The popularity of DevOps has been on the rise for the past few years, especially among large enterprises and innovative startups. Despite that, there's still a lot of confusion surrounding that term. What is DevOps exactly? Is DevOps an approach, a culture, a movement, or a combination of these things? Does it mean the same thing to different people and organizations?
To shed some light on these questions, we prepared a detailed guide for DevOps beginners. Read on to find out everything you need to know about this strong technology trend and discover how it could help improve processes at your organization.
What is DevOps and how does it work?
The word "DevOps" combines "development" and "operations." And this is the essence of DevOps – it aims to integrate development and operations teams, i.e., software development and IT teams.
Why is integrating the work of these teams worth the effort? Because it helps to deploy code to production faster, and in an automated and repeatable way. This is the main value DevOps holds for organizations. It accelerates the process of delivering new applications and services. DevOps also helps businesses to enhance their customer service and build a strong competitive advantage.
The alignment of development and IT operations is now a priority for many companies that want to speed up their delivery time and compete successfully on the market.
What kind of problems does DevOps solve?
To understand the value of DevOps, we need to take a closer look at the scenario where the development and operation teams work in complete isolation.
Here's what happens:
- Testing and deployment are isolated and carried out after design-build. That's why they often end up taking more time than the actual build cycles. Team members spend a lot of time on testing, deploying, and designing instead of building up the project.
- The code deployment is manual. The team needs to deal with lots of human errors in production.
- The development and operations teams follow separate timelines. Their lack of synchronization often causes further delays.
- Business stakeholders demand to increase the speed of software delivery by business stakeholders. Teams struggle to address this demand.
DevOps was created to address and solve all of these problems, leading to greater productivity and satisfaction in both development and IT operations teams.
How is DevOps different from traditional IT?
To understand the value of DevOps, let's follow a scenario that compares it to a traditional software development model called waterfall.
- If you'd like to learn more about waterfall vs. agile software development, read this guide: Project management methodologies: Agile vs. Waterfall vs. Scrum vs. Kanban
Let's assume that we have an application that we want to go live in two weeks, and 80% of the coding has been completed. The app is a fresh launch, and we have only begun the process of buying servers to ship the code.
In the traditional process, the development team places an order for new servers and then begins to work on testing the app. The operations team, on the other hand, needs to deal with the extensive paperwork required to deploy the infrastructure.
In the DevOps process, after placing the order for new servers, the development and operations teams collaborate on the paperwork for setting up these new servers. As a result, they get to benefit from greater visibility of infrastructure requirements.
Moreover, in DevOps, the projections about issues such as failover, redundancy, disaster recovery, or storage requirements are more accurate thanks to the input from the development team.
When you follow the traditional process, the operations team doesn't know what the development team is up to. As a result, the monitoring plan is developed according to a limited understanding of the project. In DevOps, the operations team is aware of the progress the developers are making and interacts with them to create a monitoring plan that reflects both the IT and business needs.
What happens right before the application goes live? If a company follows the traditional way of building software, the load testing may crash the application. As a result, its launch will be delayed. In DevOps, the development gets an opportunity to load test the application and quickly fix any issues or bottlenecks. This enables the company to release the applications on time.
Benefits of DevOps for organizations
- Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) – thanks to DevOps practices, agile development teams can implement CI/CD processes that help to accelerate time to market.
- Cost efficiency - the DevOps culture lowers the cost of the software development process and reduces the time to market.
- Predictability – thanks to DevOps, teams can significantly lower the failure rate of new releases.
- Reproducibility and maintainability – with DevOps, teams can easily version everything so that earlier versions can be restored at any time and ensure smooth recovery if a new release crashes down or disables the system.
- Risk reduction – when it comes to the software delivery lifecycle, DevOps incorporates strong security aspects to reduce the risk of defects popping up throughout the lifecycle.
- Stability – DevOps helps to ensure that the operational state of a software system is more stable and secure.
