DevOps is a set of practices, tools, and a cultural mindset that follows a collaborative organizational model. It combines the software development and operations teams into one collaborative group that helps an organization gain competitive edge through fast, high-quality service and application delivery.
Many companies now are to some extent software companies. No matter what industry your business is in, your company relies on software and applications to deliver value to clients and to meet your business goals. As digital transformation evolves in large and small businesses, efficient and functional software and application development are more important than ever.
Often, this responsibility falls on the development and operations teams in the IT department. However, many team organizations are not optimized for peak efficiency.
If your IT department is falling behind your expectations, you may benefit from moving away from the traditional siloed method of software development.
DevOps is different: production occurs in self-sufficient cells focused on one entire project rather than in siloed phases. It doesn’t require handoffs between teams, which reduces bottlenecks and roadblocks. In addition, developers can implement feedback from operations team members faster, resulting in quick code improvements and problem solving.
The DevOps Lifecycle and How DevOps Works
DevOps involves the constant collaboration of the development and operations teams. The Devops lifecycle is meant to depict the collaborative and repetitive nature of the DevOps process using an infinity loop. It typically consists of the following stages:
- Plan: Teams identify a business opportunity and collect end-user feedback to ensure they create a project roadmap that will minimize issues and maximize value.
- Build: Development team uses tools to streamline development process and commit code to the shared code repository.
- Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD): Development team deploys code build to test environment to ensure software quality. Once quality is confirmed, the team releases quality products frequently and predictably.
- Monitor and Alert: Teams identify and prioritize issues that impact the product and alert the appropriate party of fixes that need to happen.
- Operate: Automate the release and all updates that help keep the lifecycle stages short, giving developers more time to focus on developing new applications.
- Continuous Feedback: Gather feedback reports from customers and tools constantly, and incorporate them to improve future releases. Cycle is repeated.
DevOps Roles and Responsibilities
DevOps services are a broad area — the entire development lifecycle falls under a DevOps engineer’s job description. As a result, DevOps engineers are generalists rather than specialists. Some may be software engineers with operations experience; others may be system administrators with a coding or testing background. Still, a complete DevOps team requires a few specific roles.
- DevOps Engineer: Designs infrastructure and integrates resources for the entire project.
- DevOps Automation Architect: Automates systems when possible to reduce workload.
- DevOps Architect: Design new strategies and tools for certain projects.
- Release Manager: Takes the responsibility for planning, scheduling, and managing smooth delivery.
- Software Developer/Tester: Write and update code, fix bugs, and add new features.
- Security and Compliance Engineer: Oversees the entire environment and ensures overall security through development.
DevOps’ Expanding Collaboration
Some DevOps team models advocate for even broader collaboration with other departments. For example, one expanded collaboration model is DevSecOps, which incorporates security measures into every step of the DevOps process. This may include adding steps to the workflow, such as a risk assessment or creating a security strategy.
Another common model, called BizDevOps, invites executives, owners and stakeholders to the technical team. These collaborators share unique insight during the planning and monitoring phases of the software lifecycle. They can direct project priorities toward customers and clients better than IT team members alone. Business team members ensure that DevOps is always delivering value to users.
Security at the Speed of DevOps
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DevOps Mindset and Culture
Rapid code development doesn’t always lead to rapid code deployment. The primary goal of DevOps is to solve this problem. DevOps speeds up operations by improving collaboration and reducing barriers between previously separated teams. Greater efficiency is the biggest benefit of DevOps — this model allows team members to deliver value to clients more effectively.
DevOps teams accomplish efficiency goals through a combination of shifting workplace culture and improving methodology. This change in culture aligns both people and processes toward a shared goal. The idea is that the team who builds the code also runs it. This offers developers a new perspective of practical needs and challenges. The result is simplified deployment and maintenance.
DevOps also has a unique mindset regarding failure. Rather than focusing on eliminating failure by implementing restrictive processes and approvals, DevOps teams recognize that failure is inevitable and plan for it. DevOps engineers build their processes so that their failures are small and happen early during development, which makes it easy to quickly recover. In addition, an environment that doesn’t punish mistakes encourages more innovation.
At its core, DevOps is a philosophy of collaboration and shared responsibility. It embraces the idea that trust is the key to great performance.
DevOps is focused on releasing frequent, incremental changes rather than occasional large updates. Smaller updates are faster to deploy, less risky and easier to fix if errors arise. Using the CI/CD pipeline makes it possible to avoid the operational challenges of deploying more frequent updates. Traditionally organized IT departments can’t accomplish this because with divided teams, new changes must go through extensive internal approvals before going live.
