A modern and collaborative approach to continuous software delivery, learning, and quality improvement.
DevOps is seen as many things – a software development approach; a culture focused on quick, incremental, and continuous delivery of products; and a practical application of Lean and Agile concepts. DevOps, an amalgam of “development” and “operations,” is often referred to as a set of engineering philosophies and principles, regarding collaboration between software development and IT operations as one area. The DevOps goal is to streamline the process of development via consistent integration, feedback and monitoring. Here, we detail the history of DevOps, the DevOps life cycle, as well as tools necessary for integration. Additionally, we cover essential DevOps elements, benefits, and drawbacks.
Introduction to and Evolution of DevOps
DevOps developed from the Agile Manifesto, which was written in 2001. The manifesto acted as the “end-all-be-all” set standard for software development. While it was meant to streamline the development process, it was said to have failed in addressing the conflicts between developers and operations specialists working on a project. This was intended to be addressed in 2008 when DevOpsDays (a Belgian software development conference) was launched. Rather than adjust the existing Agile movement, this led to the more fluid and flexible DevOps approach to software development that has enabled a variety of companies to produce higher quality software faster and often at a lower cost.
Beyond its most obvious connection to Agile, the DevOps philosophy also takes notes from other forms of development such as the Lean Movement, Continuous Delivery Movement, Toyota Improvement Kata, and the Theory of Constraints. However, the DevOps approach differs from the Agile movement in that DevOps requires more collaboration and continuous deployment of new code to ensure a closer form of communication and a higher quality final product.
The DevOps Life Cycle
The process is a continuous loop, containing four primary objectives; planning, building, deploying, and operating. Steps like monitoring, feedback, integration, development and testing have also been included multiple times throughout to ensure constant check-ins and cooperation among teams. The life cycle follows no specific order and is customized based on the project. Figure 1 shows the six-phase model that we use at SDLC Partners.
Although it is an engineering concept, tools have been developed to expedite certain steps in the process. Some tools mentioned are specific to the job they do while others are categories of tools with multiple purposes. Here are just a few solutions in the market: Git is a control system utilized to keep track of code. This is essential to collaboration on current projects and in updating previous projects. Containerization tools (Docker, Kubernetes, etc.) test code prior to release. Splunk is a data analysis tool that optimizes DevOps practices. And, Jenkins is used to connect CI/CD formats and act as a place to build, test, and deploy software.
DevOps Foundation, Benefits, and Drawbacks
Foundational DevOps Elements
DevOps can be incredibly beneficial to the modern-day organization, but it requires certain elements to function well:
Systems Thinking: Calls for overall system performance analysis where the big picture is a primary focus rather than the efforts of singular teams. This way of thinking is a social concept that prevents teams from sending defects onto the next group. Simply put, it holds workers accountable for their work and encourages them to feel that their contribution is important no matter how small.
Workplace Culture: It should be obvious that the organization’s culture and leadership values experimentation, continuous learning, and collaboration. This includes rewarding teams for taking risks, allotting time to improve work, and ensuring that workers learn from one another.
Automation: Meant to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks and increase deployment speeds, automation can streamline a host of activities from project documentation through to testing.
Other elements essential to the success of DevOps can include process observation, leadership, transparency, and communication. At SDLC Partners, we also view Design Thinking disciplines and expertise as invaluable to ensuring all stakeholders are included and provide input.
DevOps Benefits and Challenges to Avoid
A 2021 research report conducted by Forrester demonstrated that “organizations with a high level of software delivery maturity are three times more likely to grow at 15 percent or more annually. Conversely, those not modernizing their software delivery processes face increasing roadblocks that limit growth, slow DevOps transformations, and expose security and risk vulnerabilities.”
And while DevOps is becoming the gold standard in the field, and there are measurable benefits, there are factors to be aware of, particularly if you’re trying to implement DevOps with no outside expertise.
- Accelerated time-to-market
- Shorter development cycles
- Effective communication and collaboration
- Reduced deployment failures and rollbacks
- Improved product quality and higher customer satisfaction
- Reduced time-to-recovery
- Reduced costs
- The philosophy itself is easy to misinterpret
- Requirements call for constant customization
- Inadequate foresight causes difficulties in development
- Specialization is often necessary in engineers
Seizing the DevOps Shift for Improved Software Quality
DevOps offers shifts in how processes, mindsets, culture, and collaboration delivers software and business results. The philosophy and practice of DevOps combine all IT operations with software development and relies on consistent feedback and testing to deploy the final product at higher and higher quality levels and in a shorter time span. And while the practice of DevOps takes on concepts from a variety of other development life cycles, it is a process loop that includes planning, building, deploying, and operating with frequent revisits to steps like feedback, monitoring, integration, and development to ensure next-level quality.
Making DevOps Work for Your Organization
Launching, scaling, and maintaining a DevOps approach takes commitment from leadership and a compelling vision to keep teams committed and focused on learning rather than the inherent unknowns. Yet, as demonstrated through Forrester’s research, and the success of our clients, it is well worth the investment and dedication.