Recently Charles Araujo penned an article raising the question of whether we were seeing ITIL’s last gasp.

I thought it was a very good and thought provoking post and my immediate conclusion, expressed in a tweet, was that what ITIL prescribed was still a prerequisite to positioning an organization to adopt such concepts as DevOps and Digital Transformation.

Troy du Moulin responded to Araujo’s article with a spot on reminder of the ‘Lean components of value’ – Quality, Speed and Cost — and ITIL’s role in ensuring those parts that might be less sexy in light of the current focus on DevOps and Digital Transformation. He emphasizes that ITIL covers the entire set of capabilities for creating value and reminds us that approaches such as DevOps and Agile do not do this, nor do they aspire to.

This is what we continue to find, that there are a lot of organizations that continue to have to work on their blocking and tackling before any consideration can be made of seriously applying approaches such as DevOps. In our experience the precepts laid forth in ITIL continue to be the best source for laying this groundwork. The ability to deliver consistent Quality at an acceptable Cost is a requirement that must be met before focusing on Speed and Velocity.

There are some data from the Service Management software market that back this up. ServiceNow estimates the current ITSM software market as about $1.5 Billion, and has set goals to grow their market to $4 Billion by 2020. I think a good part of these sales, present and future, represent IT organizations investing in a Service Management platform that will allow them to take care of the fundamentals.

In a few recent posts, I have been waxing nostalgic about the old ITIL v2 approach to these ‘fundamentals.’ One of the areas I continue to emphasize is the old ‘Blue Book’ approach to ‘Release and Control’ – the triad of the Change, Release and Configuration processes. Having a solid control over your environment is an absolute requirement before you can consider automating and accelerating your delivery through the Service life cycle.

In fact, one of the books I still frequently recommend is the old Visible Ops book. Even in the SaaS and Cloud environment the message of that volume is critical to set the stage for considering how to automate the value chain:

  • Stabilize and Control your environment using Change Mgt.
  • Identify your CI’s – particularly your ‘fragile’ CI’s
  • Build a Repeatable Build Library

Once this level of control is in place we have defined a design and transition method that we call Service Onboarding. While not specifically in the ITIL Volumes this is a unified approach to the Service Delivery and Transition stages of the ITIL lifecycle. It expands on the concept of the ‘repeatable build library’ to standardize the components and steps to building and transitioning new IT Services. If you will, it standardizes ITIL’s Service Design Package and defines the steps to actualize Service Design in a consistent manner throughout the organization.

The point is, if these principles that cover the entire lifecyle are not in place you will not be ready to realize the benefits from automating the Development through Change and Release processes using DevOps. These fundamentals are absolute requirements and ITIL is still the best source for them.

In our experience at Service Catalyst- DevOps and Digital Transformation have made ITIL more necessary and relevant than ever. The sales figures from ServiceNow cited above would seem to support that.

We would love to discuss with you how you might lay the groundwork to realize the benefits from DevOps automation and make the turn towards Digital Transformation. You can contact us at or call us at +1.888.718.1708