The Evolution of Agile, Towards DevOps


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Find out how the concepts of Agile are changing and growing in influence, including the increasing importance of DevOps

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The Evolution of Agile, Towards DevOps

  1. 1. The Evolution of Agile, towards DevOps
  2. 2. The Evolution of Agile, Towards DevOps 1 I’ve recently completed reading ‘The Phoenix Project’ (, and it provides an exciting vision of how far the concepts of agile and lean have come in the last 10 years. Putting DevOps and deployment automation on to the radar of a wide audience is a great development, and an indication of how far agile methods have penetrated into some IT environments. In my early days of exposure to Agile, I think at the XPDay ( conference in 2004, I was kindly given a copy of Goldratt’s ‘The Goal’ by my friend Lindsay McEwan. Lindsay had presented a session on Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, and the potential link between what Goldratt was proposing and the world of eXtreme Programming was clear. Goldratt brought the concept of Toyota’s kanban process into clear alignment with software development, and this is what The Phoenix Project builds on. Seeing thought leaders write about how things should be done is one thing, but does that mean anyone is listening? The best way to judge the adoption of a trend is to look at the frequency of job advertisements for the skill in question. If companies are hiring for it, then they are using (or trying to use) it. In the world of HTML5 and big data, this is information is really easy to find too. Take a look at, and just tap in your keywords! Look at the explosion of ‘devops’ here: Even without the aid of data, in those early days of seeing agile, it was clearly a fast-growing requirement for many development teams in London. Agile was becoming an in-demand skill, and this growth in demand meant that experienced practitioners were hard to find. Indeed, that was why I and other entrepreneurs established recruitment agency practices focused on servicing that market. Step on
  3. 3. 2 2 a couple of years to the late noughties, and ‘agile’ as an umbrella term was practically mainstream, and agencies claiming to specialise in the sector were prolific. The challenge became two-fold: i) Separating true Agile practitioners from those who just put it on their CV ii) Finding Agile QA engineers The second of these challenges was the most interesting. Demand for Agile staff outside development indicated that the ideas and methods were spreading within larger organisations, across departmental boundaries. This was a big step for Agile. In moving out of pilot development teams, it was becoming mainstream. Step forward again to the present, and I hear from several industry insiders that they are now establishing recruitment practices focused on DevOps. This is the next natural step for Agile, and if recruiters are starting to focus on it, then the momentum is building. As Agile has gone mainstream, it has pushed its way through development teams, QA teams, and now into the infrastructure teams. But the desire of infrastructure teams to change is a little different, as the driving forces come from two different directions. Pushing down from above are the development teams applying the rapid-release methods of Agile, and practices like continuous integration. But coming up from below are the public-cloud infrastructure systems like EC2. These provide an opportunity for IT teams to deliver flexible infrastructures to the more changeable requirements of an Agile world. This places the world of DevOps in a critical position to revolutionise business outside of IT (also the main thrust of the Phoenix Project). By enabling both the rapid development of the Agile teams and the flexible infrastructure opportunities of the ‘cloud’, successful DevOps practitioners can enable innovation (and competitive advantage) whilst simultaneously driving efficiency improvements. Of course, any such change will probably require some automation tooling….
  4. 4. The Evolution of Agile, Towards DevOps 3