ITSM

A Beautiful ITSM Union: ITIL and DevOps

September 17, 2020

A Beautiful ITSM Union: ITIL and DevOps

Since the launch of ITIL 4, incorporating DevOps into service management strategy has been a hot topic. On the surface, both DevOps and ITIL are frameworks that can help facilitate successful operations surrounding IT services. But that doesn’t mean that IT pros need to choose one or the other. Like most great marriages, it’s how these two methodologies complement each other that makes them an ideal pair when it comes to ITSM.

Let’s take a quick look at what makes both DevOps and ITIL tick. Then we’ll explore the ways DevOps and ITIL can work together to benefit the service desk and the entire organization, while creating a more agile ITSM strategy.

What is DevOps?

As it hints in the name, DevOps is the combination of software development and operations. At its core, DevOps is a mindset that gets teams working together. It was birthed out of frustration that time was spent individually focused on the development of technology or how well that technology operated, but not on the agility in combining those efforts.

DevOps is about how software, applications, and technology in general are documented, tested, deployed, analyzed, and continually improved. By breaking down traditional silos between development and operations, DevOps focuses on cross-team collaboration and the energy naturally created when divergent perspectives are brought together to solve problems. Although DevOps may be considered a “new school” framework, it’s quickly established itself as an important part of building cohesiveness and communication between teams.

What is ITIL?

ITIL has been the gold standard for decades when it comes to IT service management best practices.  It serves as a universal framework for IT teams providing services that support end users rather than the technology itself, helping orgs better manage services and expectations. The combination of guiding principles and core practices of ITIL, like incident, problem, change, and release management, offers organizations a strong foundation for developing a service management strategy that best suits the needs of the business and its employees.

ITIL has evolved quite a bit since its inception decades ago. The latest iteration, ITIL 4, emphasizes a focus on culture and creating value as opposed to simply how services are delivered. With the launch of ITIL 4, DevOps was also formally added to the framework, an indication that ITSM pros recognize their similarities and how they can work well together.

Marrying DevOps and ITIL

Rather than viewing it as DevOps vs. ITIL, it’s more productive to frame the discussion around incorporating DevOps into ITIL practices and solutions. Combining ITIL practices with a more agile DevOps environment can be a win-win for IT and the business.

Here are a few ways IT pros can integrate the two for a “best of both worlds” approach to service management:

  1. Adopt common tools and language subsets – A key component of DevOps is collaboration. Learning and understanding the language and tools of other teams can help break down communication barriers for more collaboration and better service delivery.
  2. Adapt to the culture – ITIL 4 recognizes that no change, service, or policy can fit every organization the same. DevOps unites people, processes, and products, keeping in mind the end goal is finding a resolution and not how it came about.
  3. Automate where you canAxelos’ Gene Kim says, “One of the modern miracles of DevOps principles and practices is that many parts of ITIL processes can now be automated, solving significant challenges, especially in the configuration, release and deployment management processes.” Automation is a sure way to free up IT pros’ time to focus on more important business needs.

ITIL and DevOps can be complementary frameworks. With DevOps’ focus on collaboration and ITIL’s focus on value and culture, both of these frameworks can create harmony among siloed teams and an invaluable service delivery strategy for IT pros.


Melody Scheidler is an ITIL 4 certified senior solutions engineer at SolarWinds with expertise in ITSM best practices, service desk integrations and API, and SaaS security and privacy. She serves as a technical point of contact for SolarWinds Service Desk customers of all sizes.