Bringing ITSM and DevOps together

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Sometimes a new year brings a new way of thinking. When it comes to software integration, it’s time to stop focusing on connecting specific tools and start focusing on enabling collaboration, reporting, and traceability for all of the domains or silos in your organization. Connecting specific tools is a technical detail, but connecting silos is what drives real value for an organization. In this blog series, members of the Tasktop Solutions team will review several different domains of software development and point out how improvements can be made using integration.

IT Service Management (ITSM) is one such domain. It encompasses customers, services, quality, business needs, and cost. The goal of ITSM is to enable IT to manage all of these holistically. This helps optimize the consumption and delivery of the services provided by the IT organization. Many people view ITSM as the service desk, but it’s not just about tickets and support. ITSM relates to the overall management of the IT organization. Service desk is just one small piece. ITSM is typically operated within the IT team, applying one of the many frameworks that can help ensure success. ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) is one of the most common frameworks, but there are others (like COBIT, ISO 20000, and SIAM)– all used for very specific purposes.

There are also many different ITSM and Service Desk tools available today. They can be generic or focused on one of the frameworks. A few examples are:

  • ServiceNow ServiceDesk
  • BMC Remedy
  • Cherwell Service Management
  • HPE Service Manager
  • Salesforce Service Cloud
  • Desk.com
  • Zendesk
  • Freshdesk
  • Atlassian JIRA Service Desk

The ITIL framework used in ITSM provides a library of processes that utilize a variety of functions (service desk is one) to help ensure that the design, implementation, management, and support of an organization’s IT services are developed and delivered optimally and in a controlled manner. Most organizations utilize only a few ITIL processes. Typically, they include:

Using these three processes, organizations can speed up delivery and guarantee that high-quality services are provided to customers. These processes also help ensure that issues are handled properly, categorized, and rolled out in a controlled manner.

The increased push to bring DevOps into ISTM has also created a pressing need for integration. Because integration helps the organization manage things closely even when a variety of teams are using a variety of tools (e.g. Agile tools like Atlassian JIRA or LeanKit). It also enables the organization to maintain traceability and ensure that quality services are being provided.

And integration is not just about connecting the tools. It’s also about connecting the teams involved in the work that is being tracked in these tools. ITSM is a holistic process that can touch all aspects of the software development process from support and IT professionals to developers and product managers. When looking to integrate with an ITSM tool in a DevOps world, the three main processes (incident, problem, and change management) are very complementary to the ways integration works best. Commonly, development teams require tight interaction with the IT organization in order to handle common patterns such as Help Desk Incident Escalation, Help Desk Problem Escalation, Help Desk Feature Request, and Known Defect Status Reporting to Help Desk.

To put this all together, incidents and problems originating in the ITSM tool can be escalated to the development team as a defect for resolution and to the testing team for verification. Once that defect is fixed, the development team can use their tool of choice to open a new change request, which will automatically be created in the ITSM tool, to deploy the fix to production. This integration results in seamless collaboration between the teams, within their tool of choice, while ensuring that traceability is maintained between these systems and the originating records.

Once all tools and teams are integrated as a part of the ITSM process, the delivery of changes is faster, more automated, and there is an enhanced level of traceability—so the organization knows what was required to repair a problem or complete a change request. This results in increased effectiveness and efficiency when it comes to the process and the product being delivered.

As companies grow, there is an increased need to look at “supply chain integration.” This is typically due to an increase in outsourcing IT services and a need for different organizations to work together. Integrating ITSM tools between 3rd parties can be a great way to ensure that information is transferred quickly between the systems and without error. This allows companies to work together seamlessly.