Definition: What Is DevOps?
DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and information-technology operations (Ops) to shorten the time between committing a code change and deploying the change to production.
However, DevOps is not a tool or technology. While it relies on automation tools to help streamline the software development and delivery process, DevOps is not defined by the tools an organization uses, but by its practices.
DevOps practices advocate close collaboration between operations staff and developers during the entire software development lifecycle, with the purpose of helping organizations release products and services faster.
Benefits: Why Is DevOps Important?
DevOps benefits include helping organizations increase agility, improve communication and collaboration, and accelerate time to market.
One of the key DevOps practices is automating the software development and delivery process. By automating repetitive tasks such as code testing, deployments, and infrastructure provisioning that are traditionally done manually, DevOps provide the ability to respond to change quickly and efficiently.
Improved Communication and Collaboration
DevOps relies on communication and collaboration between Dev and Ops teams. By working closely, these two teams can better understand each other’s needs and priorities, resulting in faster problem-solving and increased efficiency.
Faster Time to Market
DevOps can reduce the time for code changes, either bug fixes or new features, to be available in the production after the code is committed to the central repository. By automating the tasks such as code testing and deployment and prioritizing secured solution, this model can make the development and operations team more nimble, solutions readily available, and businesses more competitive.
Better Feedback Loop
A feedback loop refers to collecting information from various units and teams of an organization and reporting the information directly to the right departments or teams. The respective teams can then use this information to enhance the delivery speed and quality of the solution.
The DevOps model simplifies the feedback loop by automating the feedback process and adopting right-to-left feedback. The output received during the latter phase of development is automatically sent as input for the earlier stage. For example, if an error occurs during the build phase, the testing team will automatically receive an error notification prompting them to take necessary action. As a result, the DevOps feedback loop increases the delivery speed and enhances the quality of products.
For increased efficienty and better results, DevOps often extends to the security of the solution. Called DevSecOps, the practice focuses on integrating security measures into the products and features at every step of development process rather than at its end. This enables teams to catch and fix security issues early on rather than waiting for the final build. DevSecOps increases the solution delivery speed and decreases the cost of producing software.
How Does DevOps Work?
DevOps brings the Development teams and Operations teams together, removing the traditional silo between these two teams.
Traditionally, these two teams operated in their own worlds. To keep each other up to speed, they’d invest a lot of time and effort in meetings, conferences and email exchange.
By adopting DevOps, businesses can shift the focus from departmental goals to organizational goal and introduce a collaborative and proactive work environment. With the help of automated tools and accelerated processes, teams of such businesses work together more closely and identify and resolve issues much faster.
In a nutshell, the DevOps practice priortizes security, and automates and monitors the entire software delivery process, from development to production.
The DevOps Lifecycle
The DevOps lifecycle comprises four main stages that can be represented as an infinity loop. These stages work together to form a feedback loop that enables an organization to quickly deliver a quality-tested solution to its customers.
Design and Plan
The first stage of the DevOps lifecycle is planning. At this point, all stakeholders from the business, development, and IT teams come together to finalize the list of features that will be a part of the next development cycle and evaluate the value these features will generate for the business.
Following, is continuous integration, a DevOps methodology that comprises three steps- Code, Build, and Test. These steps are employed to enhance the product quality and leverage the automation to build it.
According to this model, code changes are regularly merged into the central repository. Then using an automated tool, the code base is fetched and tested for code quality. After the code has been tested, a binary solution is built and functionally tested.
Teams can employ manual and automated testing measures to generate comprehensive reports that can be used across the organization.
Continuous deployment is another cycle of the DevOps model, which combines two stages – Release and Deploy. It implies that any build that has been quality tested will be automatically released and deployed to pre-production or production environments. The DevOps team can define the release and deployment frequency to suit their needs.
Continuous monitoring is the last part of the DevOps lifecycle made out of two stages – Operate and Monitor. Essentially, it focuses on overseeing the operation of the software, collecting necessary information about its security and health, and collaborating with team members to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently.
How to Adopt a DevOps Model?
