DevOps is one of those trends that, in the world of IT, have a unanimous consensus: the big difference with respect to the traditional software development method is represented by the possibility of significantly accelerating the development of applications. In the pre-DevOps era approach, companies had to deal with a significant misalignment between developers, operating team and production, which tended to proceed on separate tracks. With negative consequences on the costs of software development, on the time of planning and, in the end, on the very reputation of an organization.

A problem that has recently worsened with the current technological evolution, which has led to the birth of a substantially software defined economy: companies in all production sectors interact with their customers or partners through software products in the form of applications or services online, which can be used in many different devices. 

The software is now constantly used to improve the operational efficiency of production, logistics and communications; IT hardware infrastructures themselves are increasingly software defined, that is, managed and enhanced by means of special software. So companies have an extreme need to deal with software and applications that are updated and efficient as frequently as possible, in order to maintain their production chain to the highest standards. But how has software development been characterized until recently? 

In the past, software delivery was relatively simple. All requirements were defined with the customer before the Quality and Assurance (Q&A) coding and testing phase. The team in charge of Operations at some point intervened and distributed everything. In a simple, clear and perfectly ordered way. A procedure which, however, inevitably entailed very long timelines, incompatible with the needs of modern business.

What is and what does the DevOps methodology (developement operations) mean?

This situation is making the DevOps paradigm a winner, a term born from the union of the words dev (development) and ops (operations): according to the definition of AWS, in DevOps “The dedicated development teams and production no longer act separately. In some cases, on the contrary, the two teams are merged into a unit in which the technicians are active throughout the life cycle of the application, from development and testing to distribution and production, and acquire a series of skills not limited by a single function. In some DevOps models, the teams dedicated to quality control and safety are often more directly involved in the development and management phases throughout the application lifecycle. When in a DevOps team the security is everyone's focal point, sometimes it is called DevSecOps ".

Advantages of DevOps for companies and business

Basically, companies that uses a DevOps strategy have the ability to test and implement new features and applications much faster than traditional development methods, not to mention the fact that the same developers, working on the front line on programming, they are stimulated to write higher quality codes. In particular, processes that in the past could be manual and slow for development teams, such as updating code or provisioning a new environment, can now be performed quickly and continuously thanks to DevOps tools and procedures. It is also easier to meet standards for safety and reliability because these elements are directly incorporated into the process. They all work in a skills-centered environment where certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with each other in the same company, which are likely leads to the inefficiency of an organization.

DevOps Vs non DevOps: The Differences

A big difference between DevOps and non DevOps, often not adequately underlined, can be identified in the dimensional aspect. The DevOps teams are characterized by work on small batches of code, in order to make testing and continuous release possible and, at the same time, minimize risks. On the contrary, traditional developers are used to working on huge portions of code, in such a way as to respect the release dates established in the programming phase, a factor that inevitably exposes a slowdown in productivity and a possible increase in costs. Also, in the world no DevOpseach professional tends to work with others who share their skills or activities. It is a method that does not facilitate the sharing of information between the various company departments, inevitably causing inefficiencies within an organization.

DevOps: Integration and Continuous Distribution

Two other key features of a DevOps development system are continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery and / or continuous distribution (CD). CI means that in the development process the tests on a portion of code are continuous and automatic, while CD indicates that the process of putting the validated code into production after the due testing becomes automatic. It is these two characteristics that make acceleration of release times possible. In the past, for example, many companies put the new code into production on set dates, with perhaps monthly schedules. But the current speed of the business has made this model for release cycles completely obsolete; DevOps, on the other hand, aims precisely at automating the release cycle to make it as immediate as possible.

How the DevOps teams work?

In addition to changing the ways of working, DevOps inevitably also determines a change in the type of work to be done, known an expert in this sector as Red Hat. The DevOps methodology does not simply speed up the creation of the usual, old monolithic applications, but aims to create new types of software, which respond more effectively to the need for continuous delivery. Precisely for this reason, DevOps teams often use microservice architecture and link these services to each other through APIs to create the software. Teams can accelerate delivery by focusing on creating more limited functionality”.

