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Tips & Resources for Passing a DevOps or Agile Service Management Exam

Learning the principles and practices of DevOps or Agile Service Management or learning how to become an Agile Process Owner are great, but having the credential that validates that you are certified could be a game changer for you in your career path.  There are many certification courses available from the DevOps Campus so be sure to browse through to find those that are best suited for your or your teams career path or job role function.   If you are just getting started there are a lot of free resources available to assist you on that journey. Two free whitepapers that I found helpful were: What is DevOps? - This is an in-depth overview for DevOps with a lot of good information .  It’s a great getting started and study guide. What is Agile Service Management? – Agile Service Management (Agile SM) ensures that ITSM processes reflect Agile values and are designed with “just enough” control and structure in order to effectively and efficiently deliver services that facili

Preparing for Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) and ITIL Expert Certifications

This blog is in response to those IT Professionals who want to know what to expect f or the “ Managing Across the Lifecycle ” (MALC) class, taking the exam and receiving both the MALC and ITIL Expert certifications upon passing the MALC exam.  If you have talked with others that took this class and the exam a few years ago you will be happy to know that the format of this class has changed from what it used to be.  Classes are filled with interesting dialogue, exercises and even laughter as IT managers and practitioners with varied skill sets work together to validate competencies and knowledge for: Key concepts of the service lifecycle Communication and stakeholder management Integrating service management processes across the service lifecycle Managing services across the service lifecycle Governance and organization Measuring and demonstrating business value Implementing and improving service management capability Sounds simple right?  It's the level of detail i

What is a Microservice?

Business requirements are not static.  The rate of dynamic change for new evolving business needs is increasing as you are reading this blog.  The traditional software development practice for building one big honking monolithic program to provision services is not applicable to the explosion of need. This old way of thinking and deploying is not conducive to Agile.   To understand a microservice let’s first start with our traditional view point.  For this purpose, let’s say that you want to build a “Self Service Catalog”.   To make this seemingly complex service less complex let’s break it up into many microservices.   For example; one microservice might be for “Creation of Online Account” another for making a selection from the “Service Catalog”.  One might be to “Select Payment Method” and yet another microservice for “Invoicing” and so on.  These are many microservices or sub-services that will eventually be connected via Application Programming Interfaces. These microservices

Artificial Intelligence - Neural Nets

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the move and the race is on.    In previous years, and for the most part even today, AI has been dominated by the worlds high tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon.  Regardless of where you work or the size of your business, the industry is starving for more information and true knowledge management.  AI goes beyond knowledge management and moves us into knowledge engineering. As found in an  MIT Technology Review article , Microsoft has its own AI-powered cloud platform.  You may have heard of Azure.  This team is joining with Amazon to offer Gluon.  It is an interesting name. I don’t know its origin, but it is essentially an open-source deep-learning library. Gluon is supposed to make building neural nets – a key technology for AI that crudely mimics how the human brain learns – as easy as building a smartphone app. It is no longer just a high-tech game.   With the onslaught of cloud services, any/all service providers (includ

ITSM for DevOps - Development “Divas”

What is your biggest challenge when trying to increase the flow of work through your DevOps or Continuous Delivery Pipeline?   In a recent conversation an IT Director laughingly said that his greatest challenge was that they can not get the development “Divas” to recognize that change approval and compliance requirements are necessary and that it takes time. I chuckled as I thought to myself what those development “Divas” were thinking.   Maybe their thoughts were that those paranoid risk adverse Change and Compliance process people do not understand that we need to get this work to the finish line and we need to go fast.  Sound familiar? This is not an uncommon issue.   The us-vs-them environment, if not corrected, will continue to disrupt IT service delivery and therefore, business performance. We must recognize that DevOps and Continuous Delivery (CD) do not stand alone.   It is not just the tools and automation and, although it is more about culture, it is not just cu

DevOps Testing vs Traditional Testing

Appropriate testing is THE differentiator for high performing IT organizations. What is the Same? Tests need to be classified according to the attributes of the system or the product that is to be tested.  Test types include: Unit Test - This is a method that validates that the code statements satisfy assertions. Static Code Analysis – Testing that checks source code logic and consistency.  Static testing evaluates code against development standards and guidelines. Code execution is not required. Dynamic Analysis – This type of testing might also be referred to as “Functional Testing”. In this type of test, code is executed against positive and negative functional scenarios. Code Coverage – Measures the percentage of relevant lines of code tested. Integration Test – This form of testing will help to determine if code changes work after a code merge.   Integration testing may also be referred to as smoke test, sanity test or build test. Compatibility T

