DevOps: Breaking Down Barriers to Benefit Bottom Lines
MAR 29, 2015 18:10 PM
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DevOps: Breaking Down Barriers to Benefit Bottom Lines 

By Margo McCall

DevOps--a merging of "development" and "operations"--is rapidly changing how software is produced and released. By as early as next year, market-research firm Gartner expects DevOps to move from a niche strategy to the mainstream, embraced by fully a quarter of Global 2000 companies.
It's been nearly a decade since software developer Andrew Shafer and systems administration Patrick Debois met at the Agile 2008 Conference in Toronto and formed the Agile Systems Administration Group as a way to resolve conflicts between developers and systems administrators. 
Since then much discussion’s revolved about what DevOps is—and how it's changing the software production landscape for enterprises and their developers and operations employees.
Sanjeev Sharma and Bernie Coyle’s DevOps for Dummies, an IBM Limited Edition, describes DevOps as "an approach based on lean and agile principles in which business owners and the development, operations, and quality assurance departments collaborate to deliver software in a continuous manner that enables the business to more quickly seize market opportunities and reduce the time to include customer feedback."
According to Laurie Wurster, research director at Gartner, "In response to the rapid change in business today, DevOps can help organizations that are pushing to implement a bimodal strategy to support their digitalization efforts. Digital business is essentially software, which means that organizations that expect to thrive in a digital environment must have an improved competence in software delivery." 
Why DevOps?
DevOps adoption is being driven by growing use of agile development processes and methodologies, demand for faster production releases, virtualized and cloud infrastructure capabilities, and increased exploitation of datacenter automation and configuration management tools.
Concurrent with slowly changing legacy systems that function as systems of record, consumers—and investors—now expect enterprises to rapidly deliver easy-to-use forward-facing systems that facilitate user engagement. 
Commonly, enterprises may offer only one or two systems of record releases yearly, but systems of engagement must be continually updated to address customers' changing needs. And because the two are linked, systems of record must also be updated with each new engagement systems release. This creates pressures that DevOps can help alleviate.
All about people
At its root, say Sharma and Coyle, DevOps is a cultural movement that's all about people. DevOps spans the full range of organizational stakeholders: business owners; architecture, design, and development engineers; those in charge of quality assurance, operations, and security; even enterprise partners and suppliers. Excluding any stakeholder can lead to incomplete DevOps implementation
To summarize Sharma and Coyle, even the most efficient processes or automated tools are useless unless they address the full organizational needs of the people who must execute those processes and use those tools.
Thus, building a DevOps culture is critical. Such a culture is characterized by close collaboration across roles, a focus on business rather than departmental objectives, trust, and valuing learning through experimentation. But achieving this requires bringing together people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and predispositions—a major challenge for most organizations.
Team building is crucial
Organization leaders must work with teams to build this culture, which rewards collaboration, facilitates sharing, and removes barriers to cooperation. 
Typically, for example, operations teams are rewarded for uptime and stability, while developers are measured on new features delivered. These different interests can pit the groups against each other. But if developers and operations share responsibility for delivering new features quickly and safely, these differences can be reduced.
The DevOps trend goes beyond implementation and technology management to a deep focus on how to effect positive organizational change. "With respect to culture, DevOps seeks to change the dynamics in which operations and development teams interact," notes Wurster. "Key to this change are the issues of trust, honesty, and responsibility. In essence, the goal is to enable each organization to see the perspective of the other and to modify behavior accordingly, while motivating autonomy." 
The result: more efficient procedures, products that please stakeholders and customers—and, along with these, strengthened profits across the board.
To find out more, attend the complimentary April 21 DevOps Unleashed event in Mountain View, California. Visit for details.
Margo McCall is editorial content manager for the Computer Society’s Computing Now site. Have an idea for and article or wish to contribute? Contact Margo at
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