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DevOps (a clipped compound of "development" and "operations") is a software development and delivery process that emphasizes communication and collaboration between product management, software development, and operations professionals.[1][2][3] It supports this by automating and monitoring the process of software integration, testing, deployment, and infrastructure changes by establishing a culture and environment where building, testing, and releasing software can happen rapidly, frequently, and more reliably.[4][5][6]


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

At the Agile 2008 conference, Andrew Shafer and Patrick Debois presented on "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]

The popularity of DevOps has grown in recent years, inspiring many other tangential initiatives including OpsDev, WinOps, and BizDevOps.[10][11][12]

DevOps as a job title[edit]

While DevOps describes an approach to work rather than a distinct role (like system administrator), job advertisements are increasingly using terms like "DevOps Engineer".[13][14]

DevOps toolchain[edit]

Illustration showing stages in a DevOps toolchain
Illustration showing stages in a DevOps toolchain

As DevOps is a truly cross-functional mode of working, there is no single "DevOps tool": it is rather a set (or "toolchain") of multiple tools.[15] DevOps tools tend to fit into one or more of these categories, reflective of key aspects of the development and delivery process:[16][17]

  1. Code — code development and review, source code management tools, code merging
  2. Build — continuous integration tools, build status
  3. Test — continuous testing tools that provide feedback on business risks
  4. Package — artifact repository, application pre-deployment staging
  5. Release — change management, release approvals, release automation
  6. Configure — infrastructure configuration and management, Infrastructure as Code tools
  7. Monitor — applications performance monitoring, end–user experience

While there are many tools available, certain categories are essential in a DevOps toolchain; especially continuous integration (e.g. Jenkins) and infrastructure as code (e.g. Puppet).[18][19]

Relationship to other approaches[edit]


The need for DevOps arose from the increasing success of agile software development, as that led to organizations wanting to release their software faster and more frequently. They sought to overcome the strain this put on their release management processes, by adopting patterns such as application release automation, continuous integration tools, and continuous delivery.[20]

Continuous delivery[edit]

Continuous delivery and DevOps have common goals and are often used in conjunction, but there are subtle differences.[21][22]

While continuous delivery is focused on automating the processes in software delivery, DevOps also focuses on the organization change to support great collaboration between the many functions involved.[21]

DevOps and continuous delivery share a background in agile methods and lean thinking: small and quick changes with focused value to the end customer.[23] They are well communicated and collaborated internally, thus helping achieve quick time to market, with reduced risks.

Site reliability engineering[edit]

In 2003, Google developed site reliability engineering, a new approach for releasing new features continuously into large-scale high-availability systems while maintaining high-quality end user experience.[24] While SRE predates the development of DevOps, they are generally viewed as independent trends.[25] Some aspects of DevOps have taken a similar approach.[26]

Systems administration[edit]

DevOps is often viewed as an approach to applying systems administration work to cloud technology.[27]


The goals of DevOps span the entire delivery pipeline. They include:

  • Improved deployment frequency;
  • Faster time to market;
  • Lower failure rate of new releases;
  • Shortened lead time between fixes;
  • 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.[28] 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.[29]

DevOps helps software application release management for an organization, by factoring in infrastructure related code as yet another artifact in the software build and release cycle. When you combine the use of a ticket tracking system (e.g. JIRA), version control (e.g. git) and configuration management tool (e.g. Puppet), changes can be more easily processed, tracked and reported on. Developers and Operations have an interest and stake in keeping production up and running, therefore any code related to infrastructure is now considered yet another artifact in the software delivery process.

Views on the benefits claimed for DevOps[edit]

Companies that practice DevOps have reported significant benefits, including: significantly shorter time to market, improved customer satisfaction, better product quality, more reliable releases, improved productivity and efficiency, and the increased ability to build the right product by fast experimentation.[30]

However, a study released in January 2017 by F5 of almost 2,200 IT executives and industry professionals found that only one in five surveyed think DevOps had a strategic impact on their organization despite rise in usage. The same study found that only 17% identified DevOps as key, well below software as a service (42%), big data (41%) and public cloud infrastructure as a service (39%).[31]

Cultural change[edit]

DevOps is more than just a tool or a process change; it inherently requires an organizational culture shift.[32] This cultural change is especially difficult, because of the conflicting nature of departmental roles:

Getting these groups to work cohesively is a critical challenge in enterprise DevOps adoption.[34][35]

While DevOps reflects complex topics, the DevOps community uses analogies to communicate important concepts, much like "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" from the open source community.[36]

  • Cattle & Pets: the paradigm of disposable server infrastructure.
  • 10 deployments per day: the story of Flickr adopting DevOps.

Building a DevOps culture[edit]

DevOps TShirt worn at a computer conference.

DevOps principles demand strong interdepartmental communication—team-building and other employee engagement activities are often used—to create an environment that fosters this communication and cultural change, within an organization.[37] Team–building activities can include board games, trust activities, and employee engagement seminars.[38]


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;[39] this daily deployment cycle would be much higher at organizations producing multi-focus or multi-function applications. This is referred to as continuous deployment[40] or continuous delivery [41] and has been associated with the lean startup methodology.[42] Working groups, professional associations and blogs have formed on the topic since 2009.[6][43][44]

DevOps and architecture[edit]

To practice DevOps effectively, software applications have to meet a set of architecturally significant requirements (ASRs), such as: deployability, modifiability, testability, and monitorability.[45] These ASRs require a high priority and cannot be traded off lightly.

Although in principle it is possible to practice DevOps with any architectural style — the microservices architectural style is becoming the standard for building continuously deployed systems. Because the size of each service is small, it allows the architecture of an individual service to emerge through continuous refactoring,[46] hence reducing the need for a big upfront design[citation needed] and allows for releasing the software early[citation needed] and continuously.

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."[47]

A survey published in January 2016 by the SaaS cloud-computing company RightScale, DevOps adoption increased from 66 percent in 2015 to 74 percent in 2016. And among larger enterprise organizations, DevOps adoption is even higher — 81 percent.[48]

Adoption of DevOps is being driven by many factors — including:

  1. Use of agile and other development processes and methods;
  2. Demand for an increased rate of production releases — from application and business unit stakeholders;
  3. Wide availability of virtualized[49] and cloud infrastructure — from internal and external providers;
  4. Increased usage of data center automation[50] and configuration management tools;
  5. Increased focus on test automation[51] and continuous integration methods;
  6. A critical mass of publicly–available best practices.


