DevOps – its not Culture, and its not a Movement

What is DevOps? If I had one scenario to pick for which to use the phrase “everyone has a different definition of X”, it would be to define DevOps. In my entire career in business and technology I have come across similar confusion only twice – the first time was with the definition of “cloud“, and the second is with the definition of “omnichannel“.

So what is DevOps? If you look up with definition of DevOps on Google you get this – “DevOps (a clipped compound of development and operations) is a culture, movement, or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other IT professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.” Ok – now even I am slightly confused? So DevOps is a movement?

Well to me a movement looks something like this:


or at least like this..


& not like this…

Credit: New Relicdev-ops

Well, what if its more of a culture? Hmmn, again, when I think culture, I think something like this:

Credit: Listversesamural

or this…

Credit: mausspacebeatles


& less this…

Credit: Sakthi Vadivelu

DevOps Culture.png

What about practice? Now are we on to something. “Meditation” is a practice, “martial arts” is a practice. Generally a practice is associated to something that you a) do consistently, and b) that enhances your well being in some way. Well to do DevOps right – a) you have do it consistently, and b) if you do DevOps right, it will enhance the well being of most development and IT organizations. So yes, DevOps is a practice, and like with most practices, it involves a “philosophy”, a “methodology”, and a “toolkit”, however unlike say “meditation”, “DevOps” is a team practice. What this means is that in addition to a philosophy, methodology, and toolkit, DevOps requires an “operating model” in which a team or a set of teams can effectively operate. Additionally, like with any other practice, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

So with this as a foundation, how would I define DevOps? I would say “DevOps is a practice with an associated philosophy, methodology, toolkit, and operating model, that enables the rapid deployment of software“. I have used some words very deliberately here, in particular the words “rapid”, “deployment”, and “software”.

Rapid vs. continuous: Continuous deployment or continuous delivery implies a level of instantaneousness that while it might be an ideal final state, is probably not a realistic near or even medium term state for most IT organizations adopting DevOps. Rapid is fast, but its not continuous, and its certainly not instantaneous.

Deployment vs. Delivery: Software can be delivered as quickly as it has been developed and tested, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that the software has been put into use. In the IT world, for software to be used, it has to be deployed.

Software vs. Infrastructure Changes: Infrastructure changes might or might not be software changes or software-driven changes. For the purposes of this definition I have excluded infrastructure changes that are purely hardware changes.

Additionally, note that I haven’t used the words “to minimize risk” or to “reduce time to market” in my definition of DevOps. The reason is simple, its because in my mind those are value statements of DevOps, and hence imply why we should care about DevOps, but do not constitute the definition of DevOps.

Hope this helps!

DevOps – its not Culture, and its not a Movement

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