A survey published this week by Google suggests that the rate of change in IT environments that managed service providers (MSPs) will need to absorb in the years ahead is about to significantly accelerate.

The global survey of 1,100 business and IT decision-makers finds that 37 percent say they already update code on a daily or weekly basis. As more organizations steadily embrace agile development and best DevOps practices, that number will climb to 60 percent by the end of the next decade.

To make matters even more challenging, those changes and updates will be occurring across not just multiple cloud computing platforms, but also across on-premises IT environments and a wide variety of emerging edge computing platforms involving use cases such as the Internet of Things (IoT).

Despite this increased level of complexity, it is apparent that organizations expect IT organizations to be able to dynamically update those IT environments whenever required. Achieving that goal requires IT organizations and MSPs alike to fundamentally change their approach to managing IT. Historically, most IT organizations have relied on the ITIL framework to organize how they deliver their IT services. As demand for a more agile approach to managing IT emerged, many organizations have started to embrace alternative DevOps practices. The primary driver of this shift is that the ITIL framework was viewed as being too inflexible to support the needs of a highly dynamic IT environment.

The new ITIL framework

Most recently, AXELOS, a joint venture between Capita and the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom that acts as the steward for all things ITIL, has recognized a need for change. The most recent edition of the ITIL framework has clearly incorporated some the of the agile principles first advanced by the DevOps community. While this latest version of ITIL represents progress in the framework that moves beyond a strict set of IT process management guidelines, the framework itself continues to assume that application updates will be delivered in an orderly manner.

Proponents of DevOps are essentially making a case for updating applications whenever the code is deemed ready. In fact, the whole notion of having a set time and date for delivering those updates is anathematic to how DevOps teams fundamentally approach managing IT.

MSPs will clearly need to strike a balance between ITIL and DevOps practices. There are many traditional IT functions that ITIL still ideally suits. However, as IT infrastructure is increasingly managed programmatically alongside applications, the days when MSPs could rely primarily on legacy tools and IT administrators is coming to end. DevOps assumes the individuals running IT operations have some level of programming skills that can be employed to automate the management of applications and infrastructure.

Obviously, it’s very challenging to find IT people with these types of skills today. Regardless, a single engineer with programming skills can now accomplish a task in a few seconds compared to what it previously took ten IT administrators to accomplish in a week or more. The economics of IT management are changing. If MSPs can successfully make this transition, they will give themselves a crucial competitive advantage in the industry.

Subscribe to SmaterMSP

Photo: kentoh / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *