DevOps, ITIL disciples can sing together: IT Skeptic

The Kamu initiative aims to find commonalities between two approaches to IT service delivery.

Blogger Rob England is trying to balance rival approaches to service delivery.

Blogger Rob England is trying to balance rival approaches to service delivery.

While they maintain a fierce rivalry, practitioners of DevOps and IT service management (ITSM) have much to learn from each other, according to Rob England, author of the IT Skeptic blog.

England comes from an ITSM and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) background. However, he told the itSMF LEADit conference in Canberra that he is trying to find commonalities between what he describes as just two approaches to service management.

England has dubbed the initiative “Kamu,” a Maori word that translates to, "join together in singing the chorus to a song.”

DevOps is an emerging practice that seeks to shorten development time and the update release cycle by having the developer also handle operations. “The person who writes the code is the person whose pager goes off when it’s broken,” said England.

“There’s some fundamental value in these DevOps concepts that we should be considering and looking at how we roll them into ITSM,” said England. “And absolutely there’s a few ITSM concepts that wouldn’t hurt the DevOps people to get their heads around, either.”

Advocates from each camp are working together in a Google+ community to find an intersection, he said. The group has more than 100 members.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re on a journey rather than at the destination,” he said. “But we’re getting there.”

“The sharing of ideas are going on. More and more people are starting to understand the two camps and the mutual benefits, and draw together. And I think it’s the future.”

England confessed that he initially saw the disciples of DevOps as an Apple-loving, T-shirt wearing threat. Compared to the “wise” ways of ITIL followers, the DevOps people appeared to be “these crazy Gen-Ys who are chaos monkeys ... trying to break stuff.”

England also took offense to DevOps being pitched as a “miracle cure,” he said. “It’s just hyped to the max.”

However, on closer inspection, England realised DevOps is just a different approach to the same end goal of IT, he said.

“IT exists to protect and serve,” he said. “It’s our job to look after this massive investment ... in the existing information and its technology, and at the same time it’s our duty to serve the new and changing requirements of the business by extracting new value out of that information and its technology.”

“Those are our dual roles, and they conflict.”

England said ITIL places an emphasis on the protect side of the spectrum and is cautious and robust, while DevOps stresses the serve side and anti-fragility, and says, “Bring it on!”

In the end, he said, “both robustness and anti-fragility are alternatives to fragility.”

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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