In our first expert-led roundup we wanted to bring together some of tech’s latest insights for 2020 to define what is DevOps? How popular is the adoption of DevOps engineers, tools and best practices? and what does the growing popularity of cross-team collaboration between Development and Operations mean for business and wider infrastructure?
What is DevOps?
“The term DevOps refers to a bunch of practices and development processes which come together to automate and streamline the testing and releasing of software,”
says Jack Zmudzinski, Senior Associate at Future Processing.
“DevOps also allows for teams to innovate faster and generate further, continuous development of updates and new software.”
The Origins Of DevOps
When prompted on the origins of DevOps, David Johnson, Chief Technology Officer at Mulytic Labs gave the following highly valuable insights from his time leading global technology teams across companies including IBM and Sungard.
“After having implemented DevOps in my current company and previously in IBM. Both times, they have been beneficial to the organization, and both times, they have not been without their ardour.”
“Back in pre-DevOps days, code was developed on a quarterly or annual basis and new versions were pushed out via CD, USB or large file transfer.”
“Developers and Operations were continually separated from each other. Operations teams supported the infrastructure and only had to monitor the infrastructure and learn of the periodic changes by developers.”
“However when public cloud, SaaS and virtualization took over, allowing customers to access more applications faster, and having more power to influence the product. Companies responded by pushing more code out faster to fulfil the ever-growing demand.”
“This meant that developers had to produce faster and operations had to respond faster.”
“Customers demanded better software that's more stable. The inherent problem evolved that Ops teams succeeded and got bonuses through stability and Dev teams succeeded and got bonuses through changes.”
“This created more friction between the Ops teams and Dev teams in requiring more changes and a stable production environment to run it in as business pressures rose.”
“To respond to this friction, companies implemented DevOps. DevOps facilitated faster communications among the teams to respond to the customer/business (not better communications with the customer, that is Agile's domain). This naturally created problems like lack of testing and Ops not taking ownership of Dev's solutions.”
“DevOps means to align Dev and Ops teams under a unified direction through more testing, tighter communications and more automated testing.”
“To implement DevOps, companies must put the customer needs first - if the customer is unhappy, the whole company suffers, regardless of Dev or Ops issue. Dev and Ops must be aligned to a higher power than stability or changes - it must align around customer needs first and foremost, a critical component to success.”
“In order to create that alignment, CI/CD needs to be put in place, version control and automated testing, all the familiar DevOps approaches.”
“These allow Dev and Ops to maintain ownership of each discipline while trusting their counterparts to do their job.”
“DevOps is made to align the Ops and Dev teams closer to the business needs - a critical aspect to any successful business now. DevOps is not a prescriptive methodology - it cannot tell you exactly how to do it, just where to go.”
What is a DevOps Engineer?
When asked to describe what makes a DevOps engineer, Yoseph Radding, CEO of Shuttl.io responded with the following helpful insights;
“Specifically, a DevOps engineer is simply an engineer who focuses on building out technology to enable engineers to be fully prepared for the continuous deployment of code”
“Deploying code could mean running automated tests, allowing Pipeline configurations, building technology that allows for application to be deployed in a safe manner, helping with monitoring and error reporting, building technology to proactively respond to issues, help technology teams scale their solutions, and many other things.”
David Johnson added his insights in addition to this,
“The irony is that 'DevOps Engineer' role differences do not lie in how well the engineer interacts with the technology, but how that engineer interacts with the people and the business.”
“To become a 'DevOps Engineer' one has to write better, communicate better, probably use different tools (like version control, orchestration, etc), but most importantly adapt to faster-changing needs.”
“I see little to no change to a DevOps Engineer's technical skills. But I see DevOps Engineers as engineers that are comfortable with the fast-paced change of business directions and customer demands, and able to succeed in that environment that is critical to future success.”
The adoption of DevOps has increased to include 17% of businesses by the end of 2018, with this number only expected to continue growing in 2020 and beyond (source: Statista).
Interest in this topic has subsequently increased exponentially by a whopping 550% within the past five years (source: USA, Ahrefs).
The top five countries most interested in topics around DevOps in decreasing order are; The US, India, France, The UK, Japan & Germany.
This is also mirrored in Google Trends similarly which shows after an initial lull in the early 2010s, that interest in DevOps methodology skyrocketed between the end of 2017 and peaked in mid-2020.
Adopting DevOps In Your Business
Yoseph added additionally,
“when it comes to Implementing DevOps it is not an easy task. It is not as easy just picking a couple of tools and calling it a day. It is a cultural shift that puts more power into the hands of Application Developers.”
“Instead of Application Developer's kicking code over the wall to someone else to maintain and deploy, they handle it from start to finish. It is important because it allows teams to respond quickly to problems because the developers who built the system know everything about it, from the infrastructure to the code.”
“It is especially important when using technology like AWS Cloud because of the integrations that could easily go wrong between different systems.”
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