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DevOps Development Primer: Getting Started with DevOps

Organizations are looking for better and more efficient ways to build and deploy their software and applications. Gaps in communication and collaboration between departments led to a method to develop and implement faster, known as DevOps.

What is DevOps

DevOps is a combination of people, tools, and processes that create an accelerated development environment. Development and operations work together versus the old siloed approach to development, removing barriers between departments. DevOps helps to put clients and customers first.

A Brief History

The development of DevOps was out of frustration for the standard way of doing things. The “Godfather” of DevOps, Patrick Debois, realized the problem while working with a large data center in 2007. Debois saw the inefficiency with communications and decisions having to hop a proverbial fence between operations and development.

In 2008, Andrew Shafer held a presentation at an agile conference in Toronto called Agile Infrastructure. The criticism of Shafer’s presentation was widespread. Shafer himself didn’t even attend the meetup. Debois was impressed with Shafer’s outlook. Debois found Shafer at the conference and formed a discussion group with like-minded developers.

In 2009, Debois watched a streaming presentation called “10+ Deploys a Day: Dev and Ops Cooperation at Flickr” and DevOps was born. In October of 2009, Debois held an event called DevOpsDay that attracted attention and debate from both sides of the fence. Soon smaller tech companies started to implement DevOps. In 2011, Gartner predicted a positive trajectory for DevOps, and the practice skyrocketed.

DevOps vs. Agile

An agile method is a lean approach to software development using sprints and focusing on minimum viable product to develop software that works and continually improving on it. Agile quickens the SDLC and uses feedback from other developers and the customer, to eliminate the development of obsolete and irrelevant software and functions.

DevOps removes the barriers between development and operations for continuous deployment without affecting the base system. Unlike agile, DevOps heavily relies on automation for development, testing, and implementation. 

One main difference is agile is for software development and not applied to operations. The use of DevOps spans across various project types where development and operations need to bridge gaps and build efficiency.

DevOps vs Agile charts

DevOps Implementation: Cultural Change in the Organizations Philosophies

In 2007 when Debois realized there was an issue with IT projects and how companies approached the development and operational process, each department was siloed from the next. There were gaps in communications and little collaboration or data transfer to ensure the project’s efficiency. 

Within any organization, changes in a department are difficult, let alone changing the culture in multiple departments. These changes are necessary for today’s tech-heavy ecosystem. With many more SaaS and mobile-based applications for end-users to utilize for business processes, every company needs to find better ways to develop and deploy applications.

Goals and Objectives

Like any other new or changing business processes, your goals and objectives need to be clear and documented. As always, these should align with overall company objectives for growth and revenue. 

Corporate Education and Mindset

Education is key to making any new process work. Many companies get set in the way they operate, and business cases and studies may be needed to get CXOs and other decision-makers on board. 

Keeping smaller teams that adopt a DevOps mindset will help with the transition. Sessions and small meetings to start developing a collaborative environment can help to adopt DevOps. Allowing an adjustment period and feedback from departments, teams, and employees can help the continuous improvement of the new culture.

Automation

Starting automation will help with the transition of culture. Alleviating mundane and time-consuming tasks to allow development and operations to work on feedback, data collection, and service improvement prove efficiency. The sooner automation happens, the faster adoption takes place once everyone in the organization can see it is a better way to run IT projects.

Small Changes 

Small changes with a milestone or goal-oriented timeline will help prepare teams for coming changes. Allowing time to improve and adjust on each iteration of the process gives employees the chance to develop the mindset to make it work. 

Many established enterprises use legacy systems. DevOps is introduced to prevent the systems and departments from becoming overwhelmed with the changes. Larger companies with more employees involved need a timeline to ensure the culture change happens throughout each department.

Metrics

Your goals and objectives need to be tracked to ensure each one is correct and timely. Project managers are assigned to help facilitate cultural change. Data and feedback need to be continuously collected and analyzed. Project managers need to find trouble areas and find ways to improve to make a smoother cultural transition.

These steps are not permanent, but they are an excellent way to start developing a plan of action to develop and transition your company to DevOps. Your organization’s cultural shift will keep you competitive with new companies that started with DevOps and the larger ones who adopted early.

Principles for Adopting a DevOps Approach

DevOps Collaborative Teams

DevOps is more than a method and set of practices. DevOps is a philosophy bringing teams together who have operated separate historically. Communications and the break down of barriers is vital to the success of DevOps deployment in your company. 

As with any organizational philosophy, education and commitment need to be prioritized to implement DevOps. Development and operations have the same goal of client and customer satisfaction. DevOps allows both sides to work together to maximize the customer-centric approach.

End to End Responsibility

Traditionally developers would create the product and operations deployed the product. The old way of doing this led to inefficient and gaps in production. DevOps implements a “concept to grave” principle. Vertical aligning teams allow the responsibility for the whole project among everyone involved in the project. 

Continual Improvement

DevOps teams need to be adaptive to changing circumstances. New technologies, best practices, client needs, and other external forces can happen at any point in the development and deployment of a software project. Learning from failure and improving to prevent those failures is vital. 

As DevOps practitioner, continuous improvement needs to be a priority. Improve on the applications, environment used for delivery, and processes for the application and environment. Fostering continuous improvement will create an even faster and more efficient deployment.

Customer Needs Focus

The focus of IT projects needs to be on the client and end-user. Teams need feedback loops with the end-users to determine where improvements are necessary. Organizations need to adapt and pivot when the client and end-user need it. Find strategies that can be improved or removed and change them for the customer. 

