DevOps: What businesses need to know

The term ‘DevOps’ is being thrown around a lot in the IT industry at the moment, but what exactly does it mean and, more importantly, how can it help your enterprise?

As a combination of ‘developer’ and ‘operations,’ DevOps looks to bring these two different areas of digital business together to provide the perfect combination of innovation and user-focused processes during software development. Continuous deployment and continuous delivery are both important aspects of this and, when adopting DevOps, it is vitally important that businesses assess which one is right for them. It also looks towards the automation of delivering changes to infrastructure and software.

Althoug it's a relatively new concept, DevOps has its roost in the Enterprise Software Management  movement of the early 2000s. The term first appeared in 2009 and since then its adoption has been rapid.

DevOps has risen to prominence due to the increasing need for businesses to be fast and agile in an industry of rapid change, where young disruptors are making life difficult for the established pack. Here, we uncover everything businesses need to know about DevOps and how it can help them succeed in the modern IT industry.

The current state of DevOps

DevOps is fast becoming a key component of digital business and, as a result, the relevant skills are in high demand. IT automation software provider Puppet Labs recently released a US report which showed that DevOps engineers command noticeably higher salaries than other practitioner job titles, with 55 per cent earning $100,000 a year or more.

Gartner has predicted that DevOps will fast evolve from a niche to a mainstream activity and will be employed by 25 per cent of Global 2000 organisations by 2016. Two major technology trends – Internet of Things and cloud computing – are helping to drive this evolution.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to experience exponential growth over the next few years, with the number of connected devices and the amount of data collected booming as a result. To cope with this, DevOps teams will have to be prepared to deal with the wide variety of devices on the market and ensure the compatibility of hardware with existing systems.

In terms of cloud, the growth of DevOps has been facilitated by the level of collaboration that cloud computing enables. The sharing of data means that teams can manage applications more effectively and, as both cloud and DevOps view function and operation together, the mutually reinforcing approaches have benefitted both parties.

However, a recent study carried out by Delphix and Gleanster Research showed that the database could be a major obstacle blocking DevOps success, with the biggest challenge reported by respondents being limited testing environments due to data issues.

Benefits to business

In simple terms, the main benefit that DevOps can bring to businesses is strengthened communication, collaboration, integration and automation, with speed, quality, control and cost being four crucial elements. Focusing on speed specifically, DevOps speeds up deployment by encouraging automation whenever possible. Although, it must be noted that automation itself can become problematic if not implemented correctly.

In the wider world of technology, security is now more of a mainstream issue than ever before and DevOps again has a role to play. Thanks to the conveyor belt of data breaches that have come to light in recent months, it is now clear that a new attitude to security is needed and applying a DevOps approach is one way to promote a security aware culture within a company.

Finally, DevOps can minimise downtime by reducing the time it takes to fix application issues and it has transformed software architecture, enabling updates to be integrated seamlessly and rapidly and providing architects with a greater awareness of key operational issues.

Because its relatively new there's no real rule book for implementing DevOps, there is, however, an increasing body of advice available from people who have already implemented it successfully.

Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens