What do companies like Flipkart, Amazon, Spotify, Netflix, Hotstar and Uber have in common apart from the fact that they are multibillion-dollar giants? They all run their businesses via the internet, if not just apps.
But do you know what constitutes their success more than their predecessors and competitors? It’s the ability to solve any and every technical issue within minutes and roll-out changes or features while continuously testing different things simultaneously.
How are these companies able to pull it off? Of course, they have teams but then they do not end up over-hiring people either. What serves as the ‘backbone’ to their technical success is their use of a method known as ‘DevOps’. This magical method helps them automate their day to day processes to increase efficiency and improve delivery time.
But before your mind starts feeding you with “But they are rich enough to afford these fancy methods and we aren’t” let me interrupt your flow of thoughts by informing you that it’s not expensive if it’s saving you a lot in the long term. So, without further ado let’s get you to know about this actually-not-so-fancy term called ‘DevOps’.
History Of DevOps
The term “DevOps” was introduced by Patrick Debois in 2007. Debois was a big believer of the agile methodology which promotes continuous iteration in development and testing throughout the development lifecycle because it helps dev teams ship better products faster. He felt that the development and operations teams working together in sync could also benefit a lot by using the same value.
In 2008, Andrew Schafer and Debois got together at a conference to discuss initial ideas and principles around what they then referred to as “agile systems administration”. They also formed an agile administrator group on google which is where the DevOps started taking shape for the first time.
One more important moment in the evolution of DevOps was the first-ever official ‘DevOps’ conference that was held in 2010 at Mountain View, California, the Mecca of technology. This was the definitive signal that DevOps had arrived and was here to stay.
It’s now an accepted term by software and IT teams across the globe. They use it for describing the methodology behind operation and development engineers working together from design to development.
But that’s not it. History only helps in understanding the origin of DevOps and my goal is to let you know the miracles it can perform. So, let’s begin by addressing the most basic question:
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a fusion of terms–software development and information technology operations. It’s possible to gain insight over your business’ entire pipeline when incorporating DevOps within the way you’re running operations. By doing so, you’re also allowing your teams to work more efficiently with fewer redundancies.
Kit Merker writes, “The emerging methods of DataOps draw directly from the key principles of DevOps — automation to help distributed teams support frequent and continuous integration and delivery. In the same way that DevOps helps developers, quality assurance, and operations to smoothly and securely collaborate, DataOps provides the same benefits to the joint efforts of developers, data scientists, data engineers, and operations.”
Let me state an example for a better understanding of Merker’s statement.
Let’s suppose that a company is developing an eCommerce platform. For this, they have hired 4 developers to build the application and two engineers to handle the operations such as maintaining the infrastructure, production environment and providing support to the end-client.
The four developers working on the first module would gather all their week’s work at the end of the week in order to merge their codes manually and then test what they’ve built. Once the module is complete, they will execute the codes on their local test server and test the flow again to see if everything works fine.
It is only then that they can move to the next module or else they will have to fix the ongoing module first before moving ahead. There’s no other way because if they fail to address these issues then they’d have to wait for the entire cycle to finish and can only make changes in the next version release.
Now, let’s say that the Development team after spending 9 more months finishes their task of creating an eCommerce platform. This includes development as well as basic level application testing on their local system to check whether everything works fine including client creation, order placement, order and payment processes, etc.
The development team hands over their code to the operation team who are responsible for releasing the application for actual commercial use. It is here that the actual roller coaster ride begins.
‘Roller Coaster ride’ is a fancy phrase in the English language and the funny part is that its meaning isn’t as good as it sounds because the word is everything but fun. Why did I use it here? It’s because the perfectly tested working eCommerce application is in fact not so perfect. Upon testing with actual data, the operations team finds out that the application that took nine months to finish is unable to create clients properly, the files are missing, validation issues are popping out of nowhere, placed order payments are not being processed, etc.
The operations team is frustrated and angry because this is what they get after waiting for nine months. The development team, on the other hand, is now offended because as per their testing everything was working perfectly during controlled testing conditions and the royal mess now must be because of the operation’s poor execution.
What happens now? They’ll have to wait for months again to undo all the mistakes and deliver those changes in the next release.
All of these could have been avoided had the development and operations teams decided to work together right from the conception and execution to its delivery and support. Instead, they worked in silos with an imaginary wall between them.
The problem is that the operations team was not involved when the code was being written to build the eCommerce application and the development team was completely out of the picture when the eCommerce application went into production and was taking orders and processing it, the result is an eCommerce application that isn’t ready for the market and a dev team that still doesn’t quite know how to resolve things.
