What Is DevOps?
To remain competitive in a time where speed and flexibility are critical, businesses need to be agile. CIO notes that “Agility and experimentation are necessary components to unlock business value in this new edge-to-cloud world.” Organizations must embrace new ideas and practices, such as DevOps, to adapt quickly if they want to stay ahead of the competition. So, what is DevOps good for? This article explains just that and more.
What Is DevOps in Simple Terms?
DevOps is an approach to software development that focuses on collaboration and communication among all those involved in the process. Its goal is to automate many of the tasks within this process. This includes implementing automation into testing, continuous integration, continuous delivery and even security. It also prioritizes frequent releases and automation of changes.
DevOps allows all members of an organization to have input into the software development process. It promotes the idea that there are no "experts" but rather everyone needs to work together as a team for their business's success. DevOps can help businesses be more efficient with their technology solutions by eliminating wasted time, money, resources and human effort in production environments. Here’s how it works, who should implement it and what benefits you can get from it.
What Is DevOps Good For?
When it comes to automation and repeatability, the value of DevOps can not be understated. There are many additional benefits to this approach to software delivery and deployment including:
DevOps is a cultural movement that brings together Development and Operations teams to collaborate on projects. DevOps-focused organizations can build more reliable services faster through a collaborative team environment and transparent workflows, which in turn drives value much faster than traditional development processes. By creating visibility into projects and prioritizing those projects, teams can better work with each other to focus on driving value.
DevOps enables businesses to be more innovative, by moving at high velocity. This practice empowers teams to take ownership of services and release updates quicker so they're able to achieve business results faster.
Teams using this approach release more frequently and at a faster pace. This allows them to innovate, fix bugs quickly, respond to customer needs sooner and build a competitive advantage.
Quality and Reliability
A key to achieving quality and reliability is ensuring that each update or change goes smoothly. This can happen via continuous integration. With continuous integration, all changes are tested every time they come in instead of waiting for a full release cycle.
The DevOps model can mitigate risk while maintaining compliance. It does this by using automated policies, fine-grained controls and configuration management techniques. As a result, it is easier to define and then track compliance at scale with infrastructure as code or policy as code.
Automation and infrastructure as code can help scale quickly as needs arise. This allows teams to manage workload and reduce the time it takes to address changes in production environments.
DevOps Best Practices
One of the keys to successful DevOps culture is a set of best practices that define repeatable processes. These processes ensure consistency across the entire DevOps lifecycle.
What Is DevOps Continuous Integration?
Continuous integration is a practice where programmers regularly merge their changes into a central repository, which then runs automated builds and tests. Continuous integration finds bugs quicker, improves software quality and reduces the time it takes to release new software updates.
What Is DevOps Continuous Delivery?
Continuous delivery expands upon continuous integration by making sure all code changes are in a release-ready state for each environment before being deployed to either the test or production environments. This includes a build artifact that has passed standardized tests ahead of time.
Microservices architecture is a design approach in which an application runs as a set of small services that communicate with other services through APIs. Microservices are built around business capabilities. They're designed to be separate but work together when necessary.
Infrastructure as Code
Cloud-based infrastructure provisioning and management are now possible with the help of APIs. Cloud resources can be managed by software development techniques, such as version control and continuous integration. Developers can use code-based tools to build infrastructure in a repeatable manner.
Communication and Collaboration
DevOps is a cultural movement that emphasizes the importance of collaboration, communication and information sharing. It also implements tools to automate software delivery processes and ensures collaboration between development teams and operations teams by physically bringing together workflows.
What Tools Do DevOps Teams Use?
The main goals of DevOps are to make frequent software releases possible by automating as many tasks and processes as possible. The tools used include all software development processes, from code reviews and version control to deployment and monitoring.
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Kubernetes is a container management and orchestration platform. The tool has several features such as automated rollouts, self-healing cluster state, auto-scaling and more.
Docker is an open-source tool that provides a lightweight environment for running, building and shipping applications. Docker containers create a separate runtime environment that can be used to run applications without affecting the infrastructure on which it runs. Unlike virtual machines, Docker containers don't need pre-built machine images to run on hardware. They are designed to work with any operating system (OS) or combination of OSs.
CI/CD Deployment Tools
Jenkins streamlines and simplifies deployments by implementing what is called "pipelines." These pipelines automatically isolate changes in a larger code base, automate testing for these isolated changes, build software from these test builds as well as pre-test them before deployment.
Gradle is a build automation tool to automate the creation of applications by building, compiling, linking and packaging code. Gradle can manage builds on different platforms. The tool provides various features for testing and deploying software including continuous integration and deployment.
Configuration Management Tools
Puppet is a tool that helps manage and automate server configuration. To use it, define the desired state of the infrastructure by writing code in Puppet's Domain-Specific Language (DSL). Puppet then automates the process to get these systems into the required state.
Ansible is a popular IT automation engine that handles tasks such as configuration management, cloud provisioning, software deployment and intra-service orchestration. The tool models all of IT infrastructure into one deployment instead of handling each one separately.
Splunk is a software platform that allows for the real-time monitoring, searching and analysis of machine-generated data. It captures all this information in an easy-to-access searchable container and produces various graphs, alerts, dashboards and visualizations for quick diagnostics on business problems.
Kibana is a monitoring tool used for log and time-series analytics and application monitoring. It offers a robust set of features such as histograms, line graphs, pie charts and heat maps with built-in geospatial support.
What is DevOps as a Culture?
In a 2019 study, Gartner predicted that through 2022, 75 percent of DevOps initiatives will fail to meet expectations due to issues around organizational learning and change.
Fully embracing a DevOps culture is often difficult and the more siloed the teams the harder it will be. The DevOps culture emphasizes autonomy and trust, which can be difficult to cultivate if there is a history of conflict between any of the individuals or teams involved. Given that, perhaps the biggest item to tackle for adoption is what InfoQ calls psychological safety.
Many people are reluctant to engage in behaviors that could negatively influence how others perceive their competence. This kind of self-protection is a natural strategy in the workplace but it is detrimental to effective teamwork. On the flip side, as team members feel safer with one another they are more likely to admit mistakes and partner with each other within their teams.
With people so reluctant to adapt, what is DevOps good for? It’s a practice that streamlines deployments to free developers up to focus on delivering value rather than struggling with builds.
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