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DevOps and ITIL: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Home » Featured, Opinion, Practices » DevOps and ITIL: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

6347903993_4d1370e4d8_zThe IT world we know and love exists today thanks to the bedrock of the IT community: ITIL, the IT Infrastructure Library. Since ITIL’s inception 26 years ago, the world has changed and an app exists for everything – shopping, messaging, ride sharing, or just staying connected via social media. We’re in the midst of a new technological age. This evolution has been guided by agile methodology and now, with the rise of cloud computing, many teams are embracing DevOps.

The consumerization of technology is changing expectations of IT. And IT has pressures to live up to these expectations. Because the pace of innovation is largely driven by DevOps and agile methodologies, IT must adapt. To do this, ITIL must support an agile environment. By working together, these practices reinvent how IT teams deliver reliable services to the business, faster.

DevOps and ITIL working together

Developers want an agile process – and it’s best for the organization that they have one. This means having a frictionless release process, and continuously improving software for customers.

ITIL’s framework is hyper-focused on reliable service delivery and support, with its feedback loop based on incident management. ITIL can combine with agile to get the best of both worlds: better software and a reliable, stable environment.

How agile saves the day

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Real world example – the Service Desk received reports of a slow loading login page. The underlying issue is confirmed by a bad Apdex score (a user satisfaction score reported by New Relic). The problem might be a runaway query so the development team implements the bug fix into their next sprint, which happen on a weekly basis. From incident to resolution, turnaround time is two weeks.

Using ITIL to support Agile and DevOps

Agile incident management

Maximize your team’s bandwidth with sprint planning. Reserve 30-40% of your team’s capacity for operational tasks, where priority 1 and 2 incidents are resolved immediately, and lower priority incidents are resolved within bandwidth. This means that incident management doesn’t affect sprint goals.

Agile problem management

Trim down on time-wasting administrative work. Manage problems as user stories in a product backlog. Don’t separate “incidents” and “problems” – everything should be cohesive. If a problem occurs more often, it should have higher priority in the backlog.

In ITIL orgs, there’s an assumption you’ll need multiple instances of an incident before starting problem analysis.

Instead of waiting for incidents to pile up, detect and solve problems faster with automated monitoring. Link monitoring tools to your incident management system to identify the cause of problems earlier and get it restored faster.

Agile change management

When it comes to change and releases, many IT orgs drown in bureaucracy related to heavy processes. That can change.

In a DevOps environment, releases are frequent. ITIL framework combined with DevOps means development, operations, and support are always collaborating. It means change requests link from incidents and problems. Issues related to changes are added to a developer’s backlog and allocated to their sprint.

In the end, there’s no budding conflict when it comes to these methodologies. It’s all about making processes leaner, making data visible and enabling faster resolutions. With the right practices, the ITIL framework supports the agility of DevOps.

Author bio:

Sid Suri is the Vice President of Marketing for JIRA Service Desk. He’s worked in various technology roles over the last fifteen years at Salesforce.com, Oracle (CRM), InQuira (acquired by Oracle) and TIBCO Software. An expert in the intersection between IT Support and DevOps, Sid helped create the detailed ebook, “How to Enhance IT Support with DevOps”.

 

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1 Response to " DevOps and ITIL: Why Can’t We Be Friends? "

  1. Simon Morris says:

    Hi Sid, interesting read.

    My thoughts on DevOps actually diverge a little from yours, although I’ve only read this article and I might have the wrong end of the stick from it.

    Absolutely we should apply Lean and/or Agile principles to IT Operations work like Incident Management and Problem Management, but my perception of DevOps isn’t about blending processes together as I think your article suggests.

    For example when you say:

    >”Maximize your team’s bandwidth with sprint planning. Reserve 30-40% of your team’s capacity for operational tasks, where priority 1 and 2 incidents are resolved immediately, and lower priority incidents are resolved within bandwidth. This means that incident management doesn’t affect sprint goals.”

    Is that to mean that we are looking for a system where a single team handles both “run the business” and “change the business” activities? Of course, in smaller teams that will have to happen, but DevOps at scale doesn’t mean we should aspire to all teams being involved in Dev and Ops.

    It’s about maximising the value that each part of the organisation (Dev distinct from Ops) can bring through unified goals and by optimising the handoffs between teams… with ongoing support for Ops from Dev, rather than handing off and walking away.

    I enjoyed reading the article as it made me think about how I perceive DevOps. Looking forward to reading more.