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Next Practices in Business Service Management



The Case for Agile Business Service Management
by Israel Gat


Agile Business Service Management (Agile BSM) is the fusion of modern software development methods with the prevailing preference to run IT from the perspective of the business customer.

Instead of dividing the “world” to development on the one hand and operations on the other hand, Agile business service management unifies the two to manage them as part of one continuum that improves the delivery and usage of the application to the targeted business end-user. By so doing, it crosses the metaphorical chasm between the R&D lab and the customer door (or laptop, or iPhone, or…).

The Agile BSM concept originated with my own work circa 2006-2007 on Agile Based-Market-of-One at BMC Software [Highsmith, 2009]. Having attained productivity and time-to-market levels well beyond industry averages [Mah 2008], I coupled ultra fast development with rPath virtual appliance technology to demonstrate how powerful the combination could be: it made the market-of-one vision of the early Internet period a feasible reality. Shafer and Nasrat [Agile 2009 presentation] extended the concept and coined the term Agile Infrastructure – the combination of development with deployment and operations under the Agile Manifesto principles. When all three – development, deployment and operations – evolve in parallel from a business services perspective, we get Agile BSM. We achieve more than “just” spectacular operational excellence. We are actually rewarded by new business designs that would have been considered a fantasy just a few years ago.

Agile business service management is holistic. Software is not considered “done” at the end of development and test. Rather, it is “done” only when delivered and satisfactorily functioning within the business service management context. Two remarkable things take place when a company operates under this mindset:

  1. Agile principles and practices are extended to incorporate members of IT Operations as integral participants in the software development process.
  2. Agile feedback loops are based on real customer experience with the quickly deployed code, not on speculative feedback by proxy owners.

In other words, the wall between Development and Ops is eliminated in a manner similar to the way the wall between Development and Test had been torn down by Agile practitioners. Software evolves in an organic manner through its life-cycle: Development understands the infrastructure; Operations understands the application. Both are managed under a unified paradigm that keeps Development, Test and Ops in sync with business service management objectives and with customer feedback.

During turbulent times such as the past year, Agile business service management enables the business to become more competitive by speeding up the pace of delivery of new functionality and accommodating changes in business requirements as part of standard operating procedures. Like a computer chess program that extends clever tactics into the strategic realm [The New Yorker 2005], it compensates for the lack of prolonged periods of techno-economic stability through business Agility, substituting speed, flexibility and momentum for traditional long range planning. It is particularly noteworthy that Agile business service management applies equally well to companies pursuing adaptive strategies as to those betting on shaping strategies [Hagel et al 2008].

These days we are starting to witness the emergence of an ecosystem for Agile business service management. For example, ReductiveLabs’ Puppet treats infrastructure as code. By so doing, the rich semantics and powerful tools of Source Code Management become available to IT Operations, enabling the harmonious organization of complex IT management projects on a large scale. This novel way of orchestrating IT projects is so powerful that it is likely to lead to significant revisions to ITIL concepts, constructs and policies. Such revisions have the potential to transform our understanding of business service management and the way we go about governing both software development and IT operations.

Forthcoming posts on this website will address a broad spectrum of topics about Agile business service management and its significance in an era in which “ technology gets integrated into everyday human activities” [Moor 2008].

For example:

  • How is agile BSM implemented and delivered? …measured?
  • What are the benefits of agile BSM to the business objectives of development? …ops? …test?
  • Who carriers responsibility for agile BSM delivery and implementation?
  • Who benefits from agile BSM delivery & implementation?
  • How are these benefits applied?
  • When is Agile BSM expected to be understood and accepted by the business entities?
  • Where is agile BSM likely to be wholeheartedly implemented first?
  • What is the impact of Agile BSM on ISV’s (as distinct from IT “shops”)?

There's lots more to come on this topic, obviously. Stay tuned!

































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