Why ITIL Service Management benefits from SOA and Agile methodologies

Integrating service-oriented and Agile approaches with ITIL can help bring about positive and well-synced change management to the enterprise.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Every now and then, there's discussion about the differences and similarities between service oriented architecture and Agile development methodologies. Intuitively, they seem to have the same modus operandi: getting the business to work closer with the technical folks at all stages of software projects to create stuff that will actually get used.

And it's not accident that the SOA Manifesto we wrote last year was modeled closely after the Agile Manifesto written in 2001. (By the way, the SOA Manifesto is now available in 10 languages.)

But there are important differences between the disciplines. Charles Araujo, writing at the CastlePointe site, talks about these differences and similarities -- and observes that these are key methodologies for successfully seeing through IT Service Management (as expressed in ITIL v3).  As he puts it: "Agile is a development methodology.  SOA is an architectural approach.  Service Management is an operational management framework.  They are not the same thing, yet they are not mutually exclusive."

Yet, perceptions stand in the way of bring SOA together with Agile with IT Service Management, Charles says. The perception of Service Management is that it is "solely about controlling risk," he says. Other perceptions: "Agile is the wild, wild west... SOA isn’t relative to operations."

Integrating these three disciplines would help bring about positive and well-synced change management to the enterprise, Charles says:

"To create sustained value for your customers, the only solution is to move Service Design to the center of your Service Management approach.  And that’s where Agile and SOA become incredibly relevant.  They (and other similar approaches) are the tools that IT organizations must use to ensure that a service will meet the needs of the business, to enable that service to be adapted quickly to business changes and to enable a sustainable and reliable service environment."

Charles even cautions that ITIL-inspired change management tends to proceed along a linear, waterfall approach, which "breaks down quickly in a rapid development and service-oriented model."  Service-oriented and Agile-oriented approaches will help assure that the ITIL adoption is done rapidly, while addressing the requirements of the business.

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