From chaos to collaboration: A history of DevOps

From chaos to collaboration: A history of DevOps

It’s 2007, and something is seriously amiss in the world of software development.

Those who wrote code were separated from those who deployed and supported it. Developers and IT ops professionals were blaming each other. The warring sides had separate and sometimes competing objectives. The result? Teams that were only concerned with their own performance rather than the success of the project. Bug-riddled releases, long hours, and angry customers. A complete lack of cohesion was leading toward what some saw as catastrophic levels of dysfunction. Something had to change…

What came next was a movement toward something we call ‘DevOps.’ This began as forums and meet-ups circa 2007 and grew over the next 10 years into what we know today. Here’s how the story goes…

History of DevOps: Three men, two conferences, and one legendary presentation

In 2007, Belgian project manager Patrick Debois began an assignment with the Belgian government to help them with their data center migrations. His job involved hopping between the development teams and the operations teams, which got tiring, fast. Debois realized there was a big gulf between the two teams, creating a lack of cohesion. This led to finger-pointing and blame going on on both sides. Thus, he planted the first seeds.

When the 2008 Toronto Agile Conference rolled around, a man named Andrew Schafer offered to moderate a talk on Agile infrastructure. Unfortunately, the event was a flop. Only one person showed up — but there was a silver lining. That one person was none other than Patrick Debois.

Andrew and Patrick got chatting and started sharing ideas. The limitations of Agile concerned them, and they wanted to develop something better.

Later that year, the two teamed up to form an Agile systems administrator group on Google. To say it was a success would be an exaggeration, but it was a small step forward.

Then, in 2009, two Flickr employees gave a presentation titled: 10+ Deploys per Day: Dev and Ops Cooperation at Flickr. It became massively popular and is now viewed as the key moment DevOps entered the tech crowd consensus.

Debois couldn’t attend in person, but he watched it via video stream, and it inspired him. He formed his own conference called Devopsdays. DevOps as a concept was gathering momentum.

DevOps goes Transatlantic

Devopsdays was really attracting attention. In 2010, the group held its first conference in Mountain View, California. By 2018, the group had 30 events for a single year. DevOps is part of the public consensus and is now used by the biggest companies around, including Amazon, Netflix, Adobe, and others.

What does DevOps mean today?

Development + Operation = DevOps

Many software teams struggle to deployed code without hassle. Well, that’s where DevOps comes in.

DevOps is a term that defines the collaboration between those who create software (developers) and those who maintain it (development engineers). But DevOps is about more than just collaboration. It’s also about making processes more efficient and effective. In practice, this includes using lean and agile processes to standardize work and automate procedures, with the overall goal of improving the flow of work from beginning to end.

DevOps encompasses every phase of the product life cycle, from planning to release and iteration. Here are some of the key principles and roles it unites:

Agile

Agile helps teams break work down into smaller tasks, with milestones marking the way toward the finish line. It involves sprints, stories, epics, and backlogs.

Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD)

Continuous delivery and integration rely on automating the deployment and testing of code — a previously time-consuming manual exercise that often resulted in mistakes due to human error. Delays were common while people removed bugs from long stretches of code. This process was the first time the code would be checked. With CI and CD, code is checked continually, so when a problem is spotted, the developer can get to work on that small section and fix it relatively quickly, without holding the rest of the project up.

IT Service Management (ITSM)

IT teams manage the end-to-end delivery of services to customers, including designing, delivery, and IT support. ITSM is founded on the belief that IT is a service that goes beyond simple support. It involves everything from hardware to software and business-critical applications.

Where is DevOps headed? 2021 and beyond

The history of DevOps has been revolutionary. Andrew and Patrick’s idea gradually spread until it grew into a cultural movement; a blend of Agile and Lean thinking, with the success of the product at the heart of it. DevOps unites teams to ensure developers can now take part in deployment, QA professionals know how to understand issues beyond testing, processes can be automated, and communication flows between every individual involved.

More and more teams are using DevOps practices to guide their projects today. But, while it’s gaining popularity due to its high success rate, organizations still struggle to adhere to its rules. For that to happen, the whole organization needs to buy into the idea of continuous feedback, interaction, and deployment. It’s a slow journey, but one that’s happening bit by bit as the concept continues to gather momentum.

Final thoughts

For teams to get the most out of DevOps principles, communication and collaboration should be the foundation on which you build every process. Getting everyone on board — from interns to stakeholders — is key, as is investing in tools to help each person work efficiently.

If your product involves multiple teams, then project management software is a must. It’ll speed up communications and foster greater levels of collaboration between teams. Developers and IT operations teams can log in and view their work, pull tasks through, and see automatic notifications in real-time, all from one shared place. Meanwhile, managers can see progress reports that give a bird’s eye view into team performance — making it easier for them to keep the project on track.

If you’re on the lookout for software that does all that and more, Backlog integrates fully with Git and SVN, giving your team the ability to set up private repositories, propose and compare code changes, and leave in-line comments — resulting in a smoother, more collaborative project.

Want to learn more? Make sure to check out our DevOps Guide.

Georgina Guthrie Georgina is a displaced Brit currently working in France as a freelance copywriter. Before moving to sunnier climates, she worked as a B2B agency writer in Bristol, England, which is also where she was born. In her spare time, she enjoys old films and cooking (badly).