DevOps has been a major buzzword in the world of IT and software development. However, like most new terms, there is a lot of confusion as to what it actually means and how companies can benefit from it. It is important to understand that DevOps is not simply a set of tools, but more a revolution in the software development philosophy. In this article, we will be discussing what DevOps and how it is important in the modern world.
DevOps is an amalgamation of the terms Software Development (Dev) and Information Technology Operations (Ops). Traditionally, software development has always been implemented in a modular fashion with different teams performing different functions independently. A development team designs and codes the software, followed by testing by a quality assurance and testing team while deployment and infrastructure resources are managed by IT operations. With so many different teams performing different functions, conflicts are common and an absence of good communication can lead to inefficiencies and delays.
DevOps solves this problem breaking erasing the boundaries between development and operations team, creating a single team that is responsible for the delivery of the product across all phases of its lifecycle. Moreover, other teams involved in the product such as testing, quality assurance, and security are also integrated to have their input in all phases as well. It aims to create better collaboration between developers and operations while also introducing new processes that make more efficient use of their time. It also involves automating redundant tasks through a variety of tools.
Creating software with the DevOps philosophy is a complete departure to the traditional approach. However, the gains it yields if implemented correctly easily justify revamping the delivery process. New processes such as continuous integration are implemented, where developers update their code regularly on a central repository and run automated builds and unit tests with each update. This saves time otherwise spent on merging modules after they have been completed and prevent the accumulation of bugs. Continuous delivery is a practice that builds upon this by pushing the product to a non-production testing phase where it is tested completely after each change to the code is committed. This provides far better efficiency and a drastic improvement in the productivity of each developer. The more frequent, automated methods of testing also ensure that bugs are discovered and eliminated earlier. Additionally, the improved collaboration between developers and operations cuts down on handover times and keeps the members aware of the other’s limitations. The end result is quicker delivery of a more reliable, thoroughly tested product making it a godsend for the customer.
The other major part of the DevOps philosophy is to improve efficiency with automation. A variety of tools have been developed to help make better use of the team’s time and automate redundant tasks. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these is Jenkins, an open source automation server that automates the entire process of continuous delivery in conjunction with a variety of tools. It acts as a middle man between the code repository and the testing server, scanning the repository for any changes and automatically sending the updated code to the testing server when changes are made. Once tests have been run, it notifies developers of the results completing the feedback loop. Other popular tools include Github, a source code repository management system that consolidates code changes from different developers in the central repository and notifies a program like Jenkins when changes are committed. Then we have analysis tools such as the Elasticsearch ELK stack which can be used for storing and analyzing logs. This is a vitally important activity considering the amount of testing being carried out in the DevOps model. ELK provides additional utilities such as business intelligence and user analysis.
All in all, DevOps is bringing about a revolution in the way software is created. It is a collection of new work processes and a variety of tools for automation that bring together the individual teams that perform different functions and give them end to end responsibility of the product. The result is a far more efficient team making better use of its time through fewer mistakes and a more robust and reliable product with frequent updates to keep the customer happy.
No wonder, that there is a huge demand for DevOps Engineers.
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