New to DevOps? Here's a simplified guide.
DevOps, a combination of development and operations, is an approach to collaboration between software developers and IT operators to ensure software product deployment and continuous success.
This article aims to explain the meaning and history of "DevOps." It also discusses the need to integrate its practice with software development ethics and the challenges it faces.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a methodology used in software development that embodies the roles of development and operations teams. Its principles enable companies to produce high-quality software products. With the aid of its tools, time and costs are optimized while building software. It also improves the efficiency and availability of these products after they have been deployed for use.
Methodology is the process by which an organization develops its applications. It heavily influences the speed and process of software development. During the era of traditional development and operations, there was the use of the waterfall methodology.
Waterfall methodology was followed by developers in building the application painstakingly, adding features one by one, and moving it to software testing for examination. This back and forth continued until the application seemed ready for deployment. It was then moved over to the operations team to ship, and if there were any failures or mismatches, the application was sent back to the development team for fixing.
This was a slow, tedious process that brought about the failure of many software products, caused miscommunication between both teams, caused products to crash when the underlying software in use was out of date and needed to be changed, and caused slow feedback.
This brought about the use of agile methodology. It solves the speed of deploying development lifecycles. Here, each feature gets tested and deployed immediately after it is built. There is immediate feedback for each process.
Agile methodology makes use of specific implementations known as scrum and kanban. Companies can choose to work with either one of these. It is becoming increasingly popular. More and more companies are drifting towards this methodology to ease their software development practices.
The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
The software development field is very vast. In order to understand DevOps, we briefly need to look at the roles and job descriptions that make up the software development lifecycle. One may carry out individual tasks in this lifecycle, but it is important to understand their role.
The complete software development process follows a continuous pattern of implementation, testing, building, deployment, and maintenance.
This is done to check the functionality of a program after maintenance checks and updates. Testing can be done with the use of automated tools or manually by software developers or testers employed specifically for this role. This is done before sending out the feature for use by end users.
The application is packaged, compressed, and run on servers. When a new feature is added, it is added to the running code.
This part of the software development lifecycle is carried out by the IT operations team. They are in charge of running software in production. It carries new features and runs them on existing production servers so that users can access them.
The following are the responsibilities of the IT operations team:
They also ensure that the application does not experience downtime as these changes are made, such as server failure or other similar events. Operations make this process seamless.
They make sure that their servers are able to handle huge traffic despite usage.
They make sure the underlying infrastructure is working properly.
History of DevOps
Development involves the process of developers creating and testing a product, while operations entail deploying the code packaged as an application for end users.
Development and operations are different because they have completely different responsibilities, require different technical knowledge, and make use of different tools. Development makes use of programming languages, test frameworks, databases, and version control to build software products. Operations make use of Linux, the command-line interface (CLI), automated scripts, and monitoring tools.
In previous times, both teams worked together to complete the software development life cycle.
The development team documented instructions on how to deploy the application along with the built application itself. The operations team received it and configured the environment needed for the application to run smoothly.
Traditional Deployment Methods
There were issues that arose with this traditional deployment methods. Sometimes, the instructions handed down by the development team were not clear enough, along with other factors. This slowed down the release of the application or a new feature.
How was this problem solved?
The software development lifecycle saw a radical improvement with the introduction of the DevOps culture. Before it became a job title, it was a combination of work roles that evolved.
In the present software development models, a DevOps engineer is the bridge between development and operations, bringing a subset of skills from both sides. This makes them able to communicate effectively with both sides as well. DevOps also has its own technical skills, core competencies, and know-how. These encompass the use of build tools, continuous integration and deployment, pipelines, Docker, and Kubernetes.
Principles of DevOps
There are core principles in DevOps that guide the software development lifecycle. They are discussed below, in no particular order.
Continuous Integration (CI)
In continuous integration, several developers' code changes are integrated into one repository. The repository is shared, and it is frequently updated. The purpose of continuous integration is to ensure that code changes are tested and added to the main codebase immediately. This is to avoid integration conflicts.
Here, developers input their code to a repository, where automated build and test processes are carried out. After passing the tests, the code is then integrated into the main codebase to verify the changes. In cases where the code fails the tests, the developers have to fix the issue and repeat the process before attempting integration.
