Only a few years ago, application development followed a starkly different model than it does today. Traditionally, a development team would write code and fix bugs while communicating with an operations team tasked with building and deploying it towards the production stage, setting up monitoring, operating, and maintaining the infrastructure.
With its many challenges, today’s world is defined by the need to deliver apps and software to production both rapidly and frequently (for Big data, IoT, Cloud, Social Business, and Ecommerce, etc). The challenge is to decrease the time between “ideation” and “realization”, mainly by increasing collaboration between developers and operations: this is where DevOps comes into the picture.
Going from “Dev and Ops” to a mindset of “DevOps” has led to new practices and tools that have improved communication between the different production chain actors, produced tools to solve issues between stakeholders, and automate the delivery process. Overall, it has created a sharp increase in the quality of service for clients.
What Happened Prior to DevOps?
It is painful to think of just how impractical the software development model was before DevOps.
In the past, we had Developers and System Operators (SysOps). A SysOp runs the servers. There's the kind who fix printers, there's the kind who run network cables and check racks, there's the kind who create users on the network, but the one thing all these SysOps had in common from the 1970s through the mid-’00s was they proudly did NOT care what software was being run on the boxes beyond the version requirements it made for them. Think of them as a fridge repairman in a restaurant. They have 0 interest in what kind of food is being served.
Developers, meanwhile, are only concerned about software. In the kitchen, they'd be the chef that just wants the perfect freshest of ingredients and really doesn’t think they need to understand refrigeration at all.
This is how we delivered solutions to customers for decades.
As you can imagine, such a configuration made the software life cycle much longer and complicated. At times, development and operations didn’t mix quite so well. It made sense to create a new model that would allow both teams to work more efficiently.
These days, system operators and developers think quite differently. Hence, it became important to align their thought processes so that they work towards similar business organization goals, and this unified sense of business goals is the definition of DevOps.
If you wonder what the potential damage of not using DevOps is, you only need to look at Facebook. In 2011, Facebook introduced Timeline, which was supposed to be one of its most important releases. The tech giant released it in one single go to its 500 million users. The system couldn’t handle so much use, and the server experienced a meltdown. Facebook wasn’t able to get feedback.
Facebook came up with a Dark Launching technique. New features are first released to a specific group of users (beta releases or alpha releases). With the feedback they receive from continuous monitoring, the developers stabilize the product before releasing it to the entire user base.
What is DevOps?
While the process varies in different organizations, DevOps ensures stronger safeguards against system failure from the get-go. To check-in to the source code repository, it needs to be tested multiple times, both manually and automatically. It is then followed by Performance load scenarios, which are similar to production traffic. Therefore, the staging and pre-production are able to simulate the actual conditions of production and automatically communicate to respective environments (Dev, QA, UAT, Staging, Production).
Its main principle is to integrate everyone in the development and deployment chain into a highly automated workflow. This means that developers, system administrators, test engineers, security engineers, business users, and more will all work towards a shared goal.
Why Is DevOps Important?
The answer to “Why DevOps matters” is because if you have talent completely siloed in their own expertise area, it becomes easy to say "I don’t know...I didn't write the code, no idea why the site's down, but the server looks healthy" - which I’ve heard a lot in the past and is pretty annoying. A good DevOps engineer can get in there and see that the load on the database is high and find a poorly written SQL query in logs that is causing it. They can then reach out to Developers and provide a meaningful answer of "THIS is where the problem is coming from" instead of just asking how many more servers to throw at the problem.
The Advantages of Adopting DevOps
According to the 2017 State of DevOps Report, there are significant differences between high-performance organizations employing DevOps principles and organizations that do not. Performant companies deploy software at a higher rate (46 times more frequent), increased lead times for changes (440 times faster), and a far lower software change failure rate (five times lower) than their lower-performing counterparts.
While DevOps’ benefits will vary from business to business, below, you can find some of the benefits that the majority will enjoy.
Your innovative software solutions can be carried out at high velocity and with more efficiency. Customers are happier, and business results, including revenue, are elevated. Aside from the product being released faster, updates can also be released much quicker.
When delivery is faster, you can get customer feedback sooner and therefore respond to their needs. Automation as well as new features and fixing bugs can all help to increase your delivery rate.
The combined efforts and skills make for a better-quality product. Continuous monitoring gives you real-time data regarding performance so that you can improve the user experience.
At times when systems require changes or there are complexities, automation will allow for greater efficiency with lower risks. DevOps allows for companies to operate and manage infrastructure and development at scale.
When teams learn how to collaborate effectively, it isn’t just their knowledge that is shared. People become more accountable as they take ownership of their role in production. Workflows are combined and time is saved.
There is no way you can sacrifice security just to deliver your product faster. DevOps enables automated compliance policies and policy as code. This is critical because products that aren’t compliant will experience delays.
Benefits of DevOps for Businesses
Quick delivery: Through key fundamental principles such as automation and quick feedback cycles, the software development process becomes faster and more efficient. Following the Agile methodology’s footsteps, DevOps ensure a seamless flow of the SDLC through automation and allows for quick and continuous feedback, faster fixes for glitches, and quicker releases by promoting a collaborative culture.
A collaborative culture between Business/Dev/Ops: To create a dynamic production environment, departments need to collaborate to improve business flexibility. This Is a fundamental principle of DevOps, creating an atmosphere of mutual collaboration, communication, and integration across globally–distributed teams.
Enhanced customer experience: By multiplying their deployment frequency by 200, their recovery times by 24, and dividing their change failure rates by 3, organizations using DevOps will doubtlessly see greater customer satisfaction. By using all the tools mentioned, businesses can ensure the stability of applications after every new release and create products that run flawlessly in production.
Early detection of issues: By promoting teams to share their knowledge, automating the delivery pipeline, and continuously testing the source code, DevOps empowers teams to detect defects as early as possible and share their feedback with one another.
Continuous Development and Deployment: Adapting to shorter release cycles, DevOps allows teams to reduce go-to-market timelines and continuously produce quality software, notably through automation. An automated CI/CD pipeline leads to almost instantaneous code integration. And when QA is embedded, it ensures the quality of the code while permitting continuous releases.
Innovative mindset: As a new way of thinking and working, DevOps offers many benefits for teams and has great potential for the future. Streamlining processes, propagating efficient releases, and ensuring quality lead to a more relaxed working environment around development phases and innovative approaches for resolving issues.