The central goal of DevOps implementations is improving and streamlining the collaboration between various stakeholders.
It starts with planning and ends with delivery, implementing a wide range of delivery process automation to increase the frequency of deployment, achieve faster time to market, reduces the failure rate of new releases, and shorten the lead time between fixes.
DevOps lifecycle phases
It's impossible to talk about DevOps without mentioning the DevOps lifecycle. Here's a short overview of the DevOps lifecycle with its key events.
This stage is all about software development, a process separated into smaller development cycles following the agile methodology. By organizing the development work this way, the DevOps team can accelerate the development and delivery process.
In this stage, the Quality Assurance (QA) team uses various tools to identify and fix potential issues and bugs found in a new piece of code.
This is when the team integrates a new functionality with the existing code. You can be sure that testing tasks place here as well. Continuous integration and testing code are the prerequisites of continuous development.
In this phase, the deployment process occurs continuously. The idea here is to perform in a way that ensures that any changes applied to the code don't affect the application's functioning.
In this final phase, the operations team solves problems like inappropriate system behavior or bugs found in production by using a wide range of monitoring tools.
What should you learn before DevOps implementation?
Adopting DevOps is a process riddled with challenges. Fortunately, there are several principles and rules you can follow to get the best results:
DevOps fosters a culture that focuses on continuous improvement with the aim of minimizing waste. It continuously accelerates the improvement of products or services offered.
A DevOps team should provide continuous performance support to increase product quality and improve the level of responsibility and ownership across the team.
Automation is a key principle of any DevOps process, applicable not only to software development but also the entire infrastructure landscape.
Close team collaboration is another crucial element of DevOps. Designers, developers, testers, and the operations team need to work in a single unit.
A DevOps team needs to have solid monitoring and testing procedures.
This team needs to be customer-centric. After all, the team is responsible for constantly improving products and services with customer needs in mind.
Learn more in this guide: The ultimate guide to DevOps (+ 15 DevOps best practices from our team)
Who is a DevOps engineer?
Over time, the DevOps approach caused the emergence of a brand-new role: a DevOps engineer. This is an IT professional who works with software developers, system operators, and IT staff to administer code releases. The person filling this role should specific technical and soft skills. After all, they need to communicate and collaborate well with development, testing, and operations teams.
DevOps engineers may need to code occasionally, so it's important that they have knowledge of the software development languages used in the project.
A DevOps engineer works with the development team to build the connections between different code elements like software development kits or libraries. Moreover, this role also performs system troubleshooting and problem-solving across various platforms and application domains.
A DevOps engineer also needs to know how to manage projects effectively, increase project visibility, analyze, design and evaluate automation systems, and improve the overall quality of software products.
To demonstrate their skills, DevOps engineers often acquire DevOps training certification from:
- Amazon (AWS Certified DevOps Engineer),
- Red Hat (many types of certification like Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Platform-as-a-Service or Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Container Administration),
- Microsoft Academy,
- Devops Institute.
DevOps tools and technologies
DevOps automation is a process that aims to automate all the testing processes and configure them for maximum speed and agility.
That's why DevOps teams take advantage of tools for:
- Infrastructure automation (tools like Amazon Web Services),
- Deployment automation (Jenkins),
- Performance management (App Dynamic),
- Configuration management (Chef),
- Log management (Splunk),
- Monitoring (Nagios).
When to adopt DevOps?
DevOps services work best for large distributed applications like e-commerce websites or cloud-based apps. If your application needs to provide strict access controls in the production environment or a detailed change management policy, DevOps might not be the best approach.
DevOps is more than just an approach; it's a real cultural change that is here to stay. As companies aim to quickly deliver bug-free applications that deliver outstanding user experience, they need the right tools for the job. And a DevOps team is the best answer to such needs.
Are you looking for a development team supported by a DevOps engineer? Get in touch with us. Thanks to our robust processes, we accelerate software development and maintain a consistent quality.