DevOps – A Collaborative Approach

There are lots of different opinions about what encompasses the definition of DevOps. Speaking in very broad terms, born to improve the IT service delivery agility, DevOps facilitates collaboration, communication and integration between IT operations and software developers. DevOps environment consists of a team with cross-functional team members including QA, developers, business analysts, DBAs, operations engineers and so on. Incorporating DevOps helps companies get done more, and deploy code more frequently.

Businesses these days are facing some common problems. After application delivery, businesses are sceptical to change. The reason usually is the vulnerable and brittle software, and the platform which it sits on. Software is risky, prone to errors, and is unpredictable. Introducing new features or fixing application problems takes long time mainly due to bureaucratic change-management system. There is also risky deployment where no one is completely confident if the software will actually work in the live environment, if code will cope with the load, or if code will work as expected. The product is usually pushed out, and teams just hope to see if everything works. More often than not, the problem start manifesting after the project goes live. The developers use a system to develop the code, which is tested in completed different system, and deployed on entirely different machines, causing incompatibility issues due to different properties files. If the business units are siloed, the issues get passed between different teams. There can be siloisation within teams as well. If the silos are not in the same office, or city, this leads to “them vs us” mentality, making people more sceptical.

DevOps approach believes in handling businesses in a more productive and profitable manner by building teams and software to resolve these issues. The above mentioned problems can be addressed by DevOps approach where people with multidisciplinary skill set are happy to roll up their sleeves for multidimensional role. They make connections and bridge gaps, tremendously impacting the businesses. This builds cross-disciplinary approach within the teams with maximum reliability across different departments, leading to faster time to market, happier clients, better availability and reliability and more focussed team energy. The goals of DevOps approach are spread across complete delivery pipeline, improving the deployment frequency. DevOps promotes sets of methods and processes for collaboration and communication between product development, quality assurance and IT operations. It encourages understanding the domain for which software is being written, develop communication skills, and there is a conscious passion and sensitivity to ensure that the business succeeds.

In the non-DevOps environment, the operations team’s performance is measured based on the stability of the system, whereas the development team is gauged based on the delivered features. In the DevOps environment, a single whole team is responsible for the system stability and delivering new features. There is continuous integration, shared code, automated deploys, and test-driven techniques. The problems get exposed earlier in the application code, configuration or infrastructure mainly because software is not just thrown to the Operations once the coding is over. The change sets are smaller, making the problems less complex and as the team members do not have to wait for other team to find and fix the problem, resolution times are much faster.

Additionally, in a typical IT environment, people need to wait for other machines, other people, or updated software. Employees often get stuck in resolving the same issues over and over again, and this can become quite frustrating, leading to job frustration. It becomes essential for the organisations to remove the ungratifying part of their employees’ jobs so that they can add more value to the organisation, making it more productive and profitable. Standardized production environments and automated deployments are the main aspects of DevOps that make the deployments predictable, and this frees up the resources from the mundane tasks. This software development method acknowledges and utilizes the interdependence of IT operations, software development and quality assurance to help companies create new products faster, while improving the operations performance.

There are several technical and business benefits of this collaboration across different roles. This includes continuous software delivery, faster problem resolution, reduced complexity of the problems, more stable operating environments, faster feature delivery and more time to provide value addition rather than fixing or maintaining. The DevOps movement is yet to reach its full potential, and the statistics have shown that this is not just a fleeting fad. It promises a paradigm shift, a significant revolution in the software industry to blur the boundaries.