What is the Role of DevOps in Mobile App Development?


The number of smartphone users has surpassed 3 billion and it is estimated to grow by several hundred millions in the next few years (Source). With a substantial increase in the number of mobile users and application downloads, it has become evident that the mobile app industry is growing at a steady rate. And it shows absolutely no signs of slowing down in the near future.

Today the global technology landscape is progressing towards more and more disruption but the same cannot be said about the early years of the digital shift.

Years ago when we were navigating the wave of digitalisation, the IT industry was focused on meeting the growing demands of the mobile phone market, and businesses were focused on capturing a mobile presence.

As a result, the vital elements of mobile app development such as the app development costs, security, the quality of code, and maintainability were left on the backburner.

The surge has finally settled down and today app development companies have taken the center stage. In this changing landscape, it has become significantly important to focus on the elements that were previously neglected and adapt new methodologies that provide quality solutions with lower costs.

And that is exactly how DevOps comes into the picture.

DevOps for mobile app development is a modern approach that enables seamless application delivery from inception to production. Devops breaks the development- operations barrier and is a departure from the traditional waterfall approach to software development.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a unique approach that emphasizes effective collaboration between all the stakeholders involved in creating a digital product. It includes project managers, mobile app developers, and members of the operations staff.

While the traditional techniques and approach to software development led to additional development time, costs and customer dissatisfaction, DevOps bridges the gap between development and operations and overcomes the challenges associated with continuous software delivery.

The idea behind DevOps for mobile app development is to foster a culture of collaboration between teams that previously worked in siloes.

Devops is not merely an approach, it can be perceived primarily as a culture or a state of mind. It foregrounds a shift in the mindset, improves collaboration and facilitates tighter integration. It brings together agile, continuous delivery and automation so that development and operation teams can be more efficient and release software faster and more reliably.

Through DevOps, it has become relatively easy to align business goals and deliver higher value to the customers. Adopting DevOps in enterprise is highly beneficial. The same can be said for businesses as it brings positive returns on investments.

A study confirms that organisations that implemented DevOps exhibited 63% experience improvement in the quality of their software deployments and 63% were able to release new software more frequently. (Source)

How is DevOps different from Agile app development?
DevOps and Agile are widely used terms in mobile app development, and most companies make use of at least one of these practices.

There are different ways in which organisations embrace both agile and DevOps for mobile app development. Some people consider Agile and DevOps to be the same. However, that is not true.

DevOps different from Agile

DevOps is a method of software development that focuses on communication, integration and collaboration among development and operations to facilitate rapid deployment of products. It is a set of practices that automates the process, aligns teams and increases an organisation’s speed to deliver products and services.
Agile Methodology emphasizes continuous iteration of development and testing. The agile development process breaks down the product into smaller modules and integrates them for final testing. The agile approach is iterative and incremental in nature and can be implemented in many ways such as Scrum, Kanban, etc.
While the agile approach entails more Scrum meetings and Retrospectives to address gaps in the customer-developer communication, DevOps for mobile app development entails more documentation and specifications to address gaps between development and operations.

features of devops and agile

The founding principle of agile is to bring Agility to development while DevOps revolves around bringing agility to both development and operations.


Benefits of adopting DevOps
DevOps has successfully broken down the barrier and brought development and operations on the same page. Prior to DevOps, developers used to write the complete code first and then send it to the operations team.

DevOps makes the app development lifecycle efficient. It ensures that responsibilities are distributed equally among different teams and goals are aligned so that each team has clarity about the application performance.

If you have been wondering why DevOps is ideal for mobile app development, here are the benefits it has to offer:

Enhanced customer experience
Stable environment for easy deployments
Better collaboration between teams
Faster release time
Faster resolution of bugs and errors
More time for innovation
Continuous delivery of software
Better employee engagement
The 6 C’s of DevOps Adoption
Adopting DevOps for mobile app development entails implementing the six essential elements that tie the whole process together and results in quality solutions.

6 C’s of DevOps Adoption

Continuous Planning
Continuous planning entails bringing together the entire project team- developers, project managers, business analysts, operations staff and all other stakeholders to a common platform to define the scope of the application and identify the outcomes and the resources.

