What is DevOps and how did it become so popular?

You've probably never heard of DevOps if you're not in the IT field. But even among IT experts, there is often disagreement about what exactly DevOps is.

Nicolás Mosconi
May 13, 2024

The acronym "development and operations" is more about concepts and philosophy than a tool, innovative framework, or technology.

It is becoming increasingly popular because it differs from the old working landscape by emphasizing the significance of communication and cross-departmental collaboration of IT experts and software developers while automating software delivery processes and infrastructure changes.

Establishing an environment and culture where testing, building, and releasing software can take place more rapidly is one of DevOps' main objectives.

DevOps is the combination of tasks carried out by a particular company's system operations and application development.

As an essential element of operations, better communication between development and operation is DevOps's broadest meaning.

In its narrow meaning, DevOps describes a part of the IT team of a specific organization that creates and then maintains Infrastructure.

This term can also define the team of software engineers strategically looking for a complete software delivery chain, overseeing the shared services, and mastering the utilization of best practices and development tools.

An abbreviated history of DevOps

At first, in the early 2000s, there was Agile, which gained prominence among software developers as exemplified in the Agile Manifesto.

Later, in 2008 DevOps was conceived by Patrick Debois, a developer from Belgium, to improve upon the agile concept by encouraging developers to work more closely with IT Operations teams.

By the early 2010s, his ideas had gained a considerable following.

Why is DevOps More Popular Than Ever?

Three possible theories explain DevOps's rise in popularity over the last ten years. 

A possible first interpretation is to argue that its creator, Patrick Debois, happened to have some very relevant ideas, and he managed to communicate and promote them successfully.

However, it's rare for highly influential ideas to be the product of a single mind or the singular efforts of one individual; thus, this remains an unlikely explanation.

DevOps became popular as simply an evolved form of agile. From this point of view, the second possible explanation for its popularity is that the history of DevOps is the history of agile.

This argument would be compelling if DevOps could be considered Agile by another name, but DevOps is broader with a much stronger implementational and practical element.

Finally, DevOps was born out of a particular moment in the history of IT services, which started in the mid-2000s. The third theory is that several vital characteristics defined the scenario that gave rise to DevOps, which meant teams had to manage much more complex, fast-moving software delivery pipelines.

Around the 2010s, the software market required more responsive, better-coordinated management by IT teams. DevOps answered by increasing efficiency, decreasing response times, and making software delivery faster.

These transformations included:

  • The widespread adoption of cloud computing started in 2007.

  • Open source became the primary licensing strategy for many popular software

  • projects making collaboration around code easier after the success of the open source software movement around 2010. 

  • Applications were made much more complex to design, deploy and manage with the rise of microservices and containers.

  • The launch of Apple's iPhone in 2007 kicked off the explosive popularity of mobile computing and the mobile revolution that meant organizations increasingly had to deliver software for multiple target environments (PCs, Android phones, and iOS, among others) simultaneously.

  • By the late 2000s, the software markets, which had grown more competitive than ever, increased the demand for speed and agility in software delivery to gain an edge over the competition. 

DevOps's primary purpose is to shorten development cycles and deliver solutions faster by normalizing development and operations while aspiring for increased productivity and happier customers.

Companies like Google and Amazon can swiftly and efficiently provide new software. DevOps is a crucial component of that success, making increasing productivity and improving the bottom line a priority rather than merely adopting and implementing DevOps as a new trend.

Multiple longer-term factors probably have been responsible for ushering in a world where more people are talking about DevOps.

As part of the usual subjects in many of the courses at technical universities in the US, DevOps has made its way into mainstream computer science and IT education, which means the university is now graduating students already familiar with DevOps as they enter the workplace.

The market for DevOps tools has also matured and consolidated; while five years ago, most companies talking seriously about DevOps were merely startups, now many of them, such as Slack, have become hugely successful independent companies, or like Electric Cloud, have been acquired by larger organizations.

As usual, many other DevOps startups have shut down or stalled, but the spectacular success of others has continued to drive interest in DevOps.

Around 2010, the conversation about DevOps was just getting started, and it remained much easier to discuss de-siloing your IT organization than to break down those silos in the real world.

