DevOps helps to solve that one problem every business is concerned about – that is, the ability to tackle business requirements swiftly and deliver the best solution in a short period.
Many look at DevOps as a holistic approach to being agile. However, for those trying to understand what DevOps is all about or why you must care, there is a better way to look at it.
DevOps is All about Being Responsive in an Agile Environment
Responsive begins with the flexibility of responding to user behavior in a particular environment. From a good SEO perspective, this could be a responsive screen size, platform or the orientation. The meaning does not vary much when we talk about being responsive in software development.
Companies share certain common principles like optimal resource utilization, quality software, and timely delivery that help a business to build better customer relationship and brand image. However, aligning all these objectives on one plane is a struggle.
We call this the Struggle of Software Delivery Triangle
If we consider the Waterfall methodology, a developer has to undergo several steps to deliver the final output. Such as specification, analysis, design, coding, testing, deployment, maintenance. Each step begins only after the preceding step is complete.
In that case, programmers might have to work almost 18 hours a day until the project reaches the shipping date when rapid testing and last minute quality assurance become afterthoughts. Besides, one has to climb back up the steps to implement modifications or change requests.
This is just the Waterfall method and there are other complex methods of development to think of as well. Introducing Agile methodology might have improved the way we develop software today. However, the struggle remains even after applications have moved to the cloud, especially when it comes to overcoming the problem of maintaining the three joints of software delivery triangle.
Software companies continue to face immense pressure when trying to deliver fixes faster. In one typical software development scenario, we saw the devs submitting code at the last hour and the ops working overnight to make up for the wasted hours before the deployment deadline.
The entire process gives rise to technical debt, hopelessness and despair down the development chain and the momentum heightens when an issue is raised from the customer end. Pin pointing the exact place of an issue gets incredibly painful not to forget the lack of traceability between an issue, the code file and the requirement.
All these lead to the ever-evolving wide gap stretching far and wide between business expectations and delivered output.
A major reason for this could be the disconnection between the development, QA, and the operations teams. Different teams use different tools to develop the same software. That means they work from tool environments different from one another. So no matter what kind of software development methodology you use, there will always be a disconnection in the way information flows between teams.
The Result – Increased Confusion and Slow Delivery of Quality Software
With agile, software development might have improved, but DevOps actually adds to the movement. Basically, it enhances the Agile method by building a continuous delivery chain.
DevOps introduces the ‘Shifting to the Left’ approach, which shifts the Operations and the Development teams in to one vertical structure. Hence, collaboration between both now revolve in an infinite chain without hurting the overall stability of a software.
So what drives DevOps?
It takes care of the most important metrics – the Lead Time, i.e. the total time taken for a code to get committed and running successfully into production.
A standard development model may take several weeks to several months to deliver the final output, which in the end could be highly prone to catastrophic deployment and errors. By combining Agile methodology with DevOps, organizations cut down the time of delivery as well as catastrophic disaster.
First, it begins with an agile programming approach that revolves around the four basic principles –
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Interaction over tools and processes
- Collaborative teamwork over contractual negotiation
- Responding to change over pre-defined plan
Next, it accelerates the feedback loop by aligning product features with market demand. This makes the product always responsive to change. DevOps puts the product at the epicenter of the software delivery triangle ruled by the three principles that contribute to continuous delivery. As a result, implementing new change becomes quicker and the time taken to retrace back and start over again is eliminated.
The approach is enhanced using popular methodologies like Scrum and Extreme Programming, and tools such as Chef, Ansible, Puppet, SaltStack for provisioning the server environment.
Two Important Aspects that make DevOps Possible
- Automation of Software Development Framework
Automation of software development framework eliminates the need of manually provisioning any network or hardware changes in a data center. You also get to cut down the overall cost and the time taken to deploy an application.
DevOps predicates the idea that all elements of technology framework can be controlled through code or just one click. With the rise of cloud, you can now also do it in real time through web service.
- Automation of Configuration Management
DevOps solves the problem of manual installation and configuration of packages. So with configuration automation, a server is deployed in exactly the same manner every time.
You do not have to run across hundreds of servers if you need to make any change. With DevOps, you can do it all from one ESB based Omnibus platform.
Dissolving the Dev-Ops Gap
The quality of a software depends much on the changing mindset of an organization’s teamwork.
While devs are traditionally concerned with updates and changes, the ops try to ensure that the quality and stability of a software remain unaffected irrespective of any update or change.
The problem arises when it leads the Ops team to believe that reducing the number of changes implemented in a software will automatically reduce the frequency of software failures.
This tendency of opposing priorities inevitably leads to animosity and cultural clash where both sides of the workforce try implementing their mindset over one another. Besides, it also hinders the overall development process between the two teams.
DevOps puts a stop to this cultural clash by creating a united loop where all teams come together to plan, code, build, test, release, deploy, operate, and monitor.
The first step for implementing this change begins with introducing a software that will reduce the clash and focus more on the collaboration part. This is where we will try to demonstrate the function of DevOps backend and frontend –
To do this, we have used the above two figures – (1) a DevOps workflow to explain how DevOps work in the backend, and (2) Traceability View of an ALM instance to show how things look from the frontend.
**Traceability View is an important feature through which Managers can directly check the code files on which the developer had worked on and the change-set linked to the registered defect.
In the above demo flow image, we have used the names of only a few tools. But in real world, teams use more tools for code analysis, security and production monitoring.
- An error is identified and raised via an Incident Management tool (example – Service Now).
- The registered defect is reflected inside the Traceability View and the IDE tool (example – Eclipse) that the developer is working in.
- The developer views the details and then works on the related code files to fix the issue.
- He or she then checks in the fixed code files to a Source Code Management repository (example – GitHub) and central repository.
- All details related to the fixed code files are reflected in the Traceability View.
- The Build execution pipeline is triggered followed by deployment.
- The codes are validated using automated scripts, which if successful, proceeds to the Staging Server and finally to the Production Server.
- Committing the fixed code files to the central repository leads to the generation of Change Sets, which is directly visible from the Traceability View.
And that’s how Dev-Ops Fulfills the Promise of Software Delivery Triangle
In short, DevOps delivers the promise of improved business services by using IT operations efficiently. It aligns the work of everyone involved in software production with the way a software responds to customer interaction when out in the market.
It also breaks down the strict control that governs who has accessibility to the individual production environment, hardware, and data centers thereby empowering the team to achieve better efficiency together.
Maintaining software quality is a challenge. As new defects arise, it will bring new challenges and complexities that might be hard to solve. Nevertheless, with DevOps in scene, the framework of your software delivery triangle will remain unchanged. That is why you should care about DevOps!