Adopting the DevOps model is easier said than done; it requires fundamental changes to the culture and the process. Here are a few steps you could take:
The DevOps approach thrives on collaboration between Dev and Ops teams. For it to yield the best result, you should allow the members of your organization more visibility into the entire infinity loop. That way, not just the Development team but the organization will understand the architecture of your product, allowing teams to deploy new features faster and address incidents efficiently.
Automation is necessary to accelerate the development process, so whenever you can automate, you should automate. DevOps relies on automation to help streamline the software development and delivery process.
Having said that, you must put thought into automation implementation. Wherever possible, resort to industry standards and best practices. Take time to implement a process that anyone can understand and adapt quickly. And, always start automation with highly repetitive processes prone to errors.
Aim for Metrics-Driven Quality
Organizations that have adopted DevOps practices have adopted them to ensure the quality of their products. However, most often, the point of failure for organizations that strive for a quality product is poor metrics. To avoid this pitfall, adopt the DevOps metrics that demonstrate progress and deliver business value from the beginning.
Metrics like Production Failure Rate, Deployment speed, Deployment Frequency, and mean time to recover a failed application in the production environment could be some key metrics you would want to implement in your DevOps model.
In addition, you could also implement the right metrics monitoring tool to strengthen your feedback loop, reduce errors and increase the overall quality of your product.
When you are starting with DevOps, don’t try to implement it throughout your organization at once. Instead, identify the area that would yield the most significant value. Then, create a pilot program with a cross-functional team comprising developers, testers, and operations and improve the solution incrementally.
Successful adoption of the DevOps approach requires you to improve the process and tools continuously. Allow your teams to search for better methodologies, and don’t hesitate to listen to them.
It is advised that you follow the complete list of 12 DevOps model best practices for a seamless adoption process.
DevOps Model Challenges
While adopting the DevOps model improves the efficiency of the development and the release process, it has its share of challenges.
DevOps requires a cultural change. To have the Development and Operations team work together requires both teams tounderstand shared responsibilities and collaborate with each other in order to resolve issues.
If the teams can’t resolve this challenge from the initial stage, the efficiency of the entire development unit and hence the organization will be affected. One way to overcome this challenge is by creating a shared vision established through team communication.
Adoption of Tools
The DevOps model involves the use of new tools, which means the legacy system must be replaced with more recent tools, and at the same time, new tools and processes must be implemented. Though this can sound daunting, training the team members to use modern tools is necessary to resolve this challenge.
However, tools should not be the only focus of the transition to the DevOps culture. New and flashy tools come out in the market every other day. But you must focus on acquiring the tools that best fit your business case.
Establishing Processes and Metrics
Working with the DevOps model means changing processes. This could mean many things, from enabling a CI/CD pipeline to creating an automation test strategy. Following the processes, you also need to define and monitor relevant DevOps metrics. However, choosing and implementing metrics requires you to examine the processes and define metrics closely related to your business objectives.
Putting all of these in place simultaneously might be an enormous task. An approach to overcome this challenge is to start small. Creating a small pilot program with a test framework effectively addresses this challenge.
DevOps requires a culture of continuous improvement and continuous learning. Organizations must understand that a process and a toolset might not be relevant as they move deeper into the DevOps model or as the product matures. The organization, along with its DevOps team, must be able to adapt to the timely needs.
Adaption is only possible through accountability, continuous improvement, and continuous learning.
Read our complete presentation of the 10 biggest DevOps model challenges that you will likely encounter in its adoption.
DevOps practices advocate continuous improvement and continuous integration. These practices extend to one or more development phases.
Continuous Build and Development
Continuous Build and Development is a DevOps concept that endorses integrating code changes into a shared code repository and building solution frequently. This practice recommends that every change made to the local machine be integrated into the business unit’s central repository and then a build process triggered frequently.
This practice reduces the need to wait till the end of the release cycle for the code changes to be available for the users. Because application is continously built even after smaller code updates, the security of solution and quality of the codes can also improve as it is easier to test the quality of smaller change rather than a bigger one. And, if a vulnerability is identified after the solution is built, a fix can be applied and the solution can be rebuilt quickly, stopping infiltrators from exploting the vulnerability.
Moreover, with small changes pushed to the repository and application built frequently, users’ experience is less likely to be disrupted.
