DevOps is a term that many have heard but few understand. Is it a work position, technology, or methodology? Well, it’s all of those and we’ll tell you why it’s the case.
DevOps is a term combining the words Development and Operations. Essentially, it is a dynamic set of practices that aims to improve both. That’s the basic gist of it. However, as you might have guessed, it’s far from easy. Specialists in this field of work on streamlining the software development life cycle and making it shorter, as well as facilitating continuous delivery for the project. But more on that later.
DevOps principles imply that improvements in the speed of development never affect the software quality. They just make sure that the environment and technology that surrounds the development process is optimized in a way that doesn’t interfere with it. In other words, the developers don’t need to waste time. DevOps covers security, collaboration, and many other things to make sure the project goes from an idea to completion as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
Originally, software development adhered to Waterfall principles. This means that the team gets the task, writes the code, tests it, and presents it to the client strictly in that order. This model is far too simplistic and has resulted in countless missed bugs, misunderstood requirements, and dissatisfied clients.
As a result, a new methodology was created called Agile. It offers a much more flexible approach to software development. The focus has shifted from the rigid structure to the people. The requirements can be adjusted, the tests can be done sooner, and most importantly the quality of the projects is higher because it actually solves the client’s problems. It was working but it still wasn’t perfect.
First coined in 2008 by Andrew Clay and Patrick Debois, by 2010 DevOps already became a buzzword. The main focus was on cooperation. The DevOps mindset intended to bring together the developers, QA engineers, system administrators, and other specialists together. Better communication and understanding of each other’s roles, in theory, should bring better results faster. In practice, it does exactly that and has noticeably changed the landscape of software development.
Is a change in the philosophical approach to software development really necessary? To answer that question let’s look at the goals of DevOps:
As you can see, they are universal for any development project. You’d have to try hard to find a client that wants you to take as long as you can to complete your work. And while it’s obvious that these goals aren’t easy to accomplish DevOps accomplishes them when implemented correctly. But what is “correctly”?
DevOps mindset is impossible without technology. It’s the right tools in the right hands that make the aforementioned goals achievable. If you’ve decided to integrate a DevOps approach in your company then your arsenal needs to have solutions for:
As a result, the security, efficiency, and maintainability of the development process are vastly improved. Not only does this practice result in a substantially shorter time to market, but the performance of applications developed under the DevOps model is also measurably higher and more reliable.
A simple answer would be “your job becomes easier”. But few would be satisfied with that. Let’s look at what actually changes and how it affects your work and your projects.
The first thing we must mention is automation. Most of the boring tedious tasks that come with software development can become background processes that you don’t need to pay attention to anymore. If your company has frequent releases then you’ll notice right away how easy DevOps makes the deployment.
This is made possible with the approach called continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD for short). It’s the backbone of the DevOps process. In practice, it is a way to automate the testing process. Without a need for human oversight new versions are also automatically pushed to the client improving the feedback loop and vastly speeding up the development. Only a failed test can become a hurdle on the way to the release.
DevOps is also famous for something called infrastructure as code (IaC). It’s a process of managing the IT infrastructure with machine-readable files replacing a large portion of physical hardware. This reduces cost, risks, and deployment time. The practice combines the bare-metal server with virtual machines along with other configuration resources. Whether it’s done with the help of containers or virtual machines, it helps your team deploy projects in different environments. This is necessary to understand how they perform on different machines, operating systems, and platforms.
Security is another area where DevOps specialists have a huge impact. Code analysis tools that are necessary for automated testing also scan for potential threats. The sooner you integrate them in the process the lesser is the chance of security loopholes in your project. By the time it gets to the deployment stage the issues and bottlenecks are already noticed and fixed. Because of that, in most modern software development companies is a must.
One intentional omission so far in the article is the emergence of an entirely new job position. DevOps engineering has become a viable career path. With an abundance of software development companies currently employing DevOps and Agile methodologies, specialists in this field are always relevant. Digital Skynet is not an exception. Our DevOps engineer has improved our operations which enables us to provide a better service to our clients (you can always become one too, just saying). But that’s not the extent of the cultural shift.
DevOps takes the best qualities of Agile and multiplies them. Cross-department collaboration allows everyone to have input. A developer, a system administrator, and a designer, for one, all have their outlooks and perspectives. By working closely not only with the client but with the team as well, the quality of the product skyrockets.
Individual DevOps practices also have their impact. For example, CI/CD eliminates the pressure of a release day looming over everyone’s heads causing unnecessary stress. Virtual environments allow the team to experiment more freely without the boundaries of hardware. Lean management practices that are also often a part of the DevOps mindset can make the entire hierarchy of a company to be more democratic and people-oriented.
DevOps is definitely a buzzword. But we hope that this article has shed some light on what this term actually means. Now you can differentiate when DevOps is used appropriately and when someone uses it just for show. It is indeed a work position, a technology, and a mindset all at once. And all of it works in tandem in order to make software development go as quickly and as smoothly as possible.