Best Practices: How to Bring DevOps and ITSM Together

DevOps and ITSM

There is a common misconception that DevOps will replace IT service management (ITSM) in an enterprise. However, to deliver IT services at scale, organizations need to balance both the process controls of ITSM with the speed of DevOps. The disruption digital transformation is causing makes it increasingly important to seek a marriage of the two. The modern enterprise must work faster to deliver IT services that ultimately drive greater accuracy and productivity, as well as enhance customer experiences. These are lessons the DevOps movement, in its quest for agility, has learned.

The Case for Both ITSM and DevOps

They may have differing approaches, but ITSM and DevOps have a similar goal: delivering value to the business.

ITSM encompasses the people, processes, and technologies around the delivery of IT services, and takes into account security, software, and quality management. With a focus on IT customers via engagement, support, and fulfillment of services, ITSM aligns with business objectives such as efficiency and productivity.

DevOps puts a philosophical approach — the optimization of collaboration between software development and IT operations — into a set of practices and tools. Using automation to streamline workflows, the aim is to build culture between Dev and Ops — which traditionally have worked in silos — to speed application development and innovation for the business.

At the end of the day, both ITSM and DevOps add value.

“We’re talking about complementary, not competitive boxes,” writes Barclay Rae, CEO of ITSMF UK, a membership association for ITSM professionals. “We need to be able to work smarter and quicker, but we also still need process and control. Modern, high-performing teams and organizations are starting to realize this and use elements of both [DevOps and ITSM].”

Best Practices for an Effective Union

There are several things to consider when marrying DevOps and ITSM.

  • Start the conversation and bring stakeholders together. Just as DevOps set off a culture change between engineering and operations teams, there will be initial pushback between process-oriented ITSM professionals and DevOps leaders. Organizations that have had successes with DevOps report that partnerships formed early between the two teams have resulted in less bureaucratic red tape — such as mandatory waiting periods for change reviews and approvals, according to the 2018 State of DevOps report.
  • Seek shared objectives. Find intersectional value in terms of technology and processes that align with business goals, then start developing a holistic approach toward managing and delivering shared value.
  • Integrate tools where possible. “Self-service requests, automation flows, and IT orchestration are now our front door to actions, and IT service management can and should be happening in the background, ‘automagically’ created, maintained and measured by our DevOps tools,” Troy Vetter, COO of Coda Global, told Taking it a step further, the State of DevOps report suggests organizations best equipped to reach the final stages of DevOps have secured commitments from multiple departments — including ITSM — to provide automation and self-service capabilities.

When integrated with the DevOps model, traditional ITSM can transform IT service delivery. “This updated and streamlined development model can be realized through process optimization, integration, and change automation enabled by a complementary suite of products and solutions,” writes Cheng Dong Zhao, principal value architect for BMC. “The result: improved operational efficiency and stakeholder buy-in, reduced risk, and optimized speed and innovation capabilities.”

BMC Helix ITSM fuels this IT transformation with tools DevOps teams commonly use, including automation, container, and self-service technologies. Discover more at


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