Rethinking application development in light of 'devops'

Is your IT organization prepared to tear down the wall between development and operations?

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Transitioning toward a devops model

Much of the transition required by the devops model involves changes to organizational design and processes, as well as a revised definition of roles. These types of transitions can be lengthy and often face initial resistance. It is for exactly this reason that vendors must offer both an evolutionary and revolutionary option in their cloud and PaaS offerings targeted at enterprises.

An evolutionary approach is required to help IT organizations gain value while they transition to tomorrow's more responsive and productive IT organization. Without this step up, the desire to protect one's sphere of influence in the overall IT process will encourage IT staff to resist change before they can see the benefit of a cloud-enabled devops model.

A revolutionary approach also needs to be delivered in the same cloud-focused tool or product. This choice enables enterprises to shift gears between evolution and revolution in their IT processes without having to acquire separate products and separate skills requirements. More important, this choice allows enterprises to shift between evolution and revolution in their IT processes at their own rate and pace.

EMC VMware's open source-based Cloud Foundry beta and IBM's Workload Deployer are two PaaS offerings that attack the devops opportunity from two ends of the spectrum.

VMware's beta offering appears targeted at enterprises ready for revolution, with a developer in control of the overall development process. It's too early to tell if this is by design or simply didn't make it into the developer-targeted marketing surrounding the beta. Knowing VMware's long history with enterprises, you'd expect the virtualization leader to address the spectrum of stakeholders whose roles are affected by cloud and PaaS in a devops model.

IBM's offering assumes that enterprises want to select between both evolution and revolution in their IT processes on a project-by-project basis. This choice enables IT organizations to secure buy-in from IT employees after proving the benefits of more closely aligned developer and operations functions in a given project.

Preparing for a devops future

As with any major change in processes or role definition, you need to allocate sufficient time for the shift to occur.

Successful transitions will most likely occur if there are proof points, relevant not only to the business but also to developers and operations staff, from a handful of smaller projects. Selecting projects, developers, and operations staff that would be best suited for a new way of doing things would be a good first step.

Additionally, determine the degree to which your IT organization can accept the revolutionary changes to roles and processes as codified by the cloud and PaaS tools under consideration. Select your cloud and PaaS tools based on your organization's unique needs.

Whatever you do, starting to think about devops models sooner rather than later is the right approach for building tomorrow's IT department.

Follow me on Twitter at SavioRodrigues. I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

This article, "Rethinking application development in light of 'devops'," was originally published at Read more of Savio Rodrigues' Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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