Which came first, the DevOps or the agility?

Everyone’s familiar with the conundrum of “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” DevOps has its own variation on that theme: [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]”Which came first, the DevOps or the agility?”[/inlinetweet]

In other words, do organizations that are more agile, and function more efficiently also more likely to exhibit a DevOps culture and use DevOps tools, or does embracing DevOps result in greater agility and efficiency? Can we even objectively separate one from the other to accurately determine which is which?

I wrote a blog post about the difference between being agile because of DevOps and embracing DevOps because your agile:

DevOps is a hot topic. Hell, I’m writing this on a site dedicated specifically to DevOps and you’re reading it, so it seems safe to assume we agree on the general premise that DevOps is an important trend for both business and IT. I question however, giving all of the credit for cost cutting, or for more agile and effective organizations to DevOps.

A recent survey commissioned by ca technologies titled DevOps: The Worst-Kept Secret to Winning in the Application Economy makes the claim that 88 percent of IT professionals surveyed have already implemented DevOps or plan to within the next five years. It also notes that companies that have already adopted DevOps have experienced 14 to 21 percent improvement in quality and performance of applications and/or faster time-to-market. Clearly DevOps is virtually ubiquitous, and companies that embrace DevOps are all but guaranteed to be more effective and efficient.

Well, no. Not really. I’m a huge fan of DevOps, and I think there is a very good chance that organizations that adopt DevOps are likely to experience tangible, measurable benefits. However, one does not necessarily lead directly to the other and, in fact, it may be the other way around. Perhaps organizations that are doing the right things to yield improvements that result in more efficient and effective operations are also the organizations that are likely to embrace DevOps. I call this “Does DevOps drive agility, or does agility result in DevOps?”

For starters, we still can’t even narrow down a concise explanation or definition of DevOps we can all agree on. So when we say that an organization’s success is the result of DevOps, what do we mean? Is it because the company broke down barriers between teams and enabled workers to collaborate together more efficiently? Is it because the company moved its infrastructure to the cloud and automated deployment of virtual servers and applications? Or is it because the company embraced specific tools or platforms like chef, or docker?

There is an argument to be made that much of what comprises the strategic side of DevOps is just a naturaly, cyclical occurrence in business. There’s always some new management philosophy or business model du jour with a catchy buzzword, and right now it’s DevOps. Part of the reason that DevOps remains such an ethereal concept is that most of the organizations employing DevOps don’t realize they’re using DevOps, and they don’t call it that. Those organizations are just responding to the realities of competing today in the best way they can. That effort seems to lead invariably to embracing philosophies and strategies that have been collectively dubbed part of the DevOps culture.

You can read the complete post at DevOps.com: Does DevOps drive agility, or does agility result in DevOps?

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