A Brief Intro to “DevOps”
Once you’ve encountered (yet another) cause to become conversant in the language of software, and particularly “agile” development, soon enough you’ll bump into this companion term: “DevOps.”
“DevOps” is an industrial sniglet — a pairing of “Development,” as in product development, and “Operations,” as in keeping the whole operation up and running, at all times.
People who work in product development get rewarded when existing products are improved, and when new products get to market swiftly.
People who work in operations get rewarded when everything just keeps working.
No wonder: Prior to “DevOps,” product development people viewed operations people as barriers to progress, and operations people viewed development people as pesky rogues, always armed with a swell new way to brick the network.
“DevOps” is part cultural spasm, part management renaissance. It’s a movement, usually growing out of an earlier decision to “go agile.” The point of it is to make sure the people who are building the machine, actually use the machine — and to give the people who maintain the machine a say in how it’s designed. Continuously.
When people explain DevOps, they say “over the wall” a lot. A product spec gets tossed “over the wall” to operations, which vets it for deployability, then throws it back over the wall to its developers, to fix this or that.
DevOps removes the wall. It does so by building intangibles into product design: Is it deployable? Does it scale? Can operations do it? It’s all about empowering people to get things done, by removing what can be layers of processes — permissions, approvals, and “adminis-trivia.”
Companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable already began shifting to a DevOps model, tearing apart and re-assembling leads in both categories to (literally) work together.
And because DevOps works in tandem with “agile” software development, it follows that in cable conversations, the RDK (Reference Design Kit) is usually somewhere nearby.
RDK, now a company and a thing, aims to make it faster and easier for cable providers to launch the kinds of IP-based, in-home hardware that, in turn, makes it faster and easier to launch new, cloud-based services. It’s what’s inside of Comcast’s X1 platform.
Ultimately, DevOps recognizes that the opposing forces of change and stability are both vital to a company’s success. Its reach is wide, and it’s probably headed your way. Best get limbered up.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.