More Muc Than You Can Handle

What Makes Something a "Devops" Tool?

The term “devops” has only existed for 5 years and the trend is to label your tool as a devops tool in order for it to gain traction. When I look at the landscape of tools, most look like Ops tools, just relabeled.

The reason this has been on my mind is that myself and Subhas released a website called Devops Bookmarks to aggregate all the tools in the landscape. Using a Github Pull Request for contributions results in reviewing a lot of tools and after a short amount of time I found myself second-guessing the need for such a website. It felt that we were diluting the devops term.

Here’s a couple that I think got it wrong:

I’m greatly concerned the Devops Bookmarks is going to feel the same unless context is added to support the inclusion of the tools. It’s why I made a devops links post on my blog so that I could explain a little bit why something is included.

Going To the Gemba

Honestly, Patrick Debois’s blog is a must read to get adequate context around devops. He has an excellent introductory post (written almost 5 years ago) and he’s made an excellent slide deck pointing out the same concepts I’m struggling with right now.

In that presentation the point of articulating desired Behaviours is very clear. To me a devops tool is something that promotes good behaviour if it’s executed well. The desired behaviours are cleary represented by John Willis’ excellent blog post titled: What Devops Means to Me.


  • Chef - promotes the behaviour of automating the configuration of machines. This reduces the tribal knowledge and provides a collaborative environment to work on this automation (because it’s now code instead of a Word doc).
  • Vagrant - enables the ability to create production like environments anywhere. All roles in the software lifecycle work with consistent infrastructure, thus can share their improvements and feedback.
  • Gauntlt - security testing for humans. Using Cucumber, security tests can be easily read by everyone and the tests can be executed in a continuous integration pipeline.

Not Sure About These

  • Gitorious - is it a devops tool because having source control is necessary?
  • Static Analysis - is a python static analysis tool really a devops tool? What about something like Puppet Lint?

Are some tools purely dev, and some purely ops? Everything lies on a spectrum and I guess what I’m wondering is if devops tools are simply the ones that are in the middle of that spectrum.

Moving Forward

I’m torn, but I think a feature in Devops Bookmarks should be a requirement to explain why the tools is a devops tool, and what behaviours does it try to support. If no explanation is provided, then it cannot be listed.

Currently the website is broken down by Topics, but that could change to Behaviours and the tools can be tagged with the behaviours that it supports.

Consider this a request for comments.

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