DevOps Blog

A Brief History of DevOps

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5 minute read
Stephen Watts

The current state of the IT industry is influenced by the cascading effect that technological advancements have had throughout history. New pieces of technology arise from time to time that drastically change the way the world functions. More recently, technological advancements seem to have begun to appear at a blistering pace. Ever since the advent of the internet, the spread of information and the rate of development of new technologies has only increased.

Cloud computing heralded another shift in technology that continues to impact the way businesses operate as new applications for the tech are discovered. Blockchain is yet another example of new technology that has immense potential to upset the way many industries conduct their business from banking to real estate and even the video game industry. While new technologies impact the software industry, so too can cultural shifts.

DevOps is a combination of changing corporate culture as well as new technologies. The shift to DevOps involves embracing open communication, transparency, and cross-discipline teamwork. The idea behind DevOps is breaking down silos and opening up workspaces for collaboration and discussion. In the pursuit of understanding what something is, it’s often helpful to know where it came from and why it rose to prominence.

There’s a lot of information out there concerning what DevOps is and isn’t, but not a ton concerning the history of DevOps. Here is a brief history of how DevOps came to be the buzzworthy idea it is today and why knowing its roots is an important step in understanding what it is.

(This article is part of our DevOps Guide. Use the right-hand menu to navigate.)

How DevOps Came To Be

If DevOps had a birth certificate, the father’s name would be penned in as Patrick Debois. Patrick was interested in learning IT from every perspective, and in 2007, he began working on a large data center migration where he was in charge of testing. During this project, he realized that the frustrations experienced in projects such as these are from the constant switching back and forth between the development side of the problem and the silo of operations on the other side of the fence. He recognized that a lot of time and effort was wasted navigating the project between these two worlds, but the divide between them seemed too wide to bridge.

Later, in 2008 during an Agile conference held in Toronto, Canada, a man by the name of Andrew Shafer tried to put together a meetup session entitled “Agile Infrastructure.” When Patrick showed up for the session, he was the only one there. Andrew had received so much negative feedback from his posting that not even he showed up to his own session. However, Patrick was so excited to learn of a like-minded person that he hunted him down at the conference and had that talk in the hallway. They formed a discussion group for other people to post their ideas for how to solve this divide between development and operations later that year.

Initially, the interest was pretty tame and not a whole lot came of it. In June of 2009, John Allspaw and Paul Hammond gave a talk entitled “10+ Deploys a Day: Dev and Ops Cooperation at Flickr.” Our friend Patrick happened to watch the streaming video of that presentation at his home in Belgium, and it instantly resonated with him. He realized this was exactly the solution for which he had been looking. Emboldened by this presentation, he put out a call to have a gathering of developers and system administrators to get together and discuss the best ways to start bridging the gap between the two disparate fields.

He named the event DevOpsDays, occurring in the last days of October in 2009. This event garnered a fair amount of attention from experts in both fields and sparked lively debates over Twitter where the hashtag was soon shortened to simply DevOps. It wasn’t long before some of the smaller tech enterprises were attempting to put together DevOps practices as well as tools built to aid these newly forming teams. DevOps had managed to achieve a grassroots following that was starting to put their ideas to use.

Finally, in March of 2011, Cameron Haight of Gartner presented his predictions for the trajectory of DevOps over the next few years. His positive outlook on its impact on the industry lead to more attention for the DevOps movement, and it wasn’t long before enterprises of all sizes were beginning to adopt these new practices. DevOps had officially caught on as the next big thing since Agile for the IT industry.

Why the History of DevOps Matters

Right about now you might be thinking that you’ve just found yourself a new cocktail story, but the history of how DevOps evolved is important for understanding what DevOps is and why it’s important. DevOps was born from the collaboration of developers and operations leaders getting together to express their ideas and concerns about the industry and how to best get work accomplished. It’s an idea that stemmed from the kinds of people it’s intended to help. The power of DevOps is in the culture that supports it, shifting the mentality away from silos.

Transforming your organization into a DevOps culture isn’t as simple as buying some new enterprise software systems (though there are many that can aid the process). DevOps isn’t a singular product as it evolved from the need for adaptation and continuous improvement. This means that the DevOps transition process is never truly finished as the system itself should be in a constant state of evolution and improvement. DevOps teams are comprised of cross-disciplined team members that are all working towards the singular goal of working better together.

DevOps empowers teams to build, test, and deploy at faster speeds and with a higher standard of quality, thanks not to the tools themselves but to the collaboration the tools enable. Leveraging a technology stack for DevOps without properly adjusting corporate culture and mentality will only get you so far. The power of DevOps is in the communication and shared goals between each member of the team.

DevOps: Solutions for You

If DevOps sounds like a good fit for your organization’s needs but you want to make sure you get it right the first time, BMC is the IT solution partner you need. Read more about how automation and DevOps systems can help increase the rate at which you deploy products with BMC’s free eBook: Automate Cloud and DevOps Initiatives. You can also check out John Allspaw’s slideshow for the 10+ Deploys a Day presentation he gave that went into detail about the differences between Dev and Ops and why they should work together.

BMC expert consultants are available to work with you to bring their knowledge and expertise to your organization. BMC provides custom-tailored Deployment Services for your organization to tackle the unique challenges you face. When partnering with BMC, you get:

  • Faster service delivery: Agile releases that keep up with rapid demand
  • Visibility across data: Ensure compliance and data accuracy
  • Cost-effective service: Increased productivity and performance
  • Experienced DevOps professionals: Equip you with the tools you need for success
  • Conversion or upgrade: Seamless modernization or total replacement
  • All tailored for the specific needs of your organization

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Stephen Watts

Stephen Watts (Birmingham, AL) contributes to a variety of publications including, Search Engine Journal, ITSM.Tools, IT Chronicles, DZone, and CompTIA.