Traditionally, software development and IT operations teams haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. With a figurative wall separating them from collaborative efforts, these teams usually act independently of one another; slowing down production time, forming hostility and finding difficulty in navigating the processes that push effective products to market.
But with the emergence of DevOps, there has been a massive change in pace and direction in the efficiency, productivity and collaboration between these two departments.
So what exactly is DevOps, why does it matter and if it does what it says it can, how do you go about adopting this new practice?
What Exactly Is DevOps?
DevOps isn’t a set of tools, technology or even a job title – it’s a cultural practice that consists of philosophies, principles and applications that has software development and operations teams working together in tandem.
It’s based on the formulation of a symbiotic relationship between two departments that traditionally haven’t necessarily seen eye-to-eye on things like delivery time, deployment, approval processes, etc.
Prior to DevOps, the process that usually takes place is one that has developers produce code for a product or software solution and throw it over a proverbial wall to the operations team for the preparation, finalising and deployment of it for the use of customers.
Although it seems fairly simple, problems would constantly arise; releases were often costly and time-consuming, operations teams were separate and independent of the development team (leading to a lack of effective communication and collaboration) and risks would often come in the form of errors, bugs and issues that hampered both delivery time and often the product, itself – not to mention the time-consuming approval process required across different departments to actually deploy products, solutions and changes.
However, with the advent of DevOps and the advancements in technology to complement this new practice, development and operations teams now work together towards common goals, while enhancing the overall productivity, efficiency and time that it takes to develop, produce and release new products and software.
DevOps was introduced between 2007-2009 when Patrick Debois saw the need for software developers and IT operations to work together under one umbrella, rather than within the separate silos (departments, offices, branches) that were traditionally in place.
Since then, it’s gained worldwide popularity with large organisations such as Netflix, Google, Amazon and Facebook. Using concepts like continuous integration, delivery and deployment, microservices, monitoring, as well as automation – DevOps has ultimately come to change the efficiency and productivity of so many organisations for the better.
While transformation doesn’t just happen overnight, by exploring and adopting this new approach to business, a large number of benefits and advantages are sure to follow.
Side Note* : Continuous Integration, Delivery and Deployment refers to the automation of code merging, testing and deployment. This means that code is managed and maintained at a high quality, it’s tested frequently and consistently deployed when ready – based on automated processes through particular software. The traditional approach would have engineers manually update, test and check for quality, which would often take months to accomplish; this is now done on a daily basis through process automation.
So How Will It Affect My Organisation?
DevOps has been around for a number of years now and as we embrace modern technology, it’s seen steady growth in the results that it brings.
Besides the cultural shift that needs to take place, certain tools are also required for these teams to perform in the most effective ways, possible. Once that culture is instilled and the necessary tools are available, the list of advantages come flooding in:
Reliability: Prior to DevOps, it was challenging to make significant changes to suit a customer’s needs, as updates and changes usually came with the possibility of a compromise in quality for the user. However, with continuous delivery and integration, it’s now possible to consistently evaluate and test software for faults, bugs and issues, while maintaining security and a desired level of quality. Concepts such as monitoring and logging help with real-time tracking – helping to maintain reliability and stability.
Collaboration: The traditional approach had a proverbial wall that divided development and operations teams from collaboration and efficient information exchange – resulting in a lack of trust and transparency, which hampers morale and thus productivity. DevOps culture and practice has these two separate departments working together as a team, sharing common goals and direction; this results in a happier environment with greater job satisfaction and decreased attrition rates.
Quicker Innovation: If DevOps is implemented correctly, it allows for the development and deployment of products at a much faster rate through concepts like continuous delivery and integration. Traditional approaches have long and cumbersome cycle times, resulting in a slow time to market, which leads to decreased customer satisfaction and profitability. Problems are also less complex and alterations are much smaller through working together in unison and with these new toolsets.
Security: Traditionally, speed and security didn’t quite work together so well, thus affecting delivery time. Before deployment, changes had to go through various departments and management before it was deemed secure and ready for release. DevOps introduces automated compliance policies, fine-grained controls and configuration management techniques to maintain both speed and security.
Scalability: With the management of technology and software being far more difficult to scale with the traditional approach, DevOps automation and consistency allows for the change and management of complex systems far more efficiently and at much quicker rates.
What Can I Do To Implement This Practice?
Adopting DevOps means that certain practices need to be incorporated first and foremost; the involvement and collaboration between developers, operations and support staff are essential to its functionality and success.
The very first step would be to embrace this new practice as a philosophy or culture – one that requires the involvement of these traditionally siloed teams to integrate, collaborate and work towards common goals under one umbrella. Getting development and operations teams to fully commit to one cause and direction sets the foundation of this new approach.
Once the culture is established, then learning how specific tools are used to enhance and improve traditional processes and procedures is the next important step.
Training these newly integrated teams to manage, process, test and deploy new code, products and solutions through particular software is essential to DevOps. For example, in order to make use of Continuous Integration, tools like Jenkins and Bamboo would need to be used; for Build Automation, software like Maven or Gradle are popular choices; Ansible or Puppet would be used for Configuration Management; and Monitoring would be handled by tools such as SenSu or NewRelic.
Numerous types of DevOps tools are available – each one with their own set of pros and cons – and knowing how to use them is essential to a functioning DevOps team.
In order for you to apply this approach successfully, it’s important to go through an iterative process that introduces DevOps to your organisation in a strategic manner. You need to identify and justify the need for this practice in your organisation; make your staff aware of what it is and how it will affect operations and processes; form and develop the right team to manage and execute the practice effectively; create understanding around objectives, goals and strategies that need to be implemented; and identify constraints in order to develop a working system.
DevOps will change your organisation for the better. The sooner you adopt this practice, the greater the gap will become between you and your competition.
Find out if DevOps is the right fit for you by clicking here.