As you can imagine, a lot of time will go by before the application is finally ready for the production server. There will be a number of iterations as the development team will have to make changes and the operations team sends the application to the production. This same issue will keep on happening not only during the product development but also when the application needs changes, maintenance and upgrades. As a result, even small startups end up becoming slow and inefficient and there’s a good chance that they might lose out to other companies that get superior products to market faster.
This was the problem that companies started seeing, especially as technology became more advanced. Keeping their operations and development teams isolated from each other was resulting in slower delivery and less efficient products and services. Moreover, many processes in the company operations that could have been easily automated to increase efficiency were not being automated because the developers were simply unaware of them.
“That’s when the concept of DevOps came to the forefront and began being adopted widely. DevOps is nothing but a set of philosophies, practices, and tools that help an organization to deliver better products faster by facilitating the integration of the development and operations functions. This enables companies like the one in our example to serve their customers and markets in a better way and have a competitive edge.
DevOps has become possible largely due to a combination of new operations tools and established agile engineering practices”
Process of DevOps
DevOps defines an agile relationship between development and operations. It is the process practised by the development team and operational engineers together from the beginning of a project to the final stage of the product. Understanding DevOps is not complete without understanding the DevOps lifecycle phases. A continuous DevOps lifecycle includes seven phases as given below.
- Continuous Development
- Continuous Integration
- Continuous Testing
- Continuous Monitoring
- Continuous Feedback
- Continuous Deployment
- Continuous Operations
A lot can be achieved with the right implementation of DevOps lifecycle, making the production of apps more effective and secure. The fact is that DevOps is the future of the product life-cycle that ensures maximum operational efficiencies for the largest global enterprises and this trend will continue to grow in 2020 too.
Some Popular Dev-ops Tools
While the right tools play a key role in effective DevOps implementation, simply using the tools does not mean that DevOps has been successfully implemented. Tools are only relevant when they are used at the last stage i.e after the organization has already adopted the philosophy of DevOps and there is a commitment to executing its best practices. I’d still like to mention these tools categorically for a better understanding.
Configuration Management Tools
Monitoring, Virtualization and Containerization Tools
- New Relic
Okay! Those bullets were very hard for you to chew. It’s okay. I can understand. I used to be a layman as well. This is why I would like you to take a look at the brighter and more digestible side of DevOps. So,
Key Benefit of Using Devops includes
- More focus on automation
DevOps enables you to create applications for your customers faster and gives you the ability to better adapt to the ever-changing market trends with greater agility.
- Integrated Change Management
With integrated change management, operations and development teams work together to understand how using different technologies will impact the organization as a whole and then work towards managing that.
- Continuous Integration
With continuous integration, the code is tested and analyzed whenever the updated code is checked into the version control system. This provides immediate feedback on code defects which allows developers to build a high-quality solution with little risk.
- Automated Testing
Automated and regressive testing is something agile teams adopt very often as it helps to fix problems right away and ship higher-quality code. This works well in DevOps too as a dire need of operations staff is that the shipped code should meet a certain standard in terms of quality.
- Continuous Deployment
With continuous deployment, when integration is successful in one sandbox it is automatically promoted to the next sandbox and integration begins there. This continues until it reaches the point where it requires human verification. This usually occurs at the point of transition from development to operations.
- Application Monitoring
This refers to the practice of monitoring and logging solutions real-time once they are in production. This gives us performance metrics that improve the reliability of the solution and prevents failures.
- Integrated Deployment Planning
A DevOps approach means operations engineers will be closely involved with the developers when it comes to planning the deployment of products as per an organizational deployment schedule.
- Production Support
With DevOps, not only do developers work on new releases, but they also work on addressing critical problems within a solution that is already in production. Although they are the third and last team to get involved in solving production issues, it is a fairly common occurrence and gives them insights on production problems that help them design better solutions in the first place.
- Active Stakeholder Participation
This is the fundamental guiding principle of DevOps. DevOps can succeed only if both the developers and the operations and support staff are truly committed to collaborating and using an integrated approach to achieve goals.
The reason why had to write this article is because
A lot of our clients had asked us what we exactly meant by the term DevOps services on our website. It was quite surprising for me to know that even with Google as the Ultimate Guru, they had to ask us about it. But it was only when I checked on google that I got to know that most articles that talk about DevOps had only mentioned its origin and technicality but failed to simplify the basic use of DevOps to let people know the astounding long-term impact that it creates for internet-based businesses.
Our approach is not to sell but to help customers in making them aware about technologies and solutions and if possible then in helping them make sound technical decisions. Our custom plug and play solutions help quick enablement of DevOps and build business-driven IT processes. In addition to that, our model ensures that our clients start running their DevOps independently. We are a versatile team with a vision of building complete automation across your infrastructure provisioning and deployments through DevOps best practices and custom solutions.