DevOps Software, tools, and platforms support the practice of DevOps, an IT practice increasingly popular in enterprises and evolving rapidly. For many companies, flexibility, change, and evolution are welcome, but at the same time, it is challenging to find the right software platform and tools for DevOps.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is an offshoot of the continuing movement to become agile and is simply the amalgamation of two words – Development and Operations. DevOps is not a rigid prescriptive methodology and a tool. Still, it incorporates a framework, a process, best practices, and a culture to drive collaboration between dev teams and operations teams and reduce the time gap between release cycles. In addition, it is an ethos of continuous integration and launching what is developed into the world almost instantaneously – in a repeatable and automated manner.
Why do Companies need DevOps?
The concept, principles, practices, software for DevOps solve an existential problem for large companies.
- The business moves at the speed of consumer demand and competitive factors, and a development and deployment lifecycle that is detached from those realities is no longer acceptable.
- Development, Testing, and Deployment teams are working in different silos.
- The concept of a linear process of months-long (or years-long) software development life cycle (SDLC) and then going to deployment and operations will mean difficulties in identifying errors, managing scope, and reacting to stakeholder concerns.
- The deployed modules may not withstand production-level stress and strain, leading to roll-backs and other challenges.
- Manual code deployments are slow, error-prone, and expensive
- Diagnosing and fixing defects becomes a long process, and development, Testing, and deployment/operations teams may resort to finger-pointing rather than cohesively fixing things as they arise.
As wishing away these problems is not a practical solution, DevOps helps address and alleviate some of the issues, such as:
- Increase the velocity of development and deployments
- Lower the failure rates of new releases into production
- Reduce mean time for defect identification to defect fixing and releasing into production
- A cohesive team working from concept to release without artificial boundaries
- Responsive to the customer and operational needs.
How does DevOps work?
Companies that ignore the cultural aspects of DevOps and focus on tools are bound to fail. As crucial as DevOps tools for a successful practice, a culture of collaboration, communication, seamless baton passing, and combined accountability is critical. The following is a high-level overview of the DevOps lifecycle.
- Continuous Planning: Cross-functional teams from business, development, QA, Release Management, and Operations work jointly to identify the issues, plan execution, and allocate resources.
- Collaborative Development: Despite functional specialization, reporting structures, geography, or time zones, cross-functional teams work cohesively to conceptualize, build, and deploy software with minimal friction.
- Integrated and Continuous Testing: Instead of a linear process of waiting for developers to finish coding and then testing, the integrated and continuous Testing using virtualized testing environments shortens the feedback loop and ensures faster bug fixes.
- Continuous Integration and Deployment: Continuous integration and deployment provide an automated pipeline of a stream of code modules that go into production. The “Push Button” deployments shorten the SDLC life cycle and enhance transparency into the entire process.
- Constant Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of applications using automated tools help ensure operations run smoothly by looking at concurrent usage, availability, and performance parameters.
- Continuous Feedback and Optimization: With the ability to continuously monitor, operational and transactional data can provide pointed and often visual evidence into what is wrong, thus enabling a virtuous cycle of improvement and optimization of code.
Enterprise Use Cases for Using DevOps:
- Provisioning: IT Departments can automate, manage and connect all stages of an application software development lifecycle
- Configuration Management: IT systems admins can manage all aspects of configuration in one place instead of creating a curated collection of scripts and ad-hoc practices
- Application Build: Easily build by combining source code from multiple developers into executable code
- Release Management: Release managers can deploy multi-tier applications reliably and consistently, all from one common framework, without burdening themselves with complex procedures
- Application Security: Security experts can automate and integrate different security protocols and tools that can monitor, identify, investigate and respond to threats across the enterprise in a coordinated and integrated manner using a curated collection of tools, modules, roles, and playbooks.
- Orchestration: Today’s IT departments and applications are complex, and it is not about deploying them into one server. Orchestration helps ease the pain of dealing with multi-cluster applications, multiple clouds, and software with interdependencies.
Benefits of DevOps:
The evolution of DevOps as a cornerstone discipline and practice has been relatively swift. However, if you are still wondering about the advantages of implementing DevOps practices and software in your company, here are a few:
- Improves speed of development and increases velocity
- Frequent release cycles ensure operational resiliency and responsiveness
- Continuous integration and deployment provides quality builds and a better customer (or stakeholder) experience
- Constant release cycles improve predictability and lower levels of failures
- DevOps helps foster a sense of community, increases transparency and leads to better communications and collaboration
- Velocity does not mean compromising security. On the contrary, the rapidity of DevOps can be balanced with automated compliance policies, configuration management, and fine-grained controls.
- Improves time to market
- Better quality software elevates the level of business resiliency
How to Implement a DevOps Practice in an Enterprise?
DevOps implementation is not as easy as it looks. Prudent planning and flawless execution of the practices, principles, tools, and a compatible culture change are essential to DevOps success.
Here is a simplified DevOps Implementation Roadmap for an Enterprise:
DevOps Tools and Software Categories:
As we made it clear, DevOps combines a framework, principles and practices, culture, and tools. Of course, DevOps Tools and Software Platforms are essential for the discipline’s success, but companies should not put the DevOps horse before the SDLC cart.
That said, here are the types of tools that your company would need to make DevOps a way of life. It is unlikely that you’d find an all-in-one DevOps platform. Instead, most companies use existing tools and complement other DevOps software, templates, frameworks, best practices, and cultural underpinnings.
In addition to these features and functions of DevOps software, we will also look at specific vendors selling DevOps tools.
- Source code repositories are a foundation for DevOps.
- Agile project management tools.
- Automated Build Servers that take source code and convert it to the executable code base.
- Configuration Management tools managing environments including servers.
- Containerization helps package the code, dependencies, configurations, and other details for replicating it into multiple virtual environments.
- Virtualized infrastructure for easy scaling.
- Automated Testing Tools.
- Code Pipeline Orchestration and Continuous Deployment tools.
Evaluating DevOps Software Platform Vendors:
Since DevOps requires multiple tools spanning development, source code management, release management, bug fixing, project management, application monitoring, a company needs to think of DevOps as an ecosystem of tools including some existing software tools and frameworks.
Here are a few criteria you can use to evaluate DevOps Platforms:
- Functional Features:
- Source code management
- Infrastructure as code
- Automated Testing
- Continuous Deployment
- Canary Deployment
- Audit Trails
- Change Management
- Core Integrations with other DevOps tools
- Non Functional Features
- No Code Scripting
- Cloud-based (or On-Prem)
- Extensibility (APIs and Integrations)
- Vendor Business Viability
- Partnering and Cultural Fit
- Mobile Device Availability (Responsive)
- Role-based Access Controls
- Multiple Deployment Options
- Product Roadmap