The Benefits of DevOps and How to Leverage Them
Traditionally, software used to be developed by software engineers who would spend time coding and testing to make sure the software was behaving the way it should. Once they were satisfied with their product, the operations teams would join hands and start rolling out the software. This follows a very linear path along the software development life cycle that is often quite time-consuming. In today’s fast-paced technological world, organizations can not afford this manual, meticulous approach to deploying software. By the time their software develops, someone else is likely to create a faster solution and beat them to it.
Today, things need to roll out fast, and as a result, many software companies have adopted the DevOps model to help speed things up and keep up with the market. The demands in the current market are increasing, and teams need to evolve to stay on track with their commitment to meet them. For most organizations, DevOps has been the key to deploying code faster and doing it more successfully. This post will explain more about the DevOps model – what it is, why businesses should consider switching to it, its core principles, its advantages, disadvantages, and so much more. We’ll also look at some of the most popular DevOps tools out there that you can utilize for your teams.
Here’s an outline of what we’ll be covering so you can easily navigate or skip ahead in the guide–
- What is the DevOps Model?
- Why DevOps?
- Are There any Disadvantages to DevOps?
- DevOps Tools
- Closing Thoughts
What is the DevOps Model?
DevOps stands for development + operations. It’s a philosophy – a set of practices, processes, and principles that several companies adopt to be on top of their game.
As the name suggests, DevOps combines teams from the software development and the IT Operations departments. It allows previously separate departments such as development, quality assurance, IT operations, and security to coordinate and collaborate to ship high-quality applications and services at high speeds.
DevOps essentially brings together processes, people, and technology synergistically and helps streamline and speed up software development, deployment, and maintenance. The model aims to shorten the system’s development life cycle alongside continuous delivery of high-quality software.
There have been debates about the exact definition of DevOps; however, there is one thing that we can all agree on – DevOps attempts to make the development and deployment of software smooth, responsive, and dynamic. As a result, this movement has gathered a lot of momentum in the industry. Organizations have started to leverage DevOps’s cross-disciplinary, inter-departmental collaboration benefits to ship software applications that can evolve quickly and smoothly while ensuring high quality and resilience.
Core Operations of DevOps
Here are the core operations of DevOps –
- Application development
- Code building
- Code coverage
- Unit testing
- Deployment with infrastructure
These core operations and practices help organizations to streamline and speed up the process of development and deployment. They encourage the project’s scalability while enforcing predictable, reliable procedures that need to be followed by organizations and their developers. These operations occur in tandem, allowing easy identification of issues at each step along the way. Therefore, it is easier to pinpoint areas that are not working as expected and quickly fix them.
The Importance of DevOps in Software Development
Today’s technologies are rapidly changing, innovating, and improving, and as a result, development teams face increased demands now. This requires organizations and developers to be on the top of their game in rapidly delivering software updates and improvements.
Encouraging increased collaboration, automation of workflows and infrastructure, performance monitoring, and overall productivity, DevOps leverages an instrumented approach to increase speed and frequency of deployment. It translates manual processes into iterative processes that can easily be measured, monitored, tested, and scaled to respond to the market needs quickly, more reliably, and consistently.
DevOps principles are best suited for the dynamic environment and requirements of the growing software industry. It focuses on creating systems that encourage speed, innovation, collaboration, quality, and responsiveness to business needs. It also promotes extensive source control for managing, tracking, documentation, configuration management for deploying code changes to thousands of servers, and effective application performance monitoring to automate reliable software delivery.
Companies that incorporate DevOps practices and philosophies are known to be more productive in their line of work. A 2019 study found that over 80% of companies have already actively adopted DevOps models and approaches in their processes.
Here are some of the other reasons why you should consider DevOps for your software development pipeline –
Faster Development Timeline
When companies use the DevOps model, it takes them less time to ship a complete software product. Thanks to the virtues of automation, this allows the execution of most manual tasks without any human intervention (for example, building, running tests, deploying, etc.). As a result, DevOps encourages developers to focus more on building new features and rolling out more frequent updates by reducing the human time and input required.
According to a 2015 study, DevOps makes software market-ready with a 60% difference in timelines than traditional development and deployment methods.
CI/CD is a method of frequently delivering improved apps to customers. CI stands for Continuous Integration, while CD stands for Continuous Delivery or Deployment.
