What is “DevOps”, exactly?

Asaf Yigal, Cofounder and VP Product for log management platform Logz.io, gives a definition of DevOps.

Communication, collaboration and integration are the three main principles of the ever-growing, modern approach to software delivery known as “DevOps.”

Coined in 2009 by Patrick Debois, the term – a combination of development and operations – is an extension of agile development environments that aims to enhance the process of software delivery as a whole. At Logz.io, a predictive, cloud-based log management platform that is built on top of the open-source ELK Stack, use this next generation of agile development in our own environment.

DevOps is the next generation of agile

Back in 2009, more IT professionals started to move away from the traditional waterfall method and embrace nonlinear agile methodology by making each development stage independent and incorporating continuous testing early on and throughout the development cycle.

Consequently, this approach enhanced efficiency and reduced risk by allowing developers to make immediate changes before shipping to production based on the continuous feedback they received. While agile methods had always enhanced development, there was still a discrepancy in the flow when it came to deployment, which still embraced the waterfall methodology. While development used agile to lower risk and increase efficiency, deployment hung on to the linear waterfall structure, slowing down delivery and leaving testing to the end of the process — a process that wrongfully split ownership. This created huge bottlenecks in delivery cycles because developers would need to start from the beginning if a problem were discovered near the end of deployment.

It was through seeing this disconnect between development and deployment as well as understanding the benefits of embracing agile in all aspects of software delivery that Debois came up with the notion of DevOps. The marriage of development and operations along with the extended best practices and principles associated with agile had the potential to greatly increase efficiency and lower delivery risks.

DevOps requires a cultural change

DevOps is not a tool nor a technique. It’s a cultural change. Change is feared throughout most organisations of any type, so the adoption of new methodologies can quite challenging. Therefore, it is vital first to define the business need that brought on the discussion of the potential change as well as the accompanying challenges. Nowadays, businesses are expected to quickly deliver flawless applications that focus on user experience, but without the right tools, applications, and behaviour, this seemingly simple task can turn into a complicated mess. Ultimately, faulty delivery translates into missed business opportunities.

DevOps culture can live only in environments where everyone is on board with the philosophy. It takes the right technology, situational assessment, and attitude to pull off successful software development and delivery. If everyone in an IT organisation is on the same page and understands the power of clear and consistent communication as well as the underlying business goals, then the sky’s the limit. Of course, having a wide skill set is beneficial to every aspect of the process, as long as those fortunate individuals are willing to be team players.

DevOps needs unified, multi-skilled teams

As mentioned above, collaboration, communication, and integration are the key elements of incorporating DevOps into any development and delivery setting. Building multi-skilled teams that are made up of individual talents (e.g. developers, sysadmins, and testers) can add great benefit, but without the right teamwork and attitude, the talent is virtually useless. When people know they can rely on everyone else, the group as a whole also moves much more quickly and efficiently, ultimately leading to happier customers.

The first step in a DevOps approach involves recognising how software development, IT operations, and QA are mutually dependent on each other. As mentioned above, DevOps relies on cross-departmental collaboration and open communication between the key players in the software delivery pipeline in order to boost operational efficiency, predictability, and maintainability. Integrating and automating these elements early in the process enables teams to stream software delivery.

DevOps is the future of enterprise IT

Modern-day enterprise applications are riddled with complexities that keep growing from the use of different technologies, multiple databases, and various end-user devices, and DevOps might be the only viable way to cope with such diverse environments successfully.


Edited for web by Cecilia Rehn.