Applying the Controls of ITSM with the Flexibility of DevOps

As an IT leader, you want to speed up your service delivery whilst ensuring process compliance, right? Well, have you thought about using ITSM and DevOps together?

Many people think that ITSM and DevOps are incompatible: Traditional ITIL processes and DevOps practices are incompatible. Meeting the DevOps goals of shorter development and release cycles does not work with ITIL Change & Release Management.” We disagree. We believe the two actually work well together, playing to the strengths of your different tools and processes – and meaning better business.

In fact, using ITSM and DevOps together can enable your business to respond faster to market and customer needs, by accelerating controlled IT service delivery. Unifii has been demonstrating this, partnering with businesses of all sizes, across industry sectors, to implement ServiceNow using agile DevOps techniques.

By applying the controls of ITSM with the flexibility of DevOps, your business can tune up its processes and add automation as well as orchestration to become more streamlined, more unified and more efficient. What’s more, this approach can also help ensure you have compliant, audit-friendly processes, so if an auditor knocks on the door and asks for specific evidence, you’re fully documented.

 

Why DevOps?

DevOps is not a new concept: development and operations have been around for a long time. But it’s one of the latest and most talked about labels for the process of uniting Dev and Ops teams, with best working practices and a broad range of tools, to accelerate and scale software development.

Some of the current focus around DevOps centres on smaller teams or clusters, carrying increasing workloads, who are looking to automate more of the process – and accomplish more – in a quick and scalable way. To do this, they’re harnessing the range of popular open-source and fremium-style tools, which enable them to quickly build their own ecosystems.

It also means they don’t need to face lots of centralised control functions or cross team/department standards. A major problem is that solutions owned by individual teams or small clusters, with no standards, are harder to unify into a coherent strategic operating model.

We find this with a lot of our clients, a prime example being in the investment banking industry. Teams who deal with Commodities may work in one way, and the ones who deal with FX another. But they have to come back together to standardise to a change tool that has a strict way of doing things, and this throws up compatibility issues and complications.

Using ITSM and DevOps together streamlines your software development lifecycle, making your tools and processes unified, helping to solve your standards incompatibility issues.

Using ITSM and DevOps together

So how do you successfully use DevOps alongside ITSM? It’s worth noting that whilst facilitating different business needs, there is natural compatibility between the two approaches.

The core components of ITSM are Plan (Service Strategy) and Build (Service Design) – which are Dev activities; and Release (Service Transition) and Support (Service Operation) – which are Ops. Furthermore, both approaches support Continuous Improvement processes.

Taking ITIL as the most common ITSM framework (though there are others such as COBIT and ISO20000 which can still work alongside DevOps), ITIL processes chime with a number of processes that DevOps teams touch on. Things like Demand, Release, Change, Incident, Problem and Request Management.

Consequently, it’s important to get your process design and alignment right. You need to agree what can be shared between DevOps tools and ITSM tools, to minimise the need for double keying or rework, and ensure they fit the right risk profile.

Among the advantages of using ITSM with DevOps are a higher level of process automation, and the ability to utilise your whole range of existing tools. For example, as part of a change process you can have different tools for your log, validate, approve, implement, and review stages, with DevOps pulling the right information together in the change ticket. Bringing DevOps into the mix also gives operations teams better visibility of the environment, and integrated tools to reduce time between incident detection and resolution.

 

Unifii and ServiceNow

Unifii is a team of enterprise service management and automation professionals. We’re aligning DevOps with service management using our ITSM platform of choice, ServiceNow, which has the automation capabilities to make the Integration between DevOps and ITSM a reality.

ServiceNow is a platform that’s massively growing in popularity, becoming one of the leading ITSM solutions, particularly for Discovery and Orchestration.

ServiceNow can act as a key coordination system and integration layer between the different systems involved in the DevOps lifecycle. It offers a range of applications that can help ensure a smooth and effective integration between your ITSM and DevOps processes: such as Change, Release, Project and Test Management; SDLC; and IT Orchestration.

The aim is to provide more visibility and auditability for the business by linking processes and tools together sensibly. The result, is improved alignment of your technology and business goals to improve your bottom-line.

 

Looking to streamline your software development lifecycle?

If you have questions about integrating DevOps and ITSM, or need support, whether you are an ITIL or non-ITIL house, feel free to talk to us. We can help you get the best from your tools and processes, and help you achieve a good balance between speed of delivery for the business, and process compliance.

Myles MolloyApplying the Controls of ITSM with the Flexibility of DevOps
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5 things you need to know before upgrading ServiceNow to Kingston

The Kingston release of ServiceNow is upon us and with it, the deprecation of support for Helsinki. In practice, this means a lot of businesses are upgrading from Helsinki to Kingston and dealing with the big changes between these versions, which include machine learning, refined end-user experience and major incident management.

In the past we’ve helped many clients to upgrade, ranging from small to global organisations in various sectors. In this way, we’ve gained a real depth of knowledge about the practicalities of upgrading to the latest version of ServiceNow, from Fuji to Istanbul, Geneva to Jakarta, and so on.

Here are our 5 top tips for upgrading ServiceNow to Kingston:

 

1. Get everyone on board

Early, clear communication across the business is vital to the success of any upgrade. You need to explain what is happening and why, in order to set expectations for resource requirements, particularly for people to assist in process testing the platform, along with anticipated outages and what’s coming in the way of new features.

The key is to ensure that internal resources are planned in and available, and to maintain regular and clear communications between developers, the technical team and BAs with regards to requirements and timeframes. Upgrading is a significant piece of work but it doesn’t have to be long-winded.

