Two application development and deployment trends are cloud game-changers: agile methodologies and devops. The vast majority of agile adopters report an improved ability to manage changing priorities; unsurprisingly, they are also ramping up the number of agile implementations in their organizations.
Agile is important because it leads to the rise of devops, which provides more focus on continuous development, integration, and deployment. The business case for continuous everything (integration, deployment, testing, and development) is easy to make, given the benefits it can bring -- although these benefits vary from organization to organization.
Continuous everything is a part of the devops process, where devops is the fusing of software development (dev) with IT operations (ops). The core notion is to release high-quality code and binaries that perform well and are of good quality, and to do so much more rapidly than traditional approaches to development, testing, and deployment would allow.
Many people attribute the rise of devops directly to the growth of cloud computing. The connection: It’s easy to continuously update cloud applications and infrastructure. For example, a SaaS application typically requires 1,000 lines or more of changed or added code each time you use it. Its functionality is continuously updated, which makes the cloud-delivered application, platform, or infrastructure more valuable to the users. Gone are the days when you received CDs or DVDs in the mail and had to manually update the servers.
Although the cloud is certainly a better place for devops, I don’t believe that devops should be used only in cloud deployments. Instead, you should use devops approaches and enabling tools such as Puppet or Chef in most of the development you do these days -- both cloud and on-premises.
Of course, enterprises still use laboriously manual processes for design, development, testing, and deployment of new and incremental software releases. Why? They typically say they don't practice devops because they have not yet moved to the cloud. That’s no longer a valid excuse.