This is never an easy topic to cover, especially if you’re the guy sitting there, company cheque book in hand, trying to get to grips with devops, this buzzword you keep hearing.
You can call devops whatever you like... a culture, a state of mind, an ethos.
Realistically, however, just like many things in business, it needs to fulfill two things for you to be interested in it or not:
- Does it make or save the business money?
- Does it make the company more efficient?
...And at a push...
- Is it sustainable in the long term?
If I could tell you right now that the answer is YES to all of those questions, then would you carry on reading this article? Let’s find out…
What is devops?
In one line... devops is the standardised process of automating areas of a company to be as efficient as possible, fully autonomous and maximumly cost effective.
Most commonly found within tech and IT companies, devops as a practise is the perfect creation of fluency between software development (dev) teams and IT operations (ops).
Take a look at Netflix, Amazon, Cisco; these companies are real life behemoth examples of fully embraced devops culture and best practises.
So what are devops practises?
On the dev side, it’s about developers building software in a way that can support the automation of applications and systems that are running on it.
On the ops side, it’s about automating the process of collating, monitoring and reacting to alerts. This includes building your infrastructure to stack, designing automated code that you can then feedback to the dev team for implementation via API.
The entire system as a practise, a philosophy, a culture, is not only to unite the two pinnacle functions of the development cycle to suit the fast paced nature of a modern software-based business, but to maximally optimise the entire business through its best practises, working from the ground up.
Why automation is devops done right!
Whether you’re considering devops at the very start of a development cycle or maybe you’re trying to implement it across applications and departments that are in motion but need IT modernisation.
Devops is fundamentally about the practical tooling and use of automation at every opportunity possible.
In simple terms, if any question, query or task needs to be raised more than one time, then it should be rolled into the devops cycle and given an automated repeatable solution to solve it forever moving forward.
It’s acceptable that processes, governance, compliance the organisational mandates can all throw a spanner in the works as to ‘how easy’ it would realistically be to automate the majority of the company's workload, especially within the software cycle.
However the nature of collaboration and ease of response that wholly automated devops cycles really champion is too good to ignore.
As the Dev team can deploy into test environments independently without waiting for manual provisioning from the ITops department–who can do their piece and amend within the automation process–this ensures no one will get in anyone’s way while working together better and more efficiently.
Together, dev and ops make the business a better oiled unit while sharing the successful delivery and growth of software and applications, happily automating as they go.
In reality, the process of automation could slice down entire IT departments of 20 plus people slowly chipping away at server updates and patches week in week out, to a single unit of two, designing, testing, implementing, tweaking, optimising, automating and repeating…. But of course, at this point, we’re not going to tell you to trim down your IT team to two.
Why does solid devops practises + automation = time and money saved?
Software moves quickly, which means applications need to be written well, delivered within budget and become production-ready as quick as possible so that users can get their hands on them as quick as possible. Devops allows you to do exactly that, which means that it really makes the difference.
Establish frameworks and work cycles that provide speed and easy repeatability through automation. Allow yourself to be agile so that alterations and even failures can be easily rolled back and amended within minimum business time or financial impact. Allow yourself to move past being static and even establish legacy workloads as your entire company grows from the solid foundation that devops provides until you reach critical mass and move fully into continuous development and integration cycles.
Just as with many things in tech, devops practises and culture may present its challenges to implement, especially within an established company that may be past the point of initial inception.
But start small, give the collaborative nature of the process a chance to thrive on a small scale to begin with, on something that isn’t mission critical, to see what difference devops makes.
Before you know it, the traditional view of IT and development being a group in some basement room of the building will be dead. As automation and constant refinement improves software delivery and begins to positively impact business output, IT can quickly become a department that’s valued at all levels.
Heard about devops, like what you hear, but don’t know where to start? Get in touch with our development experts today and let’s get you on the road to faster, more efficient software development and delivery.