What is DevOps and Can it Benefit Your Team?

Written by Mauricio Lopez
Technology
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You can find a lot about Agile methodology on the pages of this blog. It is, after all, a guiding force in software development today and what we at Jobsity have been using since our founding. And its impact on the tech industry continues to evolve with the emergence of DevOps.

DevOps is the marriage of (software) development and IT operations - a union of people, processes, and tools that enhance an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services more efficiently than traditional methods. In a DevOps model, development and operations teams work together throughout the entire software development life cycle (SDLC), from coding and testing to deployment and monitoring. Continuous integration and feedback loops allow the teams to simultaneously build, test, deploy, and monitor software applications. It is, in the age of every business is a software business, the extension of Agile thinking beyond the software development team to the entire delivered service.

How DevOps can benefit your team

It promotes speed: Like Agile before it, the DevOps movement is essentially about speed. With agile the goal is to rapidly iterate towards a better software product - DevOps broadens the scope to include end-to-end service delivery and the interaction of the software with an organization’s operational systems. This encourages rapid software delivery and continuous innovation that can give businesses a vital competitive advantage.

It improves collaboration: By breaking down the barriers separating development and operations teams, DevOps encourages close collaboration, shared responsibilities, and experiences, and more efficient workflow. If operations engineers are involved from the start of the SDLC, there are likely to be fewer delays/problems when the product is handed over for release. Over time, the DevOps model will broaden the skill set and understanding of both developers and IT operations, which will (hopefully!) make for a happier and more fulfilled team.

It increases reliability: High-velocity software delivery won’t be of many benefits if it’s not secure and reliable in real-life environments. Embedding Quality Assurance (QA) is a key part of the DevOps model, ensuring that any bugs affecting performance or functionality are quickly discovered, logged, and fixed. With a DevOps approach, at all times the operations team will be monitoring performance and providing feedback in real-time, developers will be continually making the required adjustments and QA testers will be checking if these changes are safe.

It allows for scalability: As DevOps is a set of tools, practices, and processes - that ideally come together as a ‘culture’ (see below) - it provides businesses with highly scalable infrastructure. The heavy use of automation, increased flexibility and improved collaboration all provide a platform for rapid growth as required.

It encourages innovation: Though the main focus of DevOps is rapid software delivery, a more efficient workflow should also give team members more time to get creative. Rather than hiding away to write code based on inflexible instructions, developers will be constantly exposed to the needs, challenges, and problems facing the wider operations team (and end-users). The combination of extra time, fluid communication, and greater flexibility should create an environment that supports innovative problem-solving and development.

How to apply a DevOps framework

Of course, adopting a successful DevOps model isn’t something you can do at the flick of a switch. Here are some of the key things to keep in mind to make a transition successful.

Prepare for a cultural shift: Though it is made up of a combination of tools and processes, DevOps is fundamentally about a cultural transformation in your organization. Developers and operations staff have traditionally had very different priorities (e.g. a focus on change and innovation vs performance and stability), so some resistance to a marriage between these teams is to be expected. It may take time for them to integrate and function effectively; some engineers may be reluctant to take on responsibility for functions that were previously outside of their job description. That’s ok - you’re looking for a deep and lasting transformation to achieve long-term objectives. By preparing the groundwork, building bridges, and trust between teams, explaining the benefits of the new approach, and providing the relevant training you should be able to overcome these hurdles.

Establish best practices: Some will argue that DevOps is mainly about the principles of speed, collaboration, and reliability, and the means of realizing them is of secondary importance. However, some core practices are now commonly used in successful DevOp frameworks. For example, Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) are both considered to be DevOps best practices. CI is a process of sharing all source code changes into a central repository. This demands improved communication between developers as their updates will be regularly merged with others and tested. CD takes this to the next phase by ensuring that all code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for a production release.

Find the right toolchains: Automating the end-to-end service delivery process is at the heart of DevOps thinking, so a successful model requires an effective toolset. These will relieve team members of manual tasks and allow them to manage more complex systems on a larger scale. DevOps tools are available across the planning, building testing, delivering, and monitoring phases. They can also add value by providing the necessary end-to-end communication and collaboration channels. Rather than enforce a single set of tools across the entire organization, software engineer teams can be given the flexibility to adopt a connected, loosely-coupled DevOps toolset (this is especially important if working with remote teams).

Keep security center stage: Given the risks and costs associated with cyberattacks, it’s vital to safeguard the entire SDLC. ‘DevSecOps’ is a newer branch of DevOps that builds security into all phases of the DevOps lifecycle. The integration of another team and function represents another challenge, but it can minimize vulnerabilities and bring security more into line with an organization’s IT and business objectives.

What team structure best suits DevOps?

There is no definitive answer to this, as it will depend on several variables. These include the organization’s existing team structures, its corporate culture, interpersonal relationships, and the skills/resources available. However, what we do know is that a DevOps model can easily incorporate remote team members, from developers, testers, and UX designers to release managers and security engineers. This makes it particularly attractive as the global transition to remote work was accelerated rapidly by the Covid-19 crisis.

Using a distributed team of remote software engineers and developers can even lower some of the barriers to the successful adoption of a DevOps framework. As these team members are not already part of the organization’s internal culture or politics, they will come with a clean and unbiased outlook on how to improve collaboration and find innovative solutions.

Regardless of your organizational structure, DevOps requires teams that view the entire development and infrastructure lifecycle as part of their shared responsibilities. At Jobsity, our highly experienced remote software engineer teams are continuously trained in new tech, Agile thinking, and DevOps best practices. They are available on-demand to fulfill roles in whatever areas your organization may need, so get in touch with us and see how we can help you achieve your business goals.

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Written by Mauricio Lopez
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Mauricio has been at the forefront of technology for +15 years. He is constantly integrating new technologies including frameworks, CMS, and standard industry models. He is a pragmatic problem-solver and customizes solutions based on the best schema/language/application for each project. As the CTO at Jobsity, he ensures that his team is always up to date with the latest advances in software development by researching the software ecosystem, implementing professional development initiatives, and coordinating with new and existing clients about their needs.