Today, for many domains there is a semantic ontology for making domain data machine-readable. There are quite many terms in the DevOps and related domains, often established by vendors but applicable to other tools, like declarative pipelines in Jenkins.

What are current efforts to establish the ontology of the DevOps domain?

References/Further reading:

  • Can you provide examples from other fields? Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 19:30
  • @XiongChiamiov for example, [4] is W3C's media resource domain ontology for aspects of different format specs.
    – Ta Mu
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 9:13

2 Answers 2


According to Wikipedia, the first reference you linked,

In computer science and information science, an ontology is a formal naming and definition of the types, properties, and interrelationships of the entities that really or fundamentally exist for a particular domain of discourse. It is thus a practical application of philosophical ontology, with a taxonomy.

The problem with developing an Ontology Model to define the terms of DevOps is that DevOps encompasses multiple domains and these domains can often have overlapping or contradictory terminology.

In fact, sometimes even within a domain there will be conflicting terminology. So it is difficult enough to establish a standard for a single domain, let alone multiple domains.

As such, it is doubtful there will be any attempt (or at least successful ones) to establish formal ontology rules for DevOps any time soon. (And it would have to start with formally defining DevOps first, and so far we have had trouble even making that clear).

  • Congrats, you've put nice words to express this
    – Tensibai
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 21:43

Yes but

It is hard to deny James and Tensibai's sentiments that we are hard to define. I've probably offended a few job interviewers by pointing out DevOps means whatever you want it to mean at the time. Vendors and the press in computing are not very motivated by correctness or conformity so any popular term will get muddied in a similar fashion.

There is ITIL

But that doesn't mean some people aren't trying to create a common language for us to talk about operations and processes. While I haven't seen anyone applying it in the real world, there is ITIL. As Wikipedia tells us:

ITIL, formally an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a set of detailed practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business. In its current form (known as ITIL 2011), ITIL is published as a series of five core volumes, each of which covers a different ITSM lifecycle stage. Although ITIL underpins ISO/IEC 20000 (previously BS 15000), the International Service Management Standard for IT service management, there are some differences between the ISO 20000 standard and the ITIL framework.

ITIL describes processes, procedures, tasks, and checklists which are not organization-specific, but can be applied by an organization for establishing integration with the organization's strategy, delivering value, and maintaining a minimum level of competency. It allows the organization to establish a baseline from which it can plan, implement, and measure. It is used to demonstrate compliance and to measure improvement.

Since July 2013, ITIL has been owned by AXELOS, a joint venture between Capita and the Cabinet Office. AXELOS licenses organisations to use the ITIL intellectual property, accredits licensed examination institutes, and manages updates to the framework. Organizations that wish to implement ITIL internally do not require this license.

All of that sounds really exciting, but because of the licensing there's no way for me to build open source software based on this. If you search for ITIL in github the results are very sparse. Until the licensing model changes I think we're stuck with this state of affairs. Unless W3C or the IETF takes up this sort of challenge there won't be a standard which is available to the community.

  • But, otrs claims to implement itil service desk?
    – Ta Mu
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:30
  • They're violating the license as I understand it.
    – chicks
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:31
  • slideshare.net/mobile/eurolinux/… another one resource
    – Ta Mu
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 16:02
  • My understanding was that ITIL is concerned with establishing a set of processes, not a nomenclature. Are you suggesting that they might be a body going forward that would do that? Or that they already do? Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 17:50
  • 1
    ITIL defines a set of terminology for use with its processes. I believe part of the effort is to standardize on their set of terminology and fields. I'm not clear on whether ITIL is evolving or how.
    – chicks
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 18:45

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