Comprehensive Guide to DevOps Principles, Benefits, Elements, and Tools
Software engineering teams are all too familiar with the pressure to deliver new features and products fast, fast, fast. To meet the ever-demand, many teams have embraced the methodology of DevOps with the purpose of boosting the velocity of release times, shipping the highest quality code, and optimizing team performance and workflows.
Are you curious about DevOps methodology? Is your organization ready to streamline and supercharge your software development life cycle with DevOps? This handbook has everything to get you started and keep you advancing your DevOps culture by answering all the questions, including:
- What is DevOps?
- What is the purpose of the DevOps methodology?
- What are the benefits of DevOps?
- What are the stages of the DevOps lifecycle?
- What are the key DevOps principles?
- How does DevOps fit into the software development lifecycle?
- How does CI/CD fit into the DevOps lifecycle?
- What are the differences between DevOps vs. Agile?
- What are common DevOps tools?
- How can your team adopt a DevOps methodology?
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a cultural mindset that combines practices, tools, and organizational philosophies aimed to automate and integrate the processes between the software development teams and the operation teams. (Hence, the shortening and combining of Development and Operations to make DevOps.)
The goal of DevOps is to integrate all of these principles, tools, and practices into a single continuous process focused on improving the delivery pipeline and feedback loop. DevOps allows organizations to compete in the market by better serving their customers with higher velocity delivery and iteration without compromising quality.
What is the purpose of the DevOps methodology?
The purpose of DevOps is twofold. DevOps aims to slash the time of the software development life cycle and to provide continuous delivery of the highest quality software applications and products to clients and users.
DevOps practices aim to create, deploy, test, and manage apps with more efficiency and at a higher velocity.
DevOps achieves these goals through a focus on communication, collaboration, and side-by-side teamwork from both developers and IT operations. When the DevOps methodology is successfully adopted by an organization, high-quality software and apps can be delivered at the fastest volume, and with fewer errors.
What are the benefits of DevOps?
Adopting a DevOps methodology in your organization delivers big benefits and delivers them fast. Three major benefits of adopting a DevOps methodology include speed, efficiency, and improved organizational and customer satisfaction.
DevOps methodology increases the velocity of product releases and workflows. It puts organizations in the fast lane by incorporating automation and process. Code changes are automated, and the stages of building, testing, and deployment are all sped up. This overall velocity boost helps to ultimately deliver faster, smaller releases more frequently to clients and saves time for developers.
With an effective DevOps methodology in place, developers get to focus on crafting high-quality code, operations can deliver products faster, and clients can enjoy the best apps and experiences possible.
DevOps improves the efficiency of the entire software development process, from soup to nuts. Through automation and machine learning, DevOps helps teams to release more frequently, while also highlighting the issues that bog down a product in the first place and create bottlenecks. With DevOps, you can quickly identify and fix issues that slow product speed and functionality. Developers can deliver faster validation and ship changes hourly, daily, or weekly.
By saving development and operations teams from manual, tedious tasks, DevOps boosts the efficiency of your entire organization, from the ground up and nurtures positive developer experience.
Team and customer satisfaction
Finally, one more benefit of implementing the DevOps methodology in your organization is the opportunity to improve the satisfaction of both your DevOps team and your customers. With a focus on communication and collaboration, DevOps improves transparency, creates shorter feedback loops, and keeps customers in the know about workflows, current issues, and expected releases. DevOps results in better products made by happier teams.
To compete in today’s tough environment, organizations must move quickly, with minimal errors. DevOps helps teams stay on top of the game by improving communication and transparency, incorporating automation to reduce issues and save time, offering shorter feedback loops, and speeding up release times.
What are the stages of the DevOps lifecycle?
We mentioned before that DevOps involves practices, tools, and philosophies. While this may sound overwhelming to wrap your head around, there are eight key phases that help frame all these important elements, known as the DevOps lifecycle.
DevOps is often represented in an infinite loop where teams plan, code, build, test, release, deploy, operate, and monitor continuously. The DevOps loop shows the constant communication and collaboration feedback needed throughout the entire software development lifecycle to make a project a success. Think of an efficient assembly line for your project, where items are continually added, taken away, and tested for quality.
The place stage of the DevOps lifecycle includes the product roadmap and requirements. Teams will break down the product roadmap into features, epics, and stories with a backlog of tasks that map to specific customer requirements. These tasks are grouped into sprints, which allows for continuous development and releases
With the plan in place, developers are given the coding tasks for the sprint. Teams will often use plugins to ensure consistency between developers in code styles and derisk for security. This helps set a coding standard across the team and makes collaboration easier in the build stage.
