What is DevOps? Exploring DevOps Principles & Benefits
It seems there are many enterprises who are taking on the DevOps approach to application development. This is supported by a recent study by RightScale that revealed 84 percent of enterprises have adopted some aspect of DevOps into their organization.
If you’re not too sure what exactly DevOps is, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we define what DevOps is, how it works, and we’ll also explore the best practices and tools you should use for your DevOps model.
The Definition of DevOps
DevOps is a set of software application development principles that combines an agile working culture, best practices, and tools which increases a company’s ability to create, deliver, and improve applications and services much faster than traditional waterfall-based software development processes.
DevOps helps organizations to serve their customers better, by embracing a customer-centric environment, so they can attain a competitive advantage in their industry.
How Does DevOps Work in Practice?
Under the traditional software development model, both development and operations teams are siloed, meaning they worked separately. The development team is responsible for writing the code, and the operations team implemented and ran the code.
The problem that occurred with this traditional software development model happened whenever a problem arose with the coding during when the application was running. The operations teams couldn’t pinpoint where the error was coming from. And since they didn’t write the code, they’d ping it back to the development team to fix it.
This set up led to slower releases, even slower bug fixes, and a greater degree of disparity between the two teams.
With the DevOps model, both development (Dev) and operations (Ops) teams are merged together to form a single unit which looks after the entire application lifecycle, from ideation, planning, development, testing, deployment, operations, and maintenance.
Some DevOp models also get security and quality assurance involved to create a tightly integrated unit that further adds to the application lifecycle. In some instances, when security is the main focus of the DevOps model, they’re called DevSecOps.
For the DevOps model to produce fast results, organizations must utilize a number of practices to automate processes that were historically laborious and slow, and certain tools to evolve the application more efficiently.
DevOps Principles & Benefits: Speed, Scalability, and Silo Smashing
Working with DevOps certainly carries many advantages, to which we’ve identified below:
- Speed: DevOps enables you to create applications for your customers faster and gives you the ability to better adapt to the ever-changing market trends with greater agility.
- Engineers Develop More Skills: The DevOps model focuses on the entire application cycle. For your engineers working in DevOps, they will attain a diverse range of skills since they won’t be stuck on a single function.
- Rapid Software Release & Updates: With DevOps, you are able to review and process customer feedback more quickly, enabling you to innovate and improve your product and send out the latest release without wasting any time.
- Scalability: The automation tools can help you easily scale up (or down) your development processes by managing your development, testing, and deployment in a repeatable manner.
- Better Collaboration: Since there is no disparity between individual team members, DevOps will help to foster a collaborative working culture and take on aboard key values like accountability and ownership. And since both development and operations are working together and sharing many responsibilities, it minimizes any inefficiencies and you waste little time in handover periods between both developers and operations.
- Flexibility: For successful continuous improvement of software, you need to better manage any unexpected work that could arise. Unplanned work can often greatly impact a team’s productivity. But with DevOps, you can better manage these unforeseen workloads since your team will proactively practice retrospection so they can anticipate and share any unplanned work that arises.
How to Implement DevOps
There are two key areas to look into when it comes to transitioning to DevOps. The first is to adopt a new working culture, and the second is to implement a set of development practices.
1: Embrace the Culture Change
Your organization needs to change its culture and mindset to primarily focus on collaboration at a cross-functional level.
Without the innate desire and motivation to foster a collaboration between development and operations, all the tools and automation will be rendered useless. The teams must strive to communicate regularly through whichever medium, whether that’s face-to-face, meetings, email or through a tool like Slack, and to improve the service they provide to their customers.
In addition, members of the DevOps team must take full ownership of their service and they must be willing to go above and beyond their stated roles.
2: Implement DevOps Practices in Software Development
There are a number of practices which help organizations automate and streamline their software development, with most being accomplished with proper tooling.
But the fundamental practice that you need in DevOps is to perform incremental updates frequently, and continually. This helps teams to fix bugs quicker since they can identify them from the latest deployment which caused the error.
Below, we share an overview of some well-known DevOps practices
Continuous Integration (CI)
CI is a software development practice that involves developers merging their code changes into a central repository where automated builds and tests are run. The primary objectives of CI are to locate and resolve bugs quicker, reduce the time it takes to validate and release updates and improve the overall software quality.
Continuous Delivery (CD)
CD is another software development practice where any code changes are built, tested and pushed to production automatically. This practice expands upon CI by deploying all code changes to a test or production environment once the build stage has been completed. CD allows developers to always have deployment-ready builds that have already gone through testing.
Microservices are an infrastructure architecture design approach to building a single application with a set of smaller services that run independently. Each of these services completes a certain function (or functions) and they usually communicate with each other via API calls. A microservice architecture provides developers a greater degree of flexibility and allows them to update each service without affecting the entire stack.
A container is a unit of software that comes packaged with its own set of code and dependencies so that it can run independently. Containers are lightweight and can run in any environment, including cloud-based infrastructures, on-premise, and local terminal. Containers help IT teams make effective use of their resources by virtualizing the operating system.
6 DevOps Tools and Facilitators You Should Know About
As mentioned, most of the best practices can be applied via effective tooling. Here, we list some of the most popular DevOps tools.
- Ansible: Ansible is an open source software that provides automated software provisioning, application deployment, intra-service orchestration, continuous delivery, and configuration management. It has been designed for multi-tier deployment and can model your IT infrastructure by defining how your systems inter-relate. Ansible comes with hundreds of modules to support a multitude of integrations, including Arista, Google Cloud Platform, and Windows.
- AWS: Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a cloud computing infrastructure for developing applications. AWS provides storage, bandwidth and customized support for APIs. AWS provides two core infrastructures, Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3.
- Jenkins: Jenkins is a well-known CI platform that enables you to continuously merge development work with the main source code. Jenkins can work on any major public cloud.
- Docker: An open source platform that enables you to develop and deploy your containers. You can also run microservices within Docker containers as well.
- Kubernetes: Kubernetes is an open source container orchestration platform that is designed for scaling, deploying and running large clusters of application containers. It can work with Docker containers.
- BoxOps: The BoxOps tool enables you to integrates all your DevOps tools that are running containers in one place. This helps to improve productivity and convenience for your developers.
DevOps is a Shift in Mindset
As I’ve explained in this post, DevOps encompasses a set of principles that foster a collaborative and open working culture, best development practices, and tools to help organizations develop their applications quickly while being able to continuously improve the product to meet the demands of the ever-changing market.
Most of those principles require efficient tooling and close supervision—especially if your company is delving into containerization, as so many brands are. That’s why we’ve developed BoxOps, a single interface that centralizes your tools and containerization initiatives in a way that complies with DevOps principles.