Creating the right software at the right time is the need of the hour, but businesses find it challenging to fulfill the ever-rising needs of the highly complex business environment. On the one hand, your development team needs to ensure fast deliverables to meet varying client demands. On the other hand, the operations team must guarantee predictable, secure, stable, and seamless services. Consequently, development and operations teams often engage in a conflict. The conflict minimizes productivity, client satisfaction, and service quality. For the worse, IT deliverables get affected and the overall business performance.
This is where Development and Operation’s Collaboration (DevOps) helps enterprises realize the true business value by reducing software delivery times while boosting the productivity of both development and operations teams and improving the quality of applications. By bringing developers and operations team members together to form a single operational entity, DevOps services enable effective collaboration, communication, and integration across the enterprise. The aim here is to make IT service delivery more agile while simplifying IT management and optimizing costs.
What is DevOps?
In the words of Gartner, “DevOps represents a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach.” It focuses on people (and culture) with the ultimate objective to improve collaboration between development and operations teams. Besides, containerization is the other key tool that DevOps teams should consider using. DevOps can thus encompass the use of containerization to transition from a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to a microservices architecture (MSA).
DevOps implementations use technology to leverage a much dynamic and programmable infrastructure from a lifecycle perspective. With DevOps practices in place, integrated development and operations (besides automation, virtualization, cloud technologies, and a host of top-notch tools) make the product release super-fast and of a high-end quality. DevOps culture allows developers to execute the work of the IT team and the IT team doing the work of developers. This breaks the operational walls between the two teams, deteriorating “not my task” mindset, which is harmful for business growth.
Plan for the kind of application you need to develop. Draw a rough picture of the application development process.
Code the application according to the client’s requirement and as per the plan.
Build the application by integrating codes.
Test the application you have built and rebuild the application if needed.
Release the application and make it live, once it has passed through the test phase successfully.
Deploy the code into a cloud environment for further use. Deployment is performed in a way that any changes implemented don’t affect high traffic website functioning.
Operate on the code if the need so arises.
Monitor the application performance, keeping in mind the client’s requirement. You may be required to make changes in the application as desired by the client.
Your Journey Towards DevOps
Though enterprises realize the significance of DevOps delivering compelling business benefits, they struggle to make the most of DevOps initiatives due to uncertainty on the ways of approaching them. As you embark on your DevOps journey, look for your existing business processes and delivery pipelines.
Be clear about the objectives your DevOps strategy should help you accomplish, all the way deciding whether to handle greenfield or brownfield deployment. The best practice is to first run a pilot project. If your business objective is to assure a faster-time-to-market, move the product with stringent deadlines to the iterative DevOps model and check its effect.
Remember the most successful enterprises are aware of the business benefits they wish to realize from DevOps.
Now that we have learnt about the benefits of DevOps for your business, it is crucial to assimilate and implement the factors critical to DevOps success.
Factors Critical to DevOps Success
Cultural shift is the foundation of DevOps, which is why, changing your organizational culture is crucial. Remember DevOps integrates processes, people, and tools to transform your organization into a single entity. Introducing new policies and processes won’t bring you success in the long run if the fundamental organizational culture is not changed.
To smoothen the cultural shift process, incentives need to shift as well. Reward cross-functional teams to deliver a delightful customer experience. There are a few organizations that urge their developers to work on-call to make them better understand operational challenges. You may also recognize exceptionally performing developers and operations staff to encourage other team members.
A leader can be appointed for each team to make the transition to DevOps easy. As an organization, you need to separate name and function, while guaranteeing operations staff and developers are well-informed of the value they should bring to the organization.
Successful DevOps is an organizational movement that starts with top-level management and transitions across the entry-level staff.
Creation of a CI/CD Pipeline
The continuous integration (CI)/continuous delivery (CD) pipeline is one of the best practices for DevOps teams to implement as it helps them to deliver code changes more often and reliably. The focus here should be on the DevOps team. DevOps engineers must be provided with up-to-date, accurate information about the production environment for the proper planning of the deployment. Developers can thus emphasize a coordinated “build and run” approach wherein they own that product or service through till production.
The DevOps team touches all points of the application service lifecycle, right from the stage of requirements to planning, and from deployment till maintenance. It also addresses, troubleshoots, and debugs issues for the lifetime of the product or service. The key here is to create an automated deployment pipeline that integrates into a single entity – continuous integration, continuous development, continuous testing, and continuous deployment. The deployment of a fully automated script on any environment thus happens within a few minutes.
Testing is the Key
Testing becomes an integral part of the development with DevOps, with quality assurance (QA) personnel being a crucial part of the cross-functional DevOps team. Throughout the delivery pipeline, testing is performed constantly, and every change is treated as a potential release candidate. The aim is to shorten the time between check-in and release to the optimal. The faster you get feedback on changes; the better software quality gets.
Creating a skeleton delivery using a single unit test and a single acceptance test integrated with an automated deployment script is the safest bet. Moving forward, you can increase the number of tests and distribute them across the delivery pipeline.
Set up a Continuous Deployment System
Continuous deployment is an extension of continuous delivery. There is an automatic deployment of each build that passes a full test cycle successfully. Enterprises can thus deliver new features and updates faster, while actively making changes to the product.
DevOps lends you a high-level granular control over the functionality of service by automating feature release at a specified time or assuring that certain builds can be accessed by selected users only. Remember when the delivery pipeline is designed properly, the deployment system automatically decides what and when to release it to production. Developers, however, need to assure the code written is well-designed and QA creates up-to-date test suites.
The continuous deployment should be supported by constant monitoring and feedback. As DevOps engineers get feedback at an early stage, they can recognize what features are the most useful to end-users, thus saving on efforts and time.
Areas of focus and monitoring:
- Development Cycles: You can find out how your automated deployment pipeline currently performs by monitoring frequent code changes, ways in which different objective features are incorporated, and how many bugs are detected and fixed.
- Vulnerabilities: You need to tackle vulnerabilities automatically, as code moves into production. Regardless of the type of vulnerabilities, there should be a mechanism in place to recognize and minimize them.
- Deployments: You should have a tool that signals an alert to the assigned team the time an automated deployment fails. Most of the CI servers have in-built notification features to warn assigned personnel when such failure happens during build or deployment.
- Application Performance: You should recognize key issues like performance and regression of applications, keep an eye on application activities, and make proactive decisions. Application performance monitoring (APM) tools lend you insights into application usage as well as performance.
- Server Health: You need to monitor the health of the server. Doing so is crucial for every kind of infrastructure management. Understand that performance and service-level agreements (SLAs) of the system depend on server health.
In addition, you need to address regulatory compliance, check for user activity and infrastructure monitoring, and analyze application logs too.
A true DevOps implementation aims to have an integrated toolchain in place to assess and select tools, with each tool loosely coupled to the adjacent one in the application lifecycle. Linking all the automation touchpoints and information flows accelerate the movement of production releases through the toolchain, all the way minimizing defects, errors, outages, and rework. Tools used at each stage thus align and provide an outlook on where automation, tool hand-offs, and integration should be accomplished between and within different stages.
It is quite challenging to transition from traditional software methodologies to DevOps, as it involves a big change across the business enterprise. Remember cultural shift is the foundation of DevOps. Assign the right people for the right processes, while you equip them with the most suitable tools. Implementing DevOps can certainly be rewarding for your organization, as you follow the above best practices in creating a delivery pipeline with continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment.
Have you implemented a DevOps solution yet? If not, this is the right time to consider DevOps consulting services to fast-track your development cycles.
*MTTR – Mean Time to Recovery