How does DevOps work?

How does DevOps work?

DevOps is a collection of many different ideas, methods, practices and tools. Implemented well, DevOps can become a real turbo for the IT organization.

DevOps is not owned by anyone, it is like open source software: many contribute. Anyone can use DevOps and put together their own version. But: There are providers who - as with open source software - provide ready-made distributions and thus make it much easier for beginners and advanced users to find a good and consistent compilation.

Whether you want to use a "distribution" or put everything together individually: This article gives you an overview of the four essential areas of DevOps from which you should assemble your building blocks and elements.

The structure

DevOps encompasses ideas, principles, methods, and tools from a wide variety of sources and industries. We want to address these with the following structure:

  • Culture & Organization
  • Practices
  • Automation & Technology
  • Principles & overarching concepts

Culture & Organization

DevOps demands and promotes a culture of collaboration and transparency, learning and trust, as well as personal responsibility and self-organization. This extends to employees as well as to leadership. Only with the right culture and the right people can the numerous necessary practices be meaningfully adapted and made their own.

Many companies today are still highly hierarchical and managed in a way that hinders collaboration, innovation and automation. Therefore, this is the area of the DevOps journey that is considered the most difficult and rocky.

Employees and teams should

  • Learn self-organization and collaboration
  • Show respect and appreciation for the diverse talents and abilities of all team members
  • Act as a team: All for one and one for all
  • Request, give and accept feedback
  • Assume responsibility
  • See themselves as part of a whole and be committed to the common goal
  • See continuous improvement and learning as something normal.

The management personnel should

  • Achieve autonomy and shared goal alignment, but don't prescribe everything
  • Lead with vision, inspiring communication, support and recognition
  • be as committed to the cause or goal as any other team member
  • Remove obstacles, create a framework, and then fade into the background so the team has room to work.


DevOps combines numerous elements from a wide variety of sources - first and foremost from agile software development, lean management and IT service management. All these practices are adapted and integrated into the overall concept.

There is no specific preference in the area of agile development. Elements from Scrum, Kanban and eXtreme Programming are frequently encountered. In addition, elements fromDesign Thinking, Lean Start-Up, SAFe®and LeSS are integrated.

Lean management is itself a dynamic collection of ideas and methods and offers an uncountable amount of valuable approaches. Recurring elements include value stream thinking, optimizing flow by reducing waste and eliminating bottlenecks, and the methodology of value stream mapping (VSM). The latter is a powerful methodology for analyzing value streams and deriving improvement opportunities.

IT service management, in turn, brings together under one roof a large number of practices that are invaluable, particularly in the operation and support of IT services and in the transfer of changes to production. As the world's most widely used framework for IT service management, ITIL® offers a consistent and holistic approach to 34 different practices - from strategy to operational support. The current 2019 version itself already combines many traditional approaches with agile principles and lean culture elements. In particular, there is great value in using best practices to process recurring operational tasks in a predictable, consistent, and efficient manner. This is because it minimizes the time required for this and creates more room for innovation and creativity.

Automation & Technology

Automation is supposed to create free space by taking over recurring routine tasks in particular. Just as we use dishwashers, washing machines and automatic cooking machines in the household to have more time for other things, automation should also help in DevOps. It is often faster, less error-prone, more economical, and more scalable than manual work.

The goal in DevOps is to automate everything that is possible. This ranges from requirements and backlog management, development workflows, code repositories, build & test, deployment, monitoring and alerting to infrastructure and platform provisioning. The more comprehensive the automation of the entire deployment pipeline and control of operations, the more time is left for valuable creative work.

Technologies and technology approaches that are considered an integral part in DevOps are:

  • Microservices architecture
  • Cloud services (private & public cloud services; IaaS, PaaS & SaaS and many more)
  • Container
  • Immutable Infrastructure

Principles & overarching concepts

Many different descriptions also exist for the principles of DevOps. In terms of content, most are quite similar. The "Three Ways" and the "Five Ideals" by Gene Kim reflect these principles very well.

The "Three Ways" are:

  • The first way: flow and systems thinking
  • The second way: strengthen feedback loops
  • The third way: culture of continuous experimentation and learning

The "Five Ideals" are:

  • The first ideal: locality and simplicity
  • The second ideal: focus, flow and joy
  • The third ideal: improvement of daily work
  • The fourth ideal: psychological security
  • The fifth ideal: customer orientation

These two approaches describe well what is necessary to use DevOps successfully.

You can find out more about the three paths here:

You can find out more about the five ideals here:

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are also collections of methods that are closely related to DevOps, even if they must not be equated with DevOps. In addition, influences from other approaches such as Chaos Engineering, Antifragility, Objectives and Key Results can be found again and again. These overarching concepts often combine culture, practices and technology from a particular point of view. They support aspects of DevOps and are therefore repeatedly used successfully in DevOps organizations. For their part, they encompass elements of culture, practices, and technology, which on the one hand are very compatible with DevOps, but on the other hand require a holistic approach just like DevOps.


Through the linkage

  • of the right people and the right culture,
  • who adapt helpful practices and make them their own, and
  • Automate and optimize them with the right tools and technologies

DevOps creates an IT organization that permanently delivers outstanding and, above all, value-creating and innovative services.

You want to learn more about DevOps? Many more details and dates for these modules can also be found on our training website

We would be happy to advise you on the selection and planning of your personal training path for DevOps. Get in touch with us!

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