Aussie implementations impress ITIL guru

The co-author of ITIL v3’s Service Operation book talks about why Australian adoption outstrips the US and how to avoid common pitfalls.

HP's David Cannon

HP's David Cannon

David Cannon has worked with the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) since 1993, when he took his first training course with HP's David Wheeldon, founding secretary of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) and one of the world's most respected ITIL trainers. Since then, Cannon has worked as an ITIL consultant and trainer and recently co-authored the Service Operation book for ITIL v3. His current role is as ITSM practice principal at Hewlett-Packard, where he is responsible for building and supporting the company’s IT Service Management practices in Asia, the US and Latin America.

In Australia to speak at the recent Computer Audit, Control and Security Conference 2008 in Sydney, Cannon spoke to Computerworld’s Darren Pauli about why Australian adoption outstrips the US, what’s new in version 3 and how to avoid common ITIL pitfalls

How did you come to be involved in the development of ITIL version 3?

I have very often found shortcomings in the ITIL books, even though I consider them incredibly useful and am a huge fan, but I felt the problems were easy to overcome. Those in the industry told me they were very severe, and I found I had to defend and re-articulate elements. HP put in a bid for all 5 books, with an eye on getting one. I expressed an interest in correcting the issues with problem management and the integration between incident management and service management. HP got the Service Operations book and I partnered with David Wheeldon, who I know very well and have worked with since 1993, to write the book.

Although you have only been in the country a short time, do you have an opinion on the adoption rate of ITIL in Australia compared to the US and other regions of the world?

I have looked at the Australian market for a long time. The whole culture of ITIL in the US is entirely different; it is foreign to them. The implementations in Australia are far more comprehensive, because the scale and size of US companies makes them less agile. [Australian companies] have at least a five or six year head start on the US, so the implementations are more mature and have permeated the organisations more thoroughly.

ITIL implementations in Australia are far more comprehensive, because the scale and size of US companies makes them less agile. Aussies have at least a five or six year head start on the US, so the implementations are more mature and have permeated the organisations more thoroughly

Australians also have a more qualitative approach to ITIL whereas the US are quantitative; for instance an IT manager here can pitch ITIL based on the grounds of broad improvements, but in the US, they have to show improvements to the bottom line within nine months.

What are the main differences between ITIL v2 and ITIL v3?

ITIL v3 is built on lifestyle while ITIL v2 is framed on groups of processes. Back in the late 90s to early 2000's IT was focused on processes, and people used ITIL to maintain a consistent level of output and to get their house in order. In v3, many companies had great processes in place and were saving money and working efficiently, but the quality of service was not what the business needed.

The most notable change in v3 is that it recognises that IT uses the same lifecycle management of other businesses units. IT focuses on the way business articulates its requirements, how IT contributes to those requirements, and the way they both change over time. ITIL v3 uses lifecycle management to do this and it questions the notion that the business really needs what it asks for; it is not enough to only implement processes, because it assumes that what the business asks for is what it needs, which is often not the case.

We also created better mapping between the IT infrastructure management, which was isolated in v2, and the other books so it is easier for readers to understand how it fits. We fixed a lot of mistakes and gaps in the ITIL v2 books, such as separating service requests and incident management.

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