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DevOps - friend or foe for YaSM?

  January 18, 2016      By Stefan Kempter      DevOps   ITIL  

DevOps vs. YaSM. Comparison of the service management frameworks YaSM and DevOps

I may be a bit late to the party but I finally got round to reading "The Phoenix Project" [1], the novel that is often said to be a must read for anyone who looks for a first solid introduction to DevOps.

I suppose I don't qualify as a seasoned DevOps expert quite yet, but that was not the point.

After reading so many blog posts and comments about the topic, some of them praising DevOps as a panacea for almost everything, I felt it was time to get to the bottom of it and learn more from a trusted first-hand source.

The most important question I had was about how DevOps relates to YaSM: How much of YaSM does it replace (and, for that matter, of other service management guidelines like ITIL®) or rather, is it an approach that complements the YaSM framework? And is there a need to adapt YaSM to the new DevOps world?

Before I try to answer those questions, I'd like to confirm that, in my view, The Phoenix Project is definitely worth a read. Because it's written in the form of a novel it was even fun to read - something that cannot be said of many management textbooks.

All in all, the book does a good job of explaining the thinking behind DevOps.

The concepts described all seem to make sense, and there is no reason to doubt that many IT organizations can benefit from adopting this approach. After all, IT is increasingly at the heart of any business, and if businesses are to move fast, IT needs to move with the same speed.

The spread of DevOps should also be helped by the availability of technologies that support this approach, such as virtualization and containerization, and against this background we can assume there will be ever more organizations adopting DevOps techniques.

DevOps and other service management frameworks

DevOps is thus likely to stay with us - but how does it compare with service management guidelines such as ITIL and YaSM?

A lot has been written about this topic recently, and one can find every kind of answer.

I suppose we can safely dismiss the first view. ITIL has a history of some 20 or 30 years and provided valuable advice to countless organizations, and it is not very likely that all this advice has become worthless overnight.

How about the argument that DevOps is nothing new but only repackaged advice?

The authors of The Phoenix Project state, for example, that "DevOps is the logical continuation of the Agile journey", so it's true that DevOps builds on some other good ideas - but that is not exactly an argument against it.

So in fact for most IT organizations it will be appropriate to look into both DevOps and service management best practice - which to me became pretty obvious once I understood what DevOps is about:

The main focus in DevOps is on improving the cooperation between the business, development, QA and IT operations. Although DevOps is not a well-defined framework but an "approach", we can say that it describes techniques and processes that enable faster, more reliable deployment of software, in line with the fast-changing needs of the business.

This clearly touches some of the areas that are covered in the service management frameworks, especially release, change and configuration management. Some new "DevOps thinking" - and possibly automation - needs to be applied to these particular processes.

But the scope of YaSM, ITIL and other service management frameworks is much wider: They explain what it takes to manage the services of an organization in a professional way.

This includes guidance for managing the service portfolio, maintaining a business relationship with the customers, managing service financials, improving the services on a continual basis, etc. DevOps does not provide this kind of advice.

I think it is thus clear that DevOps is not a replacement for YaSM - there will be a role for both in many organizations.

But does YaSM need to adapt in a world where it is used in combination with DevOps?

It is still early days but for now I would say that YaSM - as a fresh and modern framework - is in tune with the modern times.

If some new DevOps thinking needs to be applied to (parts of) the established service management guidance, then a kind of "back-to-basics" framework should be much better suited for use in combination with DevOps than, say, the full set of ITIL recommendations, which has grown quite complex over the years.

And a kind of "back-to-basics" framework, describing the time-tested principles of service management in a straightforward way, is precisely what we provide with YaSM. Don't think of DevOps and YaSM as being foes, rather think of them as part of the "dream team".

Resources and further reading


[1] Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford, 2013. - The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. IT Revolution Press, Portland, Oregon; USA. ISBN 978-0988262591.

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Author: Stefan Kempter


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