Since the DevOps framework was developed, many companies have switched to it and given up IT service management (ITSM) and ITIL processes altogether. The ITIL system is often seen as inferior to DevOps in terms of agility, speed and ease of implementation, and ITSM’s principles often seem heavy, outdated, and unnecessarily complex.
But can ITSM/ITIL and DevOps coexist successfully and complement each other? Or are they at opposite ends of the IT operations spectrum?
At ZigiOps, we believe ITSM and DevOps can—and should—complement each other: which is best achieved through integrating the software tools your teams are using. In this article, we’ll get into the details of how you can do that, and look at two use cases.
Let’s start with giving some context.
ITSM and ITIL are sometimes used interchangeably, but they mean different things.
ITSM (IT service management), is a process-based approach that includes designing, executing, and delivering a spectrum of IT services. It focuses on customer experience. ITIL is the most popular framework that informs ITSM strategies, approaches, tools and processes. Many ITSM strategies are ITIL-based. DevOps aims to reduce software development and delivery time, shorten development cycles, get rid of traditional hierarchies and silos, and improve collaboration.
- Some of the most popular ITSM software tools are ServiceNow, Jira Service Desk, BMC Remedy, BMC Remedyforce, Cherwell, TOPdesk, Zendesk, and more.
- Some of the most popular DevOps tools are Jira Software, Azure DevOps, Jenkins, Confluence, GitHub and more.
Can DevOps and ITSM coexist successfully?
The short answer is, yes, they can. What’s more, they often need to.
ITSM and DevOps make a strong case when used together for several reasons, and the limits of each framework and mode of operation aren’t clear cut.
With the development of the DevOps framework, many organizations have given up IT Service Management (ITSM) altogether. ITSM’s framework, however, comes with years of experience and specific approaches that are useful, and can be integrated in the lighter and significantly more agile mode of operation of DevOps. Therefore, it’s important to not simply write off ITSM.
Let’s look at the reasons why:
First, let’s consider agility and discipline. DevOps gives organizations agility and speed, however, ITSM provides the solid foundation and discipline needed to grow and scale operations.
Second, many DevOps tools are developed to cover different aspects of IT, such as incident resolution, monitoring, change request and release management, all of which are in the domain of ITSM. In essence this means that some aspects of DevOps are merging into ITSM. So ITSM is not merely about what the service desk does. Instead, it’s related to every way in which the company delivers value via technological services.
Both DevOps and ITSM help organizations create value and deliver a better customer experience. DevOps achieves this through the prism of agility and speed, while ITIL and ITSM are based on customer needs and service improvement. DevOps and ITSM are two approaches which have a similar goal. In some companies, they’re morphing into each other.
There are software tools that are specific to either ITSM or DevOps, and although there are tools that cover some aspects of both (such as Jira and its different products), there isn’t, for now, a single universal tool that covers everything. (And if there were, it probably wouldn’t fit all the different use cases of all tech companies out there.)
This is what makes integration between ITSM and DevOps tools a necessity for bigger organizations.
How to align ITSM and DevOps through integration and automation
ITSM and DevOps tools can be used successfully together, and your company can harness the strengths of using both an ITIL and a DevOps framework by overlaying them. The most important thing you need to consider, in this case, is the software tools you’re using, and how you’re integrating them.
In many cases, companies use ITSM tools for their service desk queries (for example, ServiceNow or Cherwell), and DevOps tools for their development needs (as, for example, Jira or Azure DevOps), without integrating them. In those cases, ITSM and DevOps aren’t aligned at all; they’re simply being used in parallel.
This can be dangerous. You risk creating:
- Informational silos
- Duplicated tasks
This leads to an overall lack of organizational transparency and inefficient communication between teams.
What you can do instead is integrate your ITSM and DevOps software tools, and use them together. This way, you’re covering every aspect of your business and improving cross-team collaboration with smart automation.
Integration and automation aren’t always straightforward and easy, though. If you develop your own integrations internally, instead of using an integration platform, integrating your tools successfully can be a lengthy and painful process. Let’s be honest: software integration development takes time and rarely goes as planned if you don’t have the right specialists. Which is exactly why we’ve spent years developing ZigiOps to allow you to set up integrations in minutes.
An integration platform like ZigiOps can help you synchronize your ITSM and DevOps tools in real time.
What are the benefits of integrating your ITSM and DevOps tools? Integration allows you to:
- Handle customer queries faster and significantly reduce response time
- Improve communication and collaboration between teams
- Automate some of your processes and workflows
- Reduce duplicate work and data and keep storage costs low
- Get rid of bottlenecks and silos, and improve visibility into your operations.
