The introduction of ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) as a formal approach to enterprise IT Service Management (ITSM) put in place order and structure where previously there was no defined standard procedure in place.
The benefits were dramatic: greatly improving IT service in terms of both quality and speed of service, thereby greatly improving customer satisfaction. In the meantime, the world of software development has started to "convert" to Agile software development. As the next step on Agile's maturity curve, DevOps practices were devised to manage maintenance & Operations in an Agile manner.
So will Agile and DevOps replace ITIL, or can they go hand in hand in improving ITSM?
Agile & ITIL: Shared Principles
Some expertes claim that Agile and ITIL are not compatible, and on the face of it, they might be right. But a quick look at ITIL's nine guiding principles helps us dig deeper:
- Focus on value
- Design for experience
- Start where you are
- Work holistically
- Progress iteratively
- Observe directly
- Be transparent
- Keep it simple
Read it from an Agile perspective, and you'll find that these principles are in fact quite familiar. Agile's core values, as outlined by the Agile Manifesto and practical guides on using Agile, are pretty similar, and can be summarized as follows:
- keep processes simple and focused on creating value in collaboration with all stakeholders
- stay flexible and use whatever works
- improve processes iteratively while staying transparent throughout the lifecycle.
DevOps = Agile Operations?
Interpreted this way, Agile is really not that different to what ITIL prescribes. Agile and ITIL can in fact be integrated, and experts are now talking about Agile ITSM, at the heart of which is DevOps.
Related post: Agile Operations: The Evolution of DevOps
As the extension of Agile into the realm of Operations, DevOps is in fact compatible with ITIL, and experts claim that successful, modern ITSM can and should be based on DevOps.
According to IT expert and author Gene Kim:
“Patterns and processes that emerge from DevOps are the inevitable outcome of applying Lean principles to the IT value stream […and] ITSM practitioners are uniquely equipped to help in DevOps initiatives, and create value for the business. The DevOps Movement fits perfectly with ITSM.”
In a nutshell, ITIL says that you should first analyze processes to define a service strategy, create a Service Design Package, then exercise continuous process improvement. Planning, control, and documentation are key parts of ITIL – but are no longer problematic in a mature Agile and DevOps environment.
To learn more about how to make DevOps work, watch Intland's webinar recording from Sep 2017 titled Agile Operations – DevOps in Practice.