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DevOps (a clipped compound of "development" and "operations") is a culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.[1][2] It aims at establishing a culture and environment where building, testing, and releasing software, can happen rapidly, frequently, and more reliably.[3][4][5]


Venn diagram showing DevOps as the intersection of development (software engineering), technology operations and quality assurance (QA)

In traditional, functionally separated organizations there is rarely cross-departmental integration of these functions with IT operations. DevOps promotes a set of processes and methods for thinking about communication and collaboration between development, QA, and IT operations.[6]

History of the term "DevOps"[edit]

At the Agile 2008 conference, Andrew Clay Shafer and Patrick Debois discussed "Agile Infrastructure".[7] The term "DevOps" was popularized through a series of devopsdays starting in 2009 in Belgium.[8] Since then, there have been devopsdays conferences held in many countries worldwide.[9]

Tools such as Docker and Jenkins have automated more quality assurance processes and releases by development team. Puppet and automated configuration tools like Vagrant have also been used and frequently referenced in DevOps discussions.[10]


The specific goals of DevOps span the entire delivery pipeline. They include improved deployment frequency, which can lead to faster time to market, lower failure rate of new releases, shortened lead time between fixes, and faster mean time to recovery in the event of a new release crashing or otherwise disabling the current system. Simple processes become increasingly programmable and dynamic, using a DevOps approach.[11] DevOps aims to maximize the predictability, efficiency, security, and maintainability of operational processes. Very often, automation supports this objective.

DevOps integration targets product delivery, continuous testing, quality testing, feature development, and maintenance releases in order to improve reliability and security and provide faster development and deployment cycles. Many of the ideas (and people) involved in DevOps came from the enterprise systems management and agile software development movements.[12]

DevOps aids in software application release management for an organization by standardizing development environments. Events can be more easily tracked as well as resolving documented process control and granular reporting issues. The DevOps approach grants developers more control of the environment, giving infrastructure more application-centric understanding.

Cultural Change[edit]

DevOps is more than just a tool or a process change, it inherently requires an organizational culture shift.[13] This cultural change is made especially difficult because of the conflicting nature of departmental roles; Operations seeks organizational stability, Developers seek change, and Testers seek risk reduction.[14] Getting these people and opposing viewpoints to work cohesively is a critical challenge in enterprise DevOps adoption.[15]

Building a DevOps Culture[edit]

To create an environment that fosters cultural change within an organization, teambuilding and other employee engagement activities are becoming popular. DevOps principles demand strong interdepartmental communication and the ideologies behind team building encourages this communication.[16] These strategies and ideas include enterprise team building activities such as: board games, trust activities, and employee engagement seminars.[17]


Companies with very frequent releases may require a DevOps awareness or orientation program. For example, the company that operates the image hosting website Flickr developed a DevOps approach to support a business requirement of ten deployments per day;[18] this daily deployment cycle would be much higher at organizations producing multi-focus or multi-function applications. This is referred to as continuous deployment[19] or continuous delivery [20] and has been associated with the lean startup methodology.[21] Working groups, professional associations and blogs have formed on the topic since 2009.[5][22][23]

Scope of adoption[edit]

Some articles in the DevOps literature assume, or recommend, significant participation in DevOps initiatives from outside an organization's IT Department, e.g.: "DevOps is just the Agile principle taken to the full enterprise."[24] An example of such broader participation is this recommended change to internal funding processes: "Funding is typically provided in a waterfall manner, with specific hard dates (months, quarters, fiscal year) and gates, not suitable for a Continuous Delivery model. Funding too should be continuous."[25]

Adoption of DevOps is being driven by many factors including:

  1. Use of agile and other development processes and methodologies
  2. Demand for an increased rate of production releases from application and business unit stakeholders
  3. Wide availability of virtualized[26] and cloud infrastructure from internal and external providers
  4. Increased usage of data center automation[27] and configuration management tools
  5. Increased focus on test automation[28] and continuous integration methods
  6. A critical mass of publicly available best practices

Incremental Adoption[edit]

The Theory of Constraints applies to the adaptation of DevOps – the single constraint is the inherent aversion to change from departments within the enterprise. [29]Incremental adoption embodies the methodology the Theory of Constraints provides for combating any constraint, known as “The five focusing steps”.[30] [31]

