Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
Resources, Best Practices, and Solutions for ITSM Pros

Should ITSM Embrace DevOps? Barclay Rae Weighs In

Posted by

Wagon-Geese-Farm-LargeNo one wants to miss out on the next great thing, almost as much as no one wants to jump aboard a bandwagon headed on a wild goose chase. So, how do you know what to believe when trendy tech companies tout DevOps, while skeptics ask, “Is DevOps dead?” ITSM expert and self-professed ‘relative cynic,’ Barclay Rae, assures us he’s seen his fair share of trends come and go.

Prior to hosting a recent webinar on the topic, ITSM Goodness and DevOps–Fast Agile IT, Rae mentioned that he consulted with Mark Smalley and Dave van Herpen and came to the following conclusion: “This is actually, I think, a positive and effective set of ideas, and not just because it sounds like something new and different.”

Tweet thisDevOps is actually a positive & effective set of ideas, & not just because it sounds new & different.

In Rae’s experience, many organizations that claim to use DevOps suffer from the same misconceptions that intimidate and ultimately deter other organizations from adopting the approach. Some organizations create a DevOps team, while others who cannot afford to add personnel and as a result give up on the idea. Rae recounts an experience in which he asked someone if they were using a DevOps approach, and they responded, “Oh yes, we just hired a DevOps guy, and he’s building a DevOps system.” Rae suggests these misconceptions, and resulting misguided attempts at achieving DevOps, miss the entire point.

What is DevOps really?

According to Rae, instead of being any type of role, team, system, methodology, or framework, DevOps is an agile, collaborative approach to ITSM that places common sense human communication and cooperation over siloed teams and discrete processes. It recognizes the human element of work and the necessity of collaboration. With this understanding, it’s clear that embracing DevOps by creating a distinct DevOps team is as counter-productive as possible.

But besides building healthy relationships, where’s the value in DevOps? Amidst the widespread frenzy and diverse usage of the term DevOps, Rae, unifies Development and Operations and their polarized concerns, control and speed, to maintain a successful balance.

The idea of DevOps has broad implications and branches out into a coherent set of coinciding values and practices. Rae categorizes and details these capabilities as:


  • Focus on people
  • Embrace change and experimentation


  • “Continuous delivery”
  • “Infrastructure as code”


  • Focus on producing value for the end-user
  • Small batch sizes


  • Measure everything
  • Show improvement


  • Open information sharing
  • Collaboration and Communication

Rae explains he could be cynical about DevOps because, “99 percent of what makes DevOps a trending topic has been happening for years one way or another…any good practitioner, consultant, or project manager should have already been doing these things.” However, Rae thinks DevOps as a movement, provides a conceptual basis and a new language for ITSM with context. Therefore, it’s helpful.

Tweet This: Any good practitioner, consultant, or project manager should be implementing DevOps concepts.

“It’s engaging a new audience,” Rae explains. “If you’re serious about trying to work together and be collaborative and to speed up delivery and get Development, Operations, and IT as a whole integrated, then you need to embrace DevOps.”

What do you think? Are you embracing DevOps? Why or why not?