The introduction of a DevOps culture in companies has sparked many discussions in the IT business environment. Many IT pros will agree that full adoption of DevOps is easier said than done, but given the need to create a collaborative atmosphere in software development and the yearning call to build high quality software with fewer vulnerabilities, there is none better time for IT companies to adopt DevOps principles than now.
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This beginner’s guide to DevOps will introduce you to the DevOps culture and uncover the key DevOps practices, models, and tools that make a DevOps transformation easier to achieve.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a software development model that brings development and operations together to enable efficient and secure software production and delivery. DevOps facilitates collaboration between the development and operations teams to brainstorm and think about how to develop and deploy software products with maximum efficiency.
The DevOps model ensures that the best teams, technologies, and processes needed to accelerate, automate, and build the best software work together throughout the software development lifecycle. Where there is a clear implementation of the DevOps ethos, separate IT teams such as development, quality assurance, IT operations and security come together under one roof to develop and deliver more reliable software that meets compliance and customer requirements. With the DevOps culture, everyone in the software development loop is expected to help increase the chances of releasing products that can achieve business goals.
The main goal of DevOps is to remove bottlenecks and silos created by moving software development processes from one team to another. Organizational silos cause disruption in the flow of the software development process and give different teams room to blame when things go bad. All of this impacts quality delivery, but DevOps fosters a collaborative culture where everyone on the software development team is expected to be part of the project from the concept phase to software release.
Guiding Principles of DevOps
In order for software development to get the best out of DevOps, there are principles that guide DevOps practices. They include:
Teamwork and communication
Collaboration and communication between different IT teams underscores the goal of DevOps. Development teams, security, operational and software quality engineers or testers must work together as a unit for a perfect DevOps culture to exist in every company.
Automation of software development
What makes DevOps a strategy for rapid software production and delivery is the integration of automation. IT automation helps reduce repetitive processes and human intervention in software development.
Continuous integration and delivery
CI/CD is at the heart of DevOps. Continuous integration ensures that DevOps teams continuously merge code changes into code repositories to improve software performance, while continuous delivery facilitates the process of automating the software release process through to production.
Meeting user experience, compliance and business needs
DevOps also balances business, compliance, and user experience goals. For this reason, DevOps teams are made up of quality assurance engineers and software testers who help ensure that only those software products that meet these goals are released.
The lifecycle of the DevOps model
In order for DevOps practices to fit into your organization, it is crucial to understand the life cycle of the DevOps model. The life cycle of the DevOps model includes different stages or stages of continuous software development that guide the entire DevOps team in maintaining an efficient loop in the software development cycle. There are seven main components of the DevOps model lifecycle.
This is the first phase of the lifecycle, where all teams come together to create a roadmap on how to achieve the project’s goal. At this point it all boils down to planning and designing what to include or exclude.
In this phase, everyone in the team should be aware of what they can contribute to the success of the project. This is where developers are expected to start contributing their codes to the repository. Code commits to the repository can come in on either a weekly or daily basis, depending on the timeframe allotted to the projects. As each block of code is merged into the repository, the code is also expected to undergo some form of code review, unit testing, and integration testing at this stage.
In this phase, the team tests the software for bugs and other forms of code errors. This is where automated testing tools like JUnit and Selenium can be used to speed up continuous testing.
Continuous monitoring helps DevOps teams ensure critical software bugs that can impact overall software performance are fixed. During the monitoring phase, the software is scrutinized and information about potential performance issues is gathered. In this phase, issues such as latency, memory usage, and server responsiveness issues are monitored, recorded, and reported for possible improvements.
DevOps creates space for continuous improvements in the software. The continuous feedback phase serves as a progress report where feedback from the software is collected and analyzed to improve performance.
Developers are expected to start deploying their codes to the production servers at this stage. Configuration management tools like Puppet, Chef, or Ansible can be used to manage the deployment.
This is the final phase of the DevOps model lifecycle. This phase includes automating the software release and rolling out required updates to the software. Although this is the last phase in the cycle, it does not mean the end of software development. Instead, it just keeps the cycle going in a continuum.
How to adopt a DevOps model
It’s one thing to show the components of the DevOps model and another to put it into practice. Here’s how companies can adopt a successful DevOps model for their business.
Start by adopting a DevOps mindset
It’s not enough to simply announce to your teams that you will be adopting DevOps without taking the time to educate each team member on the importance of DevOps. To adopt a DevOps mentality, you need to explain to everyone why it is necessary to bring development and operations into the same department.
Once everyone agrees to adopt DevOps, you already have a mindset that can lead to effective DevOps practices.
Set the metrics to measure performance standards
It is crucial to identify all necessary metrics to measure progress in DevOps adoption. Recording these metrics from the start will ensure everyone understands the parameters to be improved and how to measure them.
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Some of the metrics to measure progress in DevOps include:
- lost production rate: This measures how often the software fails during production.
- Mean recovery time: This measures how long it takes for software in production to recover from an outage.
- deployment speed: This measures how quickly the team can deploy a new version of an application to a given production environment.
- Deployment Frequency: This metric helps determine how often you should deploy new releases to production environments.
- Mean time to production: This measures how long it takes for a new code commit to be deployed to production.
- Average delivery time: Average lead time is the time it takes to integrate, test, and deploy a new requirement to production.
Understand your business needs
Every business is different in terms of goals and the way the goals are achieved. Your DevOps team should understand these goals and why they should be pursued vigorously with the DevOps framework.
Accept changes iteratively
When transitioning to a DevOps software development model, taking on projects incrementally is ideal. Don’t make the mistake of mixing things up because you’ve assembled a team that can handle multiple projects.
Emphasize the importance of quality assurance
One of the main goals of DevOps is quality assurance. Much emphasis should be placed on providing software products that meet users’ needs early on.
DevOps cannot be successful without using the best DevOps tools to simplify and automate some processes. Some of the best DevOps tools to consider when adopting a DevOps model for software development include GitLab, Ansible, Jenkins, Kubernetes, Puppet, Selenium, Chef, and Docker. For more information, see Best DevOps Tools and Solutions 2022: Compare DevOps Software.