A Brief and Incomplete History of DevOps


July 29, 2013 By Jessica Dodson

The use of DevOps methodology and a structured process for integrating security into the development process is becoming more prevalent as large enterprises are seeing the benefits of a strategic alliance between development teams and operations. Instead of throwing the pig over the fence and hoping it turns into bacon by the time it touches the ground in operations, the relationship between the two warring factions is changing.

The status quo (of development) pre-ordains failure from the very beginning.Gene Kim (Application Security and the Role of DevOps)

Before the current evolution of DevOps, there was no direct connection between development and operations. Developers were responsible for building applications and operations had the responsibility of implementing those solutions. There was no formal method of communication between the two teams other than when problems arose during deployment.

Around 2007, a movement started in Europe that was based upon the idea that there needed to be a direct connection between developers and operations, not as a specific position, but as a meld of the two into a connected process flow.

Devop is a 30 something Senior Infrastructure guy with a strong Development background, a lot of Open Source Experience, who is mostly European (.be / .uk) who likes Belgian Beer and Sushi. – Kris Buytaert (DevOps, a European Thing?)

Kris Buytaert was one of the first people in Europe to realize there was a community forming around the idea of DevOps when he was consistently running into the same people at various conferences, people like Stephen Nelson-Smith, Julian Simpson, John Willis, Patrick Deboi and others. They realized there was common thread within their discussions. This culminated in Buytaert and Deboi working together to organize the first European DevOps Days in 2009. The conference in Gent, Belgium had a little less than 70 people, but it was able to act as a catalyst for a conference series that has grown into a global phenomenon with multiple events happening around the world, drawing 100s of people for each event.

As the movement has grown, so has the concept. What in a simplistic way has been thought of as a communication channel between developers and IT, has expanded to include the entire development lifecyle, with the inclusion of automation from the beginning of the process through the deployment of the solution in a system of incremental builds, such as that espoused by the Agile method. This idea has now formed another term, “continuous delivery”, which has taken hold, especially for dynamic applications deployed on the internet.

“I like to describe DevOps as the culmination of three amazing and significant movements; The Agile Infrastructure Thread, The Velocity Thread, and The Lean Startup Thread.” — John Willis, The Convergence of DevOps

This statement by John Willis pretty much sums up the state of the current DevOps movement. It is a community of practitioners using real world experience to help define the transformation of software application development. In his “DevOps State of the Union, 2013” address, Willis talks about the culture of DevOps.

We’ll finish this thought with a quote from Ryan Berg:

“The notion of DevOps is the realization that the development process doesn’t end in development. We can’t disconnect the operations piece of software (development) from those other phases of development. – Ryan Berg (The Case for DevOps)

We are in a major transition period where the application lifecycles and deployments will get shorter and shorter until continuous delivery will not be the outlier but the standard way to do business.