DevOps is a software development philosophy that helps organizations achieve faster delivery, better quality, and more reliable software, making it easier to adapt to changing business needs and customer demands.
However, implementing DevOps can be challenging on many levels. It requires changes in culture, processes, skills, knowledge, and tools, which can encounter resistance from traditional silos within organizations. So, how can you successfully implement DevOps within an organization?
While there is no single route that every organization can take, there are DevOps best practices that you can follow to implement this philosophy successfully in an organization. To help you start in this journey of implementing DevOps, we did the leg work for you. We asked engineers to share their lessons from switching to a DevOps approach and here is what they swear by.
What Is DevOps?
DevOps is a software development method that brings together software development and IT operations to improve the speed and quality of software delivery and efficiency of the software delivery process. It aims to establish a culture and environment where building, testing, and releasing software can happen more rapidly, frequently, and reliably.
DevOps can enhance this efficiency to a greater degree by adopting and integrating the “shift to the left” concept. This concept refers to checking the code’s safety and strength as early as possible. As the development process shifts left, this practice is applied to every stage in the process so that issues can be identified and resolved earlier in the process. Adopting this model has proven to reduce the time and cost of debugging and fixing problems later in the development cycle.
Why DevOps Matters?
DevOps helps organizations to be more efficient and responsive. By combining development and operations, organizations can streamline their processes and reduce the time required to get new products and services to market. They can reduce the number of errors and defects in their products and services and improve their reliability and scalability.
DevOps improves an organization’s efficiency, effectiveness, and overall performance, leading to increased competitiveness and happier customers, as they can access new features and functionality more quickly.
Top Best Practices for Implementing DevOps
These DevOps best practices have proven instrumental in effectively reaping the full DevOps benefits and incorporating the model into daily operations:
1. Implement a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline
Implementing a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline is the key to implementing a successful DevOps philosophy. A CI/CD pipeline automates the build, test, and deployment process, allowing organizations to quickly and reliably deliver code changes. A CI/CD pipeline also helps to robustly implement the “shift-to-left” concept in the development process.
2. Embrace Agile Project Management Methodologies
Agile project management methodologies, such as Scrum and Kanban, are well-suited to the fast-paced, iterative nature of DevOps. By embracing agile project management, organizations can break down large projects into smaller, more manageable chunks and deliver value to users more quickly. In addition, agile methodologies encourage frequent communication and collaboration between team members, which can help to identify and resolve issues more quickly.
3. Practice Continuous Monitoring
Continuous monitoring is an essential DevOps best practice, as it allows organizations to track the performance and stability of their systems in real-time. By constantly collecting and analyzing data from development processes, organizations can identify and resolve issues more quickly and make informed decisions about the direction of their products and services. This practice reduces the chances of potential issues becoming significant problems.
4. Seek Continuous Feedback
Seeking continuous feedback from users, stakeholders, and team members can improve the quality and relevance of an organization’s products and services. This feedback can be used to identify and resolve issues or discover opportunities for improvement. It also helps organizations foster a culture of collaboration and continuous learning, which benefits both the organization and its employees. For example, a DevOps engineer could be seeking Continuous Feedback during code reviews. They could conduct code reviews with other team members or stakeholders to gather feedback on the quality of the code, identify potential issues, and suggest improvements.
5. Automate Routine Tasks
Automating routine tasks reduces the time and effort required to deliver the product to the end user. When everyday tasks, such as building and deploying code, running tests, and monitoring systems, are automated, organizations improve efficiency, reduce errors, and increase the reliability and scalability of their systems, ultimately reducing the cost and effort of delivery. It allows the DevOps teams to use the free time to focus on more strategic and value-added activities as Camil Blanaru, Site Reliability Engineer of Prezly suggests, “It is a common thing for a developer to request various resources from DevOps teams by creating tickets and waiting for their approval. This can be easily automated. There are so many tools these days; a developer can even make this request and get instant approval in Slack. This will also give you less distractions in your work.”
6. Set Up Automated Testing
Test automation can help organizations improve the quality and reliability of their code. By automating the testing process, organizations can cover many test cases that could have been missed in manual testing. As the test coverage increases, the risk of production bugs and human error decreases, which increases the time required to deploy and deliver the end product. Moreover, automated testing can provide immediate feedback, allowing teams to focus on essential issues and strategic activities while reducing the cost of software maintenance. Additionally, incorporating AIOps into these processes can further enhance efficiency and reliability.
7. Foster a Collaborative Culture
“DevOps best practices range from IaaC to container orchestration, from automation to security and monitoring, but the one factor that seems to be forgotten is that DevOps only works best when it is part of a culture of collaboration and cooperation”, says Hekuran Sahiti, DevOps Engineer of FirstBlood.
A collaborative culture is an essential DevOps best practice. DevOps requires close collaboration between development and operations teams, as well as other stakeholders, to be successful. By fostering a culture of collaboration, organizations can encourage open communication, shared responsibility, and a focus on continuous improvement. This can help teams to identify and resolve issues more quickly, as well as improve the quality and reliability of their products and services. In addition, a collaborative culture can help create a more positive and productive work environment, which can benefit the organization and its employees.
