DevOps driven solutions that can reduce work cycles and speed up delivery take on greater importance, and properly understanding Cloud DevOps is essential.
It hasn’t been that long since the major concern with developing applications for our customers was making sure our product was both stable and efficient. I’m not going to claim that those two considerations are no longer important, but a 21st Century business model also demands agility and innovation. As the shift to Cloud Computing gains speed, if you’re not constantly growing, you’re falling backward. The DevOps approach can help you achieve that goal, so understanding it is important.
The DevOps Challenge
The major bottlenecks for any development life cycle are infrastructure and application deployment and updates. If you can address these processes, I think you’ll be able to more effectively face customers’ continuously changing needs.
Infrastructure deployment was much more costly and cumbersome just a few years back, but Cloud Computing turned all that upside down. Besides making infrastructure provisioning easy and affordable, the public cloud concept has taken over the entire overhead of infrastructure maintenance: using cloud providers like AWS and Azure, it’s a matter of few clicks, and your basic infrastructure is up and running.
Still, though Cloud Computing has reduced the friction of infrastructure, the application development life cycle can still delay your deliverables.
In traditional development environments, once developers are done with a module, they commit their code to the source control version. But the full build still won’t happen until other developers are done writing the code for their modules. Once the build does finally take place across the entire code base, everything is handed over to the testing team…which can take its own sweet time completing various testing rounds. Once done, the application is deployed to UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and then to live production.
This entire cycle, from development to production, can consume a great deal of time due to the need for repeated manual intervention, human errors that can force cycle restarts, and dependency on IT infrastructure and on critical team members.
Beyond that, there is a natural tension between the development and operations teams. Remember: developers are expected to come up with innovative ideas and automate them, while operations admins must make sure the system is stable. So it’s normal for admins to be reluctant to quickly deploy new code before thoroughly testing new builds, but that can slow life cycle development to a crawl.
Thus, in the face of highly agile development goals, traditional software delivery methods can present significant challenges, including:
- Inconsistency across Dev and Ops environments.
- Time constraints for frequent releases.
- Slow deployment between dev and test environments, lowering productivity for downstream teams.
- Difficulties managing multiple application configurations and versions across servers.
- Higher risk of errors due to increased manual interventions.
- Higher costs.
DevOps exists to solve many of those problems. Let’s learn how that can work.
What is DevOps and how it can improve the application development life cycle?
There are many definitions of DevOps available on the Internet, this is a good place to start:
DevOps (a clipped compound of “development” and “operations”) is a software development method that emphasizes the roles of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals with an emphasis on IT Operations.
Here’s another perspective:
DevOps is the practice of operations and development engineers participating together in the entire service life cycle, from design through the development process to production support.
Here’s a visualization of the way IT departments can interact:
I think it’s clear that DevOps is neither a tool nor a technology. Rather, it’s an organizational culture that seeks to facilitate effective communication, collaboration, and integration between developers and operations teams. DevOps doesn’t look at developers and operations as separate entities but tries to bring them together to enable quick and error-free deployments.
What makes this methodology possible? The adoption of a number of clever open source software tools related to source version control, continuous integration, and configuration management. Intelligently integrating those tools into your software life cycle can help you achieve faster deployments and releases, with a better feedback mechanism as a bonus.
Because some of the tools rely on widely distributed components, it’s not so much with DevOps that their greatest benefits will be realized, but with Cloud DevOps. It’s specifically Cloud DevOps that can deliver scalable infrastructure and very agile development environments.
This diagram illustrates how open source tools like Git, CI (Continuous Integration) servers, and the Chef configuration management package can, when used together, help developers automate application deployments in different environments – including the AWS cloud. When properly designed, the entire process requires manual intervention only at initial set up.
