While ITIL v.2 is a perfectly usable theoretical guide to service management, the improvements made to ITIL v.3 means that new students can only benefit from beginning with ITIL v.3.
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