DevOps Test Monitoring Strategy

The combination of continuous monitoring with continuous testing and analytic tools can provide a broader strategic view of test results.  This view is necessary to collect, aggregate and organize test data that enables a gain in confidence for each release.  Key Concepts for Realizing Your Test Monitoring Strategy: Determine continuous test monitoring priorities: Some examples of problems that continuous test monitoring can help with include intermittent failures caused by marginal designs, marginal test designs, environmental condition changes not detected by individual tests, memory leaks, varying starting conditions, interactions with other systems, system topologies and performance degradation within the margin of a test. These can and will accumulate over time. The best practice for continuous monitoring indicates that the problems of most concern to a specific product or DevOps environment will be monitored. Regression test product areas even though there were no expe

DevOps Metrics – Time vs. Cost

There are three main principles that will help to optimize your DevOps initiative.  You may have heard them referred to as The Three Ways . All three of the principles will have a role to play but for the purpose of Time vs. Cost, I would like to focus on the first way which is “The Flow of Work from Left to Right”.  When considering this flow of work think of the value stream from left to right as being from the time the request is made until the time that value is realized. Using LEAN methods and applying techniques like the Theory of Constraints we can increase velocity to apply just the right cadence to meet the evolving business demand.  These practices along with our DevOps integration, Continuous Delivery Pipelines and automation will radically increase the time to value for products and services.  Time is a key metric.  DevOps organizations use “time” as the primary measurement tool.   Why time is a better metric than cost: Time is used to set goals beyon

Flow of Work

Agile Software Development is very well known and practiced in most organizations today in order to respond quickly to the ever increase in demand for IT Services.  Many of these organizations, while making some improvement, are not seeing the outcomes they had expected.  Why is this?   We are applying Lean methods, cycle time is increasing and yet, unplanned work, delays in deployment and unstable production environments remain. Consider the time from idea to delivery as the “ Value Stream ”.  Through this Value Stream, we want to increase the “Flow of Work”.   We will never see the type of optimization that is required unless we look at this Value Stream as a whole.  Applying Agile, Lean, and even tools in development without integrating Change, Security and Operations will break down and decrease the Flow of Work. DevOps helps with this idea.  Many companies, both large and small, are attempting to integrate the development and operations teams.  We have cloud services an

CPDE - Process Design Considerations

S o who should consider becoming a Certified Process Design Engineer (CPDE)?  Well anyone can consider it.  Is your organization engaged in some type of certification, working to reach some optimized level of maturity, trying to improve the processes you already have or create a process to meet some new customer requirement? All of these scenarios would employ the skills of a CPDE. To start with, no matter which framework or standard you are utilizing processes must be: Defined Documented Managed via performance metrics Continually improved  Undertaking this effort is not as simple as it may appear and having a staff member with the necessary skills and capabilities (a CPDE) ensures that clear and measurable improvement targets, along with a process design approach, can and will be carried out.   You first must understand the factors that are triggering a process improvement initiative.  These are just a few factors, but understanding why an initiative is needed is an ex

Xtreme Velocity - Accelerating Change Management

Although Agile, DevOps and automation for Continuous Delivery (CD) techniques are on the rise, service providers are still at risk for not having the necessary velocity to meet demand.  In the same way that we recognize that we can NOT silo our IT teams, we must also recognize that as providers of services we must not silo our processes. ITSM processes, including Event Monitoring, Problem Management, Release and Deployment Management, Test and more, are not going away. The integration of ITSM process must be considered throughout the entire value stream and CD pipeline.  None more so than “Change Management”.  Certainly the need for Change Management is increasing not decreasing. What must go away are over engineered, bureaucratic and outdated process activities.  We must begin to radically rethink the way we incorporate change into the CD pipeline.  Our mission overall is to deliver a “Quality” product or service. Ok then, what is “Quality”?  Quality not only infers that the

DevOps - The Basics

“Change sticks when it becomes the way we do things around here.” ~  John P. Kotter DevOps benefits the business by improving communication, collaboration and the integration of people, processes and technologies across the IT value stream. Ultimately, DevOps enables companies to deliver better software faster and more reliably by… Improving communication, collaboration and the integration of processes and tools across the IT value stream Automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes Leveraging Agile, Lean, ITSM and evolving DevOps practices DevOps – The Basics Get Involved! DevOps practices will continue to evolve through communities of practice. Seek out opportunities to collaborate with others and to share what you’ve learned. Change related to DevOps initiatives will affect organizational culture. Effective communication plans, training, and clear policies and procedures are all needed to achieve the desired performance outcome

Process Design

I looked up “Process Design” and found: “The activity of determining the workflow , equipment needs and implementation requirements for a particular process . Process design typically uses a number of tools including flowcharting, process simulation software and scale models.”  Hmm… that is good but “So What”?  Why should a service provider care about process?  I have heard some say that process is secondary to automation.  Okay, sounds good, but then we have to consider, “What are we going to automate?” Every Certified Process Design Engineer knows that when it comes to process we are talking about activity.  The key is that we need just enough process and just enough governance to meet requirements.  Process design contributes to our ability to balance speed and agility with stability.   Having good process design allows for a smooth service belt that delivers value to customers and also gives a service provider the ability to meet business and customer demand at a

