May 17, 2012

Time Machine: Devops, 45 Years Ago

Posted by Ben Simo

"Two major inputs are required 
to provide computer service: 
equipment and manpower. 

For development
employees such as 
programmers and systems analysts are needed;
for operation
the services of managers, operators, etc., are essential. 

In practice the two activities usually coexist. 

Some sort of computer installation 
is required 
to check out development efforts. 

And almost every installation 
engages in continuing development 
as old systems are modified and new ones begun."

The above suggests that Devops is not at all a new concept. Forty-five years ago, computer rental cost slightly more than the Devops staff required to use it. Non-personnel operations cost typically rounded out the final third of the total cost. Today, hardware is cheap and people are expensive.

So, what did a Devops organization look like forty-five years ago?  The table below presents some data gathered in a "nation-wide census of data processing personnel" in 1967.

How do these wages add up in today's dollars?

Check out

Compared to my experience over the past couple decades, this seems to be heavy on management -- both in cost and percent of personnel. The roles of computer operator and librarian are pretty much gone. Programming and analyst roles have since blurred. Software has replaced many things that people used to do.  As the user base has moved from specialist operators to the general public, new testing and user experience design roles have evolved.

What else has changed?

What do you think devops will look like forty-five years into the future?