ITIL® and DevOps – Strange Allies

Axelos suggests that ITIL® 4 will “evolve to provide an end-to-end IT/Digital Operating Model, covering the full delivery (and sustaining) of tech-enabled products and services, guiding how IT interfaces with, and even leads, the wider business strategy.”

ITIL 4 provides some key characteristics to the former lifecycle approach including:

A “holistic approach” that covers all service elements from value to people to technology underpinned by “Integrating with other practices”, “guiding principles” and “ITIL practices” which build on the ITIL Practitioner and ITILv3 processes.

A service value system and service value chain – underpinned by four dimensions to identify, map and show how people, activities, process, and other items, combine to show value from end-to-end.

So how does ITIL4 fit with DevOps?

What I like about ITIL 4 is the service value chain is that it is relatively straightforward, flexible and adaptable and dovetails neatly into other methods, frameworks, and practices (including Agile, DevOps, Governance and others), product teams and adapts to changing demand efficiently.

The given diagrams represent the DevOps and ITIL 4 approaches. Let us understand a summarized comparison of the different phases and activities of the two approaches:




Plan > Code > Build > Test
Plan > Engage > Obtain/Build > Design & Transition
These steps complement each other in terms of the “development” or “project” side of service implementation
Release > Deploy > Operate > Monitor
Deliver & Support > Products & Services > Improve
From a service offering or operational perspective, DevOps encourages continual monitoring, delivery and integration which aligns to the ITIL concepts of delivering, supporting and continually improving service.
The 3 Ways:

  1. Find ways to remove bottlenecks
  2. Amplify Feedback Loops
  3. Experimentation and Learning
Service Value Chain
The service value chain encompasses the end to end delivery, value and improvement and is an iterative approach. By blending the 3 ways with the value chain, it allows for transparent and incremental improvement across the enterprise.

Additionally, ITIL 4 thoroughly emphasizes communication, collaboration and removing silos – the idea that strongly relates to DevOps’ cultural movement approach but also maintains the fundamentals of delivering a quality service.

Mark Smalley’s whitepaper also suggests overcoming “habitual ways of working” through driving change in the right way covering “Process, Analysis and Experimenting” – channel the three ways of DevOps:

As Mark puts it, “[ITIL 4] is truly an integrated model for digital service management”.


Jon Morley
Jon is a dynamic, passionate, award-winning, customer-focused digital and technology professional. Jon is a speaker and trainer with extensive experience in many sectors including financial services, retail, education, public sector and outsourcing. He has earned certifications in ITIL, DevOps, SIAM, ILM, the TOGAF standard and VeriSM. Jon is also a proud adoptive father to two young boys, and a keen Derby County supporter.