DevOps – how it has changed software development

When developing software, whether as a product or as a service, there are several methodologies available. Since 2009, more and more IT professionals have abandoned the traditional Waterfall method in favour of trying to embrace Agile, a way of working that makes each development stage independent and involves continuous testing throughout the development cycle.

This approach was a better choice for companies that wanted to increase efficiency and reduce risk, as it allowed developers to make constant improvements based on the feedback they received. However, while it appears to offer the perfect solution for development, there were still bottlenecks in deployment, because sometimes developers would have to start working from the beginning if an issue was discovered towards the end of a project. This also meant testing had to be left until the end of the process.

DevOps – the beginnings

So, in order to integrate agile methodologies in each stage of software delivery, Patrick Debois came up with a new approach: DevOps. The need for a new way to develop software arose due to the success of Agile. Both service providers and customers wanted to build and access solutions faster and more frequently. This clearly influenced software companies’ release management processes. In time, they had to adopt new patterns to keep up with clients’ requests: integration tools, release automation, and continuous delivery.

First introduced in 2009, DevOps has become very popular, especially in recent years, since it combines development and operations, thus increasing efficiency, reducing risks, and delivering the whole software package.

What is DevOps?

The DevOps transformation is something many companies are trying to implement, but before doing this, it is important to understand more about this relatively new methodology. Key to this is that you should first know that it is not:

  • A simple combination of the teams responsible for development and operations
  • A dedicated team that is part of the development process
  • A separate product or solution that teams can implement

Compared to Waterfall and Agile, DevOps is a continuous, never-ending process of improving a given product. It creates collaboration between development, operations, and testing, which leads to the deployment of constant improvements through the adoption of Agile. The methodology does not rely on strict rules and procedures. Instead, it is based on collaboration between business units. Its principles include measurement, culture, automation and sharing.

Things you should consider before implementing DevOps

While most software companies are trying to implement DevOps, it can only be adopted in certain conditions. To begin with, the methodology is suited to continuous projects, which have the purpose of constantly improving a product. In addition to this, it is only recommended for mature companies to adopt DevOps, since it involves a high degree of structure and a well-established tracking system.

Any organization thinking about implementing DevOps should know that there it should have documentation, well-defined processes and clear roles for people in the team. There is this common misconception that waterfall is the most diligent methodology, because it involves a lot of documentation and people feel like they are spending more time on each stage of a project. In fact, in terms of structure and organizational effort, agile and DevOps require more intense efforts, since each stage in concentrated on a shorter time frame. On the one hand, the main advantage is that the team will spend less time analysing and documenting a subject. On the other hand, contrary to popular belief, DevOps is actually quire rigorous. Even though results seem to appear fast, there is a thorough amount of work behind each stage of the project.

The benefits of DevOps

Switching from other methodologies to DevOps is not an easy thing to do, but companies that manage it will definitely gain a competitive advantage. There are several advantages of DevOps, both for companies that incorporate its practices in their projects and for their customers benefitting from the resulting software.

Having a single team whose members have a cross-functional background and work collaboratively, organizations adopting DevOps can deliver functional, creative solutions in the shortest amount of time. From a technical point of view, the most notable benefits are faster problem solving, less complexity for teams to manage and, of course, continuous delivery. In short, DevOps allows software companies to do more. There are also cultural benefits: more productive teams and professional development opportunities for employees, which results in higher engagement.

In terms of business, DevOps provides organizations with more stable operating environments, improved internal collaboration, and more time to innovate and grow.

For this reason, the methodology seems to have taken over the world of software development, changing IT culture and allowing companies to focus more on fast IT service delivery. The purpose is to streamline the system development life cycle while continuously delivering fixes, new features, or updates that are aligned with business requirements. However, since the technology is still new, before trying to implement it, companies should first learn about it, to understand what DevOps is, and, more importantly, what it is not.

What everyone trying to use DevOps should understand is that it is a journey, not a destination. There will always be ways to make improvements, adopt new technologies, and implement better collaboration strategies and the adoption of DevOps is an excellent place to start.