In this sense, the tooling for DevOps has matured along with the market; in the beginning, DevOps-based collaboration tools had not yet gone mainstream, and many of the more advanced DevOps release platforms were built by startups.

Today, in contrast, there is a plethora of mature, feature-intensive continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) tools to choose from, along with communication and collaboration solutions such as Slack and GitHub.

Building a DevOps toolset is very straightforward, and you no longer have to rely on new, untested solutions. 

DevOps tools, what are they, and what do they mean?

People are placed above processes and processes above tools in the DevOps framework. Short innovation cycles are one aspect of digital transformation, and they must be delivered at the appropriate speed.

DevOps allows for increased flexibility and speed in the creation and delivery of apps by granting teams the ability to take control of the running of their solutions and have a comprehensive understanding of how they perform and real-world stress and demands.

The flexibility and speed that DevOps requires are made possible by introducing new technology in Cloud and virtualization solutions, particularly the appearance of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Without needing local hardware or manual configuration, IaaS can instantaneously deliver computing resources for highly customized and ever-changing IT requirements. 

There are no exclusive DevOps tools, only technologies that can be utilized in a DevOps environment for DevOps procedures.

As one example, this provides the automation required for DevOps, such as server provisioning.

These cloud solutions provide the technical underpinning for DevOps. Docker, Kubernetes, GitHub, Jenkins, and Travis CI are widely used tools for this purpose.

While these tools would be equally at home in traditional settings and are thus not DevOps-specific, continuous configuration automation solutions allow for automatic resource configuration and scalability that's essential for a successful implementation of Cloud Solutions.

Some of the critical elements that constitute the driving force behind DevOps's market growth are:

  • An increase in the need for efficiency and maintainability of operational processes.

  • The ever-increasing usage of IoT in smart devices and many other applications.

  • A substantial rise in the adoption of cloud computing along PaaS, significantly decreasing downtime in the software development life-cycle.

Why should businesses adopt the DevOps Philosophy?

Efficient strategic planning for Development and Deployment

Developing and deploying services as quickly as possible through coordination between developer and operations teams remains the biggest obstacle for any IT project.

Meeting customer demands while catalyzing their growth is made possible by adopting a comprehensive set of DevOps practices that act as a solid foundation to streamline operations for maximum productivity and help in easy organization and distribution of responsibility.

Quicker software delivery and Consistent improvement

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are practices where developer teams can make changes to the code and smoothly merge it with the source code.

DevOps practices can significantly improve the quality of services while deploying new features while enabling the DevOps team to address pressing issues.

Developers can go live more swiftly and meet customer requirements or make changes on the go.

Improves security for the software

DevOps methodology ensures that the IT security team has been actively participating in the software development cycle from its initiation to its deployment, which allows teams to continuously build security into your services and keep the security updated with the latest security compliance.

Software security is a 'collaborative practice' that is the first step before any product development.

Improves customer experience

Efficient DevOps practices can greatly decrease service delivery failure rates while minimizing downtime.

The developer and operations teams will continuously test and take feedback to ensure customer requirements are met along with quick, efficient delivery.

The delivery pipeline can be automated, giving the developers ample time to build more products while the operations team can improve business delivery.

Data-driven decision making

Established DevOps practices assist businesses in leveraging data and gaining valuable insights that help business leaders make data-driven decisions that improve overall efficiency.

DevOps practices also remove hierarchies that require layers of approvals, increasing operations' speed.

Faster decisions create more opportunities for businesses and accelerate the implementation of innovative ideas.


DevOps probably wouldn't have taken off so successfully if the idea had surfaced in the nineties when demand for fast software delivery was much less abundant, codebases were more straightforward, and applications mainly ran locally.

There's currently a litany of management tools (such as Ansible and Kubernetes, to name a couple of examples) that didn't exist ten years ago.

Even if your team doesn't have a management strategy rooted in DevOps culture, these tools make it easier to handle the complexity of modern software environments.

DevOps resulted from the combination of several specific developments in the world of IT during the late 2000s; it would not have circulated so quickly had it not emerged at that particular time, even if Patrick Debois deserves credit for helping to distribute the idea.

Is your company interested in adopting DevOps practices to shorten development cycles and deliver solutions faster?

Reach us out here!