What is DevOps and how to implement it?

Successful implementation of the DevOps approach isn’t a matter of a few days. And as this term has become an overloaded buzzword, lots of companies struggle to get a handle on it. This article will unveil the mystery of this approach and guide you through the important milestones.

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What is the DevOps approach?

Developers and operators collaborating is the key for successful continuous delivery. By its nature, the DevOps team structure is an evolution of the agile model that is great for gathering requirements, developing, and testing out your solutions. DevOps was created to address the challenge and gap between the dev and ops teams. 

Thus, we bring together the operator and developer teams into a single team to provide a way of seamless collaboration. They are integrated to be able to brainstorm solutions that are being tested in a production-like environment. The operations team is then able to focus on what they're really good at, which is analyzing the production environment and being able to get feedback to the developers on what is successful.

What is the difference between DevOps and traditional development?

Traditional development is not compelling since it doesn’t presuppose scaling. Besides, it has restricting methods of reasoning which hinder collaboration. As innovation business keeps on developing, greater adaptability is required. 

Every DevOps team structure is a seismic shift that enables associations to react to ever-changing and extending market demands. At the point where development and operations teams meet together through seeing each other's interests and perspectives, they can create and convey strong programming items at a quick pace.

There are also a couple of core things that differentiate the Dev and Ops approach from traditional product development. The most notable differences include:

  • Focus on flow value, instead of conforming to the project plan
  • Production-first mindset
  • Shared ownership and cooperation
  • Rapid iteration with fast feedback loops
  • Infrastructure is considered as a flexible resource

In general, the DevOps approach allows cutting the time and handling problems faster. It is all about improving things, rather than fixing things. This, in turn, helps recover from failures faster, and present apps faster.

How does building a DevOps team benefit your organization?

Improve job satisfaction

For a business, measuring the job satisfaction level in systems is hard. And there is nothing worse for the final result and working process than unproductive and inconsistent employees. However, with a high-performing DevOps approach, it is easier to improve worker experience at a big or small organization. A DevOps team is more focused on the process than on the end goal, which helps derive more joy and content in their development jobs. And when your team is happy, it offers the prospect of retention rates and motivates other bright minds to cross their paths with your business.

Save time on operational activities

Since DevOps team structure calls for rethinking and advancing existing cycles and advancement tasks, there's a pattern towards improved efficiencies. As teams hope to improve their whole activity, they move toward frameworks, procedures, and practices that offer improved efficiencies. Good judgment directs that, generally, the whole association would see efficiency boons as a result.

DevOps principles and practices

  • Infrastructure as Code

Nowadays, you will likely fail without automating your infrastructure, as apps can be deployed into production bazillion times per week. Also, infrastructure is nimble and can be provisioned or de-provisioned in response to load. Here is when infrastructure as code comes in. 

In simple words, it is focused on automating all tasks end to end, instead of doing them manually. All the knowledge and expertise of system administrators and operations teams is packed into various programs and apps that carry out all these tasks. Infrastructure as Code, or IaS, is a concept that makes use of such apps as Terraform, Puppet, or Ansible. However, no infrastructure IaS tool can do everything.

  • Continuous Integration

Continuous integration is a development practice of code integration into a shared repository. In simple words, CI means combining the code of several developers into a common code base intended for deployment. Each integration is verified by an automated build and automated tests. The CI process includes such aspects as developing and compiling code, performing unit tests, integrating with databases, performing pre-production deployment, and others. As you understand, CI is more than just one developer working on a code and committing it to a feature branch. Instead, the developer has to make sure that he or she writes a unit test that exercises each line of code written.

  • Continuous Delivery

Continuous delivery is a development practice where the created software can be released to production at any time. Continuous delivery or CD is one of the essential principles of modern application building, as it continues the practice of continuous integration. CD ensures that all changes to the code, after the build phase, are deployed in the test and/or working environment. The value of CD lies in the fact that the record is ready to be deployed all the time.

Continuous delivery allows devs not only to automate unit-level testing, but also to perform multiple checks for application updates before deploying them to end-users. This may include testing the user interface, loading, integration, API reliability, etc. All this allows devs to check for updates more thoroughly and identify possible problems in advance. Unlike legacy on-premise solutions, the cloud environment makes it easy and cost-effective to automate the creation and replication of multiple test environments.

