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Advancing IT Management, what to choose?

….actually there is no need to choose, ITIL and DevOps play nicely together! Availability of frameworks and best practices are here to help businesses and not confuse them over what to choose. Some of the common myths include “ITIL is too much of processes”, “DevOps is a separate team in the company”. But the reality is that we get overwhelmed with these methodologies and start implementing without getting the basics right. Does DevOps mean the end of traditional IT service management schema? Or is it merely another corporate trend that will burn out in time? While technology experts debate which of these two will be the sole survivor, a third opinion has crept to the foreground: Are these really mutually exclusive concepts? Could these two elements merge into a single holistic paradigm and offer modern businesses more value than if they’d chosen one or the other? ITIL-DevOps takeaways summary from Gartner Datacenter Conference 2017:

  • IT Ops teams still experience uncertainty about the relationship between ITIL and DevOps.
  • ITIL is best for workflows that require high levels of certainty, governance, and control.Advancing IT Management, what to choose?
  • DevOps, on the other hand, enhances workflows that require speed and innovation.

The recommendation was logical. Use the right framework for the situation at hand. So how to choose the right framework? Let’s have a look! DevOps began in a software development environment and as such many of its methodologies and tools focus on improving software deployment. Continuous Integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) transformed the deployment process, while continuous monitoring provides near real time visibility into the entire infrastructure. But DevOps is about more than Agile software development. Unlike DevOps, ITIL is a highly structured methodology designed to increase efficiency and provide statistics for IT operations. ITIL is a type of ITSM and as such focuses primarily on protocols for implementing, managing and improving IT services to the business. Since day one of conception, ITIL has stated that it needs to be ‘adopted and adapted’ and in the world of DevOps is this still the case? The language used may be different but the outcomes for both frameworks are the same – delivering value to the business where it is needed. That being said: In a world of incredibly accelerated technology turnovers, you won’t have time to rethink how to finally define complex service architectures, service continuity paper monsters and bureaucratic SLA blockbusters no (internal) customer will ever understand. The reality is, there are not that many true competitors for ITIL as a set of universally applicable IT processes.

With its initial body of knowledge articles published in the 1980s, ITSM frameworks offered firms a practical, best practice approach to deliver value-added services with a combination of people, process, and technology. ITIL defines the process inputs, tools, techniques, procedures and process outputs from the IT Service Lifecycle covering Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement. ITIL provides IT organizations with a clear, consistent and repeatable framework for creating, delivering, evaluating, improving and retiring services, resulting in the value and outcomes required by the business while reducing overall IT risk exposure. What is nice about ITIL, is that it is platform and vendor agnostic, which allows greater flexibility in its adoption by IT organizations but provides clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

DevOps isn’t a framework really, instead, it is a change of culture that focuses on empowering the frontline workers. The DevOps solution establishes cross-functional teams made up of all stakeholders and encourages communication throughout the cycle. A primary goal of DevOps is quick deployment of applications that add value to the customer. Using DevOps, the way to shorten development and release cycles is through automation, in particular in the testing. The deployment pipeline stays full due to automating the testing of smaller pieces. DevOps is about changing how people work and relate to each other through the process. DevOps requires management to enable the workers to learn from failures and experimentation. There is no “one size fits all” with DevOps because the framework brings together a looser set of principles and, therefore, is integrated depending on the organization’s needs. Each organization decides what is appropriate based on its needs. One of the main hurdles in the integration of Agile and ITIL is the truth that ITIL follows sequential framework, whereas Agile is an iterative approach where Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) are constructed and updated in a very short period cycle. This may create instability. However, businesses and their clients look for stable and agile IT services. DevOps can be the solution for it. It is a more endurable approach for bringing these two contrasting approaches to enable stability and agility (Development and Operations), together. DevOps is based on the combination and communication between Development (Dev) and IT Operations (Ops). DevOps provides technical practices to produce a software. The goal behind DevOps technology is to automate an application delivery and workflow of the processes (planning, design, implementation, testing). DevOps has become a reality in many organizations but it doesn’t mean existing frameworks such as IT service management (ITSM) are no longer relevant. Traditional IT is very much made up of siloed specialists, and those separations need to be broken down. DevOps does not in and of itself have a single body of knowledge, so it really does support agile, lean and IT service management. DevOps creates a value stream of people, processes and technology, which should sound quite familiar to people immersed in ITSM. It does rely on processes and practices that underpin the entire service lifecycle. It takes ITIL and IT service management to the next level. Taking ITSM to the next level involves instilling some lean and agile thinking into the strategy, design and development, transition, operation and improvement of IT services.

While they may represent different paradigms for ITSM, it is possible combine both ITIL and DevOps to maximize IT performance at your organization. ITIL is useful for the standardization it creates, both within and between organizations, but the DevOps culture and framework do a better job of leveraging human capital, promoting innovation, and pushing more releases to customers faster than ITIL could on its own. Effective IT departments should embrace ITIL and DevOps best practices.

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