As its name implies, it is a continuous process that makes up DevOps. Continuous integration ensures that code changes are tested, integrated, and deployed efficiently. The quality of the code base is maintained, and the software development process is seamless.
Continuous Delivery (CD)
Continuous integration and continuous delivery go hand in hand. Continuous delivery is the automation of the software development process. After the application is built, it ensures that it is packaged and ready for deployment. This is a repeated process.
It allows developers to make code changes to the software, receive immediate feedback, and implement those changes in a streamlined and efficient manner.
Continuous Deployment (CDP)
Continuous deployment oversees the deployment of code changes to production as a frequent process. Traditional software development models involve deploying code manually. Its side effects are prolonged software development cycles, downtime, and an increased risk of errors.
Continuous deployment seeks to fix this by packaging code changes and deploying them with automated tools and processes. It is important because it allows the production of high-quality software, reduces work lag, and prevents lapses in deployment.
Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Infrastructure as Code refers to the practice of managing and setting up infrastructure resources, with the use of code and other software development tools. These infrastructure resources include servers, networks, storage devices, and other tools.
It also allows the use of configuration management tools to automate the management of its resources. These tools are Chef, SaltStack, Ansible, Puppet, and others. With the aid of these tools, infrastructure resources can be placed in stipulated conditions for a period of time.
The use of IaC encourages collaboration, automation, continuous integration, delivery, and deployment.
Monitoring and Logging
Through monitoring and logging, DevOps engineers and their teams can investigate the behavior of their systems. This is done to avoid potential threats, and for troubleshooting.
Monitoring is the collection and analysis of data that shows the availability of systems and applications. The data can be represented in various forms. These include error rates, response times, network traffic, CPU, and memory usage.
Logging is the detailed capture and analysis of events that occur within systems and application packages. These events are placed in a record that can be used to replicate system behavior.
Logging is useful because these records can help identify odd shifts in development patterns. It can also be used to monitor user interaction, and improve software products.
Monitoring and logging are carried out together as a DevOps practice to ensure the visibility of systems. This allows engineers to actively identify and take care of threats. It also aids in the building of scalable and reliable systems that are beneficial to end users.
Pillars of DevOps
DevOps is made up of three pillars.
DevOps is more than just a job title. It encompasses the practices and tools used to foster collaboration between development and operations teams. It signifies a cultural shift because it is different from traditional software development processes.
The DevOps culture is shouldered by these discussed below. They encourage accountability, which helps build trust among team members.
- Collaboration and communication: Here, a mindset of sharing knowledge and ideas is inculcated into both sides of the workforce. This ensures that everyone responsible for the success of the company and its products is working towards the same goal.
- Shared Responsibility: Traditional DevOps models created silos in which teams had strict tasks and responsibilities. In present times, DevOps roles ensure that engineers have a skillset of both teams. This quickens production and allows faster development cycles.
- Continuous learning and improvement: DevOps ensures that teams are continuously focused on learning and experimenting with new ideas. It also makes sure that feedback is received positively.
Automation is the process of simplifying the software development process. This is done to avoid repetition and routine tasks, which slow down efficiency. Automation is a welcome development in DevOps because it provides a common set of tools and practices that every member of the team can use. It speeds up software development life cycles while maintaining the quality of software products.
It reduces the workload for development and operations teams with the use of its automated tools.
Common tools used in automation are Jenkins, Ansible, Puppet, and Docker.
Measurement is gathering data about the processes and systems in DevOps. Factors like lead time, deployment frequency, and change failure rate are commonly used to measure the progress of processes and systems.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a set of metrics used to monitor the progress of software products. Using the data gotten from measurement, it measures the success of the product as a whole, the new features, and the impact they make.
Measuring performance is important because it uses the collected data to analyze system health issues and address them. It is also used to monitor progress made and mark out lapses to be taken care of. The use of measurement metrics and KPIs allows businesses to make informed decisions.
Benefits of DevOps/Importance of DevOps for Software Development
- Improved Quality: The quality of software products is improved with the use of DevOps tools. These tools ensure that the products are properly tested before they are deployed. This reduces the risk of bugs or other fatal incidents.
- Faster Time to Market: Companies can ship their products to the market faster for sales with the use of DevOps practices. This bridges the gap in the supply and demand chain while creating a healthy space for competition.