  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. ^ Turnbull, James (Feb 2010). "What DevOps means to me...". Kartar. 
  4. ^ Samovskiy, Dmitriy (2010-03-02). "The Rise of DevOps". Fubaredness Is Contagious. 
  5. ^ Kim, Gene. "DevOps Culture Part 1". 
  6. ^ a b Lyman, Jay. "DevOps mixing dev, ops, agile, cloud, open source and business". 451 CAOS Theory. 
  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. ^ Schitzer, Eran (Oct 2015). "DevOps Must Also Mean OpsDev". 
  11. ^ Weinberger, Matt (25 November 2014), Microsoft study finds everybody wants DevOps but Culture is a Challenge, Computerworld 
  12. ^ Shoeb, Javed (June 21, 2017). "Introducing BizDevOps - Why DevOps Doesn’t Work for Enterprise Applications". Retrieved 2017-06-21. 
  13. ^ "Is DevOps a Title? -". 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  14. ^ "DevOps: A Job Title or a School of Thought?". Monster Career Advice. Retrieved 2017-07-22. 
  15. ^ Gartner Market Trends: DevOps – Not a Market, but Tool-Centric Philosophy That supports a Continuous Delivery Value Chain (Report). Gartner. 18 February 2015. 
  16. ^ Edwards, Damon. "Integrating DevOps tools into a Service Delivery Platform". 
  17. ^ Seroter, Richard. "Exploring the ENTIRE DevOps Toolchain for (Cloud) Teams". 
  18. ^ Theakanath, Thomas. "DevOps Stack on a Shoestring Budget". 
  19. ^ "Stronger DevOps Culture with Puppet and Vagrant". Puppet Labs. Retrieved 2015-10-22. 
  20. ^ Best Practices in Change, Configuration and Release Management (Report). Gartner. 14 July 2010. 
  21. ^ a b Humble, Jez; Farley, David (2011). Continuous Delivery: reliable software releases through build, test, and deployment automation. Pearson Education Inc. ISBN 978-0-321-60191-9. 
  22. ^ Hammond, Jeffrey (9 September 2011). "The Relationship between DevOps and Continuous Delivery". Forrester Research. Forester. 
  23. ^ Ambler, Scott W. (12 February 2014). "We need more Agile IT Now!". Dr. Dobb’s The world of software Development. San Francisco: UBM. 
  24. ^ Betsy Beyer, Chris Jones, Jennifer Petoff, Niall Richard Murphy (April 2016). Site Reliability Engineering. O'Reilly Media. ISBN 978-1-4919-2909-4. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Love DevOps? Wait until you meet SRE 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "What is DevOps?". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  29. ^ Nasrat, Paul. "Agile Infrastructure". InfoQ. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  30. ^ Chen, Lianping (2015). "Continuous Delivery: Huge Benefits, but Challenges Too". IEEE Software. 32 (2): 50. doi:10.1109/MS.2015.27. 
  31. ^ Bourne, James (23 January 2017). "New research questions strategic importance of DevOps despite rise in usage". CloudTech. 
  32. ^ Emerging Technology Analysis: DevOps a Culture Shift, Not a Technology (Report). Gartner. 
  33. ^ Loukides, Mike (11 June 2012). What is Devops?. Oreilly Media. 
  34. ^ "Gartner IT Glossary – devops". Gartner. Retrieved October 30, 2015. 
  35. ^ Jones, Stephen; Noppen, Joost; Lettice, Fiona (21 July 2016). "Management challenges for DevOps adoption within UK SMEs". 
  36. ^ "What are known useful and misleading memes in the DevOps culture?". Retrieved 2017-06-29. 
  37. ^ Walls, Mandi (15 April 2013). "Building a DevOps Culture". OReilly Media. 
  38. ^ Roach, Patrick. "Dice Breakers: Using DevOps principles and nerdery to reimagine Team building". 
  39. ^ "10+ Deploys Per Day: Dev and Ops Cooperation at Flickr". 
  40. ^ "SAM SIG: Applied Lean Startup Ideas: Continuous Deployment at kaChing". SVForum. 
  41. ^ Humble, Jez. "Why Enterprises Must Adopt Devops to Enable Continuous Delivery". Cutter IT Journal. 
  42. ^ "Applied Lean Startup Ideas: Continuous Deployment at kaChing". 
  43. ^ "DevOps Days 2009 Conference". 
  44. ^ Edwards, Damon. "DevOps Meetup Recap". 
  45. ^ Chen, Lianping (2015). Towards Architecting for Continuous Delivery. The 12th Working IEEE/IFIP Conference on Software Architecture(WICSA 2015). Montréal, Canada: IEEE. 
  46. ^ Chen, Lianping; Ali Babar, Muhammad (2014). Towards an Evidence-Based Understanding of Emergence of Architecture through Continuous Refactoring in Agile Software Development. The 11th Working IEEE/IFIP Conference on Software Architecture(WICSA 2014). IEEE. 
  47. ^ "DevOps is Agile for the Rest of the Company". 
  48. ^ Harvey, Cynthia (9 January 2017). "10 Ways DevOps is Changing the Enterprise". Datamation. 
  49. ^ "Virtual Infrastructure products: features comparison". Welcome to IT 2.0: Next Generation IT infrastructures. 
  50. ^ Ellard, Jennifer. "Bringing Order to Chaos through Data Center Automation". Information Management. SourceMedia. 
  51. ^ "Impact of DevOps on Testing". 

Further reading[edit]