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Guide to DevOps

DevOps

Plenty of software companies strive to employ best practices to integrate team processes, patch glitches, and ultimately create a superior product. These companies aim to do these things, but they achieve those goals with varying degrees of success.

That’s where DevOps steps in. How to define DevOps? Focused on a systematic approach to integrating and refining the entire software lifecycle, the DevOps philosophy provides industry best practices and their implementation roadmap. When fully integrated, DevOps stands to revolutionize the quality of the software developed and its speed, security, and reliability — all while refining, not uprooting, your organization.

This guide to DevOps will explore:

  • The reasons to implement DevOps
  • The advantages of DevOps
  • How to implement DevOps into your company
  • How to create a DevOps company culture

By the time you finish reading, you will understand how to incorporate DevOps into your organization and the importance of becoming a DevOps leader in your industry. Let’s begin by exploring what this is.

What Is DevOps?

DevOps is a modern operating philosophy of small-batch, fast, and frequent process updates that deliver a better software product to the market. Organizations utilizing a DevOps-centered mindset evolve products faster, introduce them to the market quicker, test and tweak them more rapidly, and take in customer feedback habitually. This means software products will compete better amongst tight market competition, as well as respond fluidly to those markets’ changes.

Statistics back up DevOps’ effectiveness. Studies have found that companies that employ DevOps methodology within their software development, testing, and operations departments are twice as likely to exceed company productivity goals, outlined market shares, and net profitability than those that don’t. If that wasn’t enough, these same DevOps organizations deploy new software features and patches nearly 200 times more frequently than competitors and spend a quarter less time managing unplanned, unexpected bugs or work.

Three Principles of DevOps

Successful DevOps practices come down to three core domains:

  1. People: DevOps fundamentally aims to bring cohesion between software developers, testers, and operator engineers across all stages of a product’s lifecycle. This cannot be done without proper internal buy-in, as traditionally these have been separate teams with separate visions, concerns, tools, processes, and protocols under isolated ownership.
  2. Process/Practice: DevOps also streamlines the practices of these collaborative teams, blending roles and complementing steps rather than siloing them. New processes and practices are all centered on delivering best value for the markets’ customers while reducing internal waste or inefficiencies, proactively managing glitches and software uncertainties, and finding ways to improve on systems and applications constantly.
  3. Tools: To achieve what it’s meant to, DevOps also requires a reworking of internal tools to provide software improvements. This includes restructuring basics such as source control tools, automation tools, and testing monitorization tools as well as ones that help moderate project management and collaboration across DevOps’ newly merged teams.

Benefits of DevOps

Successfully deploying DevOps sets companies of any size up for better profits and market competitivity. It also carries additional business benefits that stretch across the entirety of the organization, from the small and every day to the advanced, value-based, and macro-operational.

  1. Improves Software Release Cycles

On the list of core metrics for software products to track, tighter cycles and improved deployment frequencies land pretty much near the top. Introducing a DevOps approach stands to trim and clean up nearly every stage of a software’s lifecycle.

Beginning with pre-alpha development into beta candidates, then carrying through testing, delivery, and final product or application release, DevOps streamlines the entirety of the product’s journey, increasing both the rates of and number of releases with minimum production bottlenecks. Building, testing, and operations fall under one unified IT helm — and the customer reaps the rewards with quicker, better products.

  1. Enhances Software Quality

Assuring quality can be dubious to promise in the software world. While many do it, few fully follow through on its tenants like proactive product support and continuous, automatic product innovation rather than merely patching bugs on a situational or ad-hoc basis. Worst-case scenario, customers are promised their software can integrate and perform a certain way — then it doesn’t.

With DevOps, the entire process of software creation, testing, and monitorization becomes harmonized. This keener collaboration between software developers and operating engineers increases the reliability of final-release products. Teams become primed to work together rather than separately, experimenting to see how a tweak here or change there affects everything down the line. Such an approach cannot help but translate into a more dynamic software product.

Companies end up with more thoughtful deliverables, uninterrupted updates and patch schedules, more responsive code, and more innovative software features tailored to the end user — all planned that way from the beginning.

  1. Tightens Software Security

Yet another advantage to employing DevOps is its ability to strengthen current and new software security features. In fact, some DevOps philosophies go so far as to integrate security personnel or entire security teams into the newly hybrid development-testing-operations domain.

