Dev and ops, a marriage made in heaven?

Open source plays matchmaker for “Devops”

It may not have been love at first sight, but now IT development and operations teams are going beyond just cozying up and are, in fact, marrying their efforts . Open source has played a key role, and has been conspiring with the trends towards cloud computing and agile development to bring these cute kids together.

Industry analysts at the 451 group have coined the name "devops" to describe the marriage of these two functions. They clearly view this as the future of enterprise IT groups, and they are seeing organizations moving that way already. One early indicator has been cross-fertilization of personnel-sys admins doing development and developers focusing on deployment issues. Another indicative trend has been the partnering and merging of vendors serving the previously disparate markets-VMWare buying Springsource (for a handsome dowry) is one example. A more recent one is Collabnet and rPath uniting to "close the gap between development and operations." Puppet Labs, perhaps farthest along in this kind of thinking, describes their target customer as the Devops group.

I was talking to Jay "Cupid" Lyman who's leading the 451 group effort to understand the reasons behind phenomenon. He cites cloud computing and agile development as driving the need and open source as the catalyst for devops.

Cloud computing is all about getting applications quickly deployed and flexibly. At least with the current maturity of the technology, only applications designed with Cloud in mind can fully leverage the elasticity and flexibility. SaaS is a special case which even more blurs the devops line. The service is the product. SLAs are a feature and one that requires proper software and proper operation of the software to deliver on its promise.

Agile development has also driven the merger of development and operations. The quick-turn nature of agile, means many, more frequent handoffs of applications to be deployed. Old style deployment processes wouldn't get a version deployed before it was obsoleted by the next sprint. Most agile organizations have absorbed QA groups into development for this reason and that's one step closer to devops.

In his report on devops, Lyman talks about open source as a catalyst for this change and as a facilitator. But when I spoke with Jay, he really emphasized the way in which open source has paved the cultural path to devops. This new model requires transparency, communication and collaboration, and organizations that have adopted open source are simply inclined that way. The advent of scripting style languages has provided a common ground for developers and Linux system administrators. He also talks about the way that open source has emerged as a grass roots effort, subtly infiltrating organizations well ahead of management catching up. Similarly, many developers and operations staff are naturally crossing to the other side before adopting the name of devops.

Even if you are not wed to the idea yet, one of these days you may find yourself part of this big happy family.

Ode to Devops
Is this just a fling?
Or the start of a beautiful thing?
Will Dev and Ops be joined by an open source ring?
And from it new IT possibilities spring?

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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