Here are some key characteristics (and benefits) of DevOps:
|Unified processes||The entire development-to-operations life cycle can be viewed as one end-to-end process. Developers no longer need to wait for the testing team to verify their code before deploying applications in their desired environment.|
|Manual startup, then automation||Fewer errors, consistency, rapid software delivery.|
|Focus on stability and uptime||Improved customer experience.|
|Greater collaboration||There’s no “Dev vs Ops” atmosphere and issues that come up between the teams are resolved quickly and decisively.|
|Service virtualization||Simulated/parallel development|
|Agile development||Blends in well with the Agile development methodology. Agile development requires frequent new feature deliverables over short time spans. A DevOps setup can really help a team to achieve ambitious goals.|
We’ve seen how DevOps – especially Cloud DevOps – can improve deployment experiences for developers and operations and, ultimately, customer experience. The benefits are very real and they’re certainly no secret.
Have you had experience transitioning to DevOps methodologies? Why not share them in the comments?
If you’re interested in learning more, here are some DevOps courses that may be of interest:
How Google, HP, and Etsy Succeed with DevOps
DevOps is currently well developed, and there are many examples of companies adopting it to improve their existing practices and explore new frontiers. In this article, we'll take a look at case studies and use cases from Google, HP, and Etsy. These companies are having success with Dev...
How to Accelerate Development in the Cloud
Understanding how to accelerate development in the cloud can prevent typical challenges that developers face in a traditional enterprise. While there are many benefits to switching to a cloud-first model, the most immediate one is accelerated development and testing. The road blocks tha...
DevSecOps: How to Secure DevOps Environments
Security has been a friction point when discussing DevOps. This stems from the assumption that DevOps teams move too fast to handle security concerns. This makes sense if Information Security (InfoSec) is separate from the DevOps value stream, or if development velocity exceeds the band...
Understanding Python Datetime Handling
Communicating dates and times with another person is pretty simple... right? “See you at 6 o’clock on Monday” sounds understandable. But was it a.m. or p.m.? And was your friend in the same time zone as you when you said that? When we need to use and store dates and times on Pytho...
Cloud Academy’s Blog Digest: July 2019
July has been a very exciting month for us at Cloud Academy. On July 10, we officially joined forces with QA, the UK’s largest B2B skills provider (read the announcement). Over the coming weeks, you will see additions from QA’s massive catalog of 500+ certification courses and 1500+ ins...
How to Become a DevOps Engineer
The DevOps Handbook introduces DevOps as a framework for improving the process for converting a business hypothesis into a technology-enabled service that delivers value to the customer. This process is called the value stream. Accelerate finds that applying DevOps principles of flow, f...
Top 20 Open Source Tools for DevOps Success
Open source tools perform a very specific task, and the source code is openly published for use or modification free of charge. I've written about DevOps multiple times on this blog. I reiterate the point that DevOps is not about specific tools. It's a philosophy for building and improv...
DevOps: Scaling Velocity and Increasing Quality
All software teams strive to build better software and ship it faster. That's a competitive edge required to survive in the Age of Software. DevOps is the best methodology to leverage that competitive advantage, ultimately allowing practitioners to accelerate software delivery and raise...
Continuous Deployment: What’s the Point?
Continuous Deployment is the pinnacle of high-performance software development. Continuous deployment teams deploy every commit that passes tests to production, and there's nothing faster than that. Even though you'll see the "CD" term thrown around the internet, continuous deployment a...
DevOps Telemetry: Open Source vs Cloud vs Third Party
The DevOps principle of feedback calls for business, application, and infrastructure telemetry. While telemetry is important for engineers when debugging production issues or setting base operational conditions, it is also important to product owners and business stakeholders because it...
The Convergence of DevOps
IT has changed over the past 10 years with the adoption of cloud computing, continuous delivery, and significantly better telemetry tools. These technologies have spawned an entirely new container ecosystem, demonstrated the importance of strong security practices, and have been a catal...
How DevOps Increases System Security
The perception of DevOps and its role in the IT industry has changed over the last five years due to research, adoption, and experimentation. Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, and Nicole Forsgren makes data-backed predictions about how DevOps p...