Monday, October 4, 2010

Devministrators and DevOps

Yesterday evening while reading a free sample of Jeff Barr's "Host Your Website In the Cloud" I downloaded from Sitepoint, I happened upon a term I'd never seen before: devministrator.

The way the word is used in the book seems to indicate a software developer who also does system administration tasks, so on that basis I guess I could describe myself as a devministrator - I'm the sole sys admin supporting my personal Ubuntu system used for my Linux development work - but a Google search turns up surprisingly little in the way of a concrete definition.

Google does pull up a few blog postings however, including one by Kris Buytaert who in turn references it from a 2008 Cloud Cafe podcast (about an open source configuration management tool called Puppet) which might even be the source of the word, describing system administrators who apply software development best practices (e.g. version control, continuous integration testing and automated scripting) to solve their administration problems.

However in looking these up I came across another term which aims to encapsulate a similar idea and which seems to have gained more traction: the DevOp (apparently a contraction of "developer" and "sysop" - itself a contraction of "system operator"). As described in this recent article from IT World "The New Type of Programmer: DevOp" [warning: link opens with an ad] brings together coding expertise with a detailed understanding of how to manage and configure the environments that the code operates in. And bringing me full circle, according to the article, it's the brave new world of cloud computing that's creating the need for this "new type of programmer": "A cloud developer needs to understand the operating environment ... as well as the development environment."

On that basis I'm probably more devministrator than DevOp. But anyway, there's an interesting overview of the DevOp movement (almost a manifesto) by Patrick Debois, What Is This DevOps Thing, Anyway, which offers a much broader perspective than just cloud development - though I'd also recommend the free sample of Jeff Barr's book if (like me) you're a non-expert looking for a reasonably detailed introductory overview of the technical aspects of developing for the cloud.

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