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In my career, I have been both a software developer and ITIL practitioner in an operations role. Thus DevOps was a natural progression for me.
However, I have always struggled with the highly specialised language that ITIL introduces and making that "Developer Friendly" enough to not be a complete turn off to developers.

ITIL is an internationally recognised IT Service Management framework that has been developed over 30 years as a set of practices that have a proven benefit to the operational stability and maturity of an organization.

Is DevOps truly compatible with ITIL, or in essence do we need to take the spirit of ITIL and "translate" it to language that is better understood by development teams:

  • Incident & Problem Management → Production Defects, Bugs or Issues
  • Change & Release Management → Continuous Delivery
  • Event Management → Logging, Telemetry, Instrumentation and Alerting
  • Possible to expand what ITIL is? Pretty sure some folks (like me) don't know about it :) – Dawny33 Mar 2 '17 at 11:00
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    Good call, I have updated the question and accepted an edit with a link to the Wikipedia Page - thanks everyone for your improvements. – Richard Slater Mar 2 '17 at 12:06
  • @RichardSlater As you have not accepted an answer already, is there something missing in the answers above or just that you don't wish to accept one at all ? – Tensibai Mar 7 '17 at 13:51
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In my opinion, the DevOps culture come along with a methodology change toward Agile process management.
ITIL is heavily aimed at a clear formalism of the process and the results and thus more adapted to a Waterfall model.

This doesn't mean ITIL is incompatible with Devops, but usually this will be two separate process with different timelines. I mean that the inclusion of a new product within ITIL referential will usually be delayed until the product/application has been released in production for a while, where early pitfalls and some documentation needed to integrate ITIL has been done and adapted after the product is "live".

One of the thing in ITIL is the Service Design, which is assumed to be defined before any development task, an agile process will/may review the design in each iteration, breaking the formalism needed in an ITIL process.

The main goal of ITIL is, as you said, to provide a framework to ensure nothing is omitted between the design/conception and maintenance phase (Build/Run). In a devops culture, the whole team is responsible of all phases on long term, hence why the formalism is reducted.

That doesn't mean we have to forget ITIL, the core principles are absolutely good and, in my opinion, should be used as a checklist to build the initial backlog of a product. It's just that following the ITIL principle with all its formalism goes against the time to market reduction goal of a quick iterative software development and sometimes is not even applicable as there's less transmission of information needed between teams, as the tasks are done by the same team.

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    Or, to give a more complete answer to the OP: It depends on how closely you want to follow both structures. Can they be implemented at the same time? Yes, absolutely, but they both have some mutually exclusive points. If you want to implement both, which I try to do in my org, then it's all about finding the right balance. – kazaamjt Mar 2 '17 at 12:20
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I'm ITIL certified (though it has been a while.) I agree with Tensibai: ITIL and DevOps aren't incompatbile, but that doesn't necessarily make them great friends.

The argument can be made that the processes in ITIL must happen in some way, especially for larger organizations. Successful integration of DevOps practices, where ITIL is already practiced, requires careful planning, communication, and execution. Then again, that's true of any DevOps Transformation.

For a "greenfield" transformation where neither ITIL or DevOps are in place, I'd craft a combination of both using "mapped" terminology as you have described. As long as everyone in the organization is on the same page, using the same language, ITIL and DevOps can add value when combined.

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I liked the answers provided by the IT Skeptic on an episode of DevOpsCafe.org If I remember it correctly, his line of thinking is that if you actually really understand ITIL, there is very little conflict. That most of ITIL guidelines are very general and that the conflicts are largely between some implementations of ITIL, not behind the actual specification.

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    While the link may answer the question, if it break your answer makes no sense. It would be good to summarize the idea with your own word in your answer, keeping the link to extend it. – Tensibai Mar 2 '17 at 16:02
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    I'll re-listen the episode and summarize it here shortly. – Jiri Klouda Mar 2 '17 at 16:16

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