The Incremental approach centers around the idea of minimizing risk and cost of a DevOps Adoption whilst building the necessary in-house skillset and momentum needed to have widespread – successful implementation across the enterprise.[32] Gene Kim’s Three Ways Principles essentially establishes different ways of incremental DevOps adoption. [33]

The First Way: Systems Thinking[edit]

The emphasis is on the performance of the entire system, as opposed to the performance of a specific or single department or individual. Focus is also on all business value streams that are enabled by IT. This processes works in a linear fashion ensuring that defects are never passed along. [34]

The Second Way: Amplify Feedback Loops[edit]

The emphasis is on increasing feedback and understanding of all teams involved. The outcomes of this will be increased communication and responding to all customers, internal and external, shortening and amplifying all feedback loops, and embedding knowledge where and to whom it’s needed.[34]

The Third Way: Culture of Continual Experimentation and Learning[edit]

The emphasis is on fostering a culture where experimentation and risk; and repetition and practice as a qualification to mastery. The idea of this way is that by fostering this culture, innovation and improvements will take place among daily work and into the system as a whole. [34]


  1. ^ Loukides, Mike (2012-06-07). "What is DevOps?". 
  2. ^ Floris, Erich; Chintan, Amrit; Maya, Daneva (2014-12-10). "A Mapping Study on Cooperation between Information System Development and Operations". 
  3. ^ Samovskiy, Dmitriy (2010-03-02). "The Rise of DevOps". Fubaredness Is Contagious. 
  4. ^ Kim, Gene. "DevOps Culture Part 1". 
  5. ^ a b Lyman, Jay. "DevOps mixing dev, ops, agile, cloud, open source and business". 451 CAOS Theory. 
  6. ^ Turnbull, James (Feb 2010). "What DevOps means to me...". Kartar. 
  7. ^ Debois, Patrick. "Agile 2008 Toronto". Just Enough Documented Information. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Debois, Patrick (2009). "DevOpsDays Ghent". DevopsDays. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Debois, Patrick. "DevOps Days". DevOps Days. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  10. ^ "Stronger DevOps Culture with Puppet and Vagrant". Puppet Labs. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  11. ^ "What is DevOps?". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  12. ^ Nasrat, Paul. "Agile Infrastructure". InfoQ. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Emerging Technology Analysis: DevOps a Culture Shift, Not a Technology (Report). Gartner. 
  14. ^ Loukides, Mike (11 June 2012). What is Devops?. Oreilly Media. 
  15. ^ "Gartner IT Glossary – devops". Gartner. Retrieved October 30, 2015. 
  16. ^ Walls, Mandi (15 April 2013). "Building a DevOps Culture". OReilly Media. 
  17. ^ Roach, Patrick. "Dice Breakers: Using DevOps principles and nerdery to reimagine Team building". 
  18. ^ "10+ Deploys Per Day: Dev and Ops Cooperation at Flickr". 
  19. ^ "SAM SIG: Applied Lean Startup Ideas: Continuous Deployment at kaChing". SVForum. 
  20. ^ Humble, Jez. "Why Enterprises Must Adopt Devops to Enable Continuous Delivery". Cutter IT Journal. 
  21. ^ "Applied Lean Startup Ideas: Continuous Deployment at kaChing". 
  22. ^ "DevOps Days 2009 Conference". 
  23. ^ Edwards, Damon. "DevOps Meetup Recap". 
  24. ^ "DevOps is Agile for the Rest of the Company". 
  25. ^ "The Art of DevOps". 
  26. ^ "Virtual Infrastructure products: features comparison". Welcome to IT 2.0: Next Generation IT infrastructures. 
  27. ^ Ellard, Jennifer. "Bringing Order to Chaos through Data Center Automation". Information Management. SourceMedia. 
  28. ^ "Impact of DevOps on Testing". 
  29. ^ "Theory of Constraints". vorne Industries Inc. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  30. ^ Bhargava, Rajat (27 March 2014). "DevOps Adoption – Startups". 
  31. ^ Bhargava, Rajat (27 March 2014). "DevOps Adoption – Startups". 
  32. ^ Kim, Gene (22 January 2013). "DevOps distilled, Part 1: The three underlying principles" (PDF). IBM DeveloperWorks. 
  33. ^ "Incremental DevOps" (PDF). 
  34. ^ a b c Kim, Gene. "The Three Ways: The Principles Underpinning DevOps". IT Revolution Press. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 

Further reading[edit]