What Is DevOps?

The term DevOps takes its name from ‘development’ and ‘operations.’ This appropriately reflects the collaborative nature of teams from both of these realms working together on application development processes and operations tasks.

DevOps is variously referred to as a methodology, a philosophy, a culture, a set of tools, and a platform. At its most successful, it includes the adoption of DevOps culture, practices and tools to continually deliver value to customers through a fast-paced, iterative software development and IT service delivery approach.

This union creates an environment with a high degree of automation and integration between developers and IT teams—previously siloed organizations. It encourages communication and collaboration across teams and over the lifecycle of applications. DevOps begins with application planning and design and seeks to improve code quality and confidence, achieve faster responsiveness and faster time to market, and improve customer value. As teams learn to work together, they develop trust and a cross-functional understanding that encourages better alignment of development with business requirements.

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How Does DevOps Work?

DevOps has its origin from Agile software development and was created in part to deliver on the software velocity that Agile promised. DevOps took root because organizations were bogged down with slower releases, limitations due to factions, and software that didn’t meet expectations or quality, despite the Agile goal that iterative development would lead to faster releases. Development methodologies that contributed to and work with DevOps include Kanban, Scrum, Lean, SAFe and Extreme Programming.

DevOps represents a process loop. The steps along this process are plan, code, build, test, release, deploy, operate, monitor, and synthesize feedback into planning, starting the loop over again. This loop is highly dependent on collaboration and communication, uses CI/CD and automation to speed the process and convey a sense of responsibility and self-service to the participants. By focusing on eliminating the bottlenecks of software development, DevOps helps development organizations reach a release cadence that keeps up with customer expectations.

DevOps infinity loop

DevOps infinity loop.

The focus on communications breaks down silos, while iterative software development means that releases are smaller and easier to roll back if an issue arises. Through collaboration, the developer and operations cultures jointly are responsible for development testing in environments that satisfy them both. This reduces finger-pointing and invests both parties in the success of software releases. DevOps organizations use blameless postmortem investigations to uncover issues resulting from feedback, and then monitor and improve.

Successful organizations adopting a DevOps culture that makes everyone responsible are able to translate market needs into software features faster, providing a competitive advantage.

Benefits of DevOps

DevOps benefits include:

  • Better communication and improved collaboration between IT and development groups; breaking down of silos to create better understanding and collaboration;
  • An improved software development and deployment process throughout the application lifecycle, from planning to development, builds, validation, and deployment;
  • Increased responsibility and ownership leading to better software development and broader roles and skill sets;
  • Rapid improvement in software due to feedback loops, a faster software release cadence, and faster time to market for software;
  • Less manual work, thanks to automation;
  • Better quality software and increased confidence among team members;
  • Higher customer satisfaction due to the speed of releases, higher-quality code, and less downtime.

Key Practices of DevOps

There are several practices organizations can adopt to implement a DevOps practice. To highlight some of the most common:

  • Continuous integration: aims at creating a fast feedback loop regarding developer changes. Changes produced in small batches are merged to the trunk and each commit triggers a build of the software and a series of automated tests that provide feedback in a few minutes. If something is broken, teams swarm to fix it as soon as possible. The goal is to have a stable build from which everyone can develop. And to have this, teams need to have version control of app code and configurations, and work in trunk-based development.
  • Continuous delivery: working towards having an always deployable state throughout the software lifecycle, with small batches and continuous integration, ensures teams are more agile in delivering changes to production and reduces the risk in doing so. To do so, teams also need to invest in test automation, shift-left on security, and a loosely coupled architecture.
  • Loosely coupled architecture: architecture is also an important predictor for achieving continuous delivery. Architecture should be designed to enable teams to test, deploy, and change systems autonomously, thus promoting that both the architecture and teams are loosely coupled.
  • Monitoring and observability: a comprehensive monitoring and observability solution positively contributes to continuous delivery and directly impacts time to restore service measure. But installing a tool is not enough to achieve the objectives. Empowering all developers to be proficient with monitoring helps develop a culture of data-driven decision making and improves overall system debuggability, reducing outages.

DevOps and Cloud Computing

As companies continue moving their applications to the cloud and adopting cloud-native strategies, the advantage of building, testing, and deploying software in the cloud go beyond cost savings. By moving to a continuous stream of microservices in containerized apps, development organizations no longer suffer the heavy load of creating monolithic software.

This makes them not only more flexible, but also more resilient, since the decentralized nature of microservices means one area of failure should not affect an entire application. The scaling up of resources as needed through containers and Kubernetes frees developers and IT staff from rote work so they can focus on higher-value software such as new features.

DevOps and Low-Code

Low-code platforms are great tools to extend the gains of Agile and DevOps. High-performance low-code platforms like OutSystems offer out of the box DevOps automation tools for different phases of the software delivery cycle supporting the entire lifecycle of an application.

But it also gives you the flexibility to integrate with your existing toolchain. This way, companies benefit from continuous delivery that ultimately fosters the productive collaboration between the business and IT.

You can learn more about low-code devops in our Tech Talk on topic.