Automate as Much as Possible

Automation is at the heart of DevOps. Automation should not only apply to the development aspect but also applied to the entire infrastructure environment. 

Automation has many benefits, including removing manual errors, helps to build reliability and consistency, eliminates the need to rely on single individuals, and improves speed. Automation is vital to developing a thriving DevOps culture in your company.

The DevOps Lifecycle

The DevOps lifecycle outlines the eight stages of development and deployment. Each step is vital for continuing your DevOps practice.

Plan

The planning stage determines the type of project needed. Technologies, infrastructure, and other aspects are determined, and project managers build a plan of action. The creation of a roadmap for the product happens at planning. 

Feedback from applications gets collected in the planning phase for continuous development and deployment. End to end responsibility is key to the success of DevOps until the end-life of the app.

Code

The development of the application happens in this phase. Developers build the services determined in the planning phase. The features from the roadmap get developed at this stage. Core features and functions get created as microservices and are ready for the build.

Build

DevOps starts to shine in the build phase. Developers add their services to a centralized repository. Here automation should be used for testing. Each developer’s block of code gets tested for bugs, errors, and regressions to ensure microservices are integrated into the application seamlessly. Any bugs, errors, or other issues found can quickly and easily get fixed before integration.   

Test

Once the build is complete, the application gets deployed to a testing environment. A series of tests can be run to ensure the functionality of the app and services. Automated tests for security, infrastructure changes, or best practices can run for quality. User acceptance testing is another option for end-user compatibility. Testing apps without interrupting developers can be done at this stage to ensure continuous development.

Release

In the release phase, the application gets deployed into the production environment. The app has been heavily tested for errors and regression and is confidently ready for the end-user. Automation can be used for production to prevent outages. Releasing to production can be continuous or scheduled, depending on the client’s goals and needs.

Deploy

The app is live. Customers and end-users have full access to the services and operations can begin. Automation can help in the deployment stage.

Operate

The application is fully running. Operations ensure the app is running efficiently and error-free. Operations will set up feedback loops for customers and end-users to collect data on how the app is running and for potential improvements.

Monitor

Operations collect and analyze data collected from users and the feedback loops. Performance, consumer behavior, errors, and other vital information gets obtained. This data is returned to the project manager and used to continue the lifecycle and make any improvements and updates.

DevOps Best Practices

Best practices are developed to help implement a process in the best way possible. At Covey, we partner with AWS. These are the practices we use as set by AWS. DevOps best practices are pretty standard across the industry, but AWS will be our model in this article.

Infrastructure as Code

Traditionally, when IT infrastructure had to get configured, an IT ticket would have to be generated, and personnel would manually configure servers or databases. With infrastructure as Code (IaC), IT infrastructure gets controlled through a dashboard. Configurations, users, and other functions that would need manual configuring are done through code and treated like software. 

Infrastructure as Code allows you to provision test and production environments during the early stages of development. Without having to configure infrastructure manually, your development environments are scalable as your deployments increase.

DevOps Continuous Integration

DevOps is continuous. With continuous integration, developers are continually building their blocks and adding them to the repository. With large scale projects, there could be hundreds or even thousands of deployments a day. Continuous integration also allows for testing of each smaller block of code, making the build quicker.

Continuous Delivery

Automation is key to successful DevOps projects. Continuous delivery is automated. Each block of code is built and tested. These blocks then get pushed to a staging area where they get ready for production. 

Microservices

Microservices are one essential best practice for developing your software faster with fewer errors. Services get developed in smaller blocks based on business functions that create a broader application. Services connect through APIs and are stand-alone with specific functionality.

One benefit of microservices is you can use the language or framework that best suits the functions of the services. For data analysis, you might want Python or R. For a UI; you might use Bootstrap or a JavaScript framework. PHP or Python for the database connection to your UI. The list goes on. 

Microservices are efficient, and because they are built in smaller blocks, finding an error in one service won’t take the entire app into downtime to fix a bug. Finding errors in code is simpler. Continuous improvement is implemented in microservices through each iteration of the process more efficiently.

Monitoring Services

The customer-centric approach to development requires post-development feedback and continual monitoring of the application and its services. The data, information, and customer feedback are vital in the continuous improvement of your app. 

Once data is collected and analyzed, the project manager can input the data into the plan for the next round of development, keeping the flow of deployment and delivery running smooth.

Collaboration and Communications

The reason DevOps exists is the frustrations of the lack of communications between two separate departments during IT projects. Communications and collaboration need to be one of your top priorities next to customers. 

With communications gaps and lack of collaboration comes inefficiency. Imagine having to set a meeting with a development team to implement a code change. Then set a meeting with operations to deliver that code live into the application. An error gets found, and another meeting with the dev team needs to happen. 

Making communications and collaboration a priority will alleviate the inefficiencies.

Conclusion:

DevOps was created to make organizations more efficient and to build applications, and IT projects with the customer as the top priority. Shifting your company to a DevOps culture will save you time and money and allow both development and operations to build and deploy better services. 

To learn more about how our teams DevOps practices can help your company, email, or call us today at 315-738-6016. We are a software staff augmentation company working with both commercial and government clients. Our specialties include custom software and API development, AWS cloud computing, blockchain, and SaaS development. We work with tech companies, finance and insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and healthcare companies, helping build software projects with 100% US-based software developers on-demand.