ITIL vs DevOps: Can Both Concepts Work Together?

Organizations are moving towards adoption of agile concepts and adopting ITIL and DevOps. One talks about processes and practices to be followed ‘by a book’ and the other talks about a flexible and adaptive approach with collaborative mindset between different teams to co-create value for their business. So do we need to choose one or embrace both? As they are not opposites but complement each other. 

Today we look more in detail about ITIL and DevOps concepts, how they are in mutual embrace, how they work in practice, and what are their key features and use cases. 

What is ITIL?

Before we delve into which one to adopt and which one to drop or embrace both lets understand the key terminology and what does this mean to us? ITIL is the most widely adopted and age-old approach rather than a framework for IT service management. It aims for alignment of IT services with business objectives to achieve the final goal. It has processes, tasks , procedures, and checklists to derive value in client engagements and cost optimization. The latest version of ITIL 2011, has 26 processes which covers services strategy, design, service transition, service operations, and continual services improvements. The framework encourages early inclusion of technical management , functional and development teams’ involvement in service strategy, design, and transition. 

Benefits of ITIL

  • Improved collaboration and better alignment of goals between business and IT services
  • Brings transparent and efficiency to reduce IT costs
  • Improved customer satisfaction by improved services delivery and better handling of issues
  • Provides more stable services environment 

What is DevOps?  

DevOps framework is an extension of application of agile approach to IT operations and management of those applications. ITIL is confined in a set of principles while DevOps is a philosophy which involves technology, people, and processes to encourage collaborative and cooperative approach between development and operations. The aim is to bridge the gap between silos of development and operations where apart from application functionality and appeal its stability and reliability at all times have higher precedence. Both operations and development teams work together to resolve issues instead of creating issues for each other.

Benefits of DevOps

  • Faster time to market with more frequent releases, more efficient deployments
  • Lower chances of product failure post deployment thus bringing stability and faster recovery from unwarranted events
  • Automation approach for increased efficiency
  • Accountability and stability among development and operations teams

Can ITIL and DevOps work together?

Heart of ITIL is services and its value stream. DevOps engineers are not aware that their work already sits within this service value system; having both ITIL and DevOps principles to bring transparency, flexibility and collaboration following value from development to operations.

  • The basic DevOps principle includes continuous improvement which is an integral part of ITIL concept of adaptability and guiding principle such as focus on value and iteration with feedback; embrace both DevOps and ITIL to enhance customer experience. It brings teams closure as they are trying to achieve a common objective, creating value for customers with continuous dialogue going on, delivery of value continuously and making required changes in the entire process. 
  • DevOps is a one level matured process then ITIL in fact, ITIL service design volume process supports iterative and incremental approach to software design which is the very essence of DevOps agile tools.
  • Similar to DevOps , ITIL calls for use of service automation in change management, release management and deployment management to improvise speed and efficiency along with focus on process mapping, analysis, and planning. 
  • ITIL can be a stepping stone for DevOps as by using ITIL processes , implementation of DevOps becomes easier and more efficient. 

There is a misconception that DevOps can replace ITIL as there are several essential business functions such as service management, support management, operations, governance, and cost management and only one of them can’t provide them. 

ITIL vs DevOps

Below table summarizes the differences between the two:

DefinitionSet of detailed guidelines for efficient and effective management of IT servicesEffective collaboration between development and operations teams
ApproachUses systematic approach to manage IT services to promote growthUses methodical approach to improve collaboration between operations and development teams to enhance growth
PhilosophyPhilosophy is increase in delivery processPhilosophy is continuous integration and continuous delivery which is critical to business
FocusFocus on concept. Dynamic body of knowledgeFocus on development. Static body of knowledge
TransformationDigitate transformation is achievedCultural transformation is achieved
Download the comparison table: ITIL vs DevOps

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