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What is DevOps?

Simon Ratcliffe

Simon Ratcliffe
Principal Consultant, Advisory

In our previous article, we examined the crisis emerging within traditional IT and examined how DevOps could provide some of the solutions needed to address this crisis. But what exactly is DevOps, and how can adopting its philosophies help IT departments avoid becoming irrelevant?

Defining DevOps

People are often surprised that DevOps was initiated by the operations side of the equation; the original inspiration came from operations’ understanding that significant benefits could be gained from embedding themselves in the development cycle. While there is no single definition, Gartner defines DevOps as “a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach.”

The point is that DevOps is a philosophy that requires a change in culture for most traditional organizations.

Implementing the philosophy

Culture is notoriously difficult to define, but it’s possible to break the concept down into a number of discrete, measurable components.

  1. Engage the business
    • Establish/acquire the relevant IT knowledge and skills
    • Create cross-functional IT processes
    • Create cultural harmony within IT
  2. Create culture and business
    • Clearly defined business strategy and objectives
    • Educate business stakeholders
    • Clear translation of business strategy into IT objectives
  3. Establish infrastructure, tools and ecosystem
    • Build the right infrastructure and tooling
    • Select the right partners, suppliers and support
    • Underpin with security and compliance measures

By establishing measurable components of the overall culture, we’re able to assess an IT organization against these criteria and determine its maturity in regards to DevOps. The maturity of an organization against these criteria is not simply a measure of DevOps but a measure of its readiness to adopt a new operating model that will equip the organization with the tools necessary for the rapidly changing IT agenda.

While it’s necessary for IT functions to realize that this move toward a new operations model will require time and internal alignment, DevOps can have a significant impact on business.

In our next article in the series we look at whether DevOps and ITIL are mutually exclusive.

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