Three years on from its release and v3 still provides no intermediate steps up the wall. ITIL v2 is the only "beginner's ITIL" available. OGC and TSO are hell-bent on killing off v2 as fast as possible. Rumour is they will have another attempt before end of 2009. But v2 will not go anywhere until an "ITIL for Dummies" comes out as part of v3 complementary guidance (still no sign of anything like it). Or people will start turning to simpler alternatives such as FITS.
The other book we desperately need is "How to Implement ITIL v3" providing a progressive series of steps up that wall. The five books say where to get to but they still say little about how to get there. Wait until something gets published that does. ITIL is about improving maturity step by step. Version 3 is a maturing of ITIL over v2. All involved have endlessly reassured us that they are upwardly compatible. So, stick with v2 for now until a consensus emerges about what works and what doesnt in v3.
Finally, wait for the consultants to have a bit more than a two-day upgrade course under their belts. The Foundation syllabus has finally stabilised and the Intermediate and Expert exams are available. Huge numbers are taking the Foundation exam, but it has even less practical use than the v2 Foundation exam. Now it really is just a once-over-lightly introductory syllabus. Unfortunately the road to Expert status is a long expensive one. It costs tens of thousands of dollars when you include lost income for consultants doing it. So, certified v3 experts are not plentiful. (On the other hand, given the current state of the economy they may not be hard to find either).
For the great majority of readers, you didnt need to go to v3 in 2007 and you still dont in 2009. If you have made enough progress in your ITIL disciplines you may actually consider the next maturity step, to v3. If starting the ITIL journey, it is a tough call whether to start with v2 or v3. Analyse what you need and how much you really want to do, then find the best fit.
Rob England is an IT industry commentator and consultant, best known for his blog The IT Skeptic.