DevOps mixing dev, ops, agile, cloud, open source and business

We continue to see and hear signs of a new movement in enterprise IT: devops. The term has for some time been a reference to the blending roles and benefits of an integrated approach when it comes to the ‘development’ of an application through testing and QA to production and ‘operations.’ We cited this as the focus of SpringSource’s acquisition of Hyperic and then VMware’s acquisition of SpringSource last year. Still, we see the trend today on a few different levels, all of which are drawing in vendors eager to meet the opportunity.

On its most basic level, devops is about people. Developers and admins/operations have historically been separate camps within enterprise organizations. While there has been some integration and collaboration, helped by open source software and social networking trends, there seemed to be a persistent disconnect between these two parts of typical enterprises. Similar to how open source software developers have come a long way in considering usability, user interfaces and users in general, we now see enterprise developers taking into consideration the deployment and use of the software. I’ve also actually met some of these devops, hired to strattle the software from creation to consumption, and I believe it is a growing job title for enterprise IT. Further reinforcing the devops people factor, CollabNet indicated a need to manage not only code and applications with agility, but also to similarly manage people and teams as a driver of its acquisition of Danube, a project management company.

Of course, most of the people involved in devops come from the software development and IT operations worlds. At the developer level, we see open source software tools and practices, Web and agile development all contributing to devops, whereby development and production are getting aligned.

On a more technical level, we again see open source and agile development practices, but with the addition of cloud computing as the delta of all of these trends.

Yet another level of devops is the business level, whereby not only developers and operations folks are getting involved, but the executives and people representing business and application requirements, needs and realities are also finding they have a stake in devops. This is something we’ve already seen in open source software thanks to vibrant communities of not only developers, but users too, particularly in specialized fields where their stake in the development and deployment of the software is more critical. For example, we’ve heard from many vendors how their open source software for the healthcare and government sectors is pulling in new stakeholders and experts, including doctors and nurses, who are directly reporting their needs, issues and realities to developers, operations and in the best case scenario, to devops.

One thing all of these different levels of devops have in common: they are all driving activity and strategy among a wide array of vendors and projects. After all, at yet another level, devops represents the promise of cloud computing, elasticity, doing more with less and driving synergy and efficiency through people and technology.

We will be delving much deeper into this subject for a special report from our Commercial Adoption of Open Source (CAOS) and Infrastructure Computing in the Enterprise (ICE) practices planned for this summer. We look forward to speaking with more devops players and hearing what they think of the trend.

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