At its foundation, DevOps questions what we've understood about application development, testing and deployment for the last 30 years and adds the power of cloud-based resources to the mix. In other words, DevOps lets us do things differently, and hopefully better.
What's core here is integration. DevOps integration targets product delivery, testing, development and maintenance with the objective of improving reliability and security. The idea is that developers should respond quickly to the needs of the business and quickly get new applications and new releases into production using the concepts of "continuous integration," or the practice of frequently integrating new or changed code with the existing operational code repository.
The concept of DevOps is all about aiding the software application release management process through the standardization of development environments. It's also about automation. DevOps provides the ability to automate this process via non-operational resources within production environments, including developers who control some aspects of the target operational systems. In simpler terms, it's about bringing together development and operations to produce better applications and reduce the time it takes to improve and deploy applications.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) supports DevOps by providing services to build, store and deploy applications, as well as configuration management tools such as Chef. Chef uses Ruby to write system configuration "recipes," which automates the process for configuring and operating local and cloud-based services, including AWS. However, other public infrastructure-as-a-service clouds are supported as well, including Google, Microsoft and Rackspace.
Other AWS and DevOps-related products include AWS OpsWorks. OpsWorks provides enterprises with the ability to model and manage an entire application and allows them to customize the Amazon EC2 instances in the OpsWorks layers that comprise your application. Use this technology to create any desired combination of the built-in OpsWorks templates and custom Chef recipes. OpsWorks provides an integrated experience for managing the application lifecycle, including resource provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, software updates, monitoring and access control.
If your business uses AWS, and you want to take advantage of DevOps, the key is to get to the value of DevOps quickly. For most enterprises, this should include a proof-of-concept use of the process and the technology to demonstrate that it's indeed something that should be integrated within your existing development, testing, deployment and operations processes.
The proof-of-concept process also teaches you something about your existing organization, including the existing talent and the ability for the development and operational personnel to adapt to new processes and technology. DevOps seems to be of interest to innovative organizations, as it is a recognized path to bring value to the business faster, and it's an environment that can accommodate change.