This ensures the same people, practices, and tools that are being reshaped in other traditional IT silos carry over into one of the most important aspects of software for the end user — application security. It also meets the heightened demands and expectations of the market so that rapid security responses are taken care of before they become a widescale issue, not after the fact, with companies executing their security roles responsibly.

  1. Streamlines Product Feedback

Last but certainly not least, a DevOps philosophy innately sets up leaner and more rapid feedback loops across a product’s lifecycle.

Internally, these loops are strengthened between complementary development, operations, security, and testing teams that previously operated as separate entities. Externally, feedback loops are near-constant and automated between the company and the customers, with numerous tools deployed to monitor and track product affordances from these end users themselves with as little interference or manual work as possible.

Not only are feedback loops sharpened, but also a company is made more flexible as a result. It is one thing to adopt more prominent feedback models. It is another to funnel them into actual product updates and change, which cannot happen on its own. With DevOps, the customer’s experience is prioritized from day one, meaning their insights and opinions become ingrained into the entire business model like never before.

Successful DevOps Case Study: Navis

Navis, a company that develops software for international shipping ports, set a schedule to begin introducing incremental process tweaks and digital tools in order to employ a DevOps-inspired continuous delivery software pipeline. Instead of freezing code every few weeks to make changes, as they had been doing, developers, quality assurance personnel, and testers were combined into one team to reduce test burdens and rethink testing tools. Because of their thoughtful and incremental approach, Navis now conducts daily builds rather than static, biweekly ones and saw no service downtimes or system oversights.

When DevOps Culture Is a Good Fit and When It’s Not

While DevOps remains one of the today’s trendiest software and application development methodologies, it requires commitment and flexibility. An organization can’t merely want to implement DevOps into its work structures. It has to be in the right place to do so. There are a few key qualifiers to keep in mind before DevOps can truly be realized:

  • Are you prepared for a significant culture change? DevOps first and foremost is about people. Not only will the org structures of your engineers, testers, and software personnel overlap, but their daily responsibilities will turn hybrid. A team that isn’t ready to embrace ultra-collaboration and cooperation cannot function under DevOps. Furthermore, all members must adopt the right DevOps mindset: where flexibility, curiosity, and trial and error are supreme, failure is accepted as inevitable, communication is second-nature, and problem-solving is a passion.
  • Are infrastructure services point-blank ready? If operators and developers are habitually stuck on manual maintenance, deployment, and server administration, then the team is not yet prepared for DevOps overhaul. There are simply too many bottlenecks and not enough tools and processes in place to alleviate and automate these current tasks. Personnel can and should be dedicated to their true functions, fresh and innovative software infrastructure services. These functions take time to roll out.
  • Are projects in a place where they can be agile and service-oriented? Even if the team is ready and the infrastructure tools are in place, does your business have a product or process that can take on a DevOps approach? Or are stakes simply too high, with your organization unable to risk even slow and steady tweaks and adoptions to a core product’s lifecycle? Such questions must be considered for DevOps deployment to see successful results.

Types of DevOps Training

There is no single DevOps formula. Authentic DevOps deployment is about gradual and effective bottleneck reduction through problem-solving team members, complementary automated tools, and thoughtful, collaborative processes.

For organizations considering DevOps, it’s important to note this lack of one-size-fits-all training. The following are some of today’s more popular types of DevOps methodologies.

  1. DevOps Foundations

DevOps Foundations aims to teach the core workflows and principles behind DevOps. It covers not only its objectives, key performance indicators, and business benefits but also its actual tools and structures. Businesses must take a DevOps Foundations course in order to move on to more in-depth and individualized programs. The DevOps Institute (DOI) DevOps Foundation training course focuses on:

  • People: How to integrate the traditional development, quality assurance, testing, and operations silos, build and improve feedback loops, and create a culture of collaboration.
  • Processes: How to achieve core DevOps processes such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, automated deployment pipelines, and cost reductions.
  • Tools: How to select both private and open-source software to buffer process changes and create a core DevOps toolchain.

Note that while many companies offer this training, few have hands-on, field experience consulting and implementing DevOps with real clients. Consider participating in courses with those who conduct both trainings and DevOps implementation to secure the best models and information for your team. Also note that the DevOps Foundations course is a prerequisite to DOI’s DevSecOps and Test Engineering courses detailed below.

