Cloud DevOps: improve your application development life cycle

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 backwards. 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:
Cloud DevOps - diagram

Cloud DevOps

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.
Cloud DevOps - workflow
Here are some key characteristics (and benefits) of DevOps:

CharacteristicsBenefits
Unified processesThe 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 start up, then automationFewer errors, consistency, rapid software delivery.
Focus on stability and uptimeImproved customer experience.
Greater collaborationThere’s no “Dev vs Ops” atmosphere and issues that come up between the teams are resolved quickly and decisively.
Service virtualizationSimulated/parallel development
Agile developmentBlends 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. According to Gartner, by 2016:

DevOps Will Evolve From a Niche to a Mainstream Strategy Employed by 25 Percent of Global 2000 Organizations.

Have you had experience transitioning to DevOps methodologies? Why not share them in the comments?

Written by

Working as a cloud professional for last 6 years in various organizations, I have experience in three of the most popular cloud platforms, AWS IaaS, Microsoft Azure and Pivotal Cloud Foundry PaaS platform.Having around 10 years of IT experience in various roles and I take great interest in learning and sharing my knowledge on newer technologies. Wore many hats as developer, lead, architect in cloud technologies implementation. During Leisure time I enjoy good soothing music, playing TT and sweating out in Gym. I believe sharing knowledge is my way to make this world a better place.

Related Posts

— December 12, 2018

Getting Started With Site Reliability Engineering

Much has been written and discussed about SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) from what it is, how to do it, and how it's the same (or different) as DevOps. Google coined the term, defined the profession, and wrote the book on it. Their "Site Reliability Engineering" book covers the idea...

Read more
  • DevOps
  • SRE
— December 6, 2018

What DevOps Means for Risk Management

What Does DevOps Mean for Risk Management?Adopting DevOps makes the unfamiliar uneasy in two areas. One, they see an inherently risky choice between speed and quality and second, they are concerned that the quick iterations of DevOps may break compliance rules or introduce security vu...

Read more
  • DevOps
— October 25, 2018

How DevOps Transforms Software Testing

Testing is arguably the most important aspect of software development. Whether manual or automated, testing ensures the software works as expected. Broken software causes production outages, unsatisfied customers, refunds, decreased trust, or even complete financial collapse. Testing mi...

Read more
  • DevOps
— August 8, 2018

From Monolith to Serverless – The Evolving Cloudscape of Compute

Containers can help fragment monoliths into logical, easier to use workloads. The AWS Summit New York was held on July 17 and Cloud Academy sponsored my trip to the event. As someone who covers enterprise cloud technologies and services, the recent Amazon Web Services event was an insig...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Summits
  • Containers
  • DevOps
  • serverless
Albert Qian
— August 6, 2018

Four Tactics for Cultural Change in DevOps Adoption

Many organizations approach digital transformation and DevOps adoption with the belief that simply by selecting and using the right tools, they will achieve higher levels of automation and gain massive efficiencies as a result. While DevOps adoption does require new tools and processes,...

Read more
  • DevOps
— July 24, 2018

Get Started with HashiCorp Vault

Ongoing threats of data breaches and cyber attacks remain top of mind for every team responsible for securing cloud workloads and applications, especially with the challenge of managing secrets including passwords, tokens, API keys, certificates, and more. Complexity is especially notab...

Read more
  • DevOps
  • HashiCorp Vault
— June 11, 2018

Open Source Software Security Risks and Best Practices

Enterprises are leveraging a variety of open source products including operating systems, code libraries, software, and applications for a range of business use cases. While using open source comes with cost, flexibility, and speed advantages, it can also pose some unique security chall...

Read more
  • DevOps
— June 5, 2018

What is Static Analysis Within CI/CD Pipelines?

Thanks to DevOps practices, enterprise IT is faster and more agile. Automation in the form of automated builds, tests, and releases plays a significant role in achieving those benefits and creates the foundation for Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. However...

Read more
  • DevOps
— March 29, 2018

What is Chaos Engineering? Failure Becomes Reliability

In the IT world, failure is inevitable. A server might go down, an app may fail, etc. Does your team know what to do during a major outage? Do you know what instances may cause a larger systems failure? Chaos engineering, or chaos as a service, will help you fail responsibly.It almost...

Read more
  • Cloud Computing
  • DevOps
— December 7, 2017

10 Ingredients for DevOps Transformation with Mark Andersen

At Capital One, DevOps is about delivering high quality, working software, faster. This means software that is reliable, secure, usable, and performant while providing value and accomplishing those important end user goals. Everything is about speed of delivery and getting that feedback...

Read more
  • Cloud Migration
  • DevOps
— October 5, 2017

SQL Injection Lab: Think Like a Hacker

Security is IT’s top spending priority according to the 2017/2018 Computer Economics IT Spending & Staffing Benchmarks report*. Given the frequent changes and updates in vendor platforms, the pressure is on for IT teams who need to keep their infrastructures and data secure. As brea...

Read more
  • DevOps
  • Security
  • SQL injection
— September 15, 2017

Women in Tech: Zamira Jaupaj, DevOps Engineer

In building an enterprise culture of cloud, DevOps skills complement the enterprise’s need to automate development, testing, deployment, and operations processes for their public cloud deployments. In this latest post in our Women in Tech series, we’ll be talking to Zamira Jaupaj, a Dev...

Read more
  • DevOps
  • Women in Tech