What is DevOps? Definition
DevOps is a methodology where the development of a product or service is integrated with its operation. In DevOps, the development and operations teams are broken down into smaller groups consisting of members from both teams. This integration allows teams to use methods such as continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) which allows them to deliver new features to market faster and fix bugs more efficiently. DevOps can be used for any type of software development but it is most often associated with cloud-native applications.
Integrating Development and Operations
At the core of DevOps is fostering a better relationship and better communication between Development and Operations. Traditionally, these teams operated with different methods, budgets, and goals. To many, the separation was causing serious issues as organizations fought to keep up with the digital age.
DevOps does a few things to solve the above problems. First, it brings development principles such as automation and agility to the operations teams, making them more efficient. Second, it closes the gap between development and operations to align all IT around a common set of goals. Thirdly, it educates team members about the challenges faced on either end, so that problems can be solved more quickly and new developments can be rolled out that perform better.
Under this paradigm, developers learn about the product’s infrastructure and how to work with it. At the same time, operators learn about the rationale behind an application’s design. By having knowledge of what their coworkers do and have to work with, developers and operators can work together to optimize how infrastructure and code work together.
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CI/CD in DevOps
Continuous integration and continuous delivery is a process closely associated with DevOps. When a problem arises in an infrastructure or application, automated software helps operators identify the bugs faster. Once identified, the problem can be presented to the right development team members who can tackle a fix for it.
Through CI/CD, infrastructure and applications are updated on a near-constant basis, with smaller updates that improve the software and keep it working. This is starkly different from the monolithic updates of the past.
To make CI/CD manageable, DevOps teams are responsible for a portion of an application or infrastructure. This focus allows team members to get code to production faster, integrating it with the rest of the application and delivering it to the user.
Cloud-native applications require a DevOps approach. These applications are made of small lines of code called microservices, packaged in containers, which are basically stripped-down and short-lasting virtual machines (VMs). The smaller groups of DevOps handle select portions of the application’s microservices. The developers code the microservices while the operators deploy and manage the containers with a container orchestration software like Kubernetes.
The central figure of modern IT infrastructure is the cloud. To adapt to that, organizations with legacy applications can use DevOps to start shifting to cloud-native applications or to reconfigure a legacy application. An alternative is to just build a new version of the legacy app from the ground up using DevOps practices and cloud-native structures. Cloud-native applications perform better in the modern environment than legacy applications, and with DevOps, the lifecycle of an application is simplified.
Considerations for DevOps
DevOps is a broad term that can cover the methodology of nearly any product’s creation and maintenance. However, it is particularly applicable to modern application development and operation.
The shift in the IT department’s organization has a clear impact on employees, who may be concerned about how DevOps will require them to change and how it impacts their job security. A 2018 survey from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation found that implementing cultural changes within their development teams was the primary challenge companies reported facing when moving to a cloud-native approach. However, with a more holistic mindset of the continuing process of CI/CD and DevOps, workflow is often more efficient and easier for employees in the long run.