What are a DevOps engineer's responsibilities?

Dev and Ops engineers together are rightly called the 'special forces'. They have to be able to juggle workload, be flexible, and handle various tasks simultaneously. At an IT organization, an engineer can be responsible for:

  • Documentation

He or she compiles specifications and data for the server-side features.

  • Systems analysis

He or she studies the technology being implemented and produces plans and processes that require improvement and expansion.

  • Development

A DevOps engineer should be able to develop programming as well as automate and configure operating environments within organizations.

  • Project planning

Sometimes he or she also has to take on project management. Engineers take a lead handling the whens, wheres, whos, and hows of a project, briefing everyone on the objectives.

  • Testing

Strong testing ability is one of the most indispensable skills for a DevOps engineer to ensure each function does its job as intended. This refers to all stages from building to deployment.

  • Deployment

Additionally, a DevOps engineer should have expertise in code deployment. He or she should be able to automatically deploy updates and fixes into the prod environment.

  • Maintenance

Responsibilities also include IT structure maintenance, which comprises hardware, software, network, storages, and control over cloud data storage. A DevOps engineer should be able to run regular app maintenance to guarantee the production environment operates as intended.

  • Performance management

Based on staff size, the DevOps engineer may also be in charge of coordinating other engineers.

DevOps team roles

The ideal DevOps team structure looks like a myth for most companies. Usually, the organizational structures consist of devs and IT operations personnel collaboration, who work as a team with test engineers, database administrators, security teams, and other related parties. Each team has its unique needs, that is why it is better to analyze different models. The DevOps team structure facilitates the ideals of the DevOps culture.

 A typical team DevOps structure can include the following positions.

  • The DevOps evangelist. 

This person should be both the front runner of the organization and the leader for teams that are passionate about the process and the company as a whole. He or she should also determine the key values that IT can offer to the business. An evangelist needs to make sure that the product is highly available in the pre-production and production system and is being released frequently.

  • The release manager. 

Release managers are responsible for managing, planning, scheduling, and controlling the software dev process through different phases and environments. DevOps as a culture stresses that the cooperation and communication of devs and IT specialists is a dependency of the release cycle. Therefore, release managers play a huge role as discipline holders in a crew.

  • The automation architect. 

A DevOps Architect is in charge of the design and implementation of enterprise apps. The DevOps Architect is also responsible for analyzing, implementing, and streamlining DevOps practices, monitoring technical operations as well as automating and facilitating processes.

  • The software developer/tester. 

In general, testers check whether the actual results match expectations and the final result is bug-free. Software devs are responsible for building a feature, fixing bugs, continued learning, as well as communication and product issues.

  • The XA (experience assurance) professionals. 

The XA professional should be adept at providing suggestions and solutions to improve and enhance productivity. One of the most important responsibilities of the QA specialists is to guarantee that the built product is up to the company’s quality standards. These detail-oriented specialists are also in charge of the building and implementation of inspection activities along with the apprehension and resolution of defects.

  • The security engineer. 

A security engineer is responsible for designing and maintaining infrastructure security using the approved automation and CI or CD tooling. He or she detects security-lacking areas within the cloud platform. A security engineer is also in charge of developing detection techniques and addressing security requests.

  • The utility technology pro. 

Utility technology players play an important role in DevOps culture as they are a new kind of IT Operations or System Administrators. These are savvy, versatile, and brisk learning people who perform multiple tasks, settle issues, adjust rapidly, and make sense of things. Their main responsibility is to make sure that the QA, resources, and security are considered as top concerns.

 

When to implement DevOps

Dev and Ops operate separately

Dev and Ops team structure is the literal and metaphorical combination of development and operations. For quite a long time, these two gatherings have been isolated by social and information limits, especially inside bigger venture IT organizations.

This partition was clear. At one time, dev specialists centered on coding and tasks taking that code and ensuring it remained running. The total disengage between these two gatherings prompted long Quality Assurance cycles and rare creation arrangements inspired by a paranoid fear of letup or breaking something.

