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What is DevOps and Why Should You Care?

You’ve heard this term, DevOps, tossed around. People seem fairly worked up about it. Wondering what all the excitement is about? Is this just another industry buzzword that will fade away with little impact?

In short: definitely not.

DevOps is more than just industry jargon; it is a practice that is dramatically impacting the way that software is being delivered.

Let’s start with a quick overview of what DevOps is.

DevOps is a clipped compound of the words development and operations (as in software production operations). It is a single word that represents a set of practices that focus on two major aspects of software delivery:

  • The complete automation of the idea->development->testing->release software delivery cycle
  • An emphasis on collaboration, communication, and the teardown of traditional development versus operations walls

Think of DevOps as a black-belt level of agile software delivery. What Scrum and XP did for the ask/dev/test cycle, DevOps extends into deployment, release, and monitoring phases.

A healthy DevOps transformation promises the following business outcomes:

  • A decrease in time-to-market (how long it takes for a feature to move from “idea” to “released”)
  • An increase in the frequency of releases
  • An increase in quality
  • A decrease in operating costs

All of this reduces the effort and fear traditionally associated with making changes to software. When you make releases small, cheap, and a non-event, you are motivated to do them more often. You are also more willing to roll out and get feedback on experimental features you might not normally invest in.

Let’s say you are a software product owner. You have a creative idea that you think could be a game-changer, but you’re not entirely sure about it. Prior to DevOps, when releases were long and expensive, you might pause before investing in this idea. Getting feedback takes too long, and the cost to get the idea to production is too high.

However, with the increased ease of releases. As a result, you decide to roll out the minimal viable version of the idea to a few beta customers, to test its value and potential return on investment.

It didn’t catch on? No problem. You didn’t spend much. You can halt further rollout and investment, or even roll it back.

People love it and want more? Great! You double down on your investment and…congrats! You have just disrupted the market.

DevOps paves the way for innovation.

Okay, that makes sense, but what’s with the urgency? Do I really need to get started on this now?

When I speak to audiences about DevOps, I usually end with the following statement:

…in five years, I predict we will no longer be using the term DevOps. I say this not because it is merely a fad or buzzword, fading into obscurity. I say this because DevOps will become THE way all successful companies deliver software. Anyone who isn’t practicing modern DevOps techniques will most likely have been disrupted.

Dramatic? Perhaps, but I’m willing to bet that I’m not far off. Let’s take a look at what is already happening in the software industry.

  • Amazon deploys new software to production every 11.6 seconds
  • Netflix deploys code thousands of times a day
  • Google changes over 50 percent of their source every month

These stats underline three companies that can make massive, rapid change in a short amount of time. They have invested heavily in DevOps tooling and practices in an effort to disrupt…and it’s worked. Amazon, Netflix, Google, and similarly progressive companies have changed the way we build software, putting many of the traditional leaders in this space on notice, and causing them to play the catch-up game. Some are not going to be able to catch up in time.

You may be saying, “Yeah, but this is high-tech software. Those guys are crazy. They might want to move this fast to stay competitive, but we’re in the [fill in your industry] industry; we don’t have these demands.”

Don’t be so sure. Let’s take a look at the Financial Services industry, for example. Have you heard of Betterment, Robinhood, Wealthfront, or LearnVest?


These are small, nimble start-ups that see an opportunity in the Financial Services industry. The market leads are established and large, and despite all of their resources, are struggling to react to the rapidly changing demands of today’s market.

Despite their significantly smaller size, these startups are disrupting the Financial Services industry and are starting to force the big guys to adapt by employing the latest agile and DevOps techniques.

For every major industry, there is a similar story to be found.

Fortunately, we at Pega are here to help. We are investing heavily in Pega7 Platform DevOps capabilities in an effort to help our customers jumpstart their DevOps transformation and stay ahead of the other guys.

Look for more details about our DevOps vision, strategy, and offerings in the next blog post, and read about some DevOps success stories on Pega.com.

About the author

Leo Hart is Vice President of Development Operations at Pega, where he is laser-focused on enabling DevOps transformation for both Pega and Pega’s customers. Leo previously spent 19 years at Fidelity Investments, serving in a number of agile/DevOps-minded software delivery roles, helping organizations achieve their vision of speed, quality, innovation and agility. When Leo isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking on his kamado grill and going for a run.