Are we DevOps now? The system-wide software development methodology that breaks down the problematic divide between development and operations is still in that stage where enterprises implementing the idea are probably asking that question, working out whether they’ve reached the endgame of effective collaboration between the two spheres and a systematic automation of their IT service infrastructure. Considered to be the natural evolution of Agile development and practices, the idea and business implementation of DevOps is rapidly gaining traction and adoption in significant commercial enterprises and we’re very likely to see a saturation of DevOps implementations in serious businesses in the near future.
The benefits of DevOps for scaling and automating the daily operations of businesses are wide-reaching and becoming more and more crucial, both from the perspective of enabling rapid software development as well as delivering products to clients who demand and need more and more frequent releases of up-to-date applications. The movement towards DevOps systems moves in close synchronization with the growing demand for experiencing and accessing everything in real time, as it produces the level of infrastructural agility to roll out release after release with minimal delays. DevOps has been adopted prominently by hitters as big as Spotify, who have embraced the DevOps culture throughout the formative years of their organization and still hold this philosophy now.
The idea that DevOps is an evolution is not a new one. However, there’s also the argument to be made that the actual evolution from a non-DevOps system to a DevOps one entails a revolution in thinking. From a software perspective, an argument could be made that DevOps has inspired a minor technological revolution, with the spawning of multiple technologies geared towards enabling a DevOps workflows. Docker, Chef, Puppet, Ansible, and Vagrant are all powerful key tools in this space and vastly increase the productivity of developers and engineers working with software at scale. However, it is one thing to mobilize DevOps tools and implement them physically into a system (not easy in itself), but it is another thing entirely to revolve the thinking of an organization round to a collaborative culture where developers and administrators live and breathe in the same DevOps atmosphere. As a way of thinking, it requires a substantial cultural overhaul and a breaking down of entrenched programming habits and the silo-ization of the two spheres. It’s not easy to transform the day-to-day mind-set of a developer so that they incorporate thinking in ops (monitoring, configuration, availability) or vice versa of a system engineer so they are thinking in terms of design and development. One can imagine it is difficult to cultivate this sort of culture and atmosphere within a large enterprise system with many large moving parts, as opposed to a startup which may have the “day zero” flexibility to employ a DevOps approach from the roots up.
To reach the “state” of DevOps is a long journey, and one that involves a revolution in thinking. From a systematic as well as cultural point of view, it takes a considerable degree of ground breaking in order to shatter (what is sometimes) the monolithic wall between development and operations. But for organizations that realize that they need the responsiveness to adapt to clients on demand and have the foresight to put in place system mechanics that allow them to scale their services in the future, the long term benefits of a DevOps revolution are invaluable. Continuous and automated deployment, shorter testing times, consistent application monitoring and performance visibility, flexibility when scaling, and a greater margin for error all stem from a successful DevOps implementation. On top of that a survey showed that engineers working in a DevOps environment spent less time firefighting and more productive time focusing on self-improvement, infrastructure improvement, and product quality.
Getting to that point where engineers can say “we’re DevOps now!” however is a bit of a misconception, because it’s more than a matter of sharing common tools, and there will be times where keeping the bridge between devs and ops stable and productive is challenging. There is always the potential that new engineers joining an organization can dilute the DevOps culture, and also the fact that DevOps engineers don’t grow overnight. It is an ongoing philosophy, and as much an evolution as it is a revolution worth having.