Speed, agility and efficient use of technology has always been a challenge across organizations with complex IT environments. There is an unarguable need to go digital, and to do that, enterprises find that they must scale up and align the scope of their IT services—while at the same time managing to stay on top of the evolving business landscape. Agility and IT go hand in hand. Business agility cannot be achieved without innovative and agile infrastructural support, and organizations must put in considerable effort to upgrade their IT services and boost their tech capabilities.
DevOps practices have been proven to alleviate the challenges associated with making IT work to realize business objectives. By integrating processes, people and tech to generate continuous value, DevOps has succeeded in increasing capabilities of delivering high-quality products and services quickly. The DevOps global market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.6 % to reach USD 12.85 billion in the next 5 years (Grand View Research) and DevOps engineers are much in demand across industries and sectors.
If you’re seeking a career in DevOps, which certification should you undertake: ITIL® Vs Agile? Let’s find out.
What Is ITIL?
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TIL (an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a framework that codifies the best practices, processes and mindsets required for a software organization to deliver value through IT services. It deals with an end-to-end operating model that encompasses the creation, delivery, and continual improvement of IT services and products. ITIL has gone through many successive revisions, and the most recently updated version is ITIL 4.
ITIL 4 is based on seven guiding principles that include:
- Focus on value
- Start where you are
- Progress iteratively with feedback
- Collaborate and promote visibility
- Think and work holistically
- Keep it simple and practical
Optimize and automate
These principles guide all ITSM decisions and actions, and are the basis behind ITIL’s suggested best practices. ITIL 4 incorporates new practices that have been adopted in the decade since the last version refresh; such as Agile, DevOps and Lean IT.
What Is Agile?
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A methodology that is fast growing in popularity, Agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams to succeed in the face of volatile markets, delivering quality products and services to their customers. The work is carried out in small iterations, and requirements and plans are inspected and evaluated at the end of each cycle so that changes can be factored in as and when needed.
Agile is built upon twelve foundational principles that were first outlined in the Agile Manifesto. These principles encapsulate the thinking behind Agile. They are:
- The highest priority of Agile teams is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. The customer is at the centre of all processes.
- Agile teams welcome changing requirements, even if they come in very late in the development journey. Agile processes harness change and can adapt in order to deliver competitive advantage.
- There is frequent delivery of working software, through iterations that range from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The shorter timescale is always preferred.
- Agile emphasizes collaboration, and businesspeople and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Projects are built around motivated individuals, who are empowered with the environment and support they need and are trusted to get the job done.
- Face-to-face conversation is the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team.
- Progress must be measured and communicated, and working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a consistent pace through the project.
- Agility enables continuous improvement, with a focus on technical excellence and good design.
- Agile teams have simplicity at their core. Simplicity is defined as the art of maximizing the amount of work not done and prompts just-in-time development.
- Teams are self-managed and cross functional. The Manifesto states that ‘the best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- The team sits together at regular intervals to inspect the work done and reflect on how to become more effective. They then recalibrate and adjust their behaviour accordingly.
There are many methodologies that come under the Agile umbrella, such as Scrum, Kanban, XP and DSDM. All these methods follow the Agile values:
- Individuals and interactions (are preferred) over processes and tools
- Working software (is preferred) over comprehensive development
- Customer collaboration (is preferred) over negotiations
- Responding to change frequently (is preferred) to following a plan
ITIL Vs Agile – the Key Differences
In the DevOps world, the choice between ITIL and Agile has become a topic that is hotly debated. Both methodologies are quite different, even though they have the same end goal: that of creating and delivering value, while optimizing resources.
As ITIL has now transitioned from Version 3 to ITIL 4, it has kept a pace with the speed of today’s businesses. There is, therefore, a visible shift from rigid processes to more flexible, seamless experiences. ITIL 4 has embodied the principles of Agile and offers a more holistic frame of reference to ITSM.
The key differences between ITIL and Agile are laid out in the table below:
|Focuses on processes and practices||Agile is a group of practices based on core values and principles|
|ITIL follows predefined traditions||Agile is innovative|
|ITIL 4 is in sync with Agile practices||Agile embraces and responds to change|
|ITIL does not seek feedback from end users||Agile teams believe in continual feedback, and improve their processes and the product after each iteration|
|ITIL requires comprehensive documentation||Agile believes in minimal documentation, only when needed and just enough|
|ITIL lays more emphasis on processes than on the customer, and believes that customer value is created by following the right methodology to fulfil SLAs (service level agreements)||Agile is customer-focused|
|ITIL creates a stable and sustainable IT environment||Agile has a flexible environment that supports change|
Head-to-Head Comparison Between ITIL and Agile
ITIL and Agile are both essential to the creation of business value. However, while Agile looks at improving the delivery of products or services, ITIL is focused on streamlining processes and practices. Both are complementary components of DevOps, which works to seamlessly integrate the interaction and flow between the two IT functions of development and operations. By blending together the key points of both frameworks, a successful DevOps culture can be built.
Can You Integrate Agile and ITIL?
As technologies keep evolving and organizations step up to stay ahead of these advancements, IT teams find themselves at the centre of transformations. Technologies like cloud computing, AI and IoT have fuelled innovative ways of working, which require agility in order to embrace the transformative changes necessitated by the industry.
Both Agile and ITIL have always focused on building products or services that meet customer needs and deliver high quality. They believe in keeping processes simple, acting quickly and streamlining value delivery—together offering a blueprint that maximizes the creation of value.
With the advent of ITIL 4, the ITIL framework had added Agility to the framework, in a transition that has proven to be a gamechanger. ITIL 4 embraces Agile and DevOps ways of working, and encourages a collaborative, iterative, and customer-centric approach to ITSM. ITIL 4 nudges teams toward a new frame of reference that is customer-centric and adapts more easily to what teams need, and how they work.
The most radical change that ITIL 4 has brought about to enable this shift is the concept of the Service Value Chain (SVS), which represents the interlinked set of activities that must be undertaken to create highly valuable products and services that are closely aligned to customer expectations. Along the way, inefficiencies, redundancies and bottlenecks are eliminated, improving delivery speed and optimizing resource allocation. Value and value-based tools are given an overarching emphasis in ITIL 4, with Lean thinking driving co-creation of value.
By seamlessly aligning Agile and ITIL to drive DevOps, organizations can pave the way to quality services with quick turnaround times.
The Last Word
Today’s businesses are in a state of constant change with advancements in technologies also happening at warp speed. This unpredictability needs to be reined in to create stability, while at the same time allowing for enough flexibility in order to adapt to the evolving changes. A combination of ITIL and Agile offers the best solution for business service management solutions. A DevOps approach that merges ITIL’s best practices with the smooth change management enabled by Agile, offers the perfect recipe for business success in an uncertain world.