ITSM and DevOps: Supporting the Agile Environment

09/16/2015 by: The SunView Team

ITSM and Agile

The evolution of agile development process steps has led to the rise of DevOps management principles in IT organizations around the world. This relationship between Agile and DevOps is a natural fit. Agile's emphasis on accelerating development operations is a natural launching point for DevOps. Organizations implementing agile methodologies accelerate development by creating apps in an iterative format, allowing them to get products to production faster and update them gradually over time. This puts a huge burden on operations teams as they are then faced with the challenge of integrating all of these updates into the configuration on a consistent basis.

DevOps has emerged to solve the problem of continuous integration by getting operations teams involved earlier in the process and opening lines of collaboration between devs and operations workers. This results in a complete procedural shift within the IT department, as the emphasis of operations moves away from stability to speed, responsiveness and efficiency. Traditionally, IT departments have been structured into strict silos that are governed by distinct processes. DevOps turns this model on its head, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't fit in with traditional IT service management methodologies.

Creating value for stakeholders depends on being able to get services out to customers in the most efficient way possible. DevOps accomplishes this through a combination of run-time automation and cloud tools that, when combined, transform development from a cumbersome manual process to a highly automated operation that can be completed at a rapid pace without creating risk. Essentially, DevOps uses asset optimization to improve every facet of development and operations so processes can move faster without introducing risk.

Value Creation - The Place Where DevOps and ITSM Intersect
A whitepaper from Pink Elephant explained that both ITSM and DevOps are built around a common principle - delivering value to the customer. As such, a well executed strategy that meshes ITSM principles with DevOps functions can lead to significant returns when meeting customer requirements.

A well-designed ITSM framework serves as a perfect complement to DevOps because it provides the visibility and audit trail needed to support the rapid pace of operations created by DevOps.

Aligning ITSM and DevOps
The difference between DevOps and ITSM is often a matter of perspective. In the end, the two process frameworks aim to achieve extremely similar goals in terms of meeting customer demands. In this relationship, DevOps is used to accelerate operations to increase the volume of services delivered to customers by breaking down longstanding barriers to collaboration. From there, ITSM creates the service delivery and procedural framework to build collaboration and operational efficiency into everyday processes.

Unifying ITSM and DevOps capabilities promotes value creation by positioning IT organizations to increase their focus on customer service requirements while also improving operational efficiency and value creation. All of these gains are only achievable, however, if organizations are able to integrate DevOps and ITSM effectively. This is possible if businesses build out their ITSM principles in such a way that they improve visibility and transparency.

This rigid approach to managing change may promote stability, but it can also stifle value creation. Within DevOps, change instead takes form as a simple part of everyday operations. IT workers are continually making small adjustments to the configuration as new app instances are released, updates are made or a small change to the configuration is needed to resolve an issue with an application in production. In a DevOps environment, change is not defined in the formal terms that come with traditional ITSM operations, but that doesn't mean that sophisticated ITSM tools can't help manage change effectively.

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Using Visibility to get the Most out of DevOps
The reality is that the traditional concept of change, as it exists in a typical ITSM setup, does not exist in DevOps. Organizations embracing DevOps cannot afford to bring every change request to a change advisory board, schedule the task, gather the appropriate personnel at the right time, have managers approve the different parts of the change throughout the process and then document the results.

Modern ITSM solutions are being refined to focus on automatically documenting changes as they are made, creating a built-in audit trail that can be used as a reference for regulatory initiatives or if a change does have unintended consequences. As the Pink Elephant whitepaper explained, DevOps is all about optimizing efficiency within existing assets. Modern ITSM suites make this possible by allowing you to eliminate traditional process silos through a combination of visibility and documentation. As such, ITSM lets you embrace DevOps capabilities while maximizing value creation for customers.

A lack of visibility can create major business problems as DevOps emerges, but ITSM capabilities that are integrated into DevOps offer that transparency needed to eliminate risk.

| IT Service Management / DevOps / Change Management