What’s so great about DevOps?

For starters, it’s ‘sturdy’ and can handle sudden modifications

Over the course of the last year there’s been a big push toward adopting DevOps in lieu of other software development methods. The reason for this is actually quite simple; both developers (and the organizations using the software and services created by them) have discovered that too much “backtracking” and/or post-customization is often necessary.  In other words, when a piece of software arrives on the doorstep of IT professionals, additional modifications are often needed because their concerns were not addressed during the design and development stages.

DevOps was created to help bridge the gap between the concerns and requirements of those in the IT sectors with the concepts and design of software developers.  IT is concerned mostly with operations, while the software folks are firmly grounded in development; hence the name, DevOps.

Here’s a simple illustration of how the two areas are interrelated:  In this example an engineering / manufacturing company that specializes in creating train systems for metro areas will represent software developers.  Likewise, the IT crowd will be signified by the city planners, architects, and engineers.  Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there has to be a direct line of communication open between these two groups; after all, can a company tasked with installing an interconnected train system that moves through a city operate without knowing how the city government plans on using it?  Likewise, what about the city governments’ long-term plans for additional construction and development?  The train system developers need to know how the areas around their transportation grid are going to change, don’t they?

In a way, many of today’s software developers are creating products or services for IT departments while having no input from the individuals, groups or businesses that are actually going to be using them.  Not only is this highly inefficient, it’s also wasteful because it will often require additional work or modifications to be made post-development.  Needless to say, this often means that the either the development squad has to reevaluate a project that they have already completed or the IT folks have to do it (and they’re not always the most qualified to do so).

Basically, the bottom line is that DevOps forges a direct link between developers and software users.  This link allows those on the operational end to get more functional, complete, and tailored software, while those focusing on development can address the true concerns of their users and avoid costly mistakes or missing deadlines, etc…  In this way, DevOps is a much “sturdier” approach to software development and implementation than virtually any other approach because it both addresses long-term concerns as well as the actual requirements of the user.  In cases where you’re dealing with very complex or difficult software development projects, DevOps allows you to make critical, spur-of-the-moment changes without jeopardizing the overall stability of the project itself.  Compared with previous approaches to development – DevOps is much like a classically trained musician that knows how to improvise vs. someone who lacks this ability and can only perform what’s been previously practiced.  One is able to instantly adjust their performance strategy to suit the needs of the audience in near-real time and the other has to rely on hindsight to figure out what went wrong.  Of course this isn’t a perfect example, but clearly, DevOps is infinitely more nimble and responsive than other approaches to software development for IT systems by virtue of the fact that the considerations of users are taken into account.

For businesses that rely on the direct actions and services of both software developers and IT professionals, adopting a DevOps strategy is an extremely good idea.  Perhaps one of the easiest ways to begin moving in this direction is to recommend a certain percentage of one’s technical staff seek out certification in DevOps.  The reason for this is simple; reducing risk is an integral part of how modern businesses conduct themselves (especially if they rely on or routinely use advanced IT technologies).  Reducing risk not only allows you to prevent profit loss, it also helps to capitalize on opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed.  Furthermore, increased focus on a DevOps-style strategy to software development means that your IT infrastructure is becoming more application-centric; meaning, the entire system becomes more stable (interdependence) and each application is more complete and functional (independence).

DevOps can help virtually any organization to develop a more robust infrastructure (that’s anything but fragile).  Moreover, by addressing the unique concerns of the IT professionals, more suitable software will ultimately be developed and continuous delivery might become more feasible.  Change is an inevitability, as are problems; one of DevOps strengths is that it allows organizations to pretty much address these concerns directly or in real-time as opposed to side-stepping them and hoping for the best.

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