What is DevOps?by Richard Lawrence SEO
DevOps — Put Simply
At its core, DevOps is a set of tools and practices that
help organizations build, test and deploy software more reliably and at a
faster rate. DevOps is enabling organizations to evolve and deliver their
products more quickly than those with a traditional development and release
cycle, which can provide a competitive edge. Rather than pushing out a release
once a fortnight or longer, new features can be delivered to the user daily,
and bug fixes can be deployed in hours, all following the same repeatable
Complementing this tooling is a culture of collaboration between
software developers and IT operations, two teams that are traditionally
separate and often have conflicting goals. Developers want the ability to
release new features and bug fixes quickly with little friction to provide
value to users as soon as possible. Operations more are concerned about
stability, ensuring that everything is running smoothly with high availability.
Agility and stability can be contradictory and can lead to a development
methodology which leaves neither developers nor the operations team happy.
A depiction of the
cyclic nature of the DevOps process
DevOps helps satisfy both of these needs. It provides
agility for developers, allowing for multiple releases per month, week or day,
depending on the appetite of the organization. At the same time, automated
testing and manual reviews at each stage of the build process assures the
operations team that defective builds are failed well before they land in a
Automated provisioning and testing of infrastructure through
infrastructure-as-code improve the reliability of deployments, leaving one less
thing operations needs to worry about. Finally, logs and metrics are collected
at each stage of the process, providing more visibility to developers and the
operations teams alike.
Benefits of DevOps
The main benefit of DevOps stems from the fact that
automated processes can do repetitive actions faster and more reliably than
people. It’s not feasible nor productive for an organization to have developers
or other staff building and deploying code all day long. Automating these
repetitive tasks frees up developers to do what they do best — hack code.
What this does is allows code to be built and deployed
within minutes, limited only by how an organization chooses to manage its
DevOps pipeline. This means that the time between developing a feature or bug
fix and delivering an improved experience to the end-user can be significantly
shorter, resulting in more satisfied users.
It also creates a better feedback loop. The sooner new
features are delivered to users, the sooner an organisation can gather feedback
and metrics and gain insight into what users like about their product. This
allows organisations to remain agile and provides a better environment for
What is DevOps, really?
It’s all well and good to talk about DevOps from a
conceptual point of view, but what is DevOps really? Let’s step through a
simple DevOps pipeline to deliver a feature from the developer’s screen to the
user’s to get an idea for what DevOps can do.
A DevOps Developer finishes writing the code for a new
feature for their widget. They commit their code to their feature branch which
kicks off some lightweight tests on their development machine, checking for any
code styling issues while also scanning for packages with newly disclosed
security vulnerabilities. The DevOps Developer submits a pull-request to merge
their code into the code repository, which sends a notification to the team chat.
Another DevOps Developer in the team reviews the code
changes, and after finding no issues in the code, approves the pull-request.
The code is automatically merged into the develop branch which kicks off the
build process. The build server clones the develop branch, installs all package
dependencies and builds the widget. The build server runs unit and integration
tests to make sure the new feature didn’t cause any regressions in other parts
of the widget.
Each of the tests is passed and the build succeeds. A new
container is automatically provisioned in the cloud according to the
best-practice configurations defined within the codebase, and the widget is
At this point, an organisation has two options. They can
choose to automatically release the updated widget into the production
environment and make the feature available to all users, or to a select group
of users who have opted-in to receive the latest feature. Automated deployment
into production is called Continuous Deployment (CD).
Alternatively, the organisation may choose to only release
the feature into a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) environment and manually
approve a release into production based on a pre-defined schedule. Adding a
manual approval process into the pipeline is commonly referred to as Continuous
Delivery (another flavour of CD).
Regardless of whether a manual step in involved, additional
automated testing is performed once the widget is successfully deployed into
production. Further tools collect metrics on performance and user behavior
which are presented to IT operations and development teams to provide live
feedback, highlighting potential bugs and helping to shape new features.
This is a fairly typical process for a basic DevOps
pipeline, but the specifics are up to the organization. Some organizations
favor fast deployments into the production environment, hiding new features
behind feature flags allowing for a staged release to the user base. Others
will prefer using a more traditional dev, test and prod environment structure,
where features are batched and slowly released through multiple manual gates
before deployment into production.
DevOps can be tailored to the specific needs of an
organization or project. The process tends to evolve, adding additional tests
to produce a more secure application, or finding ways to optimize the pipeline
for faster builds and less human intervention.
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Created on Sep 2nd 2020 21:31. Viewed 673 times.