The Cloud Experience Everywhere

Marriage of Inconvenience: DevOps & ITSM®


I advise you to say your dream is possible and then overcome all inconveniences, ignore all the hassles and take a running leap through the hoop, even if it is in flames” – Les Brown.

DevOps – ITSM Union  

I have heard many times “DevOps doesn’t understand ITIL®.  They are so different. They don’t really have anything in common.”

As a mature CIO with legacy ITSM® experience, when I first came across DevOps, I was attracted to it precisely because it was different. Sadly, these differences initially confused and annoyed me.  In fact, I began to think that my approach to IT Service Management was generally right and that DevOps was wrong. It became a love-hate relationship.  So, I then did what any good CIO would do (and as a father I do this at home as well) – I try to use duct-tape to fix DevOps based on my own pre-conception of IT processes. I did this in order to make DevOps more like ITSM®.  Not surprisingly, this failed dramatically.

What I forgot was that there’s a reason opposites attract: because it’s good for both sides. Think about it. One common example for this scenario is, if you married someone just like you, then you wouldn’t have to grow, get out of your comfort zone nor have to enter into someone else’s world. Differences can add richness, depth, and texture to your DevOps and ITSM® marriage. If you embrace them.

DevOps is much more than just automated development; it involves collaboration, agility, continuous improvements and a blame free culture – see my previous blog, “DevOps, it’s an IT thing, isn’t it?”  Also, ITSM®/ITIL® should not be pigeonholed as an administrative burden, but rather to be used in an agile way. 

DevOps versus ITSM Basics

If you put the basics of each side-by-side there appears to be a stark contrast to the key tenants and terminology used within each approach, for example:



-       Planned

-       Iterative

-       Process Based

-       Incremental

-       Procedure Based

-       Collaborative

-       Documented

-       Experimental

-       Waterfall/Sequenced

-       Lean / Agile


Looking at these differences, you may be forgiven in thinking that when it comes to delivery using either of these methods, they appear to be totally disjointed and conflicting. Especially when considering the ever rapid rate of innovation and new product delivery that our Web-based world demands.

I would argue that ITIL® as a framework for Service Management, covering the key organizational capabilities needed to deliver value to the organization and its customers through standardized processes is focused on delivering fit-for-use products and services. Likewise, I believe that DevOps is a philosophy/culture that looks at the flow of effort in an organisation through collaborative and agile processes also focused on delivering fit-for-use products and services.

I believe that by merging these together it will yield an effective Hybrid DevOps/ITIL environment.

DevOps will address the inherent inefficiencies that ITIL® has in time propagated due to the increasing complexity in technology and Service Management, such as: -

  • communicating in silos,
  • not focusing on the customer,
  • lack of collaboration across the business

ITIL® will keep DevOps “honest” by providing rigor, audit, governance and credibility in its final delivery.

Marriage of Convenience 


By leveraging both methodologies via a marriage of convenience (and avoiding all those “inconvenient” reasons why you may believe DevOps and ITSM are incompatible) where the technology and the focus on the customer side of DevOps helps make it happen and provides support for the “how” on the core concepts of Service Management – creating value through collaboration and continuous improvement.

Consequently, I strongly believe that ITIL® and DevOps are compatible. ITSM® is a crucial part of building and maintaining a platform for sound DevOps practices based on people, processes and technology. The language and terminology used may be different but the outcomes are the same – delivering value to the business where it needs it most.

Their differences are their biggest asset— if you learn how to merge them it will provide successful IT teams with the ability to embrace the best of both concepts.

SO --- If you think DevOps and ITIL® aren’t compatible then you don’t understand either. 

Aligning these practices together to accommodate true service management, in particular for a hybrid cloud/IT environment is bread & butter to the HPE’s World Wide Strategic Transformation, Governance & Operations Center of Excellence.  From our CoE we run customer centric workshops that develop strategic roadmaps that provide our customers with our Point of View on DevOps and ITSM – for further information go to our HPE Transformation Workshops.

Get started with DevOps and your transformation today by visiting our HPE Pointnext Website

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           “An inconvenience is an unrecognized opportunity”, Confucius

Mario Devargas
WW Strategic Transformation
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author


CIO Advisor, World Wide Strategic Transformation, Governance & Operations CoE -- Mario is sixty+ year-old Spaniard with English undertones – living in Preston, North West England.  He has worked in the Information Technology field for over 35 years, most recently in the Public Sector as IT Director for a Northern UK Metropolitan Council and as CIO for the second largest Police Force in the UK.  As a Senior Executive he majors on advising organisations on Corporate IS Strategy, Enterprise Agile, DevOps, Collaborative Shared IS services and building and leading high-performing IS teams.