DevOps: more Attention to Safety

The increase in speed made possible by the adoption of the DevOps model does not mean, however, less control over the compliance of controls and applications, far from it. The real advantage deriving from the adoption of this paradigm is precisely that the security aspect is no longer entrusted to a separate team, but immediately becomes part of the software development model and its related test phase. This is the so-called Security By Design, a principle that has been adopted by numerous market vendors, such as Trend Micro. 

Since DevOps makes it possible for development teams to work for microservices that is, for small parts of the application that can be changed very quickly. The indirect result is in favor of security: each team has less code to analyze and more possibilities to remedy any errors or vulnerabilities. That in any case, given the possibility of rapid and continuous updating made possible by DevOps, they can be resolved in a timely manner.

DevOps: the advantages for ISVs

The advent of the DevOps model has obviously shuffled the cards in the world of software, to the benefit of the small software producers, the so-called ISVs (Independent Software vendors). Which now, in addition to their proven organizational flexibility, can count on unprecedented technical flexibility. The main benefit for ISVs, in particular, lies in the tight integration between DevOps and the cloud, which allow you to break down many of the IT barriers typical of the old software age. 

In a nutshell, many test and provisioning environments, necessary for modern software development, reside in the cloud services offered by the main global providers. Which can then be used, in pay per use mode, by ISV developers to release applications or updates more quickly. The cloud mode, among other things, makes it possible to expand the collaboration out of all proportion, a not insignificant detail if one takes into account that the development teams are often scattered around the world, as well as the end customers. All this allows manufacturers to design, assemble and test small pieces of functionality faster than ever before and more effectively.

How to do DevOps: the steps to follow

From a theoretical point of view, the DevOps strategy cannot fail to refer to the Agile methodology, that is, to that sum of principles derived from the " Agile Manifesto" which in 2001 defined a development model focused on the objective of delivering to the customer, quickly and frequently ( early delivery - frequent delivery), functional and quality software. 

Compared to traditional cascading methods or other software processes, Agile practices presuppose the formation of small, cross-functional and self-organized development teams, iterative and incremental development, adaptive planning and direct and continuous customer involvement in the development process. If you want to set up a successful IT shop, the first step is therefore to choose an intuitive Agile methodology, with development frameworks such as Scrum (which emphasizes all aspects of project management related to contexts in which it is difficult to plan in advance) or KanBan (which helps to visualize and make explicit the workflow to recognize improvement opportunities first, limiting work in progress). These frameworks are important because they help development teams quickly define goals and priorities, assign tasks, and identify where problems can arise in the development of a process.

DevOps, open source must be secured

One of the key features of DevOps is given by the use of open source: the greater speed in application development and the speed and efficiency can also be obtained through the exploitation of open source code. According to Gartner, over 95% of IT organizations around the world use Open-Source software within mission critical IT workloads, consciously or unconsciously. This continuous use of open source codes can however pose risks for IT security: according to another research, this time conducted by  Snyk, vulnerabilities in open source libraries have doubled in the past two years and are growing rapidly. Therefore, solutions are emerging on the markets that are able to help companies identify open source vulnerabilities and mitigate and prevent risks, thus securing the DevOps software development process.

 

Business flexibility thanks to DevOps

The DevOps paradigm also plays a leading role in guaranteeing customers faster responses, better quality in applications and safer products and services. Put simply, it would allow greater flexibility of reaction even in larger companies, usually in plaster by heavy procedures. Companies that have to meet frequent and substantial requests for digital services, are solving this need by implementing the DevOps model, moving from software release cycles every three months, to weekly or even daily or even hourly rates (but this only affects 15% of the European companies). A process that travels in parallel and contributes to digital transformation, where IT becomes the real fuel for corporate business.

 

 

Arun Goyal

Managing Director @ Octal IT Solution, a prominent Mobile App Development Company offering cutting-edge iPhone App Development and Android App Development services to Startups, SMEs and Fortune-500 Companies.

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