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Posts Tagged ‘ITIL

Between Agile and ITIL – Part II

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The July 2009 post Between Agile and ITIL introduced the application of Agile principles to system management with the following words:

You do not need to be an expert in Value Stream Mapping to appreciate the power of speeding up deployment to match the pace of Agile development. By aligning development with deployment, you streamline “production” with “consumption.” The rationale for so doing is aptly captured in the first bullet of the Declaration of Interdependence: “We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.”

Yesterday’s press release about the acquisition of Phurnace by BMC validates the projection given in the afore-listed post. Colleague and friend Michael Cote puts his finger on the heart of the acquisition in his post in People Over Process:

The interesting part is also that this is automation – I’m assuming – at the application layer, where as most automation talk in past and present is at the infrastructure layer. Of course, the thought leaders in this area – folks like Reductive Labs (Puppet),OpsCode (Chef), and in a more general sense cloud management outfits – are doing a helpful job of blurring the distinction between traditional IT layers like application and infrastructure with their dev/ops angled automation. Check out this white paper done by Reductive Labs and dto solutions on the topic for a nice toe-dip. And, I’d expect to see more application layer automation from VMWare/SpringSource. Older automation portfolios like BMC’s Blade Logic line need to keep a close eye on these developments, hopefully, taking in the proven parts of that work.

One can, of course, automate IT tasks without embracing Agile. The fundamental question to be answered is whether one considers ITIL as an “empirical” process control model or as a “defined” process control model (or possibly a hybrid).

Extending a True Epiphany

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In Agile Software Development with Scrum, Ken Schwaber describes a true epiphany he experienced as a result of his 1995 meetings with DuPont’s process control experts:

They [DuPont’s process control experts] inspected the system development processes that I brought them. I have rarely provided a group with so much laughter. They were amazed and appalled that my industry, system development, was trying to do its work using a completely inappropriate process control model. They said system development had so much complexity and unpredictability that it had to be managed by a process control model they referred to as “empirical.” They said it was nothing new, and all complex processes that were not completely understood required the empirical model…

… I realized why everyone in my industry had such problems building systems. I realized why the industry was in such trouble and had such poor reputation. We were wasting our time trying to control our work by thinking we had an assembly line when the only proper control was frequent and first-hand inspection, followed by immediate adjustments…

Based on this insight, I have since formulated with others the Scrum process for developing complex products, particularly software systems.

Fast forward to November 2009. During a lovely dinner in Boulder with Dean Leffingwell, we got into the subject of connecting Agile with ITIL. This conversation really registered with me. I actually recalled how years ago Ray Paquet characterized IT as a “continuous manufacturing” process. If you accept Ray’s premise, the chain {DuPont –> Scrum –> IT} is quite intriguing.

Re-reading Software Evolution recently, I was struck by the observation Tom Mens makes in the Introduction:

… due to the fact that the activity of software evolution is a continuous feedback process, the chosen process model itself is likely to be subject to evolution.

I can’t help wondering whether Tom’s observation applies to IT. If so, what are the implications with respect to IT operations and system management?!

Opinions please!

Agile Business Service Management

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Over the weekend we activated the BSM Review. It is a thought leadership website dedicated to next practices in Business Service Management (BSM) in a way that is appropriate for our era. To quote my colleague and friend Bill Keyworth:

This website is dedicated to the BSM dialogue by whoever wishes to participate.  There is no fee to join …no content that requires a subscription …and no censorship of reasonable ideas and questions.

My area of focus in this site is Agile Business Service Management. The term is defined as follows:

Agile Business Service Management (Agile BSM) is the fusion of modern software development methods with the prevailing preference to run IT from the perspective of the business customer. Instead of dividing the “world” to development on the one hand and operations on the other hand, Agile Business Service Management unifies the two to manage them as part of one continuum that improves the delivery and usage of the application to the targeted business end-user. By so doing, it crosses the metaphorical chasm between the R&D lab and the customer door (or laptop, or iPhone, or…)

My research agenda in the context of the BSM Review will be outlined in a forthcoming post. For now, suffice it to say it will primarily be driven by two themes:

  • Business alignment: At the heart of it, BSM is a discipline to better align business with IT; at its core, Agile is about “customer collaboration over contract negotiation.” The two are conceptually similar: they express the strong desire in both development and operations to carry out meaningful tasks that have business impact.
  • Continuous manufacturing: I view IT as a form of continuous manufacturing. If you accept this premise, the application of Agile concepts, principles and techniques to IT management makes perfect sense. Just as Agile has been influenced by Lean techniques from manufacturing, it has the potential now to influences (continuous) manufacturing in its IT incarnation.

If software development is your primary interest, you might find my forthcoming posts in BSM Review go a little beyond the traditional scope of software methods. If, however, you are interested in software delivery in entirety, you are likely to find good synergy between the topics I will address in BSM Review and those I will continue to bring up in The Agile Executive. Either way, I trust my posts and Cote’s will be of on-going interest to you.