In the build phase, developers commit code to a shared code repository, typically with a pull request merging this new code with a shared codebase for review. Another teammate does a lightweight review to identify any issues early. When everything checks out, they approve the pull request.
The pull request will also trigger automated tests to find any regression. If the build fails, or any of the unit, integration, and ended-to-end tests fail, the pull request fails and flags the developer to resolve the issue(s). This shifts testing left in the development cycle, minimizing issues later when the testing is more complex.
After a successful build, the code is automatically deployed to a staging environment where deeper automated tests are run. Automated security and compliance testing is run, including performance and run load testing. Manual User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is also a part of this phase, where customers assess the code and accept it before it deploys to the live production environment.
Related Article: Guide to Faster Software Testing Cycles
The release stage acts as a final stop to check the build for issues or errors before deployment. In the release stage, operations will give the green light that the project is ready for release and will build it into the production environment. Depending on the maturity of the DevOps pipeline, this release to production will be manual or automated. Some may choose to have more control of the release, adding manual approval and letting only specific team members authorize releases. In a more mature pipeline, developers use feature flags to turn off new features in production so, although released, they cannot be seen by customers until they’re ready.
In the deployment phase, the project is moved to the final production environment for users to access. Processes and tools help automate the deployment, ensuring no outage windows. Depending on the organization, basic, rolling, canary, blue-green, or a combination of deployment strategies are used.
In the operating stage, the release is live and in use. This is where the Ops in DevOps shines, making sure everything runs smoothly by load scaling to handle fluctuations in users. This is also where customer feedback is available, a critical part of the feedback loop and what makes the DevOps loop continuous. Customer feedback drives future plans and the product roadmap.
The “last” stage of the DevOps lifecycle is monitoring. Data collection is important during monitoring, so teams have accurate metrics on client response, behaviors, performance, and errors. The DevOps lifecycle as a whole is also assessed to see if there are bottlenecks that can be smoothed out for an even faster, better DevOps loop.
What are the key DevOps principles?
Now that we’ve covered what DevOps methodology is, the key stages of the DevOps lifecycle, and discussed the CI/CD pipeline, it’s time to explore the key principles driving the entire DevOps methodology.
The five key principles within the DevOps methodology are collaboration, automation, continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, and creating with the end in mind.
First and foremost, DevOps is a practice that focuses on communication and collaboration between two development and operations. DevOps aims to have developers and IT operations work side-by-side during the SDLC. This focus on collaboration creates shared ownership and boosts end-to-end responsibility for a project. Without effective teamwork, DevOps doesn’t work.
Another key principle of DevOps is automation. The goal of DevOps is to streamline the software development cycle and speed up release times. How can this be achieved? Through the use of smart automation and machine learning to boost velocity and reduce bottlenecks in processes like building and testing.
A third keystone principle of DevOps is Continuous improvement or the continual improvement of processes and end products through incremental improvements. Efficiency, effectiveness, and flexibility are the core tenets of Continuous Improvement, and thus of the DevOps methodology.
Another key principle of DevOps is a focus on customer satisfaction. DevOps teams rely on short feedback loops so that their releases can be timely, relevant, and truly helpful. By frequently assessing data and metrics, DevOps teams are best able to gauge and improve client satisfaction and experiences.
The final core principle of DevOps is to always work with the end in mind, throughout the entire software development life cycle. Before, developers and operations teams worked solo, which created silos and drained accountability and transparency from a project. Working within the DevOps framework, every single member of the team is responsible for the development of a product, and every single member of the team is woven into the fabric of a project.
By beginning with the end in mind, the DevOps methodology helps to improve workflow, speed release times, and deliver the highest quality code.
How does DevOps fit into the software development lifecycle?
The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a process designed to enable the production of high-quality software, in the quickest production time possible. The main goal of the SDLC is to produce amazing software that your customers love to use.
DevOps shortens the software development life cycle by automating the process, making faster deliveries, and upscaling the software quality. The DevOps methodology at work helps teams to deliver new software updates, features, or products more frequently.
The DevOps methodology is important for streamlining the efficiency and efficacy of the software development life cycle.
How does CI/CD fit into the DevOps lifecycle?
CI/CD is a set of DevOps best practices designed to help teams ship software more quickly and efficiently. Or, another way to think of CI/CD is as the methodology that can supercharge each of the eight stages in the DevOps lifecycle we just discussed.
