Anyone interested in software development have probably heard of the recent popularity of DevOps (short for Development and Operations) and a specific individual in a team who holds this position. Believe it or not but new job titles appear from time to time because modern approaches to problem-solving, especially for knowledge-based creative work, require people with a diverse set of skills that allow workflow models like Agile and Scrum to exist in the first place. DevOps is exactly that and this acronym stands for a cornerstone of software production in big companies like Google or Apple and smaller firms all around the world.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes.
Because it is relatively new, DevOps doesn’t yet have a clear and precise definition. However, it is definitely so that DevOps is a twofold thing: it is a certain set of practices and it is a person who’s job title is DevOps engineer.
As a set of practices, DevOps merges two things: development of software and its integration (development + operations). Historically, these two sides of the development cycle were disengaged because developers wrote code while system administrators and testers integrated, tested and deployed it.
Before Scrum and Agile have appeared and proved to be effective, the so-called Waterfall Model was used to develop and deploy software. The Waterfall Model was borrowed from how engineering, especially in manufacturing and construction industries, has been traditionally handled. It implied that development and integration were separated processes handled by different teams with less cooperation. This approach in custom software development wasn’t considered effective because frequent deployment issues (bugs) required prompt development changes (revisions).
One of the pillars behind DevOps as a set of practices is its tight connection to the whole concept and philosophy of Agile and/or Scrum. These methodologies emphasize continuous delivery that is made with shortened work cycles called sprints or frequent releases that occur regularly. DevOps unites development and deployment into one continuous set of processes, stressing the importance of communication, collaboration, and openness for the sake of better overall results and more efficient products.
Some claim that, like Agile or Scrum, DevOps is more than just a set of principles, it is a philosophy and production design that makes methodology into a guiding principle that is a recurring cycle of efficient development and deployment of software products.
DevOps depends on the prompt reaction to feedback, automation of routine processes, continuous integration, and continuous delivery. Many software engineers and QA specialists refer to CAMS acronym in their attempts to give a more detailed explanation of the whole notion of DevOps.
- Culture of communication and collaboration
- Automation of routine processes
- Measurement of KPI
- Sharing knowledge
Following these guiding principles allows to actually see the project being done brick by rick effectively and systematically without losing the original concept and idea as a whole out of sight. This is done to guarantee that the process itself makes it possible to introduce changes on the go at the same time creating what was initially planned.
DevOps is a certain delivery model at the core of Agile/Scrum methodology. It consists of development, testing, monitoring, and release with constant communication between the team members.
Work is divided into short cycles – sprints. This is one of the core principles of Scrum/Agile project management type. It makes an accent on frequent short-term releases made every 2 weeks. This approach allows being flexible and concentrate on the most important tasks first to have a working prototype (that can be tested) as fast as possible. Planning usually includes outlining 2 sprints ahead but focusing on the nearest one.
CD combines development, testing, and deployment into one workflow process. It works in the following way:
- engineers commit small parts of code daily
- quality assurance (testers) test it automatically with tools like Selenium or Ranorex
- bugs are reported back to developers
- version control systems (VCS) records changes
- code that passed the tests is integrated in a single shared repository on a server with Jenkins or GitLab CI
- code is deployed to run in production on a public server with Chef, Puppet or Azure Resource Manager
- code is available for large number of users to test new features
- continuous monitoring to detect issues and assess general quality, analyzing feedback from users and the team
A DevOps engineer is not just a good specialist. He is a natural leader who can do multitasking and thinks about people (clients and team members) just as much as he thinks about code. A DevOps engineer is a person whose contribution may very probably decide the project’s fate. He makes sure that the projected is coordinated harmonically with continuous integration and successful testing. He is like a project manager on the development side of the project. However, unlike team leaders, it is up to him to decide how and when to initiate testing or integrate new features, what techniques to use, etc.
Benefits of Hiring a DevOps Specialist
There are critical advantages that go with hiring a certain professional for a DevOps position. These include but are not limited by:
- Rapid progress of the project
- Better task-delegation
- Enhanced software quality
- Improved in-team communication
All in all, hiring a DevOps definitely won’t hurt your project. It’s not by chance that respected tech-giants follow this principle because every little detail matters when it comes to software development. And with DevOps principle at play and a DevOps engineer in your team the success rate goes up without paying too much extra costs.