Miguel David, Site Reliability Engineer of Harvest, adds, “My grandfather used to tell me that it’s better to overdo something than to under-do it. One thought that immediately came to mind when thinking about DevOps practices is over-communication. The need to over-communicate means not assuming things. It means writing Pull Requests (PRs) that reference the issue they solve and explain the context for the chosen approach on top of the changes it introduces. It means writing Requests for Comments (RFCs) to gather diverse opinions from all teams on a given proposal.”
8. Choose the Right DevOps Tools
The right DevOps tools can make a big difference in the success of a DevOps implementation. These tools can include everything from version control systems and code repositories to testing and deployment tools.
When selecting your DevOps toolchain, it’s important to consider the needs and goals of your organization, as well as the specific tasks and processes for which the tools will be used. It’s also important to choose tools that are easy to use and integrate with your existing systems. With the help of the right set of tools, an organization can generate the best return from their DevOps practice. They can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and accelerate value delivery to your users.
Hekuran Sahiti, DevOps Engineer of FirstBlood, says, “Another thing to consider when you decide to do DevOps and want to apply best practices is the right set of tools for your stack and avoiding as much as possible the use of custom build tools/scripts if there’s already a widely known tool that does the same job. Having self-hacked/custom tools always has negative effects on new hires and causes delays with onboarding.”
If you want a full list of the 4 best practices for choosing your DevOps tools, we have an article breaking them down comprehensively.
9. Adopt a Microservices Architecture
Adopting a microservices architecture can help organizations improve their systems’ flexibility, scalability, and resilience. In a microservices architecture, applications are decomposed into small, independent services that can be developed, tested, and deployed independently. This method helps organizations deliver new features and functionality more quickly and make it easier to scale and maintain their systems. In addition, microservices can help improve systems’ reliability and resilience, as failures in one service can be isolated and addressed without affecting the entire system.
10. Improve Observability
Observability allows organizations to understand the behavior and performance of their systems in real time. By collecting and analyzing data from a variety of sources, including logs, metrics, and traces (also known as the three pillars of observability), organizations can identify and resolve issues more quickly and make informed decisions about the direction of their products and services. Sharing the analytics on relevant logs and metrics with other stakeholders of the organization also brings everyone in the organization together. This would translate to quick and easy assistance for end-users and high-quality software delivery.
11. Integrate Continuous Security into the DevOps Process
Continuous Security is a combination of practices and tools that increases an organization’s ability to securely deliver applications with no known vulnerabilities in it. Continuous Security adds new tools for vulnerability scanning and secure storage (e.g. Vault), and introduces testing methods like Penetration Testing in the DevOps pipeline. However, it also enforces new practices for both developers (e.g. secure coding) and operations (logging and alerting).
By integrating continuous security into the DevOps process, organizations can effectively transition from DevOps to DevSecOps. This transition ensures that security is considered at every stage of the development and deployment process. It can be instrumental in identifying and fixing security vulnerabilities more quickly, reducing the risk of security breaches, and maintaining the trust of your users.
12. Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) involves managing and provisioning infrastructure through code. It uses automation, version control, and continuous delivery to manage and maintain infrastructure, which allows for infrastructure consistency across different environments and reduces the risk of configuration drift.
IaC is a fundamental practice to ensure business continuity in case of a disaster, as it ensures that the infrastructure is quickly spun off when needed. Moreover, it leverages the benefit of peer review. As Soham Chakraborty, a Systems Administrator/SRE at Sematext aptly puts forward – “An important aspect of Infrastructure as Code is that all of the code can be version controlled and put into a source code management system (like Git). This has immense benefit as the code can be peer reviewed, tracked and audited. Therefore if any time something created from the code malfunctions or doesn’t behave properly, anyone with access to the repository can check and find out the problem.”
Enhance DevOps Best Practices with Sematext
Embracing DevOps best practices becomes more powerful and streamlined with Sematext’s comprehensive suite of solutions designed to amplify your monitoring and management efforts. By integrating Sematext Cloud into your DevOps workflows, you can elevate your observability, streamline troubleshooting, and optimize overall operational efficiency.
Sematext Logs simplifies the task of log management, providing a managed solution for log analysis, categorization, and alerting. Its lightweight agent, Logagent, streamlines log shipping and forwarding, ensuring comprehensive log collection.
Furthermore, with Sematext Cloud, DevOps teams gain access to Sematext Infrastructure Monitoring which includes a diverse range of monitoring charts and graphs that offer real-time insights into infrastructure performance. This functionality is complemented by customizable alert rules and pre-built alerts, ensuring prompt issue resolution and proactive notifications.
For those leveraging Jenkins as their CI/CD tool, Sematext Cloud extends tailored monitoring support. This empowers your teams to troubleshoot effectively, enhance performance, and optimize your CI/CD workflows.
Beyond the core infrastructure, Sematext Cloud seamlessly integrates with your DevOps-specific tools, cultivating continuous monitoring and informed decision-making. This fosters swift issue resolution and resource optimization.
Watch the video below to learn more about Sematext Cloud or start your 14-day free trial and embark on a journey towards enhanced DevOps mastery.
Adopting DevOps best practices can help organizations to achieve faster delivery, better quality, and more reliable software. You can implement the ones discussed in this article to improve your software development process and achieve greater business agility and customer satisfaction.
However, this is not an exhaustive list. You might need to mold these practices to best fit your specific needs and circumstances. But that is what DevOps is all about – continuous learning, experimentation, and improvement to achieve your full potential.