Agile Vs. DevOps: 10 Ways They're Different - InformationWeek
07:06 AM

Agile Vs. DevOps: 10 Ways They're Different

DevOps and Agile are broad terms, but they aren't synonyms. Here are the ways in which they're different -- and why those differences matter to your team.
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(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

Agile discipline is in the process of taking over much of the enterprise world. It's not only because executives like saying their organization is agile. It's because agile discipline in its various incarnations can work very well for companies looking to be responsive to customers and nimble in the face of changing business conditions.

Agile methods can be used as part of DevOps -- a portmanteau of "development" and "operations" -- which is also becoming more and more popular in the enterprise world. The two words, agile and DevOps, are so popular, and used in so many different ways, some executives and pundits seem to consider them interchangeable. While convenient, such use can lead to real problems.

Why? Because agile and DevOps are not the same thing. Treating them as the same thing can cause departments to abandon good and safe practices in the pursuit of something undesirable. So, let's take a look at what these two trendy disciplines are, how they work together, and why they're not the same thing at all.

[What would you do if you had someone shadowing you all day? Read Adventures in Pair Programming.]

Now, because each of the terms we're exploring is rather broad, there's plenty of room for discussion about their meanings and uses. I'm quite OK with that. Once you've reviewed the differences highlighted here, I'd love to hear your ideas about what I've gotten wrong. I'd also like to hear how you've experienced agile or DevOps, and what you think about the ways in which they relate.

I'll look forward to the conversation in the comments section below. In the meantime, let's start the discussion with a couple of key definitions.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2016 | 5:35:12 PM
Re: Couldn't agree less with the definition of DevOps here
DevOps is an environment that promotes communication and collaboration.  Agile is a method of working within the environment. When implementing an agile method many processes related to the Operation of a working piece of software are waterfall, I wouldn't say it's the desired method of implementing agile, but it can be a by-product you need to deal with at first. 
User Rank: Apprentice
7/22/2016 | 6:49:04 AM
Couldn't agree less with the definition of DevOps here
I've stopped at slide 5 as this is cataclysmically wrong enough already.
Slide 5 - DevOps assumes Dev and Ops are separate and never the twain meetind. Er, no. That's a DevOps anti-pattern in most people's books and the best thoughtleaders consider a product lifecycle team "you build it, you run it" mentality in order to increase ownership of the issues. The are some healthy models with some separation... Google's Dev and Ops teams have started rotating more and moreover have shared 'error budget' that can be broken by either change pull requests or site reliability issues, it makes both teams work together to release quality quickly and not blow the budget.

Slide 4 - Devops is just completed software that needs deploying, devops can run with waterfall input. Err, no. Again the thoughtleaders are all about Continuous Delivery, Amazon update/commit every 11seconds. Devops follows CALMS acronym, L is for Lean. Lean means small batches. True devops organisations are continually putting small batch changes live with highly automated test, build, and deploy paths to productions.

No doubt slides 6 onwards are equally wrong.

Tony A
Tony A,
User Rank: Moderator
7/14/2016 | 11:41:12 AM
So Different There Is No Logical Relationship
Software that's developed by any methodology whatsoever needs to be deployed somehow. One goal of a deployment procedure is to minimize disruption of the workplace during deployment, a goal that apparently now merits its own trendy name. Other than that I don't get the point. DevOps as you describe doesn't seem to have any relationship to Agile at all. Maybe you should have explained how and why they came to be confused, as any IT professional worth the name should understand the distinction between development and deployment. To put it another way: what would be different in this article if you entitled it: "Waterfall vs. DevOps: 10 Ways They're Different"?

I think the marketing juggernaut of Agile has caused people to lose sight of the fact that Agile is merely one take on efficinet software development, and one that only works in a certain kind of environment, for a certain kind of project, with a certain kind of staff - all of which are mainly present in Silicon Valley type environments and rarely in ordinary business or government environments. The alleged confusion between Agile and DevOps suggests some pretty loose thinking along the lines: "Agile is about efficiency. DevOps is about efficiency. Agile and DevOps must be the same, or closely related." Every new software methodlogy - structured programming, 4GL's, object-oriented programming/design/analysis, etc. are about efficiency. Agile is one way of responding quickly to user demands, at the expense of many other valid goals. It is not a new synonym for efficiency. The industry needs to get over that idea.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/11/2016 | 2:33:22 PM
an interesting read, how about AgileOps?
Agreed, that agile is not the same as DevOps...

Recently, i heard Automic folks talk about making Agile the heartbeat with DevOps call AgileOps...
User Rank: Apprentice
7/7/2016 | 7:39:04 PM
Agile and DevOps are indeed different things...
Love the article. Agile and DevOps are indeed different things. Of course one cannot blame the public or novices for confusing the two given that there is no formal definition of DevOps. Unlike the Agile Manifesto, DevOps has no such definition, a set of practices, or agreed upon guiding principles. Ask ten people what DevOps is and you will get ten different responses. DevOps is a coined phrase that we are all left to infer meaning.

Agile practices, like Continuous Delivery practices, can be part of a DevOps initiative, but like you said the terms are not synonymous. Among the many excellent points, you made, I agree that automation is critical for DevOps. So many DevOps pundits state that DevOps is a cultural thing, a belief which I do not disagree. However, culture without a repeatable process or system to sustain it is doomed to failure.

Automation is to DevOps as a playbook is to every NFL team. A playbook supports a winning culture, it does not create it nor is it a substitute for it.

User Rank: Strategist
7/6/2016 | 2:13:12 AM
Agile is one dimension, DevOps the other?
Looking at the definitions an dependencies laid out in the article, I get the feeling that DevOps repairs the lacks of Agile and Agile tries to work around the limitations ordered by DevOps.

In fact agile in my experience has rather lead to trouble, which DevOps tries to fix, but without Agile the development would lead to only minor changes in the software. Agile after all tried to achieve lowering the daily level of complexity by providing focus on the feature detail, (which is impossible to plan over a large project) whicle DevOps will try to put it all together, again into the final release.

So Agile being equal to DevOps is almost like saying the road is equal to the car.
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