What is DevOps?
DevOps describes a mindset, culture and set of processes that bring development and operations teams together to complete software development. It allows organizations to create and improve products at a faster pace than they can with traditional software development approaches. And, it’s gaining popularity at a rapid rate.
DevOps is a way of handling the lifecycle of an application. It sticks with the project from the minute the code base is created through the tenth release of production code. It combines two teams that are kept separate traditionally. The development team and the operations team combine into one.
Why DevOps exists?
There are a lot of processes going on behind the scenes of every project. You have to deal with bugs that are being reported by users without making more bugs. Then there’s the issue of going through the deploy process every time. Are there tests in place to check the code? Can you be sure that you are doing everything the same way each time?
With DevOps, you get rid of a lot of those concerns. The whole process can be automated which keeps the builds and deploys consistent. When you know that your deploy process is consistent, it gives you the confidence to deploy more often. You won’t have to wait for a long cycle to finish before you deploy some minor bug fixes.
You can do smaller deploys more often because you know exactly what is happening at every step. That will make customers happier when they use your application because they see a faster turnaround in the requests they make.
Improved Communication and Collaboration
DevOps improves software development culture. Combined teams are happier and more productive. The culture becomes focused on performance rather than individual goals. When the teams trust each other, they can experiment and innovate more effectively. The teams can focus on getting the product to market or into production, and their KPIs should be structured accordingly.
It’s no longer a matter of “turning over” the application to operations and waiting to see what happens. Operations doesn’t need to wait for a different team to troubleshoot and fix a problem. The process becomes increasingly seamless as all individuals work toward a common goal.
There is enormous waste in a typical IT environment with people waiting for other people and other machines—or they are stuck solving the same problems over and over. Workers like to be productive and the time spent churning causes frustration and unhappiness. When people get rid of the unsatisfying parts of their job and can instead spend that time adding value to the organization, everyone benefits.
Automated deployments and standardized production environments, key aspects of DevOps models of IT operations, make deployments predictable and free people from routine repetitive tasks to go do more creative things.
All of the DevOps benefits translate to reduced overall costs and IT headcount requirements. According to Red Hat research, DevOps development teams require 35 percent less IT staff and 30 percent lower IT costs.
Constant Re-engineering & Process Optimization
Another importance of DevOps involved process optimization and constant re-engineering. Bringing development, operations, and users together to align their working toolset enforces constant observation and evaluation of all processes. This evaluation leads to constant improvement through innovation and response to feedback. As such it instills built-in constant process improvements by constantly re-engineering all processes with full participation and agreement among all participants.
Operate and manage your infrastructure and development processes at scale. Automation and consistency help you manage complex or changing systems efficiently and with reduced risk. For example, infrastructure as code helps you manage your development, testing, and production environments in a repeatable and more efficient manner.
Ensure the quality of application updates and infrastructure changes so you can reliably deliver at a more rapid pace while maintaining a positive experience for end-users. Use practices like continuous integration and continuous delivery to test that each change is functional and safe. Monitoring and logging practices help you stay informed of performance in real-time.
Holistic Approach to Problem Solving
A holistic approach to problem solving means developers or the QAs need to view problems outside coding or test cases, if required. If a developer or a QA is required to solve a problem, the default approach should not necessarily be in their specialization. They need to explore other options too. For example, some problems can be solved by providing training. The idea is to find the best solutions and not ones that need coding.
Implicit to the efficiency of development, operations, and the business working together is the important process of keeping them in alignment with each other. This isn’t just a strategic alignment in which everybody agrees on how to move. This is a tactical, day-to-day, pragmatic alignment that absolutely must be constant, consistent, a shared commitment. Delays in developing code cost the process. Operations delayed in delivering and deploying new updates cost the process. Users taking too much time to provide feedback cost the process.
Taken together, this demonstrates the importance and value of DevOps in how it promotes interoperability. Using consistent policies, consistent procedures, and a shared responsibility to accelerate the process in every way possible brings teams together far more effectively than any team-building exercise possibly could. Achieving the benefits of DevOps begins here.
Risk is very familiar to all IT operations, which lives with the constant risk of business disruption and delay caused by undetected development errors. This creates substantial financial risk for the business and the risk of lost time and productivity for staff. By breaking the software development process down into far smaller pieces all these risks are mitigated. When rollback or resolution can be almost instantaneous, all these risks are reduced or eliminated.
Anything that doesn’t improve eventually dies. The constant improvement that is the major goal of DevOps and one of its key benefits, is fueled by innovation. Feedback from users to development through the collection activities of operations does more than just resolve problems. The talented people who are closest to the activities that drive the business are most likely to generate new ideas, new concepts, and new value to be incorporated into the next iteration of the code. This means that everyone involved in the DevOps process contributes constantly to the process of innovating.
Silos occur when there is a paucity of effective communication, feedback sharing, and review mechanisms. To break down silos, code needs to be reviewed by peers, knowledge needs to be shared so that the unavailability of any single employee does not become a showstopper, work needs to be documented and everyone must be enabled to deploy software.
Rapid and Continuous Feedback
Companies should want their internal employees to identify defects in the software before their customers do. To do this, the software should be frequently deployed and reviewed by employees from different teams and the feedback should be continuously incorporated. This makes things easier than when a pile of issues or bugs stack up and a crisis is triggered.
Reduced Deployment Failures, Rollbacks, and Time to Recover
Part of the reason teams experiences deployment failures is due to programming defects. The shorter development cycles with DevOps promote more frequent code releases. This, in turn, makes it easier to spot code defects. Therefore, teams can reduce the number of deployment failures using agile programming principles that call for collaboration and modular programming. Rollbacks are similarly easier to manage because, when necessary, only some modules are affected.
Time to recover is an important issue because some failure has to be expected. But recovery is much faster when the development and operations teams have been working together, exchanging ideas and accounting for both teams’ challenges during development.
DevOps: how to get started?
Developing a DevOps culture requires planning. These tips can help you develop a DevOps mindset:
- Think about how you want your web team to operate over 12-18 months.
- Encourage your teams to have their say: how do they think the processes could be realistically improved? How do they feel about having ops handle dev projects?
- Examine your current work processes and ask yourself (and your team!) what can be improved, and what the risks are.
- Find out who, among the existing employees, is willing to learn new skills.
- Feel free to share your conclusions and your plan with other units: cross-functional teams can be involved in your entire organisation to improve efficiency!
- When you hire new people, go for DevOps with cross-functional skills, and give them the opportunity to learn new skills.