If you haven’t heard of the term DevOps before, you’re probably preparing to stop reading right now. But you shouldn’t! While the term does originate from IT management philosophy, the lessons we can take from its methodologies range far beyond this.

[easy-tweet tweet=”If you have an understanding of ‘lean software delivery’ then you’ll have an idea of what #DevOps is all about”]

Gartner is predicting that 25% of Global 2000 organisations will be leveraging DevOps within their organisations in 2016. Given this trend, it’s important that people understand what DevOps is, why it’s important, and what it can do for your organisation.

What’s DevOps all about?

If you have an understanding of ‘lean software delivery’ then you’ll have an idea of what DevOps is all about. And if you don’t, fear not. Lean software delivery derives from lean manufacturing methodologies, and the basic premise is not that difficult to understand: by only producing what is needed at the time it is needed, you minimise waste, reduce overheads and therefore boost your profits and also make it easier to make decisions quickly because there’s less administration weighing you down.

The solution that manufacturing companies came up with in the 20th century translated very well to software companies, and currently a majority of software companies have integrated these lean software development processes into their way of working.

currently a majority of software companies have integrated lean software development processes into their way of working

All sorts of companies are describing themselves as software companies nowadays, and this is at the core of why Gartner is predicting an uptick in the use of DevOps in businesses. Companies such as Target and Lego have already made significant strides in implementing DevOps to improve internal company process, and when such household names begin doing something new with successful results, the rest of the corporate world pays attention.

So how does DevOps actually work?

There is one problem that almost every large organisation will experience at some point in its development, and that is one of silos – meaning teams within a company that do not communicate with each other. Unsurprisingly, silos make work more difficult due to lack of coordination across teams, which ultimately leads to conflict and duplication of work.

It was in seeking to overcome the problem of siloing that DevOps first appeared: in a software organisation two teams that commonly have to work very closely together are Development and Operations, hence the portmanteau DevOps.

What began as a methodology for ensuring Development and Operations work efficiently together has now outgrown its original purpose, as many DevOps specialists will excitedly tell you. When you think about it this shouldn’t be surprising: any organisation can experience siloing problems, not just ones that have large and well-established Development and Operations teams. What’s emerging is the realisation that DevOps is fundamentally about streamlining delivery mechanisms, with different groups properly communicating and avoiding unnecessary bottlenecks.

DevOps seeks to describe working procedures that ensures a rapid delivery, cultural harmony and technological fit within organisations: it’s clear that this is an awfully big job, and this is one of the primary reasons why the field is full of such hype, misconceptions and poor understanding.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The realisation that #DevOps is fundamentally about streamlining delivery mechanisms” user=”comparethecloud”]

What’s waiting in 2016 for DevOps?

Many firms right now are choosing to abandon the name DevOps in favour of terms like “rapid release” – for them the name is too weighed down with misunderstanding for the reasons I’ve outlined above. They believe that DevOps should no longer be a job description of a dedicated team, but a way of working that should filter down to everyone within the organisation.

I disagree – this cannot happen by magic. DevOps is a job description, but its true value lies in DevOps specialists’ integration into a unified delivery team that spans the entire deployment spectrum. That’s a vision any quality CEO will get behind.

My prediction for 2016 is that more people will realise DevOps is not a passing buzzword, and that in the coming years agile operations will become just as ubiquitous as agile development is now. In the new year, managers will overcome their fear of the popularity of DevOps and begin to optimise their operations according to the examples set by lean IT management methods.

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Jason DuMars, Director of Technical Operations, SendGrid
Jason DuMars is director of technical operations at SendGrid, the transactional and marketing email provider. Jason is a passionate evangelist for the agile enterprise, DevOps and seamless agile engineering practices. Jason writes and speaks about agile engineering regularly, and is a member of the DevOps Enterprise Culture Working Group.