What is DevOps?

[article]
Summary:
DevOps is a term that is being used by many different technology professionals to refer to emerging best practices in application (and systems) deployment. But what exactly is DevOps and where did it come from? Bob Aiello takes a look at the recently hyped term.

DevOps is a term that is being used by many different technology professionals to refer to emerging best practices in application (and systems) deployment. But what exactly is DevOps and where did it come from?

Given the industry prominence of DevOps and the focus it is currently demanding, it would helpful to take a look at some of the commentary around DevOps today. Ernest Mueller, James Wickett, and Peco Karayanev write the well respected agileadmin blog  and they suggest that “DevOps is a new term describing what has been called agile system administration or agile operations”. These experienced Web systems administrators working at National Instruments in Austin, Texas also agree that many of the core concepts in DevOps are not necessarily new.

In fact, DevOps means different things to different people and there is no shortage of confusion around this term which the agile admin suggests has its genesis from an increasing need for innovation on the systems side of technology work. The agile admin also asserts that DevOps inherits from both agile system administration and the enterprise systems management (EMS) movement.

When did DevOps start?
There are several conferences that the agile admin credits for starting the current DevOps movements. The Velocity conference was held by O'Reilly in 2008 which focused on operations best practices. In 2009, presentations on developer/operations collaboration at large shops along with the safe, rapid change of Web environments.

The agile admin goes on to note that “in 2009, Patrick Debois from Belgium starting talking up DevOps, and there was a DevOpsDays event there that continued to light the fuse.” Tools (and actually toolchains) have brought together “the three layers of what you need for the agile movement (principles, process, and practices) and caught fire.”

What DevOps is not
There is a misconception is some circles that DevOps is all about development taking over operations. This would certainly create regulatory issues (and audit findings) in many firms which require a separation of duties. DevOps also has a wide reach including QA and security as important stakeholders. The agile admin goes on to say that this is not about tools and this is where I find myself especially in disagreement.

I would not want to try to establish excellent DevOps practices without the right set of tools. In my opinion great tools are not optional. Now this is where you come in. What do you think DevOps is all about? What are your experiences?

About the author

Bob  Aiello's picture Bob Aiello

Technical Editor of CM Crossroads and author of Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World, Bob Aiello is a consultant and software engineer specializing in software process improvement, including software configuration and release management. He has more than twenty-five years of experience as a technical manager at top New York City financial services firms, where he held company-wide responsibility for configuration management. He is vice chair of the IEEE 828 Standards Working Group on CM Planning and a member of the IEEE Software and Systems Engineering Standards Committee (S2ESC) Management Board. Contact Bob at Bob.Aiello@ieee.org, via Linkedin linkedin.com/in/BobAiello, or visit cmbestpractices.com.

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