The ultimate guide to DevOps (+ 15 DevOps best practices from our team)

Adam Bolinger - DevOps Engineer

Adam Bolinger

19 March 2019, 5 min read

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DevOps is one of those buzzwords that mean many different things to a lot of people. That's why understanding what DevOps is and how it can benefit your organization may be challenging.

There would be no DevOps if not for agile software development. Development teams looking to keep up with the market speed have developed many different techniques that have Agile as their common denominator.

The evolution of Agile during the last decade showed that to succeed, organizations need a holistic approach to the end-to-end software delivery lifecycle.

And that's where DevOps comes in.

Why do organizations use DevOps?

To understand what DevOps is all about, let's see how organizations created software when DevOps wasn't around yet:

Before DevOps, teams were responsible for gathering the business requirements and writing code, which would be tested by a separate QA team. If the code met the requirements, it would be released for operations to be deployed.

Deployment teams were further siloed into groups like database or networking. Every time a piece of software moved from the hands of one independent team to the other, it generated bottlenecks.

Consider this:

When teams work separately, developers have no idea about QA roadblocks, and QA teams have limited contextual knowledge about the business goals of the software.

These are just two examples that show how the different objectives of each group lead to inefficiencies when something goes wrong. The teams are more likely to blame one another than instantly identify the origin of the problem and start fixing it.

DevOps emerged to deal with that problem.

It's based on collaborative, cross-functional teams that share the responsibility for maintaining the system and preparing software with a focus on quality feedback and automation.

What is DevOps?

Ideally, DevOps extends the Agile practices to QA and Ops team, streamlining the build, validate, deploy and delivery stages in the software development lifecycle. Cross-functional DevOps teams are empowered with full ownership of applications.

To accomplish that, DevOps encourages integration, collaboration, communication, and automation among developers and IT operations teams. To improve the predictability, efficiency, and security of software delivery, DevOps teams concentrate on standardizing development environments and automating delivery procedures.

The objectives of DevOps are simple:

  • Providing developers with more control over the production environment
  • Improving deployment frequency
  • Reducing the failure rate of new releases
  • Improving mean time to recovery
  • Boosting the speed and quality of software
  • And – ultimately – achieving faster time to market

Here's how we use DevOps in our projects

When delivering software development services to our clients, we rely on DevOps to supports our projects in the best possible way, here’s how:

  • Continuous integration (testing with each commit/pull request) - that’s how we make sure that our codebase is always tested and verified.

  • Continuous deployment (automatic deployment through pull requests merging) - it helps us to reduce the number of manual steps and potential human-made errors in the process.

  • Infrastructure as a code - we use DevOps practices in preparing server infrastructure and using a defined codebase (using tools like Fabric and Terraform).

  • Automation - we strive to automate as many tasks as we can to speed up the low-impact work (we use Ansible and Fabric). Again, it’s about process optimization and reducing the chance of human-made mistakes.

  • Keeping up to date with best practices - that’s what helps us ensure that the final product is of high quality.

  • Security focus - we strive to minimize potential security threats and build well-protected software.

These practices (and many more!) all aim to optimize the work of our development teams, helping them focus on what matters and making them even more efficient. DevOps practices also help us to avoid unnecessary manual steps in our process, reduce the chances of errors, and eliminate problems that may cause potential security threats.

Ultimately, our teams can create the product faster, all the while keeping the infrastructure at its highest possible quality.

Our DevOps best practices

Here are some of the best practices we use to boost our software development process and increase the quality of our work:

  • If something can be automated, do it - that’s the best way to reduce the time spent on that task in the future, at the same time reducing the risk of human error.
  • Keep your infrastructure in a codebase - by doing that, recreation is simpler and you get a good understanding of the infrastructure stack that you create. Moreover, any changes can be checked/audited through commit history
  • Always test your code.
  • Keep your environments as similar as possible - it enables us to identify and mitigate any potential issues before deploying on production. In fact, it’s best to use an environment which is as similar to production as possible.
  • Keep your applications 12-factor compliant.
  • Be up-to-date with newest technology trends.
  • Deliver quickly, rollback even quicker (if necessary).
  • Business, operations, and development teams need to be fully aligned to ensure the project’s success.
  • Provide developers with tools that help them work best.

Do you want to learn more? Read this: 7 Agile best practices you should know

Are you looking for a team of highly-skilled software developers who follow an excellent process?

Get in touch with us; we help organizations develop software at scale using battle-tested and proved processes.

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