An Omen in Chicago

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Amazing how things come together. A gentleman introduces himself at the conclusion of my breakout session (Socializing Agile with your Executives) in yesterday’s Rally Agile Success Tour (AST) event in Chicago. I am pleasantly surprised to learn he is Cutter Consortium colleague Scott Stribrny. Within a few sentences I discover he was actually the Cutter consultant to Follett Software. As readers of this blog are well aware of, Follett Software was prominently featured in the landmark study of Agile quality, productivity and time-to market by Michael Mah. To put the icing on the cake (so to speak), Rachel Weston – Rally’s Director of Professional Services – uses this very study by Michael Mah in her keynote presentation at the end of the event…

Symphono’s Robert Schmitt started the day with a quote from one of his developers:

I don’t want to deliver just twice a year; I love to deliver!

The power of this kind of craftsman’s pride in his/her software was nicely illustrated by hard numbers Robert cited. For example, on one of their projects, Symphono observed a cost of $12K instead of the $72K they would have expected under traditional software methods.

Playboy’s Mark Row highlighted the intricacies of project managing contents alongside project managing software. In Mark’s experience, contents developers tend to be visually oriented. Writing requirements does not quite cut it for folks of such orientation. As Mark needs to manage software development priorities across all contents initiatives (and many owners), the balance to be struck between the two is quite tricky. The non-formalistic nature of Agile has proven quite effective in bringing things together. As a matter of fact, Mark indicated Playboy’s marketing teams are now doing daily Scrum-like stand-up meeting. The bottom line from the perspective of his executive management is crystal clear:

Night and day since going Agile

Pariveda’s Jim West kept all of us honest with respect to how bad the starting point for Agile often is. According to Jim, they did not start Agile from square zero – they actually started from minus two (-2)…. In spite of this far from optimal starting conditions, Pariveda been successful on two noteworthy accounts:

  • Productivity improved by 15-20%
  • The managed to satisfy the needs of other processes by incorporating them in their Agile process. For example, SOX work items are represented as story cards in their backlog

Last but not least, ShopLocal’s Brendan Flynn highlighted the progress they made with Agile contracts. They incorporate both user stories and acceptance criteria in the contract. Furthermore, they pay special attention to specifying what is not included in the contract. To paraphrase the French proverb, Shop Local’s experience is that “good accounts make good (customer) relationships.” Remarkably, they achieve good customer relationships through Agile contracts at the scale of 5+ Billion page views annually through just one of their products!

Expressive quips were brought up in the lively Q&A sessions that followed the presentations. Here are a few gems:

    Make Agile your flavor [tailoring Agile to the needs of the organization]
    Make database decisions [data-driven decisions in Agile]
    A cube empire [working environments in the 80’s and 90’s]
    Exchange requests, not change requests [Agile contract policy]

In two week the Agile Success Tour “train” will cross the channel to London. (Please, do not enquire now how the train will make its way from Boulder, CO to Paris, France – we are delaying the decision on that leg of the trip to the last responsible minute). I suspect some of the Agile topics to be discussed in London might give a mild heart-burn to UK-based ITIL aficionados. But, how appropriate it is to conclude a year of great Agile success tours with an event in the grand city London!

Between Agile and ITIL

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You do not need to be an expert in Value Stream Mapping to appreciate the power of speeding up deployment to match the pace of Agile development. By aligning development with deployment, you streamline “production” with “consumption.” The rationale for so doing is aptly captured in the first bullet of the Declaration of Interdependence:

We increase return on investment by making continuous flow of value our focus.

As pointed out in previous posts in this blog, Flickr and IMVU seem to be doing an exceptionally fine job streamlining the flow of value: every thirty minutes and every nine minutes respectively. A recent presentation in Velocity 2009 by John Allpsaw and John Hammond adds color how development and operations at Flickr cooperate to accomplish “10+ deploys per day.”

What does such fast pace mean to the business? In a nutshell, much of the guess work as to what features are really needed is eliminated when you develop, deploy and collect customer feedback in ultra fast manner. Consequently, the company’s business design is likely to be transformed. Click here, here, and here for more detailed discussions how the business design gets transformed.

Michael Cote, Andrew Shafer and I have been pondering  about aligning development and operations for quite sometime. On the one hand, we are painfully aware of the traditional desire to minimize change in IT operations. On the other hand, we are of the opinion Agile principles are quite applicable to operations. We often wonder whether the obstacles between Agile and ITIL are real or imaginary. We actually believe the {development –> operations} theme is an important instantiation of Dean Leffingwell‘s recent thoughts about applying Agile/Lean principles to other knowledge work.

The three of us – Michael, Andrew and I – decided to do a few podcasts to explore what stands between Agile and ITIL. The first of these podcasts will be published this month (July 2009).

Stay tuned…

Written by israelgat

July 7, 2009 at 7:19 am