In our everyday lives, we are confronted again and again with "new" frameworks, and there is often a real religious war between the adherents. Prejudices reign here and there - for example, ITIL is considered too old and too rigid, while with Scrum everyone supposedly does what they want. One could now say, for example: Then we'll just orient ourselves to DevOps from now on. But you can safely throw this consideration overboard now, because no framework delivers the master key. The question is rather: Which framework is better suited to my company - and aren't there more similarities between ITIL 4 and DevOps than one might think?
The cornerstones of ITIL 4
ITIL is a best practice framework, which means that it will be developed further depending on which processes prove themselves in reality. According to the wording, DevOps is about bringing together development and operations, but it is also about bringing in QA, information security, or all areas involved in value creation to ensure that you can work faster, better, and more productively. To do this, you adapt different philosophies and management approaches. That doesn't sound like the two are mutually exclusive. Gene Kim already emphasized that ITIL and DevOps are not mutually exclusive, but can be applied well together.
In ITIL 4, there are seven basic principles that support an organization in adapting or adapting ITIL. These are:
- Focus on Value (value orientation)
- Start where you are (Start where you stand)
- Progress iteratively with feedback (Develop iteratively with feedback)
- Collaborate and promote visibility (Collaborate and promote visibility/transparency)
- Think and work holistically (Holistic thinking and working)
- Keep it simple and practical (Pay attention to simplicity and practicality)
- Optimize and automate (Optimize and automate)
The concept of the four dimensions of service management deals with the perspectives from which the service value system should be viewed in order to ensure value creation through valuable products and services. These are:
- Value Streams and Processes
- Organization and people
- Information and technology
- Partners and suppliers
The cornerstones of DevOps
In DevOps, there are also some approaches that represent the main pillars, concepts and values of DevOps, such as the acronym CALMS:
Other basic principles that shape DevOps are also known from the books by Gene Kim and others. The book "The Phoenix Project" contains the three-way model:
I. First Way: Flow
II. second way: feedback
III. third way: continuous experimentation and learning
From the book "The Unicorn Project", on the other hand, we know the five ideals:
- Locality and Simplicity
- Focus, Flow and Joy
- Improvement of Daily Work
- Psychological Safety
- Customer Focus
Getting to the core: ITIL and DevOps in comparison
The individual cornerstones of the frameworks not only sound similar, but can also be combined well. The ITIL basic principle of "value orientation" is all about focusing on the service consumer in order to generate products and services that deliver real added value. The DevOps ideal of "customer focus" also starts here.
In the basic principle of "starting where you are", there is a focus on determining the current state in order to evaluate what can be reused, be it processes, technologies or the like. This is achieved, among other things, through objective measurements. These considerations are also found in the measurements from CALMS and the third ideal of DevOps, "Improvement of Daily Work". This is primarily about reducing technical debt, which repeatedly leads to disruptions and delays.
The ITIL core principle of "evolve iteratively with feedback" is primarily concerned with breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps that can be completed in a manageable timeframe to maintain focus and counter analysis paralysis. Both the first DevOps path and the second ideal address this point.
The basic principle of "Encourage collaboration and visibility/transparency" is about, among other things, ensuring transparency of decisions, making proper use of employees' skills, understanding the flow of work in progress, identifying bottlenecks, and recognizing waste. This approach is also found in Lean and Sharing from CALMS and especially in DevOps culture as well as in the first way and the first and second ideal.
Different focus, same principle
In the basic principle "Think and work holistically", one must understand that all activities and resources of the company are interdependent. In DevOps, you have this overall view via the first and second ideal as well as the first path.
The focus in the basic principle "Pay attention to simplicity and practicability" is on consolidating value creation as a decision criterion. Everything that does not contribute to value creation is probably wasteful and should be omitted. Here, too, one recognizes parallels in the first path, the lean from CALMS, and the first and second ideals.
Last but not least, the basic principle of "optimize and automate" is about making something as effective as possible as long as there is a meaningful rationale for it. This justification usually lies in the delivery of added value. Automation is not done for its own sake, but to work faster, more error-free and more effectively, but most importantly to use the limited time of employees wisely and not waste too much time on repetitive tasks. Automation from CALMS, as well as the second and third ideals, strike the same chord.
The cultural aspects from DevOps, i.e., Culture and a culture of sharing from CALMS, as well as the second and fourth ideals are appreciated above all in the ITIL dimension Organization and People. Above all, however, the cultural changes must not be neglected, because as Peter Drucker already said: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast".
In summary, ITIL and DevOps have more overlap in their frameworks than is perhaps known. The focus is on different areas, but it is still a matter of checking what can be applied to one's own company.