What's new in DevOps? Anything?

Posted by Greg Pollock


There's no doubt that in 2015 DevOps is real, and strong, and it is your friend. If you aren't investing in DevOps now, you should be. Ask anyone, or just be quiet while they yell at you, and you'll hear that you need DevOps.

We can get behind that to a certain extent. We love the principles of DevOps, we take it seriously in our own development practices at UpGuard, and we design our software to be equally usable by Devs and Ops to solve their shared problems. We've been listening and contributing to the DevOps conversation for a few years. Here's the problem: almost nothing has changed in that time.

There are now more people talking about DevOps. They're talking louder. Websites with larger viewerships will now put DevOps in a headline because it has become good for SEO. But amplitude is not the same thing as information. A cat meme shared a million times doesn't have any more information than if it was thrown straight in the trash, and it will certainly never have as much information as, for example, a page of documentation that gets 12 views a year but has exactly the answer you need.

In part this is our own fault. We want to provide useful, up to date information about the state of the art in DevOps. To do that we've used Google alerts as an automated solution for keeping tabs on what's new in DevOps. And after reading hundreds of articles, the answer is clear: not much. We probably should not have read so many articles about DevOps this year.

Lack of change is not necessarily bad. The pattern of scientific revolutions is a big paradigm shift followed by decades of basic research into the consequences. You just split the atom? Holy #*$&! Now, uh, what can we do with that?

Visible Ops and DevOps were a huge leap forward in infrastructure and release management. But since the basic tenets of DevOps were laid down, have they really evolved that much? No, DevOps is still pretty much the same idea. What we need is applied research into how it works in the many specific development environments where each of us is trying to develop and release. I get the theory–the idea that collaboration and automation are good is not that hard to grok. What I want to know is how does it apply when I'm working on mobile? At an enterprise? At a startup? On a legacy app? On a game? When part of my team is remote? When I work in embedded systems? When I'm making internal tools? And so on. Now that I know about atomic physics I want to know the difference between X-rays, power plants, and nuclear bombs.

Whether its the DevOps Enterprise Summit or a DevOpsDays, this is what DevOps events always come down to: people want to hear what's working for others who face the same challenges so they can learn from them. Whether the outcome is success or failure, when we experiment empirically we create knowledge. When we repeat the same tenets of an abstract theory we aren't creating anything. Depending on how you look at it, that's evangelism or advertising. It's great to see DevOps getting more attention but if that attention only goes to a stagnating theory then it won't be for much. Hopefully 2015 will be the year that DevOps becomes more of a science and less of a buzzword. For our part, we will be focusing our content in 2015 on the practical application of DevOps, rather than the theory behind it. If you have a story you'd like to tell (or read), please drop us a line.

Topics: operations, DevOps Basics

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