DevOps has significant importance to any company delivering software or technical services today. With Gartner predicting that 25% of Global 2000 organisations will be leveraging it in 2016, it’s key to understand what it means and what it can do for a business.
Defining DevOps is trickier than you would think, primarily because of its wide usage. It is essentially shorthand, and nothing more than that, for a lean approach to software delivery.
As has been explored elsewhere, lean software development takes its inspiration from methods used in industrial manufacturing. Toyota’s Kanban method is one of the better-known lean manufacturing methodologies – at their essence, these methodologies involve minimising waste by better aligning industry spend, inventory and customer consumption.
>See also: What DevOps can do for your business
As it turns out, the same problems that plague assembly lines and automobile factories also turn up in software companies. Nowadays it’s easy to argue that every company is a software company, whether they want to be or not, and this can be made into a positive story. Companies such as Lego and Target have made big impressions with their own DevOps transformation stories.
What problems does DevOps solve?
The essence of the problem DevOps tries to solve is one of silos. Silos isolate work within the organisation into separate units that communicate poorly with one another, creating predictable issues. Silos make work more difficult due to collisions of opposing processes, cultures and technologies.
Development and operations are two such silos that must work very closely together, and it’s for this reason that the term is called ‘DevOps’. Indeed, as DevOps evangelists will tell you, it’s not just about ‘Dev’ and ‘Ops’, but everybody who is involved in the process.
DevOps is named after the struggle to integrate the silos of Dev and Ops – but in today’s large tech organisations, problems of siloing effect groups going far beyond these two functions.
Having a streamlined delivery system with different groups properly communicating means that production bottlenecks can be avoided at all costs, and that is what DevOps is all about.
Once we understand what DevOps tries to accomplish it becomes easier to understand why the industry is flooded with misconceptions, profiteers and hype. It’s essentially a ‘theory of everything’ for technologists, seeking to encapsulate everything necessary to have and maintain high-speed product delivery, flow, cultural harmony, and the cutting-edge technology underpinning it all. That’s an awfully big, baggy problem to solve, and this breadth of mission confuses even the experts.
One IT ops professional recently said that internal stakeholders in his company were so fed up by the overuse of the word ‘DevOps’ that they had to rebrand to ‘rapid release’ instead. And he’s not the only one.
Many larger tech firms have chosen to de-emphasise the name ‘DevOps’ while continuing to implement its underlying principles, such as continuous integration of software and extensive automation.
To some DevOps purists this seems justified, as they view it as less about having a dedicated DevOps team and more about the ‘journey’ of moving the company onto better practices.
This seems oversimplified: DevOps in today’s world is a job description, but the value proposition is its part in a unified delivery team that spans the entire deployment spectrum. That’s a vision that any CEO worth their salt should stand behind.
The future of DevOps
DevOps is in a slight crisis at the moment, with many seeing it as a passing fad. They’re wrong. While the name may change over time, DevOps is a continuation of the agile software revolution, picking up where it left off without really knowing it.
When seen in this light, it seems much less like something temporary and more like the continuation of a proven agile methodology. Agile operations will be as ubiquitous as agile development, and DevOps will have paved the road there.
2016 should see an increased interest in DevOps as more large businesses realise the benefits. They will understand that DevOps does not belong just in the realm of dry IT companies or internet startups, overcome their fears of the ‘buzzword’, and optimise their operations according to these evolved lean IT methodologies.
Sourced from Jason DuMars, SendGrid