Dev

What the DevOps mind-meld means for modern software developers

Image Credit: Foxspain, Flickr

New RelicThis post is part of a new series called ‘The Future of Modern Software’ and is brought to you by New Relic. Read the series here. As always, VentureBeat is adamant about maintaining editorial objectivity.

In the modern world of mobile and Web apps, the notion of the yearly software release life cycle is dead and gone. No longer do users wait months on end for a bug fix; instead, they go to bed annoyed and happily awake to an app that’s updated itself in the night. While the spark that started this fire came more than a decade ago, only recently has the technology allowed updates to come with such frequency.

With the burgeoning realm of DevOps, developers and operations geeks perform a sort of mind-meld, all in the effort of simplifying, automating, and greasing the process of turning code into a quality experience on the user’s end.

So, what is DevOps really? It’s the true implementation of the “Iterate, Iterate, Iterate” mantra. It’s the process, methodology, and technology behind allowing companies — both large enterprise behemoths and small boot-strapped startups — to update early and often.

Eric Simone, CEO of mobile backend platform ClearBlade, has a simple explanation.

“We’re automating and instrumenting processes that used to be manual. These are repetitive tasks,” says Simone. “DevOps takes the agile approach and expands it across the lifecycle. We’re accelerating software delivery, balancing cost and risk, and reducing time to customer feedback.”

DevOps can be used by companies large and small. But Simone also notes that DevOps is especially beneficial to small companies because they have limited resources. While that large company may have a team of IT professionals to provision servers and keep things running, the small company simply doesn’t have the staff to throw at the problem. Instead, as CTO Aaron Allsbrook notes, it becomes the role of the developer.

“As a small company, our developers are DevOps engineers,” says Allsbrook. “When we build a new module for our platform, the developers take responsibility for standing up the server in the cloud. We’ve pushed a lot of the operations responsibility to our developers.”

It’s not that developers have suddenly become superhuman, but rather their tools more sharp and precise. Instead of spending their time keeping servers up and running, the task can be outsourced to services like Heroku or Cloud Foundry. With application performance management (APM) services like New Relic or App Dynamics, keeping track of user experience and app performance can also be easily handled by developers, putting them in even closer contact with all aspects of the agile development feedback loop.

Heroku mobile lead Mattt Thompson explains the new powers of even single developer teams with such available resources.

“With this change, performance management becomes part of the feedback loop, able to dynamically scale processes in real time, whether that’s your database, web server, or even the analytics aggregator feeding into the APM system itself,” says Thompson. “This agility is especially important in the world of mobile applications, where it’s not uncommon for popular apps to gain millions of users in a matter of days. A traditional IT provisioning scheme would buckle immediately under that kind of velocity. However, with IaaS and PaaS providers especially, every aspect of your business can be scaled effortlessly, allowing developers to focus on delivering the next great feature, rather than scrambling to keep up with their success.”