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IT loves its frameworks. Not only do we love our frameworks, we are fiercely loyal to those that we believe will help us do our jobs better, give us career growth opportunities, and most importantly, help us deliver better products to customers.
Over the past several years, organizations have invested heavily in the adoption of frameworks such as Agile, ITIL, Lean, and a host of others. While each certainly has provided good guidance and insight for a specific area of IT, none has been an end-to-end solution. Why? Likely because the framework was not adopted or integrated across the entire IT organization.
IT suffers from a significant silo issue and so improvement initiatives were mostly contained within the silo structure. Unfortunately, as teams embarked on parallel journeys towards improvement, there was not an intentional effort to cross-pollinate vocabulary, tools, and workflows across disciplines. While improvements were seen inside the silo, handoffs between silos became challenging and time consuming.
The latest initiative to catch the attention of IT is DevOps. Unlike other frameworks, DevOps is not documented in a single body of knowledge or library of publications. In fact, there is an ongoing debate over the actual definition of what constitutes DevOps. Is it a movement, a philosophy, a framework, or synonymous with continuous delivery? Is it more about culture or more about tools? Is it better than Agile for software development or ITIL for managing changes, incidents, problems, and requests? Is it more efficient than Lean?
No. DevOps is in fact a super-framework. It strives to connect the dots between other frameworks, tools, principles, practices, and vocabulary. Most importantly, the goal of DevOps is to instill systems thinking across the entire value stream in order to deploy faster and more frequently. For example, DevOps’ shift-left approach helps development, testing, security, and operational professionals engage their processes and practices earlier as an integral aspect of the entire system instead of as a downstream activity.
DevOps embodies the “people, process, and technology” philosophy by advocating that cultural transformation is as significant as digital transformation. Its emphasis on sharing and collaboration includes a cross-pollination of processes, principles, and practices. DevOps helps tools and teams become interoperable, potentially reducing the impact of incidents and problems while increasing the accuracy of knowledge and configuration management.
If looked at with an objective eye, DevOps was never intended to replace Agile, ITIL, Lean, or any other framework. In fact, DevOps embraces and incorporates many of these practices. In a DevOps environment, scrum teams will still produce increments of work but will engage in continuous integration’s daily commits. Successful continuous delivery will still require ITSM’s change and release management, but perhaps through the use of more standard changes and automated builds, tests, and deployments. DevOps will leverage Lean tools such as value stream mapping and Kanban boards to help visualize systems thinking and eliminate waste. DevOps will promote the use of continuous automation to increase speed but will also support integrations with many toolsets, including those implemented for Agile, ITSM, or Lean.
In order to realize the full benefits of a DevOps approach, individuals and enterprises have to let go of their loyalties to a specific framework and start looking at IT as a software factory that must continually deliver innovative yet reliable products to a waiting market. Every aspect of the production line from code to customer is wholly dependent on the other and cannot exist or operate in isolation. Everything IT has done to date, including its investment in other frameworks, is a contributor to the continual improvement of people, process, and technology.
It is only when we look at IT through the lens of a super-framework such as DevOps that we can truly transform to the digital age.
Jayne Groll is co-founder and CEO of the DevOps Institute (DOI). Jayne carries many IT credentials including ITIL Expert™, Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Agile Service Manager, DevOps Foundation, and Certified Process Design Engineer (CPDE)™. Her IT management career spans more than 25 years of senior IT management roles across a wide range of industries. Jayne is very active in the DevOps, ITSM, and Agile communities and is the author of the Agile Service Management Guide . She is a frequent presenter at local, national, and virtual events. Follow Jayne on Twitter @JayneGroll.
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