A Primer to DevOps

The ExitCertified Team | Monday, April 15, 2019

A Primer to DevOps

With companies like Etsy, Netflix, Facebook, Sony Pictures, and Amazon leading DevOps practices - DevOps is a great technological trend to talk about. The offspring of Agile development - DevOps, the latest tech trend in the software development process, has grown in popularity the last 10 years, becoming much more than an overused buzzword.  

Development and Operations teams in a meeting

Organizations are in a challenging time; deploying rapid software releases in response to incremental end-user requests, (for bug fixes or features) in an effort to support a growing number of cloud-based web applications. To keep up with the goal of quick responsiveness to the user base, functional teams in a software development role are put to work under pressure. As a consequence of this pressure, there are often increases in the number of bugs resulting in fingerpointing and infighting among the teams. DevOps attempts to solve this problem by providing collaboration environment between Development and Operations teams. Software developers who train in DevOp engineering take this process further by establishing the most common DevOps patterns to develop, deploy, and main applications on the cloud. The DevOp methodology is growing in popularity, but businesses need to hire DevOps engineers to implement them effectively. This article is to be used as a DevOps overview, instead of a DevOps tutorial.

What is DevOps? 

DevOps – A marriage of “development” and “operations”.  

What is DevOps? DevOps is an application development culture in which software developers collaborate with operations to ensure that the software is deployed into production with a minimal number of errors. DevOps is neither a software framework nor a workflow but an IT culture overtaking the business world, or rather a mindset that the software team in an organization should adopt, to make the software deployment process easier and faster. According to RightScale’s Latest DevOps Trend Survey, 81% of enterprises are adopting DevOps compared to 70% in SMB’s.

“DevOps is not a goal, but a never-ending process of continual improvement.”—said Jez Humble, Founder, and CTO, DevOps Research and Assessment

Now that we know what DevOps is, the next step is to learn how does it work? A set of processes and tools that helps the software development teams (DEV) and the operations team (OPS)  to work faster together to complete software development. In this kind of IT culture, the dev team supports operational requirements like load testing, performance testing, deployment scripts, and diagnostics, right from the beginning of the software development cycle, while the operations team is involved in providing support and feedback before, during, and after software deployment. 

Benefits of Integrating DevOps in the Software Development Process 

According to the 2018 State of DevOps Report, organizations that follow a DevOps practice experience: 

  • 0% less time resolving security issues. 
  • 24 times faster recovery from failures. 
  • 22% less time on rework and any unplanned work. 
  • 3 times lower change failure rate. 
  • Higher levels of customer satisfaction. 
  • Greater operational efficiency. 

1) Faster Deployment of New Software Systems    

Businesses adopting DevOps culture can gear up for the next level of deployment by deploying new features and applications in an enhanced and efficient manner while keeping the efficiency intact. Collaboration and communication are the two important keywords of a successful DevOps practice resulting in an automatic improvement of the software development lifecycle. 

If your business adopts DevOps culture, then the localization between teams allows control and ownership of all processes to expertise that is present in-house and on-site. Thus, the collaboration and communication between the teams ensures the best possible outcome. This leads to a faster development cycle because processes are built around on-site communication and collaboration.

2) DevOps Culture Translates into a Money-Maker for Businesses    

Businesses incorporating DevOps practices can automate most of the repetitive tasks without having to worry much about errors. For instance, performance and regression testing can bring about small changes in a rapid manner. Thus, an organization can automate such things and benefit by saving on manual costs, leading to higher monetary savings.

3) Bid Adieu to Software Defects    

Defects are a software application’s worst enemy in any application production environment. DevOps practices like collaboration, continuous integration, iterative development, modular programming, and continuous delivery  minimize defects to a great extent, making them almost negligible.  

These are just some of the many technical benefits of DevOps, and there are cultural benefits like higher employee engagement, greater professional development opportunities, and happy and productive software teams.

What is continuous integration and continuous delivery in DevOps? 

Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) are the two best practices of DevOps that have gained huge traction over the years. With both these DevOps practices in place, it will make the development teams highly efficient.

What is Continuous Integration?

Let us understand the concept of continuous integration with an example. Say, you have a team of 15 software developers working on 25 different GiT branches containing approximately 70 commits per day. This is a lot of changes! Over a period of a one week this will reach close to 350 commits. The day the release has to be deployed, all these changes have to combined into a single branch. Those 350+ changes in the single work week are likely to result in problems like: stress, fearing the delay of the release, developers staying late to fix the bugs,  and stakeholders who lose confidence that you will meet delivery timelines. 

Now let’s enter the world of continuous integration. Suppose now if the developers instead of waiting till the release day, combine all the changes several times in a day such that the changes are integrated continuously into the target GiT branch, so that any errors can be tackled then and there immediately when the changes are made, rather than waiting for the release day. This concept is called Continuous Integration, where changes are merged much before the release event takes place.  

Continuous Integration is a process where each developer checks their code into the master copy of the code to the main branch that deals with version control. There is no limitation on the number of times the code is merged in a day whenever the developer checks in the code, the process of continuous integration is triggered with an automated build and test. 

Continuous Integration consists of 4 steps- 

  • Combining the code to the main code branch. 
  • Triggering a build, once the code is checked in. 
  • Making a build after compiling the code. 
  • Performing unit testing. 

Why is Continuous Integration important?

  1. Continuous Integration helps increase the quality of code without overburdening the developers. 
  2. Continuous Integration increases the test coverage of your code. Whenever a new change is committed without tests, the test coverage percentage is likely to go down.  
  3. Continuous Integration automates build, sanity, and few other tests reducing the manual effort required. It saves the most expensive resource -Time. 
  4. Speeds up the release process by helping teams detect and fix bugs in the early stages of software development lifecycle. 
  5. Team members can continue to work in parallel without having to wait for other members in the team to finish checking-in their code.

What is Continuous Delivery?

Continuous Delivery can be compared to an UPS package – delivered at your doorstep after being paid for, tested, processed, handled, and ready-to-use. Continuous Delivery is a DevOps practice of automating the overall software release process.  Continuous Delivery begins where Continuous Integration ends. The objective of CD is to do CI and also automatically prepare and track a software release to production. CD provides the ability to get changes of all kinds – including novel features, bug fixes, configuration changes, into the hands of an end user in a sustainable way. Continuous Delivery ensures that the code is always in a deployable state so that anyone with sufficient privileges from the team of thousands of developers can deploy a new release at any time, in just few clicks. This eliminates almost all the manual tasks making developers more productive. In most cases, continuous delivery includes only one manual step of approving and initiating a deploy to production environment. 

Why is Continuous Delivery important?

  • Results in delivery of a high-quality software application as software testers can focus on important testing phases such as security, performance, exploratory, and usability testing by using automated testing tools that discover regressions in minutes. 
  • A continuous delivery pipeline results in happier teams by reducing the team burnout and making the releases less painful. With more frequent releases, the team can interact actively with users to understand which ideas work and which don’t. 
  • If things go wrong during a release it can have big costs and big consequences involved. The cost of delivery reduces downwards with continuous delivery as it keeps the deliverables always in a release-ready state. 
  • Continuous delivery reduces rework and also provides faster time to market as the regression and integration test phases are completely incorporated into the daily work and not at the end of the release.

If these topics under discussion have really got you interested in the subject of DevOps, we recommend you to check out our wide catalog of DevOps courses on topics like Docker, Kubernetes, Puppet, Ansible and more as you become a DevOps expert.

Reference Links to Stats 

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