This guest column is authored by Derek Iwasiuk, Co-Founder & CEO, Engage the Crowd
DevOps is one of the current catchphrases within the development industry. Not surprisingly, however, there are several conflicting thoughts as to what DevOps constitutes other than effective and improved collaboration of operations and development teams within an organization.
Even though the definition of DevOps may differ to different organizations, there is a list of best practices aimed at enhancing collaboration in order to come up with better software. This article discusses a few of these best practices examined from the developer and operation team’s perspective.
1. Ensure active participation of stakeholders
No one argues that there must be close collaboration between developers, support staff and operations teams for DevOps to work. This implies that all involved must look upon one another as important stakeholders and seek to work together actively. The agile community came up with the concept of the “onsite customer” through which developers are encouraged to work closely with other teams within the organization, and not just business decision-makers or stakeholders. Similarly, the operations and support teams must be willing to work with developers.
2. Implement automation in testing
Many agile software developers are dubbed as being ‘quality infected’ owing to their insistence on high-quality code writing as well as frequent and early testing. Agile teams as a result adopt automated regression testing, which may be protracted to give test-first methods such as behavior-driven and test-driven development methods. Given that Agile teams need to run test suites several times a day, and any bugs are fixed right away, they enjoy high quality in the codes than teams which don’t. This way, the operations staff have lesser work in ascertaining quality before products are released for production.
3. Integrate configuration management
Adopting an integrated configurations management approach allows developers to not only apply these settings for the solutions, which is normal, but also to weigh any issues with production configuration of their solution vis-à-vis organizational infrastructure. For some developers, integrated CM is a bit of a mindset change from their regular consideration of CM in terms of their solution only.
Within a DevOps landscape, developers must work with enterprise awareness, bearing in mind the impact on the whole organization. How does their solution work with and benefit from other production assets? How will such assets use the solution developed? This implies that development teams need to appreciate and control the entire spectrum of dependencies for their solution. This in turn enables operations teams toappreciate the impact of the new solution upon release and set a suitable release date accordingly.
4. Integrate change management
From the IT point of view, change management is the set of actions that ensures meaningful and successful IT infrastructure and solutions to enable better organizational support. Such projects can be tricky to oversee given that a single solution requires many technologies in different versions for successful development. Since DevOps is about including organizational-level issues relating to operations, implementing integrated change management becomes even more complex. This is because there’s need to think about all the solutions interacting and running together in production. Through an integrated strategy, development teams should collaborate closely with their operations counterparts to comprehend the impact of technological changes on an organizational level. For this to work, the aforementioned practices should be in place, i.e. stakeholder participation, automated testing and integrated configuration management.
5. Practice continuous integration
Continuous integration refers to the process of project building and validation through application of automated regression testing and occasionally code analysis (the latter done when up-to-date code is entered in the version control unit). Continuous integration is one of the more popular development practice for developers that relates with DevOps. Through continuous integration, developers are able to safely produce high quality and operational solutions using small measurable steps with immediate feedback on defective code for action.
6. Integrate deployment planning
From the developers’ perspective, development planning typically requires close interaction with the operations team. Sometimes, this is done through liaison specialists within operations teams referred to as release engineers.Experienced developers carry out continuous deployment planning all through the construction phase by encouraging active participation of developers and operations and support staff as described above.
Following the adoption of DevOps strategies, organizations immediately see the need for a cross-team style of deployment planning given that operations staffers must collaborate with development teams. While operations guys will probably know this, developers may be caught unawares, particularly given their typically siloed existence in most organizations.
If you haven’t already, you need to plan for product release slots within the entire organization’s deployment schedule. Additionally, in order to encourage continuous deployment, the release engineers shall need to give more release slots to agile development teams, provided they show commitment to consistently and continuously meet release quality requirements.
7. Practice continuous deployment
Continuous deployment carries on from the practice of continuous integration. Through integrated and continuous deployment, any changes successfully implemented in one sandbox will be automatically promoted into the following sandbox, where integration is programmed to begin. This process repeats itself until the program encounters a change that requires human intervention for verification, usually at the point of transition from development to operations.
Continuous deployment also provides a way for developers to decrease the timeframe between identification and deployment for production. It also helps businesses to be more responsive. Nonetheless, continuous deployment can increase operational risk because it raises the likelihood that defects in development may be carried into the production. This is especially likely where development teams don’t carry out regular testing. All the above-mentioned practices must be enforced in order for continuous deployment to succeed.
In conclusion, DevOps can only succeed if best practices become ingrained into the organizational culture. Just as with other things, working together helps to develop an effective DevOps strategy. This in turn determines the success of your organizational DevOps teams.