The buzzword of the decade is far from just a trend as organizations struggle to keep up with competition. There’s a reason DevOps is so often discussed and highly regarded. As organization after organization makes the switch and reaps the rewards offered by the DevOps culture, it’s time for all those who could enjoy DevOps to at least try it out. By improving software development at every stage, successful organizations have found, they can also improve on quality, stability, and business benefits. Curious? Let’s find out why your enterprise needs DevOps.
What Exactly is DevOps, Anyway?
DevOps is one of those terms that many people have heard, yet most of them can’t explain it fully. It means a lot of different things to different people and involves a lot of moving parts, so let’s break it down a bit for easier understanding.
DevOps, broadly speaking, is the practice of development and operations teams working together throughout the software development lifecycle, or SDLC. It is so called because of the reorganization primarily seen among development and operations teams, including developers, system admins, system engineers, security and operations. Gartner defines five primary principles that underpin DevOps, which they name as: Iterative, Continuous, Collaborative, Systemic, and Automated.
DevOps incorporates several different processes, also involving agile development, to create a successful environment for the teams. Agile, or lean development, is focused on the design and development process and trimming unnecessary waste, while DevOps incorporates the entire SDLC, including systems and operations and managing apps post-release. DevOps, then, is an extension of Agile practices – not an entirely different beast, as many are apt to believe.
In short, DevOps is all about reorganizing the SDLC and how operations fits into the process by adopting new practices and updating old ones. Organizations around the world are enjoying DevOps benefits, ranging from better collaboration to increased security to faster, more stable releases, which we’ll discuss in depth below.
It’s important to note that DevOps is not based on a single tool or even a toolset. While DevOps does require a different toolset than waterfall development practices, the tools are used to better implement DevOps practices. DevOps practices include many Agile practices, including automating builds and tests, as well as Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, and expands beyond Agile to include cloud computing, programmable code, configuration management, and more. Together, these practices create smaller teams, comprised of both development and operations, that can deliver apps with maximum functionality and speed.
How Did We Get Here?
As the application economy has moved towards services, applications and software are no longer simply released and forgotten about. In order to gain a competitive edge, for example, organizations can request feedback from customers and can fix any issues or add functionalities their customers want. Without DevOps, most of that feedback would go unfixed and unchanged as developers would be busy working on a new, different project.
Non-DevOps organizations are always in a fight between stability and new features. With DevOps, however, developers can receive near real-time feedback on their code – both in development and in production – giving them the time, responsibility and support necessary to balance between stability and new features. Because DevOps has the small and multi-skilled teams, they can quickly solve issues and deploy fixes into production – without having to wait for another team to help them.
5 Reasons Your Enterprise Needs DevOps
The DevOps culture removes the barriers between departments, and especially among those most deeply involved in DevOps; that is, the operations teams and developers (which may actually be the same person, depending on how you adopt DevOps).
Historically, there has been a culture of inefficiency and miscommunication between developers and operations teams. This is due to many reasons, but primarily is due to a lack of unified goals: Developers work to code a project as quickly as possible to hand it off to operations in order for them to release it.
But with DevOps requirements for small teams comprised of diverse team members working together on a project, and because agile processes are so dependent on the integration of these teams and their tools, collaboration in DevOps enterprises are automatically improved. These single teams break down silos by bringing together employees of diverse skill levels and backgrounds to help inspire more mutual trust and respect. In DevOps, each team member is equal, and they can gain a much deeper understanding of the other’s workflows and processes.
This, combined with tools that improve collaboration and communication among and between teams, are the first reason why your enterprise needs DevOps. As DevOps forefather Gene Kim told Forbes, he was first drawn to what would later be named DevOps after noting that “the highest performers had the best working relationships between the operations, security and development departments.”
Automation is an integral part of DevOps. As teams gain better understanding of the whole SDLC through tighter collaboration, repeatable workflows will be easier to identify. These are workflows that are prime for automation, which will in turn save time in the process. Automation, when implemented correctly, offers several benefits, especially when it comes to saving time and reducing errors made when these workflows were done manually.
Automation in DevOps includes code compiling, quality and security testing, and even deployment in advanced organizations. Key DevOps practices, including Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, are all based on automating workflows. This ‘culture of automation’ also emphasizes and allows for more experimentation and trying new or revised processes to improve the overall SDLC.
Beyond the organizational, financial, and cultural benefits offered by DevOps, there is one more huge plus: A better grasp on application security. While the speed of DevOps may make CISOs and security architects sweat, it’s actually a huge plus for security when it’s done right. Because of the close monitoring and quick detection of issues enabled through a DevOps environment, security issues can be mitigated as they arise. Better security in DevOps isn’t just a fairytale, either. As Puppet’s 2016 State of DevOps report found, high-performance organizations spend half the time fixing security issues than medium- and low-performing organizations.
Further, where waterfall development required major security input in the initial design and development stages and ignored it until final tests, DevOps allows security to be tightly embedded throughout the SDLC. Security is also seen as a part of everyone’s responsibility in DevOps teams, which helps disperse the burden of security more evenly among developers, operations and security. This shift in responsibility allows the security team to shift from reactive to proactive, helping improve security to better fit the DevOps process.
Because DevOps requires teams to be responsible for the entire app they’re working on, that includes how secure it is. Through automation, security testing as well as compliance checks can be incorporated into a Continuous Integration environment, where testing is done every time code is checked-in and issues can be found early and quickly.
The tight integration and collaboration DevOps both requires and enables has another huge advantage: a competitive edge. Enterprise after enterprise has found that DevOps not only allows for speed and innovation, it also allows the enterprise to use these advantages as another selling point.
The next decade will see organizations trying to keep up with their high-performance counterparts. And it pays to be a leader, because organizations who successfully adopt a DevOps environment shortly will enjoy both short-term and long-term advantages. As Gartner’s Dale Vecchio writes, “being the first to market is often a defining characteristic of a market leader.” And thus DevOps has enabled organizations to become the market leader, as they can respond quicker, release faster, and work better together.
Another integral part of DevOps is fast feedback loops, where teams get real-life feedback on new features or bugs from actual customers. As Gene Kim, one of DevOps’ forefathers has said of the methodology: “The outcomes include understanding and responding to all customers, internal and external, shortening and amplifying all feedback loops, and embedding knowledge where we need it,” It’s a huge step forward from previous and current methodologies where feedback isn’t sought or is only requested well after development has ceased or moved on to other projects.
Between more feedback and improved uptime, DevOps enables the teams to better measure these stats to better improve on them in the future. Only with DevOps could an enterprise be able to measure these things in the first place, which drives home again why your enterprise needs DevOps.
Adopting DevOps is certainly not a simple process, and it won’t be successful without full cooperation from each stakeholder. But the benefits we discussed above are more than worth the switch: It’s almost reaching the point of being necessary to keep up with competition. As the benefits of DevOps are realized by more and more organizations, don’t fall behind – get started with DevOps today so you can enjoy the above benefits soon.
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