Asking the Experts: Has the Definition of DevOps Changed?

October 4, 2018 CollabNet Team

DevOps is really a matter of perspective, right? The idea originated with a need for two siloed teams to exchange perspective and work together. If dev teams can better understand the objectives and goals of operations team members later down the line, they will be less likely to simply throw code “over the wall,” and will work to bake in operations priorities earlier in the software development lifecycle.

If operations teams understand the work and processes of their development counterparts, operations teams can improve communication and better respect the time and effort of devs. It’s a win-win because the result has proven to be better quality software products, delivered faster.

Everyone defines DevOps slightly different though, as it is a broad methodology touching on a variety of topics and groups of people. We have been reaching out to experts in the field to gather opinions on some of these pressing issues surrounding DevOps as we gear up for the DevOps Enterprise Summit, October 22-24.

This is our third year participating in the conference and we’ve seen a shift in focus and priorities each year. We wanted to ask some industry leaders:

“How would you define DevOps today and how has the definition changed in the last few years?”

Here are some of the responses:

“I don’t think the definition has changed much. A lot of details have been filled in. To some degree DevOps has become more about those details (containers, serverless, SRE, observability, etc.) and less about the big picture. And, to some degree the cultural aspects of DevOps have taken a back seat to a focus on fast linear delivery. This pendulum will need to swing back at some point.”

—Jeff Sussna, founder and CEO of Sussna Associates and author of “Designing Delivery”

“Today’s definition of DevOps comes right out the DevOps Handbook, authored by DevOps luminaries Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick DuBois and John Willis: ‘DevOps is the outcome of applying the most trusted principles from manufacturing & leadership to the IT value stream’. My preference is to extend that definition to include upstream business activities done by Product Management and/or product owners. IT needs their help to get non-functional requirements (such as fixing technical debt) approved and prioritized.”

—Dominica DeGrandis, author of “Making Work Visible”

“The DevOps definition has evolved over the years to encompass all aspects of the software delivery pipeline. The basic idea has always been breaking down silos and fostering teamwork and priority sharing between stakeholders all up and down the value stream. All of these efforts are to the benefit of the business because the result is efficiency, improved quality and faster delivery speeds. Each year the industry has focused on a different area of DevOps — at first empathy, next tools and delivery and now there is a lot of buzz around business value and customer satisfaction. This year at the DevOps Enterprise Summit, we expect to hear many conversations around measuring value and improving business intelligence for DevOps.”

—Eric Robertson, VP of Product Marketing Management at CollabNet VersionOne

“I heard a DevOps definition the other day that I really like: ‘Building better solutions faster.’ I think that kind of broad definition is good as it avoids all the trendy things that have changed over time. Initially the focus was heavy on automation, then culture became a focus and now we have different flavors of DevOps that all highlight a slightly different focus such as, DevSecOps or BizDevOps. I personally see them all as related and the short ‘Building Better Solutions Faster’ works for me, while the other focus lenses can be used with specific organizations to solve their problems and highlight weaknesses or blind spots.”

—Mirco Hering, principal director – APAC DevOps and Agile at Accenture

Sounds like everyone agrees, the definitions may vary, but the results achieved, as Dominica mentions in referencing the definition from “The DevOps Handbook,”—the result of applying the Lean principals taken from manufacturing — boil down to a more efficient and effective value stream.

Come join us in Las Vegas at this year’s DevOps Enterprise Summit, October 22-24 to talk to some of these leaders firsthand and discuss how DevOps applies to your organization and what makes it worthwhile for achieving your goals.

To learn more about how CollabNet can help you optimize DevOps performance, please visit: https://www.collab.net/products/continuum.

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