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Komal-J-Prabhakar
Komal-J-Prabhakar

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A Comprehensive Guide to DevOps Lifecycle

Recently, we are seeing a growing inclination of enterprises to adopt DevOps practices.
If we refer to this report, the global DevOps Platform market size is estimated to grow up to USD 26,370 million by 2028, from USD 6,737.6 million in 2021, which looks like a CAGR of 20.7% during 2022-2028.
Let’s have a brief introduction to Devops and understand the devops lifecycle.
DevOps can be defined as a cultural approach towards a collaborative atmosphere around the dev team and IT team. It is an amalgamation of philosophies, practices, and tools that enhance the organization’s efficiency in the deliverability of products and services, i.e., faster time to market.
So, how is it actually helping in faster software delivery?

  • Increases agility
  • Reduces manual effort
  • Efficient cross-functional team collaboration
  • Continuous innovation
  • Minimal defects (which is obvious when Dev and IT teams work in tandem)

To understand how devops practices make this possible, let’s understand the lifecycle of devops.

What is DevOps Lifecycle?

The DevOps lifecycle is an iterative process of automated software development, integration, testing, deployment, and monitoring. The DevOps approach is all about continuous experimentation and learning, followed by continuous improvements. These continuous improvements are what you see as new updates in your everyday software applications updates.

So a simple answer to - “What is DevOps lifecycle?”- is all the processes that ensure end-to-end optimization of the entire software development lifecycle, facilitating faster deliverability.

Decoding the Lifecycle of DevOps

Moving forward from “What is DevOps lifecycle?” to “What are the different stages that constitute the lifecycle of devops?”
From planning to monitoring, the entire process has been divided into 7 different stages. Any stage or phase, out of these 7 stages, can iterate multiple times throughout the project until it is finished or conforms to our requirements.
The following are the devops lifecycle phases:

  1. Continuous Development
  2. Continuous Integration
  3. Continuous Testing
  4. Continuous Feedback
  5. Continuous Monitoring
  6. Continuous Deployment
  7. Continuous Operations

Continuous Development

This is the very first phase of the devops lifecycle where the objectives of a project are mapped, based on which the entire software development process is envisioned. Here, the DevOps team primarily focuses on the planning and coding part of the project, in which depending upon the business needs, the developers start coding the source code for the application.

The most popular language choices used for coding applications are JavaScript, C/C++, Ruby, and Python. Though we don’t really require any tool for coding but maintaining the codes is vital. We see a plethora of version control tools available such as GIT, TFS, GitLab, Subversion, Mercurial, Jira, BitBucket, and many more. This process of maintaining the source code is known as Source Code Management (SCM). Furthermore, these codes can be packaged into .exe files with the use of tools like Garden, Maven, and similar other tools.

Continuous Integration

The source code goes through multiple modifications, as it is a continuous process of review and the changes are implemented frequently. Therefore, this phase is also known as the Code Integration phase and is the most crucial in the entire lifecycle of devops. The new codes having additional functionalities are built and integrated into the existing code.
The new code generated and integrated with the existing code is made to pass through different stages of unit testing, code review, and integration testing, which finally leads to compilation, and packaging. This process of continuous integration also helps in reflecting the changes, the end-users would possibly experience with the updated code. Moreover, this is also the stage where developers plan the tests required in the later stages of the devops lifecycle.
There are various tools that are used in the procuring of the updated code and structuring it into .exe format. To name a few - Jenkin, Bamboo, GitLab, CI, and many more. Among them, Jenkin is an open-source tool, used widely to automate these builds and tests.

Continuous Testing

Some developers may prefer this step of the devops lifecycle, prior to Continuous Integration. In this phase, the Quality Analysts test the code constantly for bugs and errors, and upon discovery of any, it is sent back to the Continuous Integration phase for appropriate modifications.

These tests are automated, where a test environment is simulated with the use of Docker Containers. These automated tests not only save us time and effort but also reports generated from them, simplify the analysis of failed test cases. Thereby, reducing the provisioning and maintenance costs of test environments.
Following these automated tests, the code is then passed through the UAT process or User Assessment Testing process; qualifying this, the resultant code is simpler and bug-free.