CI/CD includes three major phases: Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment. Each of these phases helps DevOps teams deliver high-quality software faster.
The CI/CD pipeline components for Successful DevOps
Continuous Integration (CI) is the process of automating software code changes by regularly building, testing, and merging branches into a shared repository. Continuous Integration creates the ultimate source of truth for developers to reference and automates anything going into this central repository. That means you can launch fearlessly with fewer errors and bugs.
Continuous Delivery (CD) focuses on delivering the builds into the test environment, then requires human intervention to deploy the tested builds into production. Continuous Deployment (also known as CD) automatically deploys the software to production once the builds have passed tests in the test environment. Continuous Deployment relies heavily on automated testing, so it works best for teams with an established DevOps methodology in place.
An efficient CI/CD pipeline is a foundational piece of the DevOps approach, as it automates and quality checks a project throughout an entire software development lifecycle. With an effective CI/CD pipeline in place, ensure development velocity is balanced with delivering the highest quality app or product.
A smoothly flowing CI/CD pipeline can catch issues like conflicting builds, duplicate code, or bugs. Since CI/CD focuses on iterative testing or testing early and often, the CI/CD pipeline allows developers to fix problems minutes after creating the code.
CI/CD pipelines also help to reduce bottlenecks during the development process. Rather than rely on long manual approval processes, the CI/CD pipeline uses automation to pass builds from one stage to another. This helps to move all stages along with more quickly, as there are fewer places for builds to get stuck.
CI/CD pipeline improves developer experience by drastically reducing the number of rote, menial tasks that previously fell on the shoulders of the development team.
What are the differences between DevOps vs. Agile?
Agile is an approach to software development focused on collaboration, client feedback, and increasing the speed of releases. The Agile Manifesto is based on four key values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change by following a plan
At first glance, Agile and DevOps probably appear similar, as both share the goal of improving the software development process. DevOps is often viewed as an evolution of Agile practices, or a way to apply the Agile approach to operations. However, there are several key differences between Agile and DevOps.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that Agile does not include the operations team, which plays a central role in DevOps methodology. The main goal of DevOps is to break down the walls between development and operations teams, and foster collaboration between the team during the creation of a new software product, app, or update. In Agile, the focus is on collaboration between developers and product management.
Agile centers around software development from idea to code completion, while DevOps touches the entire SDLC, including the stages of delivery and maintenance.DevOps puts more emphasis on test and delivery automation, while Agiles focuses more on iterative development.
Overall, it’s easiest to think of Agile as a practice aimed at optimizing the development lifecycle and DevOps as a way to unite development and operations in a CI/CD environment.
Both Agile and DevOps aim to improve the efficiency and speed of software development and deliver shorter frequent release cycles. DevOps and Agile are not mutually exclusive and can complement one another.
Related Article: Ensure Quality Code Without Sacrificing Development Speed
What are common DevOps tools?
DevOps teams use a wide variety of tools to automate and speed up software development processes. An effective DevOps toolkit can help your teams best manage Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, Continuous Deployment, and collaboration.
DevOps tools fall into the following categories. For in-depth explanations of each kind, click on the link for more information.
- Version Control tools: Github, Gitlab, Bitbucket
- Container Management tools: Docker, Kubernetes, Mesos
- Application Performance Monitoring tools: Prometheus, Dynatrace, AppDynamics
- Deployment & Server Monitoring tools: Splunk, Datadog, Sensu
- Configuration Management tools: Chef, Puppet, Ansible
- CI / Deployment Automation tools: Bamboo, Jenkins
- Predictive Test Automation tools: Launchable
- Artifact Management tools: Sonatype NEXUS, JFRog Artifactory, CloudRepo
- Codeless Test Automation tools: AcceIQ, Appvance, Testim.io
How can your team adopt a DevOps methodology?
In order to successfully embrace DevOps, you need the right tools and processes in place. A common pain point teams struggle with in DevOps is the testing position of the loop.
Increased test execution time drags down the DevOps loop, hindering code changes, and ultimately affecting developer experience and customer satisfaction.
That’s where Launchable comes in. Powered by machine learning, Predictive Test Selection speeds up the testing process – identifying and running tests with the highest probability of failing based on code and test metadata to speed up the dev feedback loop.
With Launchable, you can run a fraction of your test suites, spot and fix issues more quickly, and deliver higher quality software faster. Start shipping code 5x faster, without risk today.