Our top tip: Keep the timeline for the upgrade as short as possible, to ensure fewer outages and less disruption for the business. Smaller organisations should be planning for around two weeks, while larger businesses are looking at a maximum of one to two months.

 

2. Don’t overcomplicate things

Keep things simple. Our experience of lots of upgrades of various sizes is that there’s no need to test everything – only the things that have impact. Concentrate on new functionality and don’t spend time worrying about bug fixes to your existing system – this is a real time waster.

We also find that keeping things straightforward is also the best approach when it comes to Release Notes analysis. You simply need to work out what’s changing and whether anything needs turning off (e.g. new functionality the business may not be ready for).

Our top tip: Skip logs of items you’ve previously customised can run to thousands of items and can be both time consuming and tedious.The best tactic is to split the logs into sections so they are easier to manage. Ignore any reports, notifications and form layouts and focus on the business logic, such as Business Rules and Script Includes.

 

3. Get your testing right

Having a solid plan in place for testing is crucial. The best approach is to undertake the initial unit testing by both developers and BAs. Following this, business testing by process owners or the already agreed business resources allocated to the task.

In both cases, fixes should be implemented afterwards by developers before moving on to the next round of testing. It’s also important to manage regression testing packs and ensure they are up to date.

Our top tip: Implement a process to carefully segregate existing defects in your configuration from those introduced by the upgrade. Without this, you can spend more time on triage of existing defects than on actually doing the upgrade.

 

4. Plan your development freeze early

Freezing development while upgrading is essential because as soon as you change something you make the testing you’ve done so far redundant. The key is to get the business on board early with a full understanding of the situation, otherwise they will be clamouring for BAU changes in the middle of the upgrade.

Before upgrading, clone back from Production to ensure all your environments are synced. Good communication around exactly when this will occur is vital – people will lose work if they aren’t expecting it.

Our top tip: We recommend running a minimum of three instances – Dev, Test and Prod. After upgrading, maintain a pre-upgrade version to refer back to if there are issues and to remove the pre-existing defect noise.

 

5. Take the opportunity to revert

Ensure there is time for technical teams to revert updates back to OOTB where possible. Analysis and testing of this requires planned effort but the savings realised increase with every upgrade undertaken.

Learn the lessons about which processes are more critical than others (not every item needs to be tested), and those areas where you were short on time and others where you had more than enough. Ensure you include feedback from both the business and internal developers, BAs and the technical team.

Our top tip: Upgrades are a fact of life and there will always be another on the horizon. Record what went well and what didn’t – and why – and use that as the basis of your next upgrade plan.

 

For more information or advice on your upgrade plans, contact us today – we’re always happy to share our experience and expertise.

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7760 7513

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Ellie Kleinworth5 things you need to know before upgrading ServiceNow to Kingston
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Are you ready for GDPR in 2018?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018.

If your company handles the personal data of UK or EU residents, you need to have the right processes in place and be able to demonstrate compliance.

It’s hugely important – the range of penalties for personal data breaches go from a simple warning, up to a fine of 4% of annual global turnover or 20 million euros for the most serious infringements. And individuals can claim compensation for failures to protect their personal data.

New responsibilities

The GDPR features a number of detailed requirements, including specific transparency duties; time limits on informing authorities about data breaches; mandatory Data Protection Impact Assessments and data processing registries; and the secure encryption of personal data.

Plus, you need to be able to respond to requests from individuals whose data you handle; including requests for access, corrections and the ‘right to be forgotten’.

What should you do?

We advise that you look at three main areas, covering accountabilities, policies and procedures; compliance and risk activities; and implementation of security measures.

You should use best practices to address the GDPR requirements, such as ensuring you have organisational policies and procedures that follow GDPR; meeting transparency requirements through tracking your data processing activities; implementing technologies to prevent and detect security threats; and having robust mechanisms to assess the privacy, business and financial impact of data breaches.

How can Unifii help in 2018?

Our consultants can help you leverage the flexibility of ServiceNow to ensure you are ready for GDPR through helping maintain transparency and visibility of your personal data processing, and through policy management, including data protection, security policies and code of conduct.

We can advise you on:

  • Importing and mapping GDPR requirements
  • Risk evaluation and management
  • Auditing and data subject requirements
  • Personal data assets requirements – e.g. following demands ‘to be forgotten’.

What makes the Unifii offering unique?

Our team is a combination of ServiceNow specialists and consultants who have joined us from client side roles. We are uniquely positioned to understand what you need in terms of structure, design and delivery – and will be there to advise you every step of the way.

 

The GDPR is coming, you need to be ready before May 2018 to ensure you are able to demonstrate ongoing compliance thereafter. Our consultants can advise you on getting the most from ServiceNow, as well as running workshops with a GDPR specialist to help you update your processes. 

For more information or advice on your GDPR requirements, contact us today – we’re always happy to share our experience and expertise.

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7760 7513

Email

The Unifii TeamAre you ready for GDPR in 2018?
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Who We Are

We are your lifecycle partner, delivering accelerated service delivery.

We are a team of Enterprise Service Management and Automation professionals. We’re dedicated to aligning your technology with your business goals. We develop innovative solutions, implement and integrate them successfully to improve your bottom line.

As full lifecycle ServiceNow Partners, we have been managing ITIL, ITSM, SIAM and ESM ServiceNow projects since 2010.

The Unifii TeamWho We Are
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