Busting the DevOps vs ITIL Myth

Updated: Mar 8

By Bradley Clerkin
CTO, BreakFree Solutions

IT leaders who have successfully driven digital transformation understand that the very idea of DevOps vs ITIL is invalid. These leaders realize it’s a distraction tactic used by vendors and advisors who benefit from IT staying the same or radically changing. The conversation about DevOps vs ITIL needs to shift away from, “It’s one or the other.” The truth is you need to do both. I’m writing this post because the majority of articles and resources angle DevOps vs ITIL as nearly a religious debate, and you need to pick a side. But you don’t, and you shouldn’t.

At BreakFree Solutions, when our team members are asked about DevOps vs ITIL, our answer is simple. An ITIL/ITSM-based operating model is best for the datacenter, IaaS, and shared services. A DevOps operating model is best for servicing digital transformation and custom software development efforts. Most established companies are going to have datacenter and shared services along with digital transformation efforts, so they’ll need both DevOps and ITIL operating modes to be successful.

Many times, we also get asked about automation. Many automation tool vendors are the biggest pushers of the DevOps vs ITIL narrative, so it makes sense. The answer to, “Should I invest in automation for DevOps or ITIL?” is again both. You allow the primary purpose of the operating model to drive what gets automated. If it is ITIL/ITSM, then automate for improved service levels and resource utilization. If it is DevOps, then automate for increases in velocity and decreases in time-to-market for digital solutions. In most circumstances, the ITIL/ITSM part of the company focuses on service requests and repetitive automation tasks, and the DevOps part focuses on continuous delivery and platform automation.

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