This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Guide to building a better IT team structure

DevOps is the blending of tasks performed by a company's application development and systems operations teams.

The term DevOps is being used in several ways. In its most broad meaning, DevOps is a philosophy or cultural approach that promotes better communication between the two teams as more elements of operations become programmable. In its most narrow interpretation, DevOp is a job description for an employee who possesses the skills to work as a both a developer and a systems engineer. In some industries, the term is also being used to describe a moderator between the two groups who functions as a type of scrum master to help developers and operations teams keep application lifecycle management (ALM) top-of-mind. 

The necessity for tearing down the silos between development and operations has been expedited by cloud computing and the software-defined networking (SDN) movement. Traditionally in the enterprise, the application development team is in charge of gathering business requirements for a software program and writing code. The development team tests their program in an isolated development environment for quality assurance (QA) and -- if requirements are met -- releases the code to operations for use. The operations team deploys the program and maintains it from that point on. The problem with this paradigm is that when the two teams work separately, the development team may not be aware of operational roadblocks that prevent the program from working as anticipated.

The DevOps approach seeks to meld application development and deployment into a more streamlined exercise. The DevOps toolkit includes configuration management tools like Puppet and Chef, a repository like GitHub for storing versions of code, indexing tools like Splunk, tools for monitoring how changes to code affect the environment like Nagios and scripting languages like Perl, PHP and JavaScript.

This was first published in May 2014

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