DevOps is a word that is used to describe a set of modern IT practices which seek to more closely bring together software developers and operations staff to work on the same project in a more collaborative manner. The desire is that by breaking down barriers that have traditionally existed between these two sides of the IT department, organizations can reduce the time and friction involved in deploying new versions of software. This effort will ideally lead to shorter development cycles which ideally may save time and money, and give the organization a competitive edge against others with longer, more traditional development cycles.
To understand the need for DevOps, which tries to recombine the traditionally “split” entities of “development” and “operations,” we must first understand how the split came about. Once we “know the use of it,” then we can see the split for what it really is—and dismantle it if necessary.
The “Dev” and “Ops” split is not the result of personality, diverging skills, or a magic hat placed on the heads of new employees; it’s a byproduct of Taylorism and Sloanianism. Clear and impermeable boundaries between responsibilities and personnel is a management function coupled with a focus on worker efficiency. The management split could have easily landed on product or project boundaries instead of skills, but the history of business management theory through today tells us that skills-based grouping is the “best” way to be efficient.
DevOps is about translating complex manual processes involving error-prone human interaction into an instrumented approach that can be tested, measured, and easily scaled. For example, if a developer would like to create an environment that allows business users to provide feedback, he or she can initiate an automated process in which the developer can issue a command created by the DevOps team (rather than handing off a piece of code to the infrastructure team), which performs the relevant task in a consistent and tested way, getting to the expected results quickly and enabling collaboration.
A comprehensive definition of DevOps requires an understanding of what it means as a type of engineer, culture, and practice. Having explored what DevOps means from these perspectives, it is now important to delve into what DevOps looks like when successfully implemented.
Using DevOps practices comes with a range of benefits, some of which – including greater efficiency, security, and organizational collaboration – have already been articulated. The 2017 State of DevOps Report quantifies this increase in efficiency, reporting that high-performing organizations employing DevOps practices spend 21 percent less time on unplanned work and rework, and 44 percent more time on new work.
More generally speaking, however, successfully implementing DevOps practices can have a profound impact on your company through improving efficiency and execution in areas that are both essential and decidedly unglamorous.
DevOps engineers can effectively act as a company’s internal commando team, helping to solve a diverse range of problems that, though perhaps unglamorous or out of view, are absolutely crucial to a company functioning properly.
Solving these problems, and improving efficiency, are great in themselves, but they are ultimately a means to a more fundamental end: producing amazing products and yielding greater profits and customer satisfaction. Perhaps the most important reason why DevOps really matters is that it can enable organizations to maximize each of these metrics.
DevOps can make a huge difference in how quickly your company successfully migrates systems onto the cloud. Just as the Cloud Services market is growing at a rapid pace, so too is the importance of DevOps. Whether in energy, healthcare, or higher education, your company will need to develop DevOps expertise. Understanding what DevOps is, how it’s implemented, and why it’s so important, represents an essential first step as you think about using this key practice going forward.
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