How DevOps can redefine your IT strategy

Is DevOps the flavor of the month or the competitive advantage you’ve been looking for? We ask experts what they think of the trend, where to find talent and how IT workers can break into this emerging field within IT.

businessman datacenter servers

People today expect their software to work wherever they are, whether they are using a mobile device or a desktop PC. As a result, IT must respond to these demands quickly. DevOps aims to do just that by allowing organizations to produce and release more high-quality code better and faster.

What is DevOps?

Is DevOps a culture or a skillset? The answer is it seems is both, some even refer to it as a philosophy. Using both lean and agile methodologies organizations bring IT operations, development teams as well as quality assurance people together throughout the software lifecycle to create a more collaborative process that, in the end, should deliver software and/or services in a faster and more continuous manner. Traditionally, elements of IT have been siloed. DevOps aims to break down those silos to get everyone working towards the same goal.

"What really sets DevOps apart in terms of movement and philosophy can be expressed by the 'infrastructure as code' philosophy. Traditionally, operations has been an ad hoc type of endeavor -- with the capability to track changes and monitor the state of systems being something driven by external processes. DevOps, in general, aims to make those change and state processes more transparent by allowing the traditional concerns of infrastructure, state and security to be shared resources ("code") rather than isolated silos of knowledge. Essentially the idea of DevOps integrates the configuration and deployment of applications as part of the development as opposed to a separate operational step," says Shravan Goli, president of Dice.

DevOps value

A recent report from Puppet Labs highlights the reasons that DevOps is a journey worth making. The study surveyed more than 9,200 respondents from 110 countries, making it one of the larger studies on DevOps and its effect on the way organizations do business. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Traditional Ops are 41 percent more time-consuming overall.
  • Traditional Ops spends 21 percent more time putting out fires.
  • DevOps spends 33 percent more time on infrastructure improvements.
  • The data suggests that organizations using DevOps practices see organizational performance benefits, and that firms actually investing in DevOps see significant gains compared to those who do not.
  • The longer an organization uses DevOps methods the higher their IT departments perform.
  • High performing IT organizations have 50 percent lower change fail rates than medium and low performing IT organizations.

Finding or developing DevOps talent

Finding people with this almost magical skillset is difficult. Unfortunately, there isn't yet a clear career path for talent to follow. "Many DevOps people come up through the infrastructure technology path because of the heavy reliance on scripting and configuration management in DevOps. But then QA analysts well-versed in automation may end up running DevOps as well," says Angela Yochem, Global CIO at BDP International.

So where should you be looking for talent in the DevOps arena? "It [DevOps talent] typically doesn't come from IT; my experience is that engineers, working in IT, are a better fit. If they have manufacturing experience where LEAN has been instantiated for some time, it's even better," says Michael Henry, senior vice president and CIO at Rovi. This market is a competitive one in regards to talent acquisition. "It's been easier to grow my talent internally for two reasons: Competition is fierce, and everyone wants to wear the DevOps tag on their resume," Henry says.

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