Agile / DevOps: Value Stream Mapping for IT Services – Some Thoughts

Value stream mapping  originated a s a   lean -management method.  Today this method along with Agile, ITSM and other LEAN practices is utilized to understand and improve the delivery of products or services for all industries.  Being able to analyze the current state for the series of events that take a product or service from concept all the way through to value realization by the customer is a powerful tool. A tool necessary for designing an efficient future state and for strategizing continual service improvement.  Below are some thoughts on how the approach to value stream mapping can be applied to service management. Getting Started: Beginning with the formal proposal or request from the customer and then documenting what takes place throughout the lifecycle is always a good starting point.  Value Stream Mapping requires a gradient approach including the following elements: ·          Define physical flow of events – If you are just starting out, it might prove helpfu

It’s Not Just a Digital Transformation…

The structure of an organization sets the hierarchy for responsibility and creates the various levels of communication within an organization. Organizational structure has a huge impact on how work gets done and can have a direct effect on productivity. Traditional IT teams are typically organized in silos which lead to a number of problems and are generally not conducive to the success of transformation. This is the year to shatter the silo’s. Service providers want to do bigger, better, more… faster than ever before while producing quality services and responding to ever changing business dynamics. Organizations adopting DevOps strive to break down the silos.  Why? Overall this is an effort to reduce bureaucracy, improve communication and collaboration, and provide people opportunity to grow.   Objectives are achieved in a variety of ways ranging from assigning Ops liaisons to Dev Teams to creating cross-functional product (vs. project) teams. Initiatives including those for Con

Dimensions for Transformation Leadership

If you are involved in helping your organization to incorporate Agile, DevOps or any type of Digital Transformation it will become very clear that “Leadership” will have a powerful impact on the success of your effort. Transformational Leadership is a model in which leaders inspire and motivate followers to achieve greater performance by appealing to their values and sense of purpose.  This helps to facilitate wide scale organizational change.  That type of wide scale change is required. Required Dimensions for every Transformational Leader that will promote positive results include: Vision – Leaders must understand the organizational and team direction and shape them accordingly. People will follow an individual who inspires them, a person with vision and passion can achieve great things.  Leaders need to inspire followers to motivate the results they wish to see. Personal Recognition – Includes but is not exclusive to recognizing and commending the team for better than

Digital Transformation – Pro ITIL?

Some IT executives and practitioners still believe that Agile is the way to success for transformation. Some IT executives and practitioners will argue that ITIL is the way to go. Some will say LEAN should be the approach to ensure success. Oh, you say, “they are all wrong?”  Perhaps you think DevOps and Continuous Delivery is the silver bullet? Well guess what?    You are all right.  The truth of the matter is that no one best practice or method stands alone.  There are far too many examples of how this trinity of LEAN, Agile, and ITSM enable DevOps for digital transformation.  ITIL’s Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Approach - Iterative ongoing continual service improvement is at the core of every Service Management Principle. The concept of ‘adopt and adapt’ involves adapting best practices to an organization's circumstances, needs, goals and objectives . Using Agile and Scrum will help increase your velocity. LEAN will help to remove waste to help w

Metrics That Matter to Customers

I was recently asked to elaborate on a previous blog that discussed reducing metrics and reporting on those that matter to customers. In terms of any metrics, especially those that are important to customers, you should always think about or add the phrase “with quality”. Remember that the term “quality” is defined as “conformance to customer requirements”. So all metrics and measurements should ensure the work or actions you perform remains focused on the customer and their needs. Also in terms of how you phrase a metric it can often be more beneficial to measure in terms of increases and decreases rather than specific quantities. Given that, here some metrics that you might think about using: Increased Customer Quality Satisfaction %--perhaps the most important of all metrics Increase First Line Call Resolution [with quality] %--helps reduce costs but also builds perception of preparedness and knowledge in the eyes of the customer Decreased Mean Time to Restore Serv

Align IT with the Changing Business Requirements – IT “IS” the Business

Service Management Best Practice is as relevant today as it was a decade ago.  Some would argue that it is even more relevant.   Increase in demand, dynamic requirements and varied silo’s and cultures within an organization demand some semblance of management control.  Failure to do so results in just that …..“Failure”.   Following ITIL Best Practice allows service providers to align IT with the changing business requirements.  Sounds Great!  What does that mean exactly? Business requirements are consistently evolving and changing.  This creates a DEMAND that generates a workload for capacity.   The service provider must anticipate this demand and gear their service assets accordingly or consumers will not receive the value that they have paid for and expect.   We can anticipate demand by monitoring and measuring specified patterns of business activity and then adjust accordingly.  Think of a NEST thermostat.  A NEST thermostat learns what temperature you like by learning