Can DevOps And Agile Go Hand In Hand?


The evolution of software development has three significant milestones, first through the waterfall method, which focuses on the time required to release a product, second through the agile method, which optimises the development life-cycle and third through DevOps (development and IT operations), which seeks to unite development and operations to work together as a single team. It also increases productivity, improves collaboration and delivers superior products.

According to the 15th Annual State of Agile report, 95 per cent and 76 per cent of the respondents stated that their organisations had adopted agile and DevOps development methodologies, respectively. Adopting agile and DevOps practices in software development presents challenges to many organisations. To overcome those challenges, it’s essential to appreciate the difference between agile and DevOps and their roles in software development.

DevOps explored

DevOps consists of a continuous cycle of building, testing, deploying and monitoring software. Its main objective is to deliver quality software efficiently. Here the development team and operations team work together to improve collaboration and productivity. It also involves implementing principles and practices and using a set of DevOps tools for testing. DevOps principles foster communication, end-to-end responsibility and information sharing.

DevOps Principles

Transition to this new culture is not possible without understanding the fundamental values that drive it. It requires a change of mindset within the development and the operations team that inspires them to work as a united front.

Here are principles that steer the engineering process in a DevOps environment:

Version Control: Developers submit code changes to a central repository several times before submitting code to the master repository; all code must be verified. To facilitate collaboration, other developers can track changes.

Continuous Integration: A development team member integrates code several times a day into a shared repository. Developers segment their work into manageable chunks and detect potential merge conflicts and bugs quicker.

Continuous Delivery: Since the code is continuously integrated, it is also consistently delivered to the end-user. Smaller contributions allow for faster update releases, which is crucial for customer satisfaction.

Continuous Deployment: DevOps involves automating processes to boost production speed. Continuous deployment involves automating minor updates that do not pose a severe threat to the existing architecture.

Continuous Testing: It involves testing at every phase of development as much as possible. Automated testing provides valuable feedback and assesses the risk associated with the process under test.

Continuous Operations: DevOps is constantly upgrading software with minor, frequent releases. That’s why one must continuously monitor performance. Its main objective is to prevent downtime and availability issues during code releases.

Collaboration: DevOps aims to foster collaboration and feedback sharing. To maintain an efficient DevOps pipeline, development and operations must communicate proactively and share feedback.

Agile explored

Agile focuses on continuously delivering small manageable increments of a project through iterative development and testing. Agile was introduced as an alternative to the traditional waterfall methodology, known for its structured, linear and sequential life-cycle.

Dynamic processes like project management and software development require the ability to adapt to changes and new conditions. The uncompromising waterfall model approach really couldn’t meet the fast-paced continuous technological innovation expectations. And that’s how agile was born.

An agile approach provides effective, day-to-day management of complex projects, enhancing communication and fostering collaboration among team members and customers.

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Agile Values

There are  four core values at the heart of agile software development:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Manifesto emphasises the need to value each team member and foster a healthy workplace. It promotes constant communication between teammates so that everyone takes part in the development process.

Working software over comprehensive documentation: Documentation cannot stand in the way of software delivery. Every project started with detailed documentation of the requirements and expectations of the developing software. Agile reduces the amount of time spent on documentation that will likely be altered in the future by focusing on embarrassing changes.

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Continual development involves collaborating with customers regularly. Immediate feedback ensures that the project is headed in the correct direction. Contract negotiations before development and referring back to them after production can result in misunderstandings. It should be avoided.

Responding to change over following a plan: Changes made mid-project should be readily accepted, as they can aid in the product’s overall success. One of the main differences between agile and waterfall is adapting to new circumstances and incorporating new features.

Agile vs DevOps

Can Agile and DevOps work together for the betterment of any process? Of course, they can.

At first glance, Agile and DevOps might look mutually exclusive or alternatives to each other. Still, combining these two approaches can optimise the development life-cycle and maintenance of your product incrementally.

Agile practices such as pair programming is a great way to distribute knowledge and improve code quality, regardless of what the code is for. Such methods can produce new features, fix bugs with internal tooling, or lead to infrastructure as code in your deployment pipeline. Here, DevOps calls for shared responsibility and understanding of the deployment pipeline and other associated infrastructure. Pair programming is a better way to expose engineers to this environment and grow their knowledge.

Agile development practices apply to most software projects, working through the product backlog or building internal tooling. All software projects benefit from faster cycle times and quicker feedback from production. That’s key to a successful agile process. The agile methodology focuses on stakeholder feedback from interacting with working software. The faster working software is released to stakeholders, the more rapid changes happen, thus the overall process accelerates. Adopting agile without bringing in DevOps principles will inhibit your organisation’s velocity and slow your software release cadence.

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The integration of DevOps and Agile helps in the following areas:

  • Streamlines the release process and improves product offerings
  • Allows for better collaboration
  • More value and fewer risks in each release
  • Fewer bugs and faster fixes
  • Increased visibility
  • Higher user satisfaction rates as the products are more qualitative

While Agile emphasises the importance of bringing together smaller teams and allowing them to collaborate to react quickly to ever-changing consumer demands, DevOps brings together two large siloed teams to allow faster software releases.

One concept that permeates both methodologies is the notion of shifting left. By identifying and fixing defects during the early stages of software development, it is possible to improve the quality of the software.

DevOps and Agile complement each other. DevOps emphasises automating continuous integration and deployment pipelines so frequent releases are possible, while Agile encourages agile adaptation based on changing requirements and enhanced collaboration between smaller teams.

It is clear that both Agile and DevOps seek to bring the end-user value more efficiently but with different approaches. Agile focuses on making developers and development cycles more efficient, while DevOps brings the operations team into play to enable continuous integration and delivery.