To keep up with rapidly changing customer requirements and provide products and services in proper time, software building teams should improve release frequency and improve their time to market. To meet this challenge, numerous software development companies have opted for integrating DevOps best practices into their inner business processes.
Indeed, the 2016 State of DevOps Report testifies that adopting DevOps in the company workflow allows deploying 200 times more frequently, improves lead and recovery times and reduces failures significantly. The time that organizations waste on rework or unplanned work was reduced by 22%. Also, this approach enhances the organization’s internal atmosphere: survey respondents have noticed increased loyalty and better performance among their employees.
Born in 2008, the phenomenon of DevOps has been adopted by multiple companies and has affected their workflows significantly. It has not been evolving independently. The urge for Agile software building has created a favorable ground for a technique that demands close cooperation between the development and operation teams, “dev” and “ops”, respectively.
First coined by two software creation enthusiasts, the term that unites “development” and “operations” became a buzzword in 2009. Then, a series of DevOpsDays Conferences has captured the attention of companies in multiple countries all over the world, starting with Belgium.
When it comes to DevOps definition, the adherents of DevOps explained it in numerous ways, and there is no uniform description as all the variants refer to the essence of the concept. It is a set of practices that threads the whole development process and focuses on the following principles:
- Continuous integration
- Continuous delivery
- Continuous deployment
Close interaction and integration between the development and operation is the road to achieve continuousness of all critical stages of software creation process. This approach helps companies automate the delivery process and create and update their products faster.
So, what does DevOps mean? To define DevOps thoroughly, we need to look into the challenges it is purposed to address:
- Development and operation teams are siloed, which is why both teams are unaware of the bottlenecks with which the other department deals. It may result in a situation in which properly built software does not perform as intended.
- Operation teams hardly look into the domain’s specifics. An application’s operations may nullify developers’ efforts on emphasizing the industry’s requirements and making it fit them.
- The two teams have different goals, which may cause lack of understanding and decrease their efficiency.
That is why the creators of this innovative methodology have masterminded collaborative teams that consist of both devs and ops to accomplish intermixed functions and be equally responsible for the performance of the end product.
During a traditional software development project, several isolated teams handle a ready piece of code, which may add some roadblocks to the software performance.
A well-structured DevOps team ensures that the software not only has a clean code but will also work smoothly in a prescribed system. Even though this approach erases the boundaries between devs and ops and seems to lack clear-cut role division, it enhances the predictability of project delivery. Together with a trouble-proof application, these practices provide a company with the following benefits:
- More dynamic and intelligent software building processes
- Better time to market
- Increased ROI owing to operating cost reduction and revenue growth
- Improved deployment frequency
- Reduced frequency of release failure
- Reduced rework time
- Decreased time for system recovery after unsuccessful updates or other malfunctions
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Improved software quality
Teams that apply this approach in their practice notice that it allows adjusting the solutions in a timely manner to make them fit all of the current customer requirements. Also, collaborating teams develop the products that are more secure, compared to traditional ones, and require easier support and less of it. We at SaM Solutions also set a high value on the marriage of devs and ops, which is why we relied our SaM CloudBOX PaaS on DevOps-based processes.
DevOps vs. Agile and Continuous Integration
This software creation mindset emerged as the offspring of Agile software development methodology since the latter required fast and seamless product delivery that the combination of development and operations was to ensure. Indeed, these principles are much alike and both advocate fast delivery. However, to achieve its goals, DevOps focuses on organizational changes, while Agile requires a shift in mindset and practical aspects.
Also, as opposed to Agile, DevOps stipulates blurred barriers between devs and ops and demands one cross-functional team to perform all of the phases of the development process: application building, validation, deployment and delivery. Agile, in its turn, still adheres to the division of a team into building, testing and operation groups. It does not provide shared ownership of the product.
Although it may seem to be more in the mold of DevOps, continuous integration is just a phase that is usually accompanied with continuous development and delivery. However, the idea that both approaches share is the built-in quality that is ensured by an ongoing collaboration of developers, testers and QA.
The Tool Stack
As DevOps aims to incorporate software development and delivery with its operation, smooth alignment requires automated tools and advanced technologies. These practices involve tools that concern the following project’s components:
- Code: tools for code creation, analysis, merger and version control
- Build: tools for continuous integration and the monitoring of its status
- Test: instruments for continuous testing
- Package: an application artifact repository
- Release: tools for modification management, release automation and legal approval
- Configuration: instruments for infrastructure configuration and management, infrastructure as a code
- Monitoring: tools for the monitoring of application performance and end-user feedback
Despite numerous benefits DevOps delivers to its followers and its increased popularity, F5’s 2017 State of Application Delivery research shows disappointing statistics. Only one in five subject-matter specialists consider this approach to have a strategic impact on their company. And just 17% of respondents consider DevOps to be crucial for their organizations’ success.
However, we believe that such an innovative IT mindset has every chance to succeed. To make the best use out of DevOps, companies should apply it correctly, like any other software development methodology. Then, a couple of years later, a growing number of companies will opt for it as it provides a holistic approach to software development and delivery. Quality software that operates efficiently in a prescribed system, combined with increased process automation and enhanced collaboration among stakeholders, is the reason why Amazon, Netflix, Pinterest, Flickr and Google have come on board.