DevOps as a term came in vogue just a decade ago. Till then, advancements in technology and delivery continued, but teams worked in silos. Cut-off from the outside world and each other. The necessity for teams to intermingle, interact and develop software while ensuring continuous delivery to clients came about in 2007 when Patrick Debois, a project manager, was asked to help the Belgian Government with data centre migrations. The lack of coordination between the developer and operations teams made his work challenging and delayed the delivery process. Debois, a big believer in the agile method of work, proposed bringing both developers and operations teams together so that the final products are shipped faster.
Many IT professionals continued to highlight the massive losses businesses faced due to the wall between developers and operations teams. There was no way out of this stalemate save for seamless integration between the two.
Fast forward to 2010, when the first DevOps conference was held at Mountainview, California. Also known as the Mecca of technology. A conference solely aimed at reducing the gap between promise and delivery, quality of product and the speed at which it is delivered was unheard of. The fact that this conference was actually held was ample proof that DevOps had arrived, and it was here to stay.
Benefits of enforcing DevOps
DevOps is not a tool that promises magical results when implemented. This is a principle, when inculcated, makes a positive difference to the way an enterprise works at a very fundamental level. When businesses adopt DevOps, they can develop and deploy products faster. Some of the benefits of adopting a DevOps strategy in functioning are as follows.
One of the primary reasons DevOps came into being and became widely popular in the IT sector is developing and deploying products faster. When teams remained cut-off from one another and worked solely on their objective, the result was longer cycle times, going back to the drawing board more often, and unsatisfactory product delivery. When teams are integrated, suggestions and improvements can be made in real-time, and the gamut of problems to be solved becomes less. Corrections become less cumbersome, and the continuous flow of services remains unchanged.
When teams work in silos, their vision is severely restricted, but their work also reflects a similar outlook. Each believes their work to be the best and are not welcome to changes or suggestions. An air of mistrust exists, and when the time for delivery or execution comes, even the minor mistake is pinned on the other, citing lack of competence. An overall structure where transparency is not to be found results in a severe lack of morale and, in the long run, causes attrition due to lack of job satisfaction. On the other hand, DevOps creates an environment where goals can be achieved faster and more efficiently.
We have seen situations where a product initially works perfectly and delivers on its promise. However, when the product or application is updated, instead of a quality improvement, the entire system gets compromised and does not deliver as required by the customer. This creates an air of mistrust and ultimately isn’t good for business. Incorporating DevOps ensures continuous integration and delivery. In fact, testing the functionality and tracking the security and quality of the product in real-time helps maintain the functionality and reliability of the software.
A situation where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing can be disastrous for the organisation. Transparency and trust can help eliminate a lot of unnecessary problems for the organisation. DevOps as a policy helps implement security, data control and safety policies, guidelines and automatic checks in the organisation, thus ensuring the speed of delivery is not impeded by roadblocks in the form of security breaches or dishonoured compliances.
DevOps is a boon for enterprises that are at the forefront of technological advancements. Whether it is Amazon Web Services, Google, or even Microsoft, managing technology at a huge scale without transparency is not feasible. Adopting and implementing DevOps can help in automation and makes the management of complex systems relatively easy.
Best Practices to enforce effective DevOps
The driving force behind the success of any technology or principle is adopting procedures that help propagate the thought and make its implementation easier. DevOps, in itself is a theory that must be adopted by any organisation, irrespective of its size and functionality. However, to ensure this principle’s adaptation is successful, here are a few suggestions that will help make DevOps a cornerstone of an organisation’s delivery system.
Active Stakeholder Participation
One of the key requirements of DevOps is transparency at all levels. Specifically, the developing team that is involved in research and conceptualising the product and the operations team that is executing and implementing the solution in a real-world scenario. Being open to ideas and collaboration can yield fantastic results and ensure that the products delivered are of an acceptable standard. For this, an open platform where all stakeholders are taken into confidence is a necessity.
Integrated Configuration Management
The configuration is an important aspect of DevOps. Not only must developers configure their products to their clients’ requirement. But also, check the configuration between the software and the organisation’s structure. This will help developers and operations team members to understand what impact a potential solution or product has on the company’s future. This will help the organisation’s leadership decide whether or not the client or its requirements are feasible for future projects. This process also helps the leadership understand the potential impact of a product release and plan it accordingly.
Integrated Deployment Planning
Developers create products as per client requirements, and the operations team takes care of the deployment. Deployment of any product or service cannot be done arbitrarily and must follow a planned deployment schedule. DevOps ensures both teams are on the same page and helps plan deployments in a structured manner as per schedule.
After a product or software is successfully integrated into one sandbox, it automatically moves on to the next sandbox as per schedule. DevOps ensures this process is continuous and error-free until it reaches the point where humans must verify before the final handover to the client.
Developers are not just restricted to developing a product or software on the verge of release but also includes providing support to critical problems on the production line. Production support personnel typically provide solutions at the last stage of the product cycle. An open network helps them gain insight into the development process and allows them to pitch in with solutions when an anomaly is detected.
A significant feature of DevOps is the continuous monitoring of systems and logging data. DevOps allows users to measure performance that eventually help in preventing failures and provide reliable solutions. This way, if something goes wrong during the production process, the data collected through application monitoring helps evaluate performance metrics and prevent future failures.
The flexibility of a DevOps environment allows all concerned teams to measure key performance metrics in real-time. Creating automated dashboards that log necessary details helps provide critical business intelligence.
Containers and DevOps
Simply put, containers are a technological advancement that helps developers host applications inside portable environments. Containers have been in existence for a long, but they came into prominence after the launch of Docker in 2013.
DevOps, on the other hand, is a very different concept. It is a theory when put to practice, helps attain continuous software delivery in an environment where all teams collaborate with each other.
Containers and DevOps are as different as chalk and cheese. Although they are independent of each other, utilising containers in a DevOps environment helps streamline delivery and attain organisational objectives.
Benefits of utilising Containers in DevOps workflow
Containers have a lasting beneficial impact on a DevOps workflow system. Some of those benefits are listed below.
- Consistency of environment: Brings consistency to the development, testing and production environments. Conceptualising, writing and executing a code inside a container prevents a change in the environment at different stages of the delivery chain. This helps various teams working on the solution to collaborate easily since they are all part of the containerised environment.
- Simple updates: One of the significant benefits of a containerised environment is rolling out updates constantly, in a streamlined manner. A container allows updates to applications that are distributed further into microservices without interrupting the rest of the app.
- Support for multiple frameworks: Containers allow various teams to switch between various program networks or deployment platforms easily. A container’s ability to remain agnostic towards programming languages or deployment platforms helps developers run any type of program irrespective of the language in which it is written inside containers. The only drawback however, to this system is developers cannot move a containerised app from a Windows server to a Linux server and vice-versa, as the Docker on both these platforms are completely different and unlike each other.
Containers help DevOps attain the most out of them. It helps programmers freeze and start a system that has been planned for deployment. This includes the operating system as well as the configuration files. Debugging becomes easy, and software testing is a breeze. Containers help change how deployment and rollbacks happen in IT. Container packages are small and easy to download and run, they are also very efficient in balancing load and ensures no downtime during a rollout or maintenance.
This and many more exciting topics will be discussed at the Enterprise Cloud and Data Centre Forum 2021, Middle East’s biggest cloud and data centre summit on March 10, 2021 (UAE edition), and March 16, 2021 (KSA edition). For registration, please visit https://ecdc.datatechvibe.com/