What is DevOps?

by Alastair Wilkes in

The Culture, Practices, and Elements of DevOps

Software development teams continuously face the need to release software more efficiently, but with more quality. Organizations struggle uniting teams for this greater good. In traditional software engineering workflows development, operations, quality engineering, and security have difficulty collaborating and communicating because of the nature of the divided workflows. 

DevOps focuses on shifting siloed development cycles for faster, higher-quality releases. 

Dev vs ops

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a shift in company culture. It means facilitating an environment of collaboration between all teams that work on software. DevOps can involve changing up tooling and everyday practices, in order to foster this collaboration. DevOps culture focuses on three key elements: Shared responsibility, automation, and shorter continuous feedback.

1. Shared Responsibility

Teams without a DevOps culture tend to only focus on their own task, and then pass it off to the next team and say, “here, this is your problem now.” Instead, a DevOps team shares the end-to-end responsibility of creating software successfully and breaks down siloed business units to function as a single team. 

When Dev and Ops are aligned and better integrated into the software lifecycle and feedback loop, development will build code that’s easy to execute, and operations will understand the requirements of the software much better.

2. Automation

A DevOps loop can look similar to an assembly line at a factory. But instead of using machines to move widgets from one machine to another, DevOps utilizes automation to transfer software from one stage to the next seamlessly. Less manual intervention is needed to push a piece of software to completion, minimizing human error and bottlenecks.

3. Short, Continuous Feedback Loops

DevOps culture revolves around providing short, continuous feedback loops. Giving each team instantaneous feedback on their projects minimizes the number of errors that get passed along to the next stage of development. 

Take the practice of continuous testing as an example. When an organization decides to incorporate continuous testing into its software development lifecycle, it means that its developers submit code to be tested as soon as it’s written. Within minutes, the developers can see any bugs or errors inside their freshly-written code. 

Then, they can correct it almost immediately, which plays an early role in helping QA. In comparison, a development team that isn’t using continuous testing waits until the end of the lifecycle to run all tests in the QA stage. This can cause issues when QA tries to address the issues with the development team. 

Practices and Tools that Support DevOps 

All of these DevOps culture ideas may sound good in theory, but the reality is they can’t be implemented without tactical processes to support them. The CI/CD pipeline is one of the main practices used by teams embracing DevOps methodology.

CI/CD vs. DevOps

CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration Continuous Delivery (or Continuous Deployment). It’s ultimately the marriage between the agile development method, which focuses on short release cycles with quick feedback loops, and end-to-end automation. But, automation looks different at different stages, which is why specialized tools are needed for Continuous Integration, along with Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment.

Continuous Integration speeds up the first half of the development lifecycle. It focuses on creating a central repository for all developers to keep their code artifacts, running tests whenever commits to that repository happen, and running build automation, to prepare the software for the test environment. 

Continuous integration is especially important in DevOps because it encompasses version control, which focuses on ensuring that all developers contribute to a single location and minimizing building redundant or incompatible pieces of code. 

Continuous Delivery focuses on delivering those builds out of the repository and into the test environment, then running them through the tests smoothly. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the builds are deployment-ready.

Continuous Deployment encompasses the same practices as Continuous Delivery but then goes a step further by deploying the builds automatically. This practice removes the final human checkpoint and can release without any manual intervention, assuming that the builds pass testing successfully. Because of this, Continuous Deployment requires more mature development practices than Continuous Delivery does. 

Although the CI/CD pipeline is a very powerful asset for any team, it still requires help to create a functional DevOps process. A few tools that help teams run their CI/CD pipeline smoothly for effective DevOps include:

Configuration Management 

Configuration management tools keep tabs on a system’s resources such as servers, databases, and virtual machines. They enable teams to roll out changes gradually and systematically, to avoid overwhelming the system or causing configuration modifications that negatively impact the pipeline. 

Continuous Monitoring

Continuous monitoring ensures that the full software stack is running smoothly. It also can be set up to send alerts if unusual activities or outages occur. With continuous monitoring tools, DevOps teams can work together to mitigate issues as soon as possible, and to innovate so that fewer issues arise in their software, moving forward. 

Infrastructure as Code

Infrastructure as code (IaC) means that system resources are being managed as code, so they can flexibly and automatically change, as the software itself changes. Without IaC, developers have to manually update infrastructure elements, which can become pretty cumbersome with the fast pace of DevOps. 

DevOps Teams, Assemble! 

Grow your DevOps practice by speeding up the bloated testing phase of the DevOps loop. 75% of DevOps pros report losing more than a quarter of their time to testing bottlenecks. 

Devops loop

Faster, smarter testing is a critical element for advancing your DevOps practice. With rapid feedback loops comes better collaboration between teams and faster revisions to code. Launchable empowers teams to conduct the right tests at the right time with Predictive Test Selection.

Discover how Launchable can speed up your tests and power your winning DevOps cycle – Get a proof of concept today!


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