- Improved Collaboration: DevOps improves collaboration and communication between development and operations teams. This results in shorter software development cycles and greater product success.
- Reduced Costs: Costs can be reduced with the use of DevOps tools. A pay-as-you-go model for cloud providers is made possible by features such as scalability. This is also helpful when business demands change and the need to add new functionalities and features to software packages arises.
- Continuous Integration and Deployment: With traditional DevOps models, integration and deployment are done manually. DevOps allows automated delivery and deployment of software products and changes. As a result, lapses that may occur during code changes, such as fixing bugs or adding new features, will be prevented. It also improves the overall security of the work environment.
DevOps Tools and Technologies
There are common tools and technologies that are used to carry out DevOps practices. They are discussed briefly.
Docker and containers
Containers are an easy way of packaging software applications along with their dependencies, to run them consistently across different environments. The act of packaging these software applications is called containerization.
Docker is a containerization platform used by a large percentage of developers and DevOps teams.
Containers are essential DevOps tools that enable businesses to deploy software products effectively. They do this by providing a stable and favorable environment for these proceedings and supporting rapid deployment afterward. Containers save cost by utilizing resources, reducing infrastructure, and encouraging scalability. It also supports core DevOps principles, such as integration with CI/CD pipelines, infrastructure as code, and microservices.
Kubernetes is a platform that supports container orchestration. It is used as a DevOps tool to deploy, scale, and manage containerized applications. Kubernetes allows organizations to streamline and manage the lifecycles of their applications. It is useful for the automated deployment of containerized applications, scalability, and resource management. Its other benefits include resilience, observability, availability, and automated deployment.
Jenkins is an open-source automation tool that is used for CI/CD pipelines. It is a server-based application and allows DevOps teams to test their code changes with the aid of automation.
Jenkins reduces the risk of errors, supports flexibility, and saves costs for organizations that make use of it.
Jenkins offers features such as community support, customization with the use of plugins and custom scripts, and integration with other DevOps tools. It also allows for continuous integration and allows software delivery pipelines to be defined as code.
Git is a distributed version control system that is used to manage source code in DevOps workflows. It allows teams to collaborate on projects and implement code changes. As a DevOps tool, its responsibilities are source code management, branching, merging, code review, rollbacks, continuous integration, and continuous deployment.
With the use of Git, DevOps teams can collectively make sure that their code changes are up to standard. The release of new features or software versions can be done appropriately, and bugs can be fixed with the use of version history.
Challenges in DevOps Implementation
Although DevOps has brought a positive change in the implementation of software practices, it still faces some significant challenges. Some of them are as follows:
Resistance to Change
While DevOps aims to create an environment for collaboration, some organizations and individuals do not seem to conform. Reluctance to try out new ideas is a common factor that cuts across all spheres of human existence and can stem from fear, mistrust, obsolete ideas, and miscommunication.
Resistance can manifest in these forms; concerns about job security, a lack of needed skills, unhealthy market competition, and a lack of support from business owners and stakeholders.
These misgivings can be managed by re-orientation to the benefits DevOps has to offer, live demonstrations of DevOps practices, training employees to have the right skill set, and addressing cultural barriers.
DevOps is a practice that covers both development and operations, and its implementation requires technical and non-technical skills on both ends. Skill gaps can be identified as a lack of technical and soft skills. It also shows a reluctance to learn new technologies and limited knowledge about available DevOps tools.
Skill gaps can be fixed by organizations training their staff, and hiring experts to offer professional advice. Events can also be held to encourage cross-collaboration and continuous learning.
Technical debt is the accumulated cost of short terms solutions used in software development that give rise to long-term problems. It is caused by factors such as tight deadlines, a lack of resources, and not paying attention to the quality of applications.
It is a challenge that can hinder efficiency and quality in DevOps. It can be removed by prioritizing technical debt reduction measures. These measures include using best practices, refactoring code, and improving automation.
DevOps is a practice that enhances the quality of software products and applications. Software development lifecycles should incorporate its principles, tools, and practices. Although there are challenges that impede the implementation of DevOps, they can be remedied.
As a culture, DevOps improves the work ethic amongst developers and, when practiced, yields positive results.
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