What is DevOps, and how does it work? Principles and philosophy
A tool? An approach? A role? A few questions in the world have such a diversity of answers, and “What is DevOps?” is one of them. Let’s finally find out why integrating DevOps into the software development process leads to faster product delivery and higher quality.
We’ll review DevOps in three levels of abstraction: as a philosophy, as a set of practices, and as using the right tools.
DevOps’ core theme is its philosophy: to create an agile and scalable system by incorporating both operational and development engineers in all stages of product creation — from idea to release. The goal is to achieve faster and more reliable software product development and implementation using automation. Aside from filling the gap between development and operations, DevOps focuses on achieving maximum synchronization of workflows among functional departments that include security specialists, QA engineers, and client teams.
Then, we use certain practices to integrate it into the workflow — CI/CD, automation, infrastructure as code, microservice architecture, etc. We will dive more into each one of them later in this article.
Finally, there are a bunch of high-profile tools to implement those practices: Docker, Jenkins, Terraform, Ansible, and much more.
Role of DevOps in custom software development
“If your goal is to create a truly scalable and flexible system, automation is the best investment you can make.”
– Mihail Vukadinoff, CEO at ITGix
The main roles of DevOps in a custom software project are:
- to enable your business to innovate and develop faster and to decrease the failure rate of new launches
- to look for the issues in the development-operations system
- to improve the efficiency, security, and reliability of software infrastructure.
When adopted thoughtfully, DevOps results in a huge productivity boost at all stages: from fixing a minor bug to implementing a whole new module; from processing users’ feedback to reacting to last-minute changes, and so on.
What are the benefits of applying these practices to your ongoing management?
Time efficiency & Innovation
Proactivity is the foundation and the biggest benefit of DevOps. It helps companies to coordinate teams better and establish seamless communication as a result. Moreover, with automated IT infrastructure monitoring and management around the clock, your IT teams can focus on higher-value projects.
If you implement DevOps practices from the beginning, you enable the systems to expand during high demand and scale down when demand falls. When you automate most processes (testing, for example), you won’t waste time maintaining an expanded system.
Software products using the DevOps approach consist of small, independent, and easily configurable modules, which you can replace anytime. Infrastructure, in the DevOps approach, is agile, and you can configure it anytime, too. Agility brings early business value as it enables you to react quickly to users’ feedback and sudden market changes.
The DevOps lifecycle decreases costs by reducing engineers’ manual work and by shortening the time to market. It enables you to build, test, and deploy software quicker and with fewer errors.
Improved Security & Reliability
Ideally, the process is set up in a way that you always have all user profiles and linked data backed up in case of emergency. Moreover, systems could immediately provide a report about an issue and fully automate the release/deployment processes. In case of disasters, you can instantly recover backups and have the system up and running in no time.
Whatever you’re doing — adding new features, switching environments, fixing bugs, etc. — you can do it faster by utilizing the DevOps approach. The more complex and evolving infrastructure you have, the more you need to implement it.
DevOps practices in custom software products
Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD)
Continuous integration means merging any code changes into the working project copy. The merge is followed by automated running and testing. Then, the CI tool detects the changes and runs the project. If an issue is present, you receive a notification. In case of no error, you get a confirmation of a successful run.
This is how continuous integration helps to detect and resolve errors at the earliest stage possible.
Continuous delivery stands for the regular, automated deployment of a new version into a production environment. Implementing CI/CD provides a high level of automation, reduces the human factor, and allows the team to concentrate on creation. That’s how you minimize manual work. It results in faster development and more frequent and less risky releases.
Infrastructure as code (IaC)
You must store information for infrastructure configuration in a way that any team member can access and read it at any time. Тhаt information should be protected from hardware outage or human error.
Infrastructure as code is a practice that defines system resources and infrastructure settings via machine-processed definition files. Those files are easily configured as a program code and stored on the same version control system. What’s more, you can automatically deploy changes in the configuration files into the production environment.
Microservices are small parts into which you can divide the application. Each of them is built around an elementary function and are entirely custom. You can write them in different programming languages, use different frameworks, or operate under different OS. What’s more, microservices are easy to test, maintain and reutilize. There are close to zero dependencies between them. So, adding a new one doesn’t require changes to the existing ones. In short, a project built on microservices is flexible and always ready for changes.
Configuration management helps companies handle detailed and up-to-date information on all of their resources (ex. released updates, versions, environment settings, etc.). This methodology is effective as it provides additional insurance in case of an error or failure. For example, you can perform a rollback and recover any configuration version. In short, the system is highly reliable and ensures that the business takes no losses.
Monitoring and logging
Actual data from users provides the most reliable and extensive information. Thus, collecting, categorizing, and analyzing logs allows you to detect problems and innovate by designing new features and improvements. That allows you to continue improving your software products.
DevOps methodology is all about removing the extra manual work. You can completely automate processes such as version control, testing, and deployment. That allows your team to focus on higher-value tasks and bring more value to the quality of your custom software projects.
Outsource vs. in-house DevOps team
You may hire in-house DevOps specialists and highly benefit from it. However, having an internal DevOps team is often time-consuming considering the cultural mind shift and higher costs. That’s why many businesses reap the benefits of proper DevOps outsourcing. Managed Services Providers (MSPs) attract and retain top DevOps talent. They provide a comfortable environment for DevOps teams and ensure the success of your outsourced custom projects.
What to expect from DevOps-as-a-Service
DevOps outsourcing (DevOps-as-a-service) is redirectng your design, build, and integration of DevOps solutions for your business to a third-party provider. In fact, working with a remote team is a great choice for your custom projects. The provider forms an expert team to work side-by-side with your internal or partner software team. It will then manage your day-to-day infrastructure maintenance and operations. In addition, the remote team is capable of integrating all DevOps best practices into your organization, tailoring them to your business objectives.
When it comes to developing custom software, a DevOps provider would align the best strategy for your specific company needs. You would then review their proposal and discuss the scope of work and the responsibilities of each side on a case-by-case basis.
If you follow DevOps best practices, DevOps-as-a-service can become a key business differentiator. It can help you deliver better software in a more efficient, cost-effective, and faster way. But how does it work?
How to choose the right DevOps partner
If you are looking to outsource your infrastructure processes to a DevOps services provider company, I’d suggest you inspect this complete guide to DevOps outsourcing. You may find all the individual steps for your successful DevOps transition on topics such as:
✓ How to start with DevOps outsourcing
✓ How to choose the right DevOps services provider company
✓ What to expect from DevOps as a service
✓ What to consider before you decide to outsource
Custom software development services help streamline development and operations. Thus, they reduce risks and improve the quality of the software product. And, DevOps facilitates this goal.
In order to implement this methodology for a custom software project, you can hire a bespoke custom software development company and a trusted DevOps consulting services provider. Apart from the extensive experience with all high-profile technologies, those companies have substantial experience of working on various use cases involving custom software.