The CI/CD pipeline relies on automation and involves collaborative efforts from the development and operations team, so it is a very DevOps-focused approach. Continuous integration expects developers to merge their code to a shared version-controlled repository regularly instead of bulk merging multiple commits after completion of work. Local testing, followed by automated testing through the CI service, reduces the number of likely bugs while making it easier to localize and fix those that arise. Automation helps organizations deploy the updates as soon as the code is written, reviewed, merged, and tested in continuous delivery and deployment. This can be done from within minutes to a few hours, allowing faster, more reliable updates.
More Reliable Error Detection
Because CI/CD involves automated testing at each step, DevOps tools ensure the correctness of each merged commit. Furthermore, DevOps practices encourage knowledge sharing between teams, allowing for an increased number of insights into a process from different perspectives, and providing more helpful information for developers and operators to better understand the system and foresee issues.
In DevOps, all code updates are encouraged to pass through group code reviews before merging, ensuring that the code is more foolproof, optimized, and aligned with established best practices and project-specific design decisions. As you can imagine, this directly corresponds to better quality software releases and, therefore, satisfied customers.
Faster Mean Time to Resolution
As the name suggests, Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) refers to the average time it takes for a raised incident to get resolved. It is a metric used by professionals to gauge how successful they are in dealing with problems. This requires the DevOps teams to be client-centric with their approach. Responding to feedback or complaints as soon as possible makes the team behind the software appear reliable.
Take the following situation for example. A client is experiencing downtime due to a minor problem in the software. Traditionally, organizations solve these issues by passing them through different departments. However, now with more awareness of the development cycle, any team can work on the problems immediately. This process would otherwise have slowed down the resolution period and led to a loss of clients.
A focus on resolving issues as soon as possible ensures that these incidents do not do long-term damage to the software and the company. MTTR encourages DevOps usage in companies because it tries to build a resilient system design that is also proactive. It ensures that the communication between the clients and the developers is straightforward and reduces dependencies thanks to the team’s collaboration.
Collaboration always brings out the best of everyone’s strengths because it benefits from everyone sharing and augmenting each other’s skills towards the same project. DevOps pushes this up a notch. While traditional processes also involve the collaboration of different departments, they are known to be somewhat separatist by nature. The software development team does their work first and then goes for testing; results are sent back to the development team and reworked. Then once ready for deployment, it goes to the operations team.
Now, with departments becoming more cross-functional and working as one single team rather than siloed task-based groups, things work faster, and there’s more room for innovation. This isn’t restricted by physical space either. Teams can communicate, collaborate, and get work done even if they are halfway across the world. Thanks to this DevOps model, sub-teams are responsible for their own tasks and the whole project.
More Innovation and Higher Quality Software
Since things are more streamlined in the DevOps environment, there is a lot of room for innovation. Thanks to better communication and collaboration, faster deployments, and more freed time, thanks to automation, DevOps teams have more space to work on brainstorming new ideas and experimenting with new features. This also allows for increased software reliability in general. The releases are more foolproof and of much higher quality because of all the group code reviews, automated testing, and performance monitoring.
Are there any Disadvantages of DevOps?
With all the benefits that DevOps offers, let’s look at some of its disadvantages. It is essential to be aware of some potential difficulties that you might face with DevOps. Knowing these disadvantages helps you understand whether the model suits your organization and project or not.
- Not all organizations are DevOps ready. A transition into DevOps can require a cultural and systemic shift for the company. This might entail significant staff retraining in specific domains and corresponding expenses, hardware and software upgrades, and changes in the employees’ roles, entailing sometimes increased responsibilities.
- DevOps talent is a challenge for companies to find. Typically, DevOps experts are likely to demand higher compensation, which can be difficult for smaller companies upfront.
- A vast array of choices of tools can become confusing. There are many tools available for DevOps applications for the company. It can be overwhelming for organizations just starting with DevOps practices to choose what would work best for them from the scores of tools available in the market. It is therefore advisable to seek outside help and professional consultation to make the transition easier.
- There is room for mistakes during the transition period. While in the long run, incorporating DevOps practices almost always helps, getting started could be problematic. Therefore, it is advisable to go step by step and have a long-term plan for transitions and staff training.
- Security and speed is a difficult marriage. Using the DevOps model, it becomes possible to roll out more software updates much faster. But due to the speed of the rollouts, your application’s security can sometimes be overlooked. It is critical to have a separate team that ensures security measures are taken care of for each release.