Continuous delivery is a DevOps practice that automatically deploys code changes to production. That way, quality-tested and security-checked code will automatically be available in the pre-production or staging environment. This practice is instrumental in reducing the time to market.
This DevOps practice removes any manual and repetitive processes that could be prone to error. According to this practice, application build, test, and deployment processes should happen automatically and simultaneously when you push a code change to the central repository. Like Continuous delivery, this process reduces the time to trigger the related processes manually.
Infrastructure as Code
Infrastructure as code is the idea of provisioning, versioning, and managing infrastructure like any other code. For example, using code, developers can automatically create a Docker container to manage workloads.
Infrastructure as code decreases the risk of failure associated with manual handling, provides stable, consistent and easily changeable environment, and optimizes cost by automatically scaling up the resources when required and scaling down when the resources are not in use.
Shift Left Security
Shift left security is the DevOps concept of implementing security from the early stage of the development cycle rather than waiting till the end and wrapping the application around a security layer.
As your DevOps team moves towards the left of the development cycle, security best practices and fixes to potential security issues must be implemented in each of the next steps.
Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Kanban, are DevOps practices that help with with planning and collaboration. Moreover, theys provide a standard way to gather customer feedback and empower teams to respond to these feedback faster through shorter release cycle. Agile methodologies focus on people and fast-changing environment ans improves the speed and quality of the software development process.
Logging and Monitoring
Development and Operation teams use logging and monitoring to track and troubleshoot performance issues throughout the entire development lifecycle – from planning to development, integration and testing, deployment, and operations. With logging and monitoring tools, you can strengthen your feedback loop and reduce the chances of errors.
Communication and Collaboration
Communication and collaboration are key DevOps practices that help development and operations teams to work together effectively. It focuses on transparency and resolving issues through clear communication throughout the organization. Some of the ways to improve collaboration and communication are:
- understanding roles of each team member,
- building transparent roadmap that serve as a single source of truth
- extensively using project management tools like scrum boards
- opting for face-to-face or verbal meetings
DevOps Tools and Platforms
Not all the tools that you find in the market might be able to meet your requirements. Building the right DevOps toolchain for your business needs is key to adopting DevOps practices. Here are a few types of DevOps tools you might need:
- Cloud Solutions
- Database tools
- Version control tools
- Infrastructure as a Code Providers
- Configuration management tools
- Containerization Platform
- Container Orchestration Tools
- Monitoring tools
- Log Management and Monitoring Solutions
- Continuous integration tools
- Build tools
How Sematext Can Help DevOps Teams
It is hard to implement and maintain efficient DevOps operations without a proper monitoring tool. This is where Sematext Cloud comes into play.
Sematext Cloud is a full-stack monitoring solution for DevOps. Check out Sematext documentation for details. It enables you to monitor metrics, logs, events happening across your cloud infrastructure in real time. You can correlate these data in a single pane of glass to pinpoint performance issues faster or even detect possible problem before they actually happen.
Sematext offers out-of-the-box dashboards mapping out the key application and infrastructure metrics you should focus on. This allows you to start monitoring systems easily and instantly. On top of that, it features services autodiscovery which lets you automatically start monitoring services directly through the user interface.
With Sematext you get a powerful alerting engine with anomaly detection and alert scheduling. It features pre-configured alert rules, which you can easily customize, along with the performance monitoring dashboard, to suit your needs. As soon as it detects irregularities, Sematext notifies you via the notification channel of your choice.
Watch the video below to learn about how Sematext Cloud can help you and your DevOps team. Or sign-up for the 14-day free trial to test it out.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do agile and DevOps interrelate?
Agile and DevOps are both software development methodologies that share similar principles and goals. Agile focuses on iterative development and flexibility, while DevOps emphasizes collaboration and automation to streamline the entire software delivery process. DevOps can be seen as an extension of agile, with a stronger emphasis on continuous integration and delivery. Both methodologies promote faster and more efficient delivery of software products.
What are the principles of DevOps?
DevOps is based on several key principles, including collaboration, automation, continuous integration, and delivery, monitoring, and experimentation. These principles are designed to help teams work together more effectively, deliver software more quickly and reliably, and continuously improve the quality of their products. By embracing these principles, organizations can achieve greater agility, better alignment between development and operations teams, and more efficient software delivery processes.