  1. DevSecOps

What is DevSecOps? It takes the principles and workflow tutorials of a Foundations course but applies a second layer, software security. With DevSecOps, companies learn not only how to integrate development and operations but also new software security approaches as well. A DevSecOps course differentiates itself from traditional software security methods through data and security sciences, plus it will cover how these connect with overall business-aligned strategies. DOI’s DevSecOps course will provide instruction on the following:

  • How software security can exist alongside crucial DevOps workflows, including more secure continuous integration, continuous delivery, and automated deployment processes.
  • How and why teams adopt Red and Blue DevSecOps security personnel.
  • How tightened security roles fit within the broader DevOps culture.
  1. DevOps Test Engineering

Last but not least, companies can attend the DOI’s DevOps Test Engineering course to round out all the ways DevOps revolutionizes testing practices and models. What is included in DevOps Test Engineering training? With continuous testing so imperative to DevOps, a course dedicated to its tenants and practices will provide the following:

  • How DevOps testing differs from traditional software and application testing.
  • How to select the right private or open-source testing tools to integrate into organizational processes.
  • DevOps-specific testing strategies, workflows, oversight, and analysis.
  • How to curate the right evergreen testing culture.

Creating DevOps Culture in Your Organization

It bears repeating that every company’s DevOps implementation methods and schedules will be unique. Yet at their heart, they equip engineers with the right tools to automate the right processes, ultimately freeing them to perform high-functioning, rapid testing deliverables creation to improve the software for the end user. With this in mind, creating a true DevOps culture within your organization is incomplete without the following.

Construct Your DevOps Toolchain

Your DevOps toolchain consists of all the applications, software, and digital tools that make it possible for your team to function at a DevOps level with DevOps-agile outputs. In other words, it’s the resources your engineers have access to that help them develop, test, and release software builds at the rates and quality they need to be truly DevOps. Without these tools, they would be forced to surrender to old models and old processes.

While hardly an exhaustive list, a basic DevOps toolchain incorporates the following:

  1. Collaboration Tools: For team members to easily connect, chat, and share information. Examples: Slack, Hive, Jostle, Google Hangouts, Skype.
  2. Project Management and Collaboration Tools: To organize, assign, and review project components and schedules with all participants and stakeholders. Examples: Basecamp, Asana, Trello.
  3. Version or Source Control Tools: A repository for all the changes made to code, which affects everything from computer programs to websites to application patches. The best source control tools allow you to isolate work until it’s done, as well as troubleshoot and revert to old versions. Examples: Git, Subversion, Darcs.
  4. Configuration Tools: Enabling consistent and accessible service infrastructure for engineers and sysadmins to coherently maintain. Examples: Chef, Puppet, Ansible, SaltStack.
  5. Scalable Integration Tools: How companies can rapidly and automatically test new systems or code changes without affecting live versions. Examples: Jenkins, Selenium, Watir.
  6. Monitoring Tools: Ensuring system deployments and software services are running as they should, then alerting you in real time when they aren’t. Examples: New Relic, AppDynamics, Boundary.
  7. Automation Tools: Automated feedback loops testing each stage of a built code. Examples: Selenium, Testsigma, TestComplete, UFT.
  8. Deployment Tools: The key to continuous delivery and shortened time-to-market, with minimum manual oversight. Examples: Jenkins, AWS CodeDeploy, Bamboo, VSTS.

Hire a DevOps Consultant for Individualized Coaching and Project Implementation

A DevOps consultant and project implementer provides keen benefits and advantages for your organization. Aside from training you on DevOps workflows and helping you select your toolchain, few things match the individualized attention gleaned from a consultant — attention that turns into quantifiable improvements.

A DevOps consultant will address the overarching strategy, daily operations, and technical implementation of your DevOps journey as well as outline exact steps to get there. They take DevOps from the philosophical to the functional for your business’ software development, often through the following:

  • Forging DevOps’s fundamental team collaboration and cross-role communication strategies.
  • Simplifying current processes and eliminating wasteful practices and steps.
  • Adjusting workflows for quicker code building, problem resolutions, system updates, software features, and more.
  • Crafting an overall DevOps environment unique to your organization, with the right toolchain and right supporting processes.

Let Business Transformation Institute Deliver DevOps Consulting and Services to Your Organization

Business Transformation Institute has conducted certified DevOps training courses and consulting services for organizations of all types and sizes. We work with you to deliver process improvements critical to DevOps success — we won’t just hand you some flashy new software, then leave.

From continuous integration and deployment methods to finding the best automation toolchain for your team to use, BTI can successfully merge DevOps culture into your organization. Reach out or give us a call at (435) 580-8184 to learn how.

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