An introduction to DevOps

At XAM we love DevOps and integrate it with all our projects and in our Azure Cloud Consulting business so we thought we would give you a bit of a introduction to DevOps. We are experts in both Azure DevOps and also github.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is all about culture; it’s the culmination of development teams working together to achieve an end goal. At the end of the day, there is no point writing code and building software if it isn’t being used. The code needs to go into production and ideally as quickly as possible. On top of this, the software that is produced needs to be of the highest possible quality. There is no point in producing bad software that people don’t want to sue. DevOps combines cultural philosophies, practices and tools to enable organizations to deliver high-quality applications and services at high velocity. By producing products more quickly than traditional software development practices allow for, organizations have the opportunity to compete more effectively in the marketplace. 

How does DevOps work?

DevOps is more than the simple amalgamation of developers and operations; it’s about how the teams work together. Under a DevOps model, operations and development engineers work together across the entire application lifecycle, from design to deployment and support. The operations engineers will make use of the same techniques as developers for their systems of work. By working in this way, engineers develop a range of skills and are not restricted to a single function. In some instances, quality assurance and security teams are more closely aligned with development and operations as well, especially in cases where security is a key focus. DevOps teams use practices to automate processes along with a technology stack that helps them create applications much more efficiently. The tools they use allow engineers to work independently without the need for support from other teams. 

How are DevOps and Agile Different?

DevOps is strongly linked to Agile and Lean methodologies. However, these older approaches separated development into the team creating an application and operations into the team dealing with it once it has been built. This way of thinking and siloed approach has ultimately been the key driver behind DevOps. Agile software development requires close collaboration of customers, product management and developers whereas DevOps recognises the importance of service delivery as part of the value proposition. Therefore, the DevOps method is an extension of Agile where the methodology is required not only for the code but the entire delivered service. The DevOps concept focuses on managing the end to end engineering process, not merely complex projects. 

What are the benefits of DevOps?

The short answer is that companies that use DevOps practices get more done. As the team is made up of cross-functional members who work in collaboration, they are able to deliver with maximum speed, functionality and innovation. The key benefits are:

  • Speed – working at high velocity allows organizations to create solutions for customers more quickly, adapt to change and be more efficient. Teams are able to take ownership of services and release updates immediately, responding to customers’ needs and building a competitive advantage. 
  • Reliability – working collaboratively ensures applications are of the highest quality and that updates and infrastructure changes can be delivered quickly while providing a positive end-user experience. 
  • Scalability – the methodologies behind DevOps enable organizations to operate and manage their infrastructure and development processes at scale. Meanwhile, automation and consistency reduce the complexity of systems.
  • Collaboration – DevOps cultural emphasis puts a value on ownership and accountability. Combining workflows and sharing responsibilities reduces inefficiencies and saves time. 

As well as the technical and business benefits that DevOps promises, it also results in happier, more productive teams. Employees are fully engaged and have the opportunity to develop professionally. 

What are the Primary DevOps Practices?

Using a set of primary practices enables DevOps organizations to innovate faster. The software development and infrastructure management processes are streamlined, small updates are frequently implemented, and microservices architecture is used to make applications more flexible. The following are some of the key practices that empower DevOps teams:

  • Continuous integration – developers systematically merge their code changes into a central archive where builds and tests are run. This allows bugs to be found and addressed more quickly and to reduce the time it takes for new software updates to be released. 
  • Continuous delivery – code changes are built, tested, configured and deployed from a build to a production environment. This ensures code is always deployment-ready and has passed through the necessary test processes.
  • Microservices architecture (.NET + other) – a single application will be built as a set of small services each with a sole purpose. These can then be deployed independently or as a single service. 
  • Infrastructure as code – instead of resources needing to be manually configured, developers can interact with infrastructure programmatically through APIs. This allows infrastructure to be treated in a similar way as application code. 
  • Monitoring and logging – metrics are monitored to review how infrastructure performance influences end-user experience. Active monitoring, alerts and real-time analysis helps organizations proactively monitor and improve their services. 
  • Communication and collaboration – workflows and responsibilities of developers and operation teams are physically brought together allowing for information sharing and vastly improved collaboration.

Why  Should Organizations Consider DevOps?

As the digital world becomes ever-more integrated with our daily lives, software is becoming an integral part of businesses. It allows organizations to interact with their customers across services and applications on a myriad of devices. Meanwhile, software has the potential to improve every part of a business from logistics to communications. It is paramount that companies change the way they build and deliver software in order to deliver the 24/7 service that consumers have come to expect. However, adopting DevOps requires a significant shift in mindset. Barriers need to be broken down, and siloed teams brought together. Ultimately, adopting DevOps allows a single team to take ownership of a service across its entire life-cycle and to make its success their responsibility. 

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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