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Forum Site Debates 'AWS Killing the DevOps Profession'

Amid continuing debate about what the term "DevOps" means, a question posted today on the Hacker News forum site reads:

How do you define DevOps and is it dead?
I keep reading about AWS killing the DevOps profession and was wondering what were your thoughts on the matter? Is DevOps dying as a profession?

Although post author "zabana" didn't specify the origin of the "AWS killing DevOps" talk, it could be a reference to the year-old HN post "Managed services killed DevOps," which references a TechCrunch article and which does discuss AWS amid 148 comments.

Today's post, meanwhile, could hit that level itself as some readers are still struggling to define DevOps, which started gaining in popularity around the end of 2012 and early 2013, according to Google Trends. And the Hacker News readers aren't the only ones still trying to figure out exactly what the term means.

Here's a selection of answers to today's post:

  • "It's a good time to step back and define (or re-evaluate the definition of) 'DevOps.' It's an interesting word for an interesting movement, but (I think sadly) it has come to mean just 'Ops.' "
  • "If we define 'DevOps' as an approach that develops software in response to operational tasks, then we allow other kinds of operations, like handling check-in and check-out of books from a library."
  • "DevOps is the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users."
  • "DevOps is when a single person or team is responsible for developing the software; standing up , configuring and maintaining the instances it runs on."
  • "I see dev-ops as a way a company has shaped its delivery process. This means a devops profession does not exist. In short it means that a developer has direct contact with an operator and tester or vice versa."
  • "It means the empowerment of a solo developer through (intelligent) use of modern methods, hardware and software tools to achieve that which required a team of about 10-20 in the past."

Wikipedia defines DevOps as "a term used to refer to a set of practices that emphasize the collaboration and communication of both software developers and information technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes." It also says the term was first coined around 2009.

Many answers to today's question basically said: "no."

The highest-rated answer to the question at the time of this writing reads:

As a 'DevOps Engineer' at a growing AWS-focused consultancy, I can say that DevOps is not dead, and AWS is not killing it. AWS is our toolbox. We use it to design, build, and deploy powerful, cost effective, and scalable solutions to our clients' problems. I know that sounds like a line of marketing BS, but that's our real focus. Along the way, we'll automate everything that makes sense in the process, especially deployment and scaling. So, maybe our definition of DevOps wider or more holistic than how most of the industry defines it. Either way, AWS is not automatic, and automating/orchestrating ALL of its parts still requires some human smarts.

Here are parts of other answers:

  • "Any worry that devops is going away, regardless which standpoint you have, I think is unfounded. I might have to change my opinion in the next 5 years or so but for now I am quite confident the devops way is firmly not dying."
  • "The movement is far from dead. There are MANY large orgs that stand to gain a lot from adopting this mindset. The biggest issue is that change is difficult for many people."
  • "Not dead at all and definitely not killed by AWS."
  • "Hell no. If you're in DevOps and use AWS, that means you need to know the AWS API."
  • "No devops is not dead. It is a way to work."

So it seems few agree about the definition of DevOps, but Hacker News readers don't believe the profession is being killed by AWS.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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