DevOps – is it more than just the latest buzzword?

By Darren Stocks | January 20, 2017 | Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , , ,

To say that DevOps has been one of the most over used phrases in the last year is to put it mildly. There has been a lot of momentum around DevOps, but as people race to jump on the bandwagon, this has created confusion with its definition and uncertainty about what it actually is. The risk is that it becomes the latest buzzword and organisations miss an opportunity to embrace it and derive the business benefits.

What’s the difference between DevOps and agile?

There has also been a lot of confusion about how DevOps aligns to agile or whether it’s independent from all development lifecycles such as waterfall and agile. In a nutshell, DevOps is being implemented to improve IT service delivery agility and focuses on collaboration, communication, consistency and integration across development teams and IT operations.

There is also a view that DevOps is the next phase of the agile development lifecycle, where agile has delivered completed releases ready for deployment into production, but the process grinds to a halt because operations are not ready to deploy, manage and control. DevOps aims to address this through the removal of the development and operations silos, focusing on collaboration and communication across these groups engaging them in the development cycle to ensure deployment is seamlessly undertaken. This results in increased productivity and speed to market.

Is DevOps reliant on an agile framework and is there a natural progression?

You will find a lot of information out there that details how agile and DevOps have common traits and although their goals may seem the same, in reality they are very different. Whereas agile focuses on releasing software and managing frequent cycles of change, DevOps improves the value of IT by closely aligning development, IT operations and the business.

So, you can implement DevOps with a waterfall framework, but it is important to note that waterfall projects are typically used for projects with a long duration that do not need to be responsive to change. Yes, you may be improving the end to end process from development through to IT operations, but if the focus is on business agility and improving value for the customer, they are objectives better delivered with an agile methodology. So DevOps and agile are a more natural fit.

DevOps tools – what’s their purpose?

There are lots of tools out there that support the DevOps lifecycle including those that give visibility into servers and virtual machines, plus tools that enable configuration management, testing and data automation, portability to applications and the real time resolution of issues.

But what are the benefits of these tools and how can they help? Let’s remember that the key focus here is the removal of manual processes, risk of human error and increasing speed to market, which in turn makes you more agile. Being more agile comes with the greater risk of something going wrong and the implementation of DevOps tools help to mitigate that risk if implemented properly across the development lifecycle. But tools alone are not a silver bullet and careful thought needs to be given to the tools that need to align to the overall DevOps lifecycle.

How to approach DevOps….

For any organisation planning to implement DevOps, they have to tread carefully. First and foremost, you need to understand its true definition and understand how your organisation’s culture needs to be re-engineered to properly embrace it. Strong leadership is also essential if DevOps is to be embedded in changes to your strategy and processes. However, if you get it right the benefits are significant – continuous integration, better collaboration and communication, increasing speed to market and building customer value. What’s not to like?