And if you’re using both ITSM and DevOps tools, you’ll need to integrate them.
ITSM to DevOps, use case #1: IT change management and change requests
In the context of IT change management, a key component of the ITIL framework, integration can be crucial. Let’s look at the details.
A change request is the first step of managing change. The source of a change request is a problem or an enhancement request and usually falls in one of the following 5 categories:
- Bugs that need to be fixed, which makes them the DevOps team’s responsibility
- User requests for enhancements, improvements or modifications
- Events related to other systems and their development
- Technological advances or structural updates, for example migrating on-premises deployments and applications to the Cloud
- Management requests related to system enhancements or application improvements.
Whenever you’re rolling out a change after a change request, you have a host of associated risks:
- The change might not be successful
- The system load might be too heavy
- You might need more machines
- You might need to extend downtime beyond what was originally planned.
The last one, downtime, can have catastrophic consequences for tech companies: according to Gartner, network downtime can cost over $5,600 per minute.
Let’s now look at how you can manage the change request process successfully with the help of an integration system and manage these risks.
First, the person responsible for managing the change creates a Change Request in ServiceNow. In it, he or she adds all the necessary information to carry out the change:
- A breakdown of the necessary modifications.
The entire change request process can be managed in ServiceNow, however the team that’s responsible for the change must apply changes to all specific DevOps tools. All software applications—both ITSM and DevOps ones—that the change concerns must be updated, and the DevOps team might need to execute specific tasks, in order to complete the change. Sometimes, the DevOps team might be responsible for a part of the change, such as application migration requests.
With integration, change requests are immediate and much more accurate, and can be rolled out in a fraction of the time that you’d otherwise need, if you only manage them via your ITSM platform.
ITSM to DevOps, use case #2: incident resolution
We’ll now look at the use case of an integration that our customers request very often: our ServiceNow to Jira Software bi-directional, real-time integration.
For a more detailed overview of this integration, please check our Jira-ServiceNow step-by-step integration guide.
It’s often the service desk’s responsibility to forward customers’ incident queries (which often result from software bugs) to the developers. If you’re using ServiceNow as your main service desk/helpdesk solution, and your development team is working with Jira, this requires using both systems in parallel and going back and forth between each.
With integration, the entire process becomes much easier:
The service desk team receives a new incident in their ServiceNow queue. After investigating the customer’s issue, they find out that the problem results from a software bug, which means that the DevOps team needs to handle it.
With our integration platform, they don’t need to open Jira and manually log the bug. The integration platform creates it automatically and updates it in real time, which guarantees an efficient application lifecycle management (ALM).
Configuring your Jira ServiceNow integration
It also facilitates cross-team collaboration: the communication between the service desk team and the developer working on the bug is seamless. It doesn’t require any additional tools: everything takes place in the comments. ZigiOps automatically syncs log files, traces, or other attachments between both systems.
This helps streamline defect tracking and resolution, improves change request management, and prevents any communication bottlenecks. It also means that you don’t have to duplicate incidents and tasks between systems and drastically reduces the incident resolution time. This helps you keep your customers happy.
Once the developer fixes the issue, the ServiceNow incident is updated in real time. The end customer receives a notification that you have successfully resolved their problem.
As you could see, automating your workflows through integration is a crucial element in successfully aligning ITSM and DevOps (or ITIL and DevOps).
In most tech companies (and most large organizations nowadays are tech companies to an extent), ITSM and DevOps often coexist, and we might even say that some aspects of DevOps are slowly morphing into ITSM-like processes. They aren’t always well-aligned, though, and this can slow down communication and create bottlenecks. To solve that business challenge, one of the best solutions is to use an integration platform, allowing you to connect your ITSM and DevOps tools.
Integration helps you be more agile and respond to customer queries quicker–and this is key for keeping your customers happy. Additionally, with it you’re better equipped to detect and handle problems, whenever they occur, without a significant impact to your business, or costly downtime periods.
ITSM & DevOps systems you can integrate with ZigiOps
There are many ITSM & DevOps tools for which the use cases look similar to the ones described above, and we have integrations for many of them.
Here are some DevOps-ITSM integrations you can set up in minutes with ZigiOps:
Jira – ServiceNow: see our integration guide and our videos (video 1, video 2, video 3) for more info
Jira – Cherwell
Jira – BMC Remedy
Jira – Remedyforce: see our video for a quick demo
ServiceNow – Azure DevOps: see our video for a quick demo
Remedy – Azure DevOps
Remedyforce – Azure DevOps
Zendesk – Jira
TOPdesk – Jira
If you need another connector for your ITSM and DevOps use case, which you don’t see here, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.