What is DevOps?

Though the notion of DevOps has been around for years, I still see folks struggling to articulate what really is DevOps. Like recently in our user group meeting, participants highjacked the session for 30 minutes debating what DevOps stood for without really arriving at a conclusion. Similarly, I have seen architects, sales teams and developers, struggle to explain in simple terms to their management as to what is DevOps, why is it important and what business value it would provide. In this post, I will share my thought process and would like to hear from you if you have a simpler way of communicating the DevOps intent.

Traditionally software development has been a complex process involving multiple teams. You have developers, testers, project managers, operations, architects, UX designers, business analysts and many others, collaborating to create value for business. The collaboration among these teams requires handshakes (think of it as multi-party supply chain) which often cause friction leading to non-value adds. For instance, the handshake where UX designer develops UI and then developers add code, or the handshake where analyst captures business requirements and development team write code to meet those requirements, or the traditional handshake between developers and testers for code validation, and so on. One such critical handshake is between developers and operations where developers typically toss software over to operations to deploy it in upstream environments (outside of developer’s workstation). Unfortunately, members of these two teams have been ignoring concerns of each other for decades. Developers assume code will just run (after all it ran on their machine) but in reality it rarely does. And that’s where DevOps comes to rescue.

Considering above, it would be safe to summarize that DevOps is any tool, technology or process that will reduce friction between Developers and Operations (thereby creating more value for business e.g. faster time to market, higher uptimes, lower IT costs and so on). Now this could be app containerization bundling all dependencies into single image, or it could be setting up Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery pipelines to allow for robust consistent deployments, or adopting microservices architecture to pave way for loosely coupled deployments or it could be infrastructure as a code to allow for reliable version-controlled infrastructure setup, or AI enabled app monitoring tools to proactively mitigate app issues or even reorganizing IT teams and driving cultural changes within IT organization. But the objectives are same – reduce friction between Developers and Operations. One you get these basics right it’s easy to devise a strategy and approach.

So does this resonate with you? Or you have a simpler way to explain DevOps? Looking forward for your comments.

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