The role of DevOps in a software-led company

Today’s businesses have a constant need to speed up their apps time to market. In the last 5 years, DevOps has evolved as the method for faster application delivery. At the same time, it has enabled companies to increase their speed to value and become more agile.

What is DevOps?

The word “DevOps” is a combination of Development and Operations. DevOps relies on a culture of collaboration and alignment between development and IT operations to achieve speed to market and value.

Another key part of DevOps is process automation. Automation is central to shorten the software development lifecycle. On the technology side, DevOps runs on native cloud platforms and infrastructure to automate processes at scale.

The goals of DevOps automation are:

  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery Pipeline (CI/CD pipeline)
  • Software automation of repeatable tasks
  • Optimization of processes through automation
  • Reduce errors and increase security through automation
  • Let’s take a closer look at the pillars of DevOps: culture, process, and platform. They reveal a fundamental shift in how a business operates, a new attitude towards automation, and rethinking value for users.
Culture

DevOps runs on a culture of collaboration. Collaboration fosters transparency, breaks down silos and aligns IT and Business. This approach requires that development and operations teams communicate often. Open communication and transparency enables alignment and agility necessary for effective DevOps. Also, it cultivates empathy for each team’s work, critical for successful outcomes.

Process

Developing modern applications at scale and speed depends on modern development practices. Agile software development and DevOps are synergistic counterparts. Both philosophies espouse continuous software delivery driven by the value provided to users. Teams that practice Agile also tend to adopt DevOps where continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) are key.

Understanding the “how, what, and why” of processes impacts the effectiveness of DevOps. DevOps teams will build their software using service oriented architecture. By doing this, teams can build smaller pieces of functionality to speed up delivery. This allows time to design an agile integration strategy to manage and bring together those services.

At JDK, we practice Systems Thinking, a method we use to optimize continuous delivery of applications, also key component of DevOps. Systems Thinking provides a continuous feedback loop between end users and the company stakeholders. It reveals how to improve the development process. It also helps to define the value of an app within the context of the ecosystem. This, in turn, enables developing user-focused software from the start.

With modern development practices such as Systems Thinking, software can be built ready for the high-velocity cadence of CI/CD of DevOps.

Platform

DevOps depends on native cloud technology and infrastructure to execute the CI/CD Pipeline. Waterfall or legacy infrastructure make it harder to build new features and releases at scale and speed. Agile software development, or JDK’s True Systems, is a modern way to build applications

The right DevOps tools and platform can get you started right away. Selecting tools that support your CI/CD pipeline are crucial for your DevOps to be successful. Flexible platforms should be able to support an infrastructure that responds in the same way devs treat code.

For example, using containers and microservices devs can move applications between development, testing, and production much easier. According to Computer Weekly, “Containers are easily packaged, lightweight and designed to run anywhere. A microservice is an application with a single function.”

Containers can be used in a microservice, and can be isolated, upgraded, and tested, without impacting the application.

The right platform should be scalable inside and outside of your containers. This will create reliable automation that functions when you need it most.

Design a DevOps Automation Plan

Be strategic and mindful about WHAT and HOW MUCH to automate to deploy an effective DevOps effort.

DevOps has revolutionized IT services, making a rapid time to market possible. But it’s not a panacea. Like most things, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Consider the points below as you begin or expand your DevOps efforts:

What is the need and role of automation?
Focus initial efforts mapping out all development processes. Create sub processes of those processes to generate a detailed map of your development lifecycle. This will include design, development, QA, provisioning, deployment, configuration management, and so on. Account for all your applications and data stores as well.

What should be automated?
Once you’ve established the above, assess which processes need fixing. This is important to avoid automating processes that do not work.

In DevOps, some say automate everything. But a deep dive into your unique processes should inform the decision to automate what makes mosts sense.

Here are some processes to consider automating:

  • Identity and access management
  • App deployment
  • Management, distribution, and scheduling of containers
  • Infrastructure configuration and management
  • Data testing and validation
  • Provisioning and application deployment
  • Compliance and audit processes
  • Build server and deployment process
  • Development, testing, and production infrastructure
  • App maintenance, upgrades, and transitions
  • API testing (unit tests, functional tests, integration tests, end-to-end tests, regression tests, mock tests, etc.)
  • End-to-end response
  • SAP processing
  • Integrated file transfers
  • Disaster recovery
  • Workload automation
  • External data integration and analysis

Map your continuous pipeline based on human interactions
According to respected developer, Almudena Rodriguez Pardo, a CI/CD pipeline should include the customers and the distance and connection points to them. In her own words, “Security, testing, development, operations, integration — whatever your continuous pipeline is like, make sure that the complete pipeline of quality code is to make the customer happy in the quickest time possible.”

Select the Best DevOps tools for your environment
The tools you select should support 4 primary components of your DevOps efforts: velocity, consistency, scale and feedback. The tools should support your unique complex environment, development process, legacy architecture, be secure, and so on.

Conclusion

DevOps is at the core of transforming to a software-led company. In today’s digital age, there’s no real excuse why not to automate, or implement DevOps to increase business value, become responsive and agile.

If you want to get started on DevOps automation, contact JDK for a consultation.

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