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 automated pipeline.
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 production environment.
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 innovation.
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 deployed.
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 246 times.