What is DevOps?

A healthy, secure, and robust IT infrastructure requires synchronizing Development and Operations, also known as DevOps. Although it’s a challenging task for every company, no matter the size or industry, the result is a more streamlined software development process.

It takes resourceful DevOps and ITOps engineers, a culture of collaboration, strategic thinking, and an Agile mindset to choose the best technical solutions and deploy the most relevant strategies.

But what is DevOps, and how does it specifically contribute to faster, more efficient software development?

What is DevOps: the main key points you need to know

To help you dive deeper into the DevOps culture and understand how DevOps works, we’ve prepared a list of the main key points you need to know about DevOps:

Onboarding development methodologies within operations

The underlying concepts of DevOps have been around since 2007 and started as an effort to implement popular development frameworks in Operations. At the time, methodologies such as Agile, Lean software development, and Extreme Programming were becoming more successful in terms of popularity and adoption rates.

The practices were primarily aimed at improving development workflows by leveraging the focus on business while ensuring better quality, speed, and relevance on deliveries.

Operation specialists, in general, and infrastructure engineers, in particular, have specific workflows and expectations. Therefore, they could not apply developer methodologies out of the box and without adaptations.

what is devops - devops services

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Enhancing collaboration

But did it really need adaptations in the sense of revising and modifying the existing frameworks?

One of the first and main challenges met while integrating those development methodologies was collaborating with development teams.

At that time and even today, more than a decade later, developers and operation engineers mostly work in silos with complex relationships. This is mainly due to differing expectations. If developers focus primarily on change and evolution, operation engineers look for stability in production environments.

Rather than changing the framework, DevOps has been created as an attempt to include Operations into existing workflows by enhancing collaboration with developers and adding or improving a few principles, such as automation and measurement.

DevOps does not provide straightforward guidelines for enhancing collaboration. Each organization will apply different solutions. Two of the most popular approaches are to integrate DevOps engineers into the development team or provide developers with a self-service infrastructure that they can manage by themselves. Although uncommon, these approaches highlight the importance of collaboration in the foundations of DevOps principles, like the CAMS Pillars.

DevOps foundations

DevOps is a cultural approach and a mindset. DevOps is not a framework; it doesn’t have a manifesto like Agile or an official set of rules like Scrum. Still, to be implemented successfully, it requires at least a consensus around guidelines.

Like a North Star, at Pentalog, we particularly like the proposition provided in “The DevOps Handbook”, written by Gene Kim: “IT system is faster, safer and easier to change”.

As DevOps grew into what is now called the new “normal” when it comes to software development, experts have also made several attempts to provide generic guidelines. The most famous and largely accepted definition of the DevOps foundations is probably the CAMS Pillars.

CAMS is an acronym for:

Culture
Culture is essential for the success of a DevOps team. Its basis is collaboration, meaning that everyone involved in the project works together and uses a standard set of values, tools, and workflows. They share a common goal and have a plan to achieve it together.

Encouraging cross-collaboration between different teams and allowing them to stay up-to-date with each other’s projects, ideas, and challenges is the best way to ensure efficiency when it comes to management or troubleshooting.

Automation
Reducing repetitive manual work is critical in the DevOps methodology, which promotes automation throughout the digital lifecycle. Automation not only helps to create safer and faster releases but also supports the other DevOps principles. For instance, automation is done through scripting, which promotes visibility, thus culture and sharing among teams.

Measurement
Based on Lean and Agile, DevOps practices promote continuous improvement and the ability to anticipate defects, allowing teams to constantly learn in order to optimize the product and improve work quality.

With the help of the latest technologies, teams are implementing continuous monitoring to ensure a safe and reliable system, detecting and ideally fixing errors before they even occur.

Measuring performance provides valuable data for your teams, allowing them to make the best decisions based on quantifiable information. Meanwhile, testing enables the anticipation of issues and the assessment of an upgrade before release.

Sharing
Sharing is the foundation of DevOps, allowing the existence of culture, automation, and measurement. This groundbreaking shift in mindset means that teams share their knowledge, tools, flows, information, and objectives, allowing them to create better digital products more quickly. Shared ownership is promoted, as it improves the capacity of the team to architect, produce, and fix the solution they are in charge of.

DevOps Infographic
DevOps Infographic

DevOps and innovation

Since its beginning, DevOps has inspired and has been inspired by innovations in both technology and practices.

One of the main reasons why DevOps is the go-to solution for implementing a reliable software development strategy is the tools it powers.

The scope of DevOps spans across system integration and deployment and allows the automation of multiple processes throughout the entire software development lifecycle. DevOps Engineers have access to a wide range of technical solutions and can leverage the capabilities of tools such as:

  1. Continuous integration servers
  2. Virtualization & containerization
  3. Cloud platforms

Let’s stop for a moment on Cloud platforms. The most popular: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are clearly pushing for DevOps. Their philosophy is not only to provide more automation to ease the infrastructure implementation and scalability, but also to open it to developers. Many features can be cited:

  • Auto-scaling
  • Geo-replication
  • Infrastructure as Code
  • Function as a Service / Serverless
  • Containers orchestration hosting
  • SaaS interface
  • Pay as you go

More evidence is the use of the word “DevOps” in the certification programs of those three major platforms. For example, in AWS: “DevOps Engineer” or “DevOps Solution Architect”. It’s actually become so popular that the term DevOps is also used to designate a role. Use of the word as a role is likely now more popular than its original meaning as a set of practices, which often creates a lot of confusion in the IT industry.

Success of DevOps

DevOps has clearly seen spectacular growth over the past several years. And, infrastructure-related automation technologies such as Docker or Continuous Integration tools have become the standard.

DevOps practices and the culture itself have seen an increase in interest and adoption rates. Major IT companies – Google, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and Etsy – made the switch a while ago.

Today, there is a real trend and an appetite among companies of all sizes to leverage DevOps, and the business is growing.

Google trends clearly show a huge increase since 2013:

devops - google trends

Since 2014, the DevOps market size has almost tripled and is expected to continue growing in the coming years:

devops market

According to Puppet Labs’ State of DevOps report published in 2016, which collected data from more than 25,000 technology professionals, companies using effective DevOps practices outperform other companies in the following areas:

  • 30 times more frequent code changes and deployments
  • 200 times faster code changes and deployments lead time
  • 60 times higher success rate production deployments
  • 168 times faster service restoration
  • 2 times more likely to exceed productivity, market shares, and profitability goals
  • 50% higher rate of market capitalization growth

At Pentalog, we have implemented DevOps into all of our development projects. We support and coach clients worldwide into adopting DevOps and creating a culture based on its best practices. Our DevOps specialists can support your DevOps transformation through a wide variety of services — architecture, engineering, consultation, and more — all in an Agile-enabled environment.

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