Continuous Integration

The approach to writing code should be collaborative to ensure that the code written by one team can be seamlessly integrated with that of another. Continuous Integration in DevOps focuses on frequent error-free builds that must be integrated with the last developed code.

Continuous Testing

Testing is a crucial part of the app development lifecycle. It helps in identifying bugs and problems with the application early on and ensures that quality products are delivered to the customer.

The primary aim of Continuous Testing is to test early and test often. The benefit of automation testing in DevOps is often talked about. It is an integral part of software development.

Continuous Monitoring

DevOps makes it possible for developers to perform more testing and monitoring before the app is deployed to the end user.

Continuous Monitoring helps in identifying and resolving issues. The development process remains stable regardless of the extent of change without any human interaction. This ensures that the app is stable and performs as desired.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous delivery is a practice that entails delivering the software/updates to the production environment in smaller increments in order to ensure that the software can be released any time.

DevOps in mobile applications makes sure that the changes in code are deployed as and when the change is made. The main focus of continuous delivery is to build, test and release to the customer faster and frequently in shorter cycles.

Continuous Deployment
Another principle of DevOps is continuous deployment. Continuous Deployment is a strategy where in any code that passes the automated testing phase is released to the production environment automatically.

How to implement Mobile DevOps?
If you have decided to use mobile DevOps, here are the three fundamental steps that you need to follow:

Continuous Integration and Delivery
Developers should practice writing code in a manner that can be easily integrated with others. Mobile Devops workflow should be such that the code written by one team can be seamlessly integrated with the code delivered by another team. The development teams must ensure that all the development assets such as text files, scripts, documents, configuration and code, are traceable.

With continuous integration, you must ensure continuous delivery as well. This ensures that the product is quickly launched when it is complete. While there is a manual way of doing that, it is important to automate the process when the job becomes too demanding.

Testing and Monitoring
The success of a mobile app is determined by a wide range of factors. These factors include the wide range of devices an app has to run on while simultaneously taking into account the devices’ resolution, screen size, functionalities, capabilities and so on. Testing therefore needs to be carried out not only on simulators and emulators but in the real environment. Using an automated testing process improves the process of handling frequent builds, bug identification and problem solving.

It is pretty normal for an application to perform well in the test environment but fail in the live environment. Various factors may be correlated with failures, such as network conditions, memory, power etc.

Thus, it becomes significantly important for developers to ensure continuous performance monitoring by adding third party SDKs such as log, crash report, etc. to determine the cause of failure.

Quality Control
Measuring and validating all parts of the code from start to delivery, including any changes that are applied in between, is extremely crucial. Feedback and ratings on the app store should be constantly monitored. It helps in addressing problems and paves the way for future improvements and changes.

The ROI of Mobile DevOps
There are certain challenges associated with mobile DevOps and implementing it may cost you time and money, but the benefits of DevOps are manifold.

Enhanced Customer Experience

The goal of every company is to provide its customers with better services and products. DevOps creates higher quality apps for consumers through continuous automated testing. It enhances customer experience and satisfaction.

Apps with higher ratings appear higher in app stores and are easy to discover. Testing is essential to release a quality product. Enhancing the test speed helps shorten time to market and deliver a better experience to end users at the same time.

Increased innovation

An organisation is truly innovative when it is able to release new products of the highest quality to the market quickly. With DevOps, an organisation can respond quickly to both customer feedback and a rapidly changing market.

DevOps for mobile app development ensures that the dev team is able to create and deliver quality applications that have been thoroughly tested to meet the needs of users.

Better Software Quality

DevOps fosters faster development, more frequent releases and also results in quality and stable software.

When Agile is coupled with DevOps, it leads to better collaboration and problem solving. The DevOps approach implies that everything is closely monitored, such as user experience, performance and security. The result of this scrutiny is a robust and stable software.

Reduced Risk

Although the DevOps and Agile framework welcomes changes and the changes in the development lifecycle are more frequent, these changes or iterations are tested before releasing to the customers. This way, DevOps significantly reduces risks.

Automating the testing ensures that all bugs are identified and fixed prior to the release of the product and that the company does not use its customers as beta testers.

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