- Developer Fatigue: Delivering too many updates frequently can become exhausting and tiresome for developers – something that teams might want to keep in mind before going all guns blazing with DevOps.
While you can see that there are some challenges to using this methodology, there are ways to tackle the initial difficulties. Hiring an excellent team to facilitate the transition is vital here, and picking the right set of tools based on your organization’s needs can make a huge difference and make your transition to DevOps much smoother.
Following are some of the most popular DevOps tools that you can consider adding to your pipeline if you haven’t already.
Git, Github, Bitbucket
Git is perhaps the most popular open-source version control tool out there. Since its creation in 2005, its popularity has increased exponentially, making it the most preferred source control tool for developers. With Git, you can track the changes of your code, revert to older versions, create multiple branches for different use cases (i.e., one for development, another for production), and compare and merge code from other branches.
Developed based on the concepts behind Apache Ant and Maven, Gradle is an open-source build automation tool. It supports multi-project builds for companies, especially large-scale ones. Gradle works with many different languages, including C++, Python, and Java, and works with several IDEs like Netbeans, Intellij IDEA, Eclipse, and Android Studio.
Jenkins is an open-source automation server with a repository of plugins used by developers to automate the building, testing, delivery, and deployment of software. It is written in Java and allows continuous integration and delivery of software. It has a vast plugin library, making it flexible as it integrates with almost every DevOps tool. It’s available for all kinds of platforms and operating systems, making it flexible and easily accessible for DevOps teams.
Bamboo is Atlassian’s CI/CD server solution. It helps development teams automate builds, test code, and release software continuously. It works with most programming languages and supports various technologies like AWS, Docker, Amazon S3, and CodeDeploy. Bamboo also integrates seamlessly with other Atlassian services such as Jira and BitBucket to encourage full traceability of the development process of the software.
Docker is a software platform that lets you develop, build, ship, run, and manage containerized applications. A container is an isolated, standalone, lightweight run-time environment with its own set of processes, services, and dependencies that allows organizations to ship software units effortlessly and more reliably. Ever since the launch of Docker in 2013, containerization has taken the industry by storm and become an essential aspect of DevOps tools.
Puppet Enterprise has created a cross-platform, client-server-based application that focuses on configuration management. It enables developers to automate their tasks, deliver infrastructure securely, and expand automation across platforms (like Windows and Linux). Puppet Enterprise combines model-based and task-based capabilities to enable organizations to scale multi-cloud infrastructure. The enterprise version of Puppet also has additional features like real-time reporting, role-based access control, and node management.
Kubernetes is a Google-developed container orchestration platform that is open-sourced and helps DevOps teams deploy, manage and scale containerized applications. Some of its features include --
- automated rollouts and rollbacks
- storage orchestration in any storage system of the user’s choice (e.g., cloud, local storage, etc.)
- automatically organizing containers based on resource requirements and user-defined constraints
- performing batch executions.
Ansible is an IT automation engine used to automate repetitive and complex tasks such as configuration management, deployment, cloud provisioning, and intra-service orchestration. Working on Ansible is simple and does not rely on agent software, and works for multi-tier deployment. This feature helps developers reduce their deployment time so they can focus more on writing code and developing features.
Raygun is a cloud-based monitoring and bug tracking platform specializing in providing crash reporting, application performance monitoring, and real user monitoring tools. It enables development teams to diagnose issues and trace issues to the very line of code causing them. In addition, it supports developers to optimize their code through actionable insights, ensuring high-quality software.
Scout APM is an application performance monitoring tool that supports developers by analyzing the application’s behavior. It identifies critical performance issues in your application and notifies developers so they can fix them in time. It currently supports PHP, Ruby, Elixir, and Python applications. It provides real-time alerting and has an intuitive tracing logic that helps connect which part of the code is causing bottlenecks in the system.
DevOps combines the best of Software Development and IT Operations to add value to your company by allowing teams to collaborate and share their strengths throughout the software development life cycle. It empowers teams and makes everyone focused on the overall goal – to deliver quality products and updates faster. The DevOps model fosters growth, efficiency, productivity, and a group mindset in an organization, where the customer experience is the core driving force. While there could be some initial challenges in making the jump to the DevOps model, it’s essential to note that the initial investment can reap countless benefits as things settle in. As we saw, many super helpful DevOps tools are available that can be easily integrated into software development cycles and make the transition smoother.
Now go ahead and play around with these tools and platforms and think about what DevOps practices could benefit your organization!