What did devops mean ?

This post is a rant about a word. A rant about a word that had a clear meaning but has been appropriated for something wholly less meaningful.

The word is of course Devops. Over the last few years, as the practice itself has grown in prominence, its description has become diluted beyond the point of recovery.

It is far to common place to hear Devops used as a synonym for someone who automates technology, or even just to mean automation. Just as disappointing is the wholesale rebranding of Systems Administration as Devops.

Here is a pro tip: if you’re the only person on the team, or in the company, who carries the pager, it’s not Devops.

You keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means

So what happened ? Where did things go wrong ?

Devops is was an idea, a movement, a set of practices about using technology to deliver shit that you are supposed to deliver not point fingers. But movements are hard to sell, and harder to buy as the term cannot be used to describe succinctly what the person would do.

A systems administrator administers computer systems. A network administrator administers computer networks. A computer programmer programs computers. What does a Devops do again ?

It’s easy to stick the boot into the facile recruiting industry and lay the blame at their door, but it’s not really their fault. At their heart recruiters are sales people, and their goal is to sell you something (or someone) and semantic arguments won’t keep the lights on.

Why exactly is it you are using recruiters ?

In memoriam

If this post is then a eulogy for Devops, what other words can be used instead to describe it ?

If when you say Devops you actually mean Automation then the words you want to use are Infrastructure as Code. As a term and a brand it appears robust against appropriation, and if that is your bag then I suggest you checkout @infracoders.

Alternatively if you meant Devops the movement, then a suggestion is to look to the roots of that movement, to Agile itself. Look for teams that espouse Agile values and you’ll probably find a welcome home.