The era of monolithic IT projects where changes were applied occasionally after release is history.It doesn't matter if we are talking about projects in the cloud or on-premises. The goal is clear. It is to manage a solution efficiently and shorten the time spent on management, change implementation and deployment. That is why more and more companies are introducing DevOps as one of the crucial parts on the path to success. It allows business and IT teams to work together more effectively, using shared tools, terminology, and ways of working.
What is DevOps?
You can find many different definitions of the term "DevOps". However, a lot of them are misconceptions and anti-patterns. You may have come across some myths like:
- DevOps is a special team
- It only involves dev teams and admins
- DevOps is crucial for start-ups only.
It is highly important to clarify that none of these are its proper definitions. DevOps is a combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools. It increases the ability to deliver IT solutions and services fast and efficiently. Thinking about it in the context of a specific tool or team is wrong. DevOps is also often described as a set of practices to follow to reach the planned result in the shortest time possible.
What are the key DevOps principles?
There are four principles of effective DevOps. They include:
- Collaboration – the process of building towards a specific outcome through supporting interactions, and input of multiple people
- Affinity – teams and departments within the business need to have strong relationships
- Tools – an accelerator to drive change based on the company's culture and direction
- Scaling – the ability to adopt other DevOps elements as the organisation grows.
In terms of project management, there are multiple steps to this process, which are illustrated below. In essence, DevOps is iterative. It allows you to look at your project in terms of continuous cycles of improvement.
How can the practice benefit organisations?
DevOps mitigates the risk of slow reaction to market changes in an environment of uncertainty, complexity, and rapid change. Adoption of this practice allows the business to quickly use its technical capabilities, to create and deploy solutions to support it, to act based on the data it has, and to adapt to changing market conditions.It speeds up a company's technical capabilities by affecting a number of metrics. It can result in:
- shorter time to market (improved deployment/release frequency)
- lower failure rate
- shorter lead time between fixes
- shorter mean time to recovery.
Companies around the world already invested in this practice and benefit from it, based on the worldwide 2018 State of DevOps Report prepared by the leading experts in this area.
Why should businesses adopt DevOps?
The report mentions a number of measurable benefits of adoption. For instance, businesses taking advantage of the practice are:
- 44 times more likely to use repeatable testing patterns – which saves time
- 44 times more likely to improve their tooling – which increases quality and efficiency
- 27 times more likely to use configuration management tools for standardising deployments – which improves quality
- 24 times more likely to make monitoring and alerting configurable by teams – which helps build stable and predictable software releases.
We mentioned that DevOps is not only a purely technical process. When it is adopted across the entire company in the business project lifecycle, there are a lot of other benefits:
- standardised deployment tools and patterns
- stable and reliable deployments
- a common way of communicating and prioritising business requirements
- improved collaboration between teams.
Take a look at the five stages of DevOps evolution presented in the 2018 State of DevOps Report. Each stage presented above is defined by two key practices (with one exception of the initial stage). There are also a number of additional factors which help put the principles of DevOps into practice. The State of DevOps Report published in 2021 explores how automation and cloud relate to companies' success in their DevOps journey, dividing them into 3 categories (high, mid, and low DevOps evolution).
DevOps is not just automation: 90% of firms with highly evolved DevOps practices claim their team has automated most repetitive tasks. However, 62% of organisations stuck in mid-evolution report high levels of automation as well. That means being good at automation does not necessarily make you good at DevOps.
DevOps and the cloud_ 65% of mid-evolution organisations report using the public cloud, yet only 20% of them are using the cloud to its full potential compared to 57% of high-evolution organisations. So, you can say there's a relationship between public cloud usage and DevOps - highly evolved DevOps teams use the cloud better.
DevOps is not just one tool or team. It is not one practice or process. It consists of various tools and ways of working which make delivering IT solutions easier and quicker.