There was a time when dev was development and ops was IT operations. But like the famous Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup advertising, someone got dev in their ops team. Or did they get ops in their dev team? Whichever way the pendulum swings, the devops movement—if it is a movement—is about breaking down the walls between the people who write software and the people who have to keep it running.

That’s because traditional IT operations focused on information running within the organization, such as desktops or servers in the data centers. While IT operations naturally expanded to cover servers deployed in remote data centers, such as hosting facilities, applications running in the cloud appear to be defying that traditional role. And thus managers are hiring devops: developer operations specialists within the development department itself.

Devops was the big trend for 2010, with job-search site Indeed recording an increase in the term “Devops” in available job postings. While the term is still far behind mainstay development words like “Java,” “C” and even “Ruby” in job ads, the growth of the term was far beyond the growth rate of any other development term across the year.

Andrew Phillips, vice president of product development at XebiaLabs, which sells an automated Java application deployment system, believes that the devops role is a genuine movement, not merely a new name for an old job. “A movement is always a big term. I think when agile started it wasn’t a movement, but now it’s become in fashion,” he said.

“I think we’ll see a similar development with devops. It’s just a mindset that realizes you can’t split development and operations in your organization and still expect quick turnaround release cycles.”

Inspiration and revelation
Mike Maciag, CEO of Electric Cloud, which sells build and continuous integration tools, said that devops comes from the ever-rising popularity of agile. “We’re seeing customers bridge that devops gap. Some of that is driven by agile,” he said.

“If you’re talking about agile, it’s how fast can I turn that crank? I need a lot of machines, so I need to work with IT. Virtualization is helping people solve that problem.”

Maciag believes that devops is definitely a new trend, and one that is spreading rapidly. “Two years ago, we didn’t actually see devops. I would say now, in 50% of our customers, we see devops. Devops is much more prevalent in the customer base and in the enterprise IT shops. I’m not yet seeing devops in embedded software companies, ISVs and the likes. You are seeing devops in healthcare, retail and insurance.”