There are different devops tools used for continuous testing - JUnit, Selenium, TestNG, and TestSigma. Selenium is an open-source automation testing tool, a popular choice, as it seamlessly supports multiple platforms and browsers. We do have a unified AI-driven test automation platform, TestSigma, that eliminates the technical complexities of automated tests through artificial intelligence.

Continuous Feedback

In this phase of devops lifecycle, the continuous improvements implemented to the code during the continuous integration and continuous testing, are analyzed. The developers measure and analyze the outcome of all the modifications implemented into the code.

It is the stage in the lifecycle of devops where the users/customers who tested the code, give their feedback as per their experience and expectations. The feedback received is assessed promptly and the modifications recommended are again implemented into the code. A positive response from the customers paves way for the release of a new version or update of the software application.

Continuous Monitoring

This phase in the lifecycle of devops, looks forward to the major participation of the IT team. The developers record data of the application usage and constantly monitor each functionality. The most common errors that are resolved by the developers are - “Server not reachable,” “Memory Down,” etc.

Through continuous monitoring, we can sustain the availability of services of an application by determining the threats and root causes of recurring system failures.
The role of the IT team seems vital, as they supervise the entire user activity for any unusual behavior and trace the presence of bugs.

Some popular DevOps tools used in this are - NewRelic, Sensu, ELK Stack, Splunk, and Nagios. These tools help in empowering the IT teams in monitoring the performance of the system, the production server, and subsequently the application.
If any major issue is observed, then the application is made to rerun all the earlier stages of the devops lifecycle.

Continuous Deployment

Though conventionally this step occurs before the continuous monitoring, the developers ensure that this step remains active throughout the lifecycle of devops, especially after our application is live and starts receiving traffic.

In this phase, the finalized tested code is deployed to the production server. The key process in this stage of the devops lifecycle is Configuration Management, which ensures accurate deployment of the codes. Essentially, configuration management is responsible for maintaining the consistency of the application in terms of performance and functioning, right from the release of codes to the servers - to scheduling the updates, whilst ensuring the configurations are kept consistent throughout.

Some popular devops tools used for Configuration Management are - Ansible, Puppet, and Chef. Containerisation tools like Vagrant, are also used in achieving continuous deployment through configuration management. Vagrant is known for developing coherence between different environments - from the development and testing of code to staging and production. Likewise, the devops teams use Docker for achieving scalability of continuous deployment. The benefit of these containerization tools is that they help in nullifying the production failures and also system errors by replicating and packaging the software couplings from the phases of development, testing, and staging. Ultimately the application runs smoothly on any device.

Continuous Operation

The last phase in the lifecycle of devops, and the shortest and least complicated of all stages. The purpose of this process is to automate the release of the application and its subsequent updates. This is one of the crucial phases in the devops lifecycle as it aims at eliminating planned downtime. A planned downtime refers to the time when the servers are offline for releasing updates. This downtime is equated to a loss, as the customers won’t be able to use it. With the automation of these processes, continuous operation boosts the uptime of the application. The tools like Kubernetes and Docker, container orchestrators, are most commonly used in this phase, to simplify the steps in the build, test, and deployment of applications to multiple environments.

Conclusion

We have reached the end of this discussion, from understanding “What is DevOps lifecycle?” to going into detail about the 7Cs of the DevOps lifecycle with their commonly preferred tools. The key objective behind learning the lifecycle of devops, is to be able to identify the steps involved in the development, and how we can maintain the continuity and optimize automation. This entire approach is all about the collaborative efforts of the developers, testers, and operations teams, and the elimination of siloed structure of working, working in a way where the software gets delivered quickly.
To make this process even simpler, we have a lot of platforms available in the market, supporting a wide range of integrations of these devops tools, plus supporting a variety of source code languages. The devops culture is new, but it is here to stay for a very long time. With its aim at delivering the highest quality standards to your software, it is about time for businesses to focus on keep rolling new updates with zero downtime and zero errors.

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