While DevOps is more of a process model and mindset than it is a specific set of tools, most DevOps teams follow standardized practices.
- Continuous Integration: Refers to engineers collecting code changes into a central location throughout their code building process. In this code repository, they can carry out automated tests to find bugs and optimize the software for faster releases.
- Continuous Delivery: Expands on continuous integration to automatically deploy code changes to testing or production environments after the building stage. With the right implementation, your team can have new features and updates ready to release at any time.
- Continuous Deployment: Goes one step further. It automates the deployment process so that as soon as code changes pass all production requirements, they go live to clients without human intervention. Only failed tests will interrupt deployment. This further accelerates the software lifecycle timeline and relieves “release day” pressure.
- Shift left: Conduct tests and fix bugs earlier in the development process through the CI/CD pipeline
- Microservices Architecture: Refers to breaking down complex systems into smaller projects. Developers build individual app components that can run independently. This makes applications much more flexible by reducing the need for complicated coordination.
- Infrastructure as Code: Refers to treating your infrastructure definitions as actual code. This helps in automating infrastructure deployment and management, and for the continuous monitoring of software lifecycle.
- Monitoring and Logging: Continuously monitoring the software lifecycle allows the team to quickly respond to any issues impacting the customer experience.
In addition, DevOps teams use collaborative tools such as a hybrid cloud. This allows the team to achieve greater flexibility and portability while maintaining security and system control. The team may also use third-party tools and technology to facilitate automation, security and performance monitoring.
What are 6 Benefits of DevOps?
Incorporating DevOps practices into your business does much more than improve company culture. In addition to reaping the benefits of improved collaboration, your organization can operate with improved speed and functionality both technically and from a business standpoint.
The DevOps model allows your developers and operations team to deliver solutions more frequently and with much better quality. It allows for faster innovation and adaptation on ever-evolving markets, driving more efficient business results.
2. Rapid Deployment
DevOps teams have the ability to release updates and fix bugs frequently by implementing a feedback loop. This provides organizations with the competitive advantage of promptly responding to customer requests and needs.
3. Improved Collaboration
As mentioned earlier, one of DevOps’ foundations is a culture of collaboration, especially amongst the software developers and the operations teams. The combination of work processes allows for a more efficient process that saves lots of time and money in the long run.
Ensure all changes to code infrastructure and application updates are safe and functional by implementing CI/CD pipeline processes. Additionally, practice monitoring and logging to continuously deliver performance analysis in real time and adjust if needed.
DevOps practices, such as infrastructure as code, allow the team to manage processes to scale through the automation of said processes. Process automation and consistency help DevOps teams manage a growing complex infrastructure in a reliable way and with reduced risk.
You can incorporate security measures and best practices into the DevOps process for an added layer of cybersecurity. Active security audits, testing, and policies are integrated into Devops workflows.
What are the Common Challenges of Adopting DevOps?
1. Changes in Infrastructure
Switching to the DevOps model often requires an overhaul of business practices, but the biggest adoption challenge is not implementing new methodology. Often, you will need to change your system’s infrastructure to support new workflows, a time-consuming and resource-draining process.
2. Team Resistance
You may run into more human challenges as well. The DevOps culture of trust and collaboration takes time and effort to adopt, especially if teams were previously siloed. This challenge is even more difficult to overcome if any teams have a history of conflict. It may also require employees to change the way they work, so it’s natural to face some resistance.
3. Over Emphasis on Tools
When implementing DevOps methodology, it’s all too easy to become captivated by all the DevOps tools available on the market. The right tool can solve plenty of problems, but with each new DevOps tool comes new training and security requirements that can make the transition more confusing. Even integrating tools with your infrastructure takes time and resources. Keep in mind that your best tool is your team. Focus on structures and processes rather than technology while you transition. After your team has fully adopted the DevOps mentality, you can figure out what tools you need.
4. Focus on Metrics
You should also be wary of focusing too much on metrics. Don’t get lost in the numbers — collecting data is only useful if your team can make appropriate changes in response. There are four key metrics to pay attention to.
- Deployment frequency
- Lead time for changes
- Change failure rates
- Time to restore services after a failure
Set goals for these numbers and create a strategy to help your team meet expectations.
5. Improper Resource Allocation
Make sure your teams have subject matter experts in charge of each part of the development process. With skilled talent working on specific tasks, teams are less likely to waste time.
Properly implementing the DevOps model is key to overcoming adoption challenges such as these. Keep reading to learn how to make these changes in your company.