Today, Dev and Ops team structure has empowered a serious extent of standardization, making productive methods of conveying, designing, and running numerous servers with only a couple of tools as opposed to depending on human intercession.

With these instruments, a dev could make an independent, automatic depiction of how to run an application. What used to take a long time of manual arrangement and tuning by profoundly gifted experts, is now possible in only hours.

Insufficient coverage by tests

Insufficient coverage by tests can result in major problems. Inadequate test coverage is generated from a small number of tests written for each user story and insufficient visibility into code that was updated. 

However, a DevOps team altogether makes it easier to agree on the features to be presented, hence creating tests for each feature is made quicker. Also, it allows coding and testing done simultaneously to guarantee the crew is ready to test each feature once it’s published to Quality Assurance.

High probability of post-release errors

Post-release crashes are often the result of testing gaps, as continuous testing does not happen within each phase of the software building process. Besides, test engineer teams might not be able to simulate the bugs in the testing environment. As a result, companies have to condone the uneven and unpredictable pace of software building. However, the majority of IT companies have exited this endless loop by implementing DevOps transformation.

Time-consuming updates and fixes

As team cooperation isn't sufficiently proficient, it may take up to a month to distinguish and fix bugs or actualize and discharge minor changes. Such a long holding-up period is particularly unsafe when programming is being built and created to uphold or change basic business tasks such as Customer Relationship Management software.

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Best Practices for a Successful DevOps Implementation

Organize a DevOps initiative

To get started with the approach, a CIO puts a DevOps initiative into an IT department. This will help the IT teams alter the dev and operating activities be less troublesome for the whole company. Then, the CIO picks a program manager who will lead the design and implementation of the effective strategy and assign responsibilities and roles. The CIO will be put in charge of funding and personnel in the most optimum way.

Build the DevOps strategy

To formulate a productive DevOps strategy, a program manager has to implement the best practices that will better the interdepartmental collaboration and empower better ways for foundation provisioning, programming advancement, and testing. 

These practices include placing building, operating, design, testing, and other professionals in a shared environment and applying the Infrastructure as Code approach. Another indispensable practice for a successful DevOps shift is automating all stages to accelerate the development-testing-releasing process.

Implement Containerization

Containerization is lightweight virtualization and isolation of resources at the operating system level. It allows the application and the minimum system libraries to run in a fully standardized container that connects to the host or anything external to the host using specific interfaces. The container is independent of the resources or architecture of the host on which it runs.

All components needed to run an application are packaged as a single image and can be reused. The application in the container runs in an isolated environment and does not use memory, processor, or disk of the host operating system.

Containerization made possible, with such a tool as Docker, streamlines the process of creating packaging, distributing, and using software on any platform. It facilitates better process isolation and cross-platform movement.

Apply CI/CD tools for infrastructure automation

The Containerized app, in its turn, should be handled correctly. Infrastructure automating tools like Chef or Kubernetes are combined with CI/CD tools like Jenkins for effective structure handling and programming deployment.

Integrate automated testing

Manual testing is carried out by a person sitting in front of the computer who carefully performs the tests. Automated testing, on the contrary, presupposes using automating tools to execute your test case suite. The main aim of automating is to cut the number of test cases to be done manually. Opposed to automated testing, manual testing is time and cost-consuming, error-prone, and cannot be run unattended. It will increase the speed of test execution and test coverage and means faster delivery.

 Ensure application performance monitoring

Application monitoring ensures that the DevOps-related teams are well aware of all the performance problems such as slow reaction and memory leaks. The issues might be uncovered during application server checking, user experience observing, and so on. Application performance monitoring will give important information about the customer experience.

APM also permits distinguishing, organizing, and detaching application errors before clients discover them, just as finding the main drivers of the defects rapidly with the utilization of APM programming like Zabbix or Nagios.

Implementing DevOps approach: the final word

Without a DevOps approach, there are often problems between releasing new features and stability. In a DevOps environment, on the contrary, the entire team is responsible for delivering both new features and stability. Thanks to the surefire mix of a shared code base, CI, test-based methods, and automated tools, it is easier to find defects earlier in the process. On top of this, DevOps teams ensure a streamlined workflow, a more stable infrastructure, and various cultural benefits.

 
Tatsiana Isakova

Copywriter