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The Ultimate Guide for ITIL Framework Best Practices

Dan Holloran October 23, 2019

Monitoring & Alerting Release DevOps
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In the modern world, success or failure in business can depend on the efficiency of digital transformation. Resilient IT services and infrastructure can serve as competitive differentiators between businesses and lead to long-term customer value. Software companies are providing integral services to all kinds of businesses and industries. Even a small amount of downtime can cause a ripple that affects productivity, revenue and end-user satisfaction for multiple teams and companies.

The origin of the ITIL framework

So, in the 1980s, sysadmins, database admins, developers and security engineers everywhere developed the first framework for building and deploying consistently reliable services – the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Of course, since the ‘80s, the development and management of modern applications and services have changed alongside the invention of the internet, cloud-based architecture, DevOps, CI/CD, microservices, containers, and serverless technologies, etc. The basic ITIL framework has updated a few times since its inception to keep up with digital transformation. And while there are many great tips and practices from ITIL, there are still a number of ways it can be improved.

First of all, there isn’t one single effective way to maintain applications and infrastructure. In today’s world, teams and services are built and organized in so many different ways, there simply can’t be one right way to operate. Depending on the type of business, maybe a monolithic architecture is a smarter decision than an underlying hybrid cloud infrastructure made up of containerized applications.

Because technology can vary so much, many teams are instead addressing the people and process portion of the business. And, organizations are finding that DevOps-centric businesses are bringing developers and IT operations closer together, creating a faster continuous process for development and testing. So, let’s dive into the basics of the ITIL framework and best practices to expect from IT operations and DevOps in the coming years.

The basic ITIL framework diagram

ITIL Framework Process Infographic Image

Well, there it is. The ITIL framework consists of three major processes with numerous smaller tasks included within those categories – service design, service operation and service transition. Below, you can see the types of projects that fall under each of these sections of the ITIL framework:

  • Service design

    • Service level agreements, objectives and indicators (SLAs, SLOs and SLIs)
    • Catalog of processes
    • Availability
    • Capacity
    • Continuity
    • Security
  • Service operation

    • Event and incident management
    • Requests
    • Problem management
    • Service access and maintenance
    • On-call processes
    • Maintaining uptime and connectivity between servers, networks and applications
  • Service transition

    • Planning
    • Change
    • Configuration
    • Release
    • Validation
    • Evaluation
    • Knowledge

A mindful methodology for ITIL governance and strategy

While it’s great to look at ITIL as a straightforward process of best practices for IT service governance and strategic upkeep of applications and infrastructure, it simply doesn’t work this way in reality. There isn’t one method for deploying new services and maintaining them. People are using different cloud infrastructure providers, an assortment of CDNs and load balancers, and microservices to build systems differently.

If security is a top priority, you should focus on architecting a product with that in mind. Best practices for ITIL governance and strategy are non-existent. The only best practices for an effective ITIL framework is to identify the core strategy of the business, risks and benefits associated with every potential DevOps process, and seamless execution of real-time service operations.

DevOps in Incident Management

If service design, transition and implementation are executed well, day-to-day IT service operations are made much easier. With design and implementation, you can take time and conduct exercises to ensure success when pushing changes to applications and infrastructure. But, service operations teams aren’t allowed the convenience of thoughtful planning and foresight.

Real-time operations require tools and processes that improve visibility and surface context as soon as it’s available. Then, with the right information at the team’s fingertips, they need effective methods for collaboration and incident response. Adopting a DevOps mindset will give IT professionals more exposure to the development pipeline and give developers a look into what it takes to maintain a service in production. When something inevitably goes wrong and an incident pops up, the team is better equipped to fix the issue.

Modern IT service management, incident response and DevOps

Modern IT service management looks an awful lot like DevOps. Developers and IT professionals share accountability for the uptime and performance of the overall system. Engineers spread on-call responsibilities across multiple disciplines, not simply forcing the responsibilities of upkeep and incident management on IT operations. DevOps-first businesses focus on the continuous improvement of collaboration and workflow visibility in order to drive rapid real-time insights and action. As you relieve pressure from IT operations and shorten the time it takes for code to reach production, you can spend more time innovating.

Continuous improvement is the only best practice

Every aspect of the ITIL framework applies when building and deploying new applications and services. But, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to DevOps and IT. Prioritize certain aspects of the ITIL framework over others based on their importance in respect to your specific business. The most important part of any effective DevOps, ITSM or ITIL framework is a dedication to continuous improvement. Identify blind spots in your monitoring and alerting stack and offer alternative solutions that could improve collaboration during a real-time firefight.

Is there a way to improve service operations through better service design? Who should be involved in that conversation? Breaking down silos and effective communication about all development and IT problems can lead to a greater organizational understanding of how the system works and how it can be improved. Ask the right questions and don’t be afraid to explore new processes or technologies that can lead to a more efficient ITIL framework for your business.

See how a centralized on-call incident management tool can improve collaboration and transparency across DevOps and IT teams during a real-time firefight. Sign up for a 14-day free trial of VictorOps or get a free personalized demo with our sales team to learn more.

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