You’re involved in software development, but are you stuck in the past? If your development and operations professionals use older models, they likely work in two separate teams with little integration or interaction until development hands projects off to operations. Without constant communication, your operations teams test products and send changes back to development teams to incorporate. That’s a lot of information to pass back and forth — not to mention a lot of rework. It’s not only difficult to estimate time and costs while utilizing this method but goals and technologies can also change during the project cycle.
If you haven’t heard of DevOps, your product development process likely sounds a lot like the example above — and it might be costing you more time and frustration than necessary. But other than being a software development buzzword, do you know what it is and what it means — or could mean — to your project management processes? If not, it’s time you found out.
What is DevOps?
DevOps, a portmanteau of development and operations, is an organizational structure and culture with a continuous development and testing cycle. That means a lot less back and forth between development and operations teams as well as less rework, making for a quicker time to market. In fact, DevOps projects allow developers to produce fully functional, high-quality final products more quickly and cost-efficiently than other development processes. This is made possible through the DevOps continuous integration, continuous delivery (CI/CD) project management model that makes extensive use of automation.
In a DevOps organization, development team members work closely with operations personnel throughout project development from the initial build through release. CI allows two or more different developers to write code, which they continually integrate with code from other developers — at least daily — in an area known as the source repository. With the code in a single location, developers can then test it. Code will behave differently in different environments, so if developers continually test in different environments, they can be fairly certain it will perform as expected in most situations. Developers usually use a tool such as a CI server for the coding, integration, and testing so each piece of code and all changes are implemented, tested, and verified before moving on.
This leads to the CD component of CI/CD. Through close collaboration between the development and operations teams, developers can discover and correct problems earlier in the development process. In a CD environment, developers not only integrate and test code after they make changes but they also test in environments similar to production. This helps ensure their code works as intended in the real world and reduces product failures and rollbacks.
DevOps model advantages
DevOps streamlines the development process through such cross-team collaboration and a circular approach. Instead of development team members fighting to release new features and operations team members worrying about new code stability, both teams work together to deliver new features and stabilize code at the same time. Through a shared code base, continuous integration, and constant testing, they can discover problems and fix them earlier in the development process.
In non-DevOps environments, developers write all code then hand it off to the operations team in a slow, cumbersome linear process that often results in building new features on top of poor or untested base code. In some cases, development teams need to scrap entire projects and restart using alternative development methods.
With DevOps, you can achieve benefits such as:
- Shorter time to market
- Greater agility in responding to problems or changing specifications
- More frequent product update delivery
- Greater collaboration across your development and operations teams, resulting in better end products with greater usability
- Fewer deployment problems and failures
- Greater alignment between IT and other areas of your business
Some benefits are intangible, such as greater collaboration, communication, and trust among team your members, which can lead to more brainstorming and innovation. Working within the DevOps model, your development and operations team members can cultivate more confidence, empowerment, and job satisfaction.
Fast forward into the future! If you’re ready to help those in your organization experience the benefits of a DevOps life cycle management environment, it’s important you work with an expert team to coordinate the process and reap the most value.