As is par for the course when there is a new buzzword circulating in the IT industry (and, honestly, when is there not?), the new word ‘DevOps’ is causing quite a stir. Some people don’t understand it. Some people misunderstand it. Still others have been hiding under the IT service desk and haven’t yet heard about it.
Some misunderstanding is, well, understandable, because it’s like ‘big data’ and ‘cloud computing’ in that it doesn’t have a simple, straightforward definition. Here’s a really good attempt, though.
What DevOps Is
DevOps is actually the culmination of two trends in IT that are converging to create a different ideology when it comes to software development. DevOps is the concept of agile systems administration plus the collaboration between developers and operations. Essentially, it is the practice of having developers and production engineers, managers, and workers collaborate on software projects together the whole way through — from the conceptual process of designing the software through the process of development and testing until the product is in the deployed and support phases.
What DevOps Isn’t
What DevOps isn’t is developers trying to take over the IT service desk. There have been blog posts and other complaints about this very fear. DevOps is an ideology of cooperation, communication, and collaboration. It seeks to make software and application development scalable, long-lasting, reliable, sound, and valuable. It does not involve restructuring how an IT department or software development company is run. It does mean more involvement outside an engineer’s or developer’s own department, but it does not mean doing away with any positions or functions of other departments or job positions.
Why We Need DevOps
DevOps is actually an industry response for what has, sadly, become the accepted state of software development. In too many organizations, it has become the expected norm that software development projects will run over time and over budget, if delivered at all. In many organizations, significant money, time, and labor is spent on a project that never is deployed. When the project is completed, too much software underperforms, fails to impress, and does not provide a significant return on the company’s investment.
DevOps is a response to that state of software development. By keeping more concerned hands on board throughout the process, the engineers and developers can guide their concepts through to viable finished products needing far less support in the long run. In other words, as the front-end folks get more involved in the processes down the line, everyone’s job gets easier and goes more smoothly. There are real benefits to knocking down some of the barriers that currently separate the initial development phase from the end product support phase.
How DevOps Will Change the IT Service Desk
What changes should you expect to see back at the service desk? If your workplace undertakes DevOps, you can expect to see executives encouraging (ahem…pressing?) more cooperation and collaboration between the service desk and other departments, specifically software developers, engineers, product testers, and quality assurance folks. If done correctly, this should eventually result in better product development and less need for service and support.
After all, a better product means happier customers and less service. That’s the end goal of DevOps — no less, no more.