Do ITIL processes still have value in devops? YES!!! (short rant)

How often did I read or hear this questions and every time I wonder if the person asking it understands the purpose of the ITIL processes and the mindset behind agile methods such as DevOps. Are they truly adding value to their organization by thinking it through and tailoring the processes and methods to fit their organization or just cosmetically implementing a process or method so a box can be ticked.

I remember a discussion in a transition project that I lead for a large enterprise. We were moving the service management of our internet platform to another managed service provider. Our development team was continuously developing improvements to the platform, they worked in an agile way and came to operations management with the request to move from a monthly to a weekly change window.

Initially, this request was received very sceptical by the operations team. I asked them what their concerns were. The test process with the current managed service provider took two weeks to complete, it was largely a manual process and not very reliable. It was with this experience the operations team was evaluating the request. Thinking it through and going back the goal of the process, we concluded that we could bring down the change window to one week if we had a fully automated build, test and deploy facility and could revert changes quickly.

The goal of change management is to reduce the risk of a change disrupting a service. Does this risk go away when using DevOps. No …. However when the DevOps ideas are adopted the risk that a code change that breaks existing functionality goes into production is significantly reduced and when it occurs the change can be quickly be undone.

Be aware, code commits are not the only changes to a software application or service. It is still a good idea to have a discipline in place for dealing with non code related changes.

Below a bare minimum set of ITIL processes that I recommend DevOps teams to adopt.I also recommend watching the process pragmatist video:

Incident management: The goal is to restore a normal service operation as quickly as possible and to minimize the impact on business operations

Problem Management The goal is to resolve systemic issues and to minimize the impact of incidents that cannot be prevented.

Change management: The goal is to reduce the risk of a change disrupting a service.


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