If DevOps were any more in vogue, it would be sashaying down a catwalk in Milan wearing a pair of Manolo Blahnik knee-high boots.
Some would argue it's just the latest overhyped buzzword vendors have latched onto to make their technology sound relevant.
But for others, it's at the centre of the most important shift in the IT industry for decades, and one with the potential to redefine how the channel engages with end-user customers.
Christened in 2009, the concept of DevOps is the brainchild of Belgian system administrator Patrick Debois, who had grown frustrated by conflicts between developers and system administrators.
The movement boils down to one thing, according to Neil Thomas, product director at managed service provider Claranet, and that's helping organisations respond to market demand by speeding up the process of developing, releasing and updating software.
"I heard a great quote the other day that described DevOps as the Industrial Revolution of IT," he said.
"The result of applying a DevOps methodology is the ability to develop and release applications in a far faster way; we're talking about making changes to an application many times a day, rather than the old way of developing applications and releasing an update every few months."
Durga Summeta, senior director of strategic alliances and channels at Cloudbees, added: "Software was being built using a waterfall or other traditional approach, where cycles lasted for months or years. That slow pace doesn't work anymore.
"DevOps brings speed and stability together so you can satisfy both external stakeholders and customers."
Gartner predicted last year that the market for DevOps tools was on course to grow 21 per cent to $2.3bn (£1.6bn) in 2015 and that, by this year, it will have evolved from a niche strategy employed by large cloud providers to a mainstream strategy employed by a quarter of Global 2000 organisations.
But how relevant is DevOps to your average channel partner selling hardware, software and services?
Unlike big data analytics or cloud, being a "philosophy" rather than technology, DevOps is not something that can be resold per se, and the opportunities for resellers lie in understanding that their customers are overhauling the way they operate, predicted Thomas.
"The timescales IT are working to have seen a seismic shift, which is why DevOps isn't just a buzzword," he said. "We're talking about people who used to work on change cycles that were measured in months and they're now measuring that in hours. If you are selling to IT departments that are updating and releasing code many times a day, the software they want to consume and the way they want to consume it is very different."
Expanding the horizons
Resellers and MSPs can also profit from selling technology and services that allow customers to follow a DevOps methodology, widening the opportunity into areas such as public cloud, Thomas said.
This was the rationale for Claranet's acquisition of AWS consultancy Bashton last year, he explained.
"We're seeing that move to public cloud being very closely integrated with rising adoption of DevOps, so the services we are offering on, for instance, Amazon, are entirely about enabling people to work in a DevOps way," Thomas said. "It's not just about managed infrastructure but also about fully automating infrastructure deployment combined with tools that allow people to release code onto their Amazon environment. That means we are increasingly working with developers and digital managers, and not just traditional IT teams."
Gartner has warned that "cultural resistance" will create significant failure rates for DevOps initiatives, particularly where waterfall processes are the lion's share of the development portfolio.
Gareth Whiting, EMEA partner director at Delphix, a DevOps tools vendor that claims it can accelerate application projects by up to 50 per cent by improving testing cycles, said the barrier to entry for resellers to help customers struggling with DevOps is surprisingly low.
Delphix now has 40 partners across EMEA, including Computacenter and Capita, which Whiting said had signed up after recognising their customers were adopting DevOps.
"[End users] don't have the time or willingness to invest in long projects to deliver an application they need an immediate return on - it's not accepted anymore," Whiting said. "The opportunity for partners is to look at where they can add value in the cycle through their strengths as a company."
He added: "It could be that they have an application focus and have a way to increase efficiency around application delivery. It could be that they are a security company that wants to add value around data security, because as you deliver more data to organisations, security becomes an issue. Resellers need to start asking how they can add value to this culture or framework called DevOps.
The barrier to entry is really low and resellers need to look at their core competencies and understand that the DevOps initiative is not going to disappear."
The rise of DevOps may force resellers to widen their repertoire, Summeta at Cloudbees added.
"DevOps is not just a tool or a process or an infrastructure - it is all the above. It requires a new skill set," he said.
According to recent research from Delphix, 77 per cent of UK organisations had introduced dedicated budgets and support teams for DevOps, with 35 per cent spending £1m or more per year.
Not all agree that adoption is as widespread yet, with research conducted by Claranet finding that 26 per cent of UK mid-market organisations have adopted a DevOps approach, with a further 28 per cent planning to do so in the next two years and an additional 17 per cent planning to do so beyond that.
But Thomas said the perception that DevOps is the preserve of unicorn businesses such as Flickr, Uber and Netflix is outmoded.
"We are seeing the DevOps approach flow into more traditional organisations," he said.
"What we're seeing across every industry and size of company is software becoming more important, both in terms of how they interact with their customers - be that B2B or B2C - or how they operate their business. The companies that are winning in their sectors tend to be the ones using software to the greatest effect."
Thomas added: "We are seeing that for some firms in the legal, debt reclamation, food, and entertainment industries, software is becoming the way they run their business, and that's causing the rise of DevOps. One legal firm we worked with developed software that allowed them to manage their various caseloads more effectively and it became so important to their business that they are now looking to sell it in the market.
"That is a great example of how software is becoming more important and what's really driving DevOps is people needing to dramatically accelerate the rate at which they change and deploy software."
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