DevOps: The song remains the same

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How Cloud is bringing better integration of Application Development and IT Operations

“California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain
Honolulu starbright – the song remains the same.”

The story goes that Led Zeppelin wrote those lyrics after a world tour, in which no matter where they went, music was a constant.  One of the constants in IT is the desire to have a “seamless” flow of software from Development to Test to Delivery.   Throughout the era of computing, no matter which generation you look at (like mainframe, client/server and web) you will find initiatives to achieve this harmony and ultimately reduce the myriad of problems that occur when code is handed off from one part of the application lifecycle to the next.  Problems like mismatched releases of middleware, fix packs/patches that were missing, capacity requirements and bandwidth requirements are just a few examples.

I remember flying up to Redmond, Washington in 2005 to talk to Microsoft about their System Definition Model (SDM) initiative.  They were looking to help drive a standard language for how to communicate the requirements of an application from Development to Operations.  Many meetings and discussions later, we announced (along with others) the Service Modeling Language (SML) standard.  Unfortunately, it takes more than just a standards initiative to bring about change – it requires technical implementations and infrastructure.

The term “DevOps” represents the concept of a seamless, continuous integration of development, test and deployment.  Unlike SML, it started with implementations based on tools, information sharing and best practices.  Similar to Linux, DevOps has become a successful initiative in the IT world because of its grassroots, organic-growth approach.  It applies proven techniques, such as Agile Development to a model of continuous integration and testing.  But most importantly, DevOps leverages the cloud.

Cloud is a key component of DevOps.  It provides a delivery model, which both enforces standardization and appeals to developers and delivery teams alike. In the past, a recurring problem in IT delivery has been getting the development teams and operations teams to agree on the same infrastructure.  Developers want to take advantage of the latest features/functions in new releases of middleware, Operations wants to lock and load on a proven, stable base.  Cloud provides a meet-in-the-middle alternative – it provides a standardized platform on which to develop and allows for more rapid integration of the latest technology.

At IBM, we look at DevOps as a key initiative across our portfolio.  Our development tools and operations management products are focused on a seamless integration and a continuous delivery model.  Standards are an important part of making DevOps work, which is why IBM is a key proponent of standards like Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) to allow for heterogeneous tools and technologies to integrate seamlessly.  Finally, our SmartCloud solutions provide an excellent infrastructure for integrating your development, test and operations teams and processes.

DevOps represents a movement that is here to stay.  Five years from now, what we now call “DevOps” we will just call “normal.”  Seamless, continuous integration of code and rapid delivery of new functions will be part of the regular development paradigm.  No matter how you look at it, you’ve got to have a “Whole Lotta Love” for DevOps!

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