“DevOps and its resulting technical, architectural, and cultural practices represent a convergence of many philosophical and management movements (including): Lean, Theory of Constraints, Toyota production system, resilience engineering, learning organizations, safety culture, Human factors, high-trust management cultures, servant leadership, organizational change management, and Agile methods.”― Gene Kim, The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations
DevOps (Development and Operations) is a combination of tools and practices designed to improve the delivery and performance of applications and allied services as compared to traditional software development processes. This enables organizations to improve their serviceability, effectiveness, and competency in the market.
DevOps eliminates the barriers between the development and operations teams which traditionally are accustomed to working in siloes. In a DevOps model, these teams work closely covering the complete life cycle of a software application from development and test through deployment to operations.
• Continuous Development – In the continuous development phase the teams involved plan their application. They create a set of objectives that must be met by the application. After finalizing the objectives, they proceed with the actual development. The activities like code generation, and pushing to the next phase are carried out. Being a continuous development cycle, DevOps allows changes to the code of existing and functioning applications with the feedback that is received from the users. These changes are posted to a central repository using a version control system.
• Continuous Integration – Continuous Integration allows a seamless transition of the application from the development phase to the testing phase. This includes several key steps like planning the future actions to be taken, and analyzing the functionality of the application, and ensuring the performance as mentioned in the initial documentation.
• Continuous Testing – The beauty of the DevOps lies in its ability to Continuous Testing. Here, the actual use of the application coincides with testing enabling the beta testers (or consumers) while still making sure that the application is live. These testing results are continuously posted to the development team for further improvement in the application.
• Continuous Monitoring – In this phase all the vital information related to the functionality and the use of the application is collected and carefully analyzed to find any trends or issues. The operational capabilities are closely integrated with the monitoring phase. Business Intelligence may be applied for simplifying the whole monitoring process.
• Continuous Feedback – A continuous feedback loop runs between the operations of the application and the development phase to identify and fix the issues related to the applications immediately. This helps to eliminate the redundant steps and saves considerable time that is often involved in the traditional model where the changes related to a new version are initiated only after the application has been released for a certain period in the market.
• Continuous Deployment – This phase ensures that the application is deployed with maximum accuracy. The deployment process is performed in such a way that the changes made in the code have minimal or no effect on the functioning of the existing application.
• Continuous Operations – This phase automates the release process shortening the development cycles. All DevOps operations are based on continuity with complete automation of the release process allowing organizations to quicken the overall time to market.
DevOps is not software or an application, it is a methodology that can be modified to suit the specific requirements of the businesses. As more and more organizations are trying to adopt DevOps for improving their productivity and smoothening their workflows certain challenges are yet to be completely addressed. Below is the list of some common challenges in implementing DevOps and the measures to tackle these challenges.
Challenges in DevOps
• Switching from Legacy Systems – It is hard to move to DevOps while sticking with the archaic systems and applications. These systems and applications have no consistency in performance, have slow load and processing times, and innumerable security lapses. The solution to this problem lies in replacing the Legacy systems with IaaS and Microservices which are readily available in the market.
• Resistance from Users – Handling change is perhaps one of the key challenges in implementing DevOps. Users are inherently averted to change. Struck in their comfort zone, they do not see a point in moving towards a better alternative. However, the onus lies on the top management to build a culture where new ideas can thrive and people are ready to cooperate. Driving the change from Top-Down can ease the transition from traditional systems to DevOps. Since DevOps involves the collaboration of multiple teams, a culture of cooperation and continuous training is the only way to eliminate the apprehensions of the users.
• Large Scale Approach – Transition from the traditional model to a DevOps model does not come without costs. Most organizations fail to make DevOps a success because they kick in an organization-wide DevOps implementation without testing it in a small and controlled environment. This invariably increases the costs and the failure of the implementation affects the organization financially and demotivates the management and employees alike. To tackle this challenge, organizations should work on pilots where one or two smaller applications which do not have a significant financial impact on the organization are picked for DevOps implementation. Successful pilots help organizations to plan better, avoid pitfalls, and to boost the morale of the employees.
• Adoption of new technology – In continuation with the previous challenge, it can be exceedingly difficult to get employees to adapt to the latest technologies, which leads to a drop in productivity as one team has to hand over work to another with an entirely different set of technology tools. To resolve this challenge, it is advisable to utilize one automated system for both development and operations
• Systems Integration – Since in DevOps development, testing, and deployment happen on a continuous loop, to maintain the desired level of productivity businesses need to integrate the different applications being used by different departments effectively. Many organizations fail to understand the complexity involved in these integrations which results in broken systems across the DevOps pipeline.
Benefits of DevOps
• Faster Deployment – The automation of the complete cycle from development to deployment makes the whole development process faster and more efficient.
• Decrease in time to market – Since all the development, testing, and deployment-related activities are carried out simultaneously, the time that is required to release a product to the market is cut down considerably.
• Reduction in Lead Times – DevOps allows smaller but considerable changes to the applications continuously without impacting the performance of the existing application. This level of flexibility and continuous delivery reduces the overall lead time of any new developments.
• Lower Failure Rate – DevOps enhances the overall build quality of the application. The collaborative environment allows the teams to access and share information ensuring the early detection and resolution of the issues.
How to start and not stop at the end of this article piece?
I would recommend starting simply by just taking this approach, which has negligible risk, simple and yet an amazingly effective positive step towards our goal of a proactive strategy
A) Take pen -paper or manual method (start now)
Start finding out the total lead time to release your product or change in the systems and start implementing the recommended strategy using your existing technology resources for a known and low-risk segment of customers within your business to find out what works and what doesn’t. Indeed, this causes efforts, but this will pave the way for better clarity around unknown risks.
B) Take help from technology
Work towards making it unattended, assisted by using Super-fast digital solution such that it works autonomously without losing its efficacy by engaging a solid, affordable Business and Technology solution partner.
If you are a CEO/COO/CIO/Managing Director/General Manager who is spending more time in reactive/preventive mode than future-facing, please reach out for an exploratory conversation.
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