DevOps - what’s the fuzz about the buzz?

Puzzle pieces with Dev + Ops. Illustration.

Everyone has been talking about DevOps for the last couple of years. What actually is it, and is it really something new? 

Written by Trine Ødegård, Senior Project Manager in Itera

 

Agile development has been on the agenda for a long time, and at Itera we have extensive experience of this way of working. Agile involves eating the elephant, which is to say solving the problem, bit by bit, rather than devouring the whole elephant in one go, which is to say trying to understand a complex problem in its entirety before you start. We work in iterations, which we test as we go, and check the entire time that what we have developed still matches our original vision. Our development sprints are carried out in interdisciplinary teams, with UX, design, consultancy, testing, service design, architecture and development all involved. DevOps is a question of operations coming on board as well. 

A solution to a conflict of interests? 

As a term, DevOps came into being about 10 years ago, and it was first used in earnest in Norway in 2016. The word is a combination of ‘development’ and ‘operations’. It came about as an answer to what can be termed a conflict of interest between development teams and operations teams. For, even though people have been working in agile development teams for a long time, developing smaller iterations and experimenting with relatively frequent releases, there is a fundamental and major mismatch between development team's wish to satisfy customer needs through frequent changes and the operations team's need to ensure stability and compliance with service level agreement requirements. 

Technology is our friend 

Technological progress makes introducing DevOps as a way of working simpler and more appropriate. Cloud solutions and technology platforms such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services make it possible to set up entire infrastructures in the cloud. These platforms also offer standard frameworks and components that we can use to build solutions, safe in the knowledge that everything will work well together. This means that development teams can change solutions or build new ones quickly, and operations teams can be confident that we are fundamentally in control. The technology also means that automation has become simpler at all levels, and this ensures quality, reduces human errors and makes it easier to introduce frequent improvements.  

The term culture” is key to understanding and succeeding with DevOps 

In order to understand DevOps and to make a success of it in practice, we need to talk about cultural change. Old walls between specialist teams need to be broken down, and instead we need to build a strong, common culture that puts customer needs front and centre, and sees us communicate transparently and feel jointly responsible for what we develop for as long as it is in operation. 

With DevOps, this last brick falls into place in agile, interdisciplinary development teams. The buzz is thus justified – not least because DevOps is a fun way of working!