DevOps and Continuous Delivery: What's the difference?

DevOps and Continuous Delivery are the same thing, right? Far from it. We peer through the fog to understand the difference between the two related but distinct methodologies.

Ron Gidron
Ron Gidron, January 26, 2016 2:30 pm
Blog > Continuous Delivery > DevOps and Continuous Delivery: What's the difference?

We live in an era of applications. More and more of our personal, social and professional lives are governed by apps. We communicate with one another through social apps, book cinema tickets via our mobile devices, or schedule business trips on an airline's application. The digitization of services has well and truly arrived. Organizations that understand this sea-change have a unique opportunity to jump ahead of their competitors, acquire customers more quickly and grow revenues.

The battleground for this service development is DevOps. It’s not a product, but instead a methodology for helping organizations build teams and build software. DevOps (a compound of ‘development’ and ‘operations’) is a culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other IT professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes. It creates a culture and environment where building, testing and releasing software can happen rapidly, frequently and more reliably.

Organizations are marching with their feet. According to a recent study, market demand for DevOps skills is growing, and DevOps engineers are among the highest paid IT practitioners today. It looks set to stay that way, too. Research in the UK shows that 30% of 300 organizations surveyed in the run up to the 2015 DevOps Summit had either started to implement a DevOps strategy or had already merged development and operations, with another 13% planning to go down this route.

Two Related Children: DevOps and Continuous Delivery

So now we arrive at Continuous Delivery. (CD) If DevOps is about accelerating the delivery of new, high quality services, surely CD is the same thing, isn’t it? In other words, ensuring a steady stream of new services? You might picture it as a manufacturing production line: DevOps is the machine that builds the service, while CD is the conveyer belt that rolls the services off the production line. One big unified service development cycle. That’s not the case.

Although the distinction between DevOps and Continuous Delivery can be a little gray and cause confusion, there is in reality clear water between the two. CD has become an essential ingredient for teams doing iterative and incremental software delivery. It is an approach whereby teams ensure every change to the system can be released, and that any version can be released at the push of a button. Think of it this way: Continuous Delivery aims to make releases dull and reliable, so organizations can deliver frequently, at less risk and get feedback faster from the end-users until deployment becomes an integral part of the business process and competitiveness of the enterprise.

Gartner summed up the distinction between DevOps and CD neatly with a report that stated, “DevOps is not a market, but a tool-centric philosophy that supports a Continuous Delivery value chain.” The analyst argues that bimodal and digital business strategies stimulate demand for improved speed and effectiveness of software delivery.

Continuous Delivery and DevOps do share common traits though. Both methodologies are aimed at agile and Lean Thinking: each delivers small and quick changes, each relies on tight business and IT collaboration, and share the common goal of faster time to market for new services.

However, the goal of DevOps is to merge development and operations roles together — and the processes they manage — to achieve business goals. It’s all about a common, shared culture and enhanced collaboration. About clearly defined business processes.

Automation has an essential role to play in both DevOps and Continuous Delivery. Automating DevOps helps your organization manage and secure CD to the business and IT users. The result is a faster, low-risk migration to a new world of composite applications, faster business innovation and better support for rapidly changing business process needs.

Key Requirements for Practical DevOps Using Application Release Automation

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Ron Gidron

Ron Gidron

Ron Gidron is Product Marketing Director of Release Automation at Automic Software. He has spent the last 14 years in product marketing, product management and pre-sales positions in both startups and large enterprises. Ron's passion lies in the intersection of software, users and market trends.