Your Guide to the DevOps Workflow Process
You can only improve what you can measure, but you can only measure what you know. That’s why it’s important that you know how to understand DevOps workflow best practices, as well as what they mean for your organization.
When you know how the DevOps process looks, you can tell whether your organization has a DevOps problem. From there, you can fix any issues you find, continually improving everything from service delivery to app security.
But what is DevOps to begin with, and why should it matter to you? Let’s take a look at the DevOps workflow in simple terminology.
What Is DevOps?
DevOps is the process of continuously improving collaboration between developers, IT operations and business stakeholders, using automation tools to speed up software deployment, improve service delivery, and ensure minimal code errors through repeatable processes.
As you might have guessed, the name ‘DevOps’ comes from two words: development and operations.
While, in the past, these two functions have existed as separate departments – with clearly delineated boundaries, split QA teams, and information silos – a central part of the DevOps practice is aligning communications between the two groups.
When functioning separately, operations might have limited insight into what developers were working on.
As a result, system operators could not inform code developers if what they were working on met end users’ exact needs before release – nor could developers’ suggestions on budget, infrastructure, and testing parameters be considered from an operations perspective.
Further, the development team might finish the build first before operators could access it and take the application through its paces (an understandably time-consuming process). They may not have received the right briefing, follow up, and feedback to know what features matter most to end-users – only gaining access to this critical information after release day, when the code would be live.
DevOps has changed and continues to change friction points like these.
DevOps brings both teams together to promote proactiveness in terms of project planning and working as one collaborative team. In addition to enhancing productivity and morale, DevOps reveals opportunities to eliminate unnecessary activities and avoidable errors to free up IT spend for more strategic investments.
What are the Four DevOps Principles?
The principles of DevOps include the following:
Automating repetitive, daily tasks can save valuable time. The DevOps lifecycle embraces automation and app deployment tools to migrate from one technology or process to another as quickly, accurately, and securely as possible.
In addition, automation prevents human error, reduces bugs, and makes testing and quality assurance much simpler.
DevOps seeks to prevent developers, testers, and IT operations specialists from competing internally or holding back feedback from each other. Instead, it empowers developers and IT operation teams to consult with one another to minimize software deployment delays.
DevOps also seeks to consistently solve software problems by coding regular, incremental changes, testing them, and then pushing them in releases or patches. This DevOps principle makes deploying new software features or patching an existing application less intensive, improving the quality and security of the software released.
A software release is never the end of any project. Continuous improvement occurs through ongoing updates, moving to more efficient infrastructures, or targeting new Key Performance Indicators (KPI), among others.
How Does DevOps Workflow Impact Operations?
The real-time project workflow of DevOps uses automation, agile development, and release management to guide the software-development-to-release process from start to finish.
That process involves six phases:
- Continuous development
- Continuous integration
- Continuous testing
- Continuous monitoring and feedback
- Continuous delivery
- Continuous deployment
More a strategy than a tactic, continuous development encompasses oversight of the process of developing new software, taking it to market in the ‘leanest useful’ version possible, and pushing increasingly high-quality, low-risk, and more efficient code releases to improve it.
The CI phase is crucial to any DevOps workflow because it brings speed, agility, and continuous improvement to software development and releases.
CI involves multiple development teams working on different source codes at the same time. They then merge code changes in one repository, such as GitHub, which automatically tests the new updates. From there, all developers can access the most up-to-date and usable code without needing to wait to integrate separate sections into one on release day.
Testing is a crucial quality assurance element in the DevOps process flow. It takes an application through its paces in a staging environment with both development and IT operations representatives present.
The goal of continuous testing is usually to determine whether any significant bugs or errors exist that could hamper service delivery in a live environment. If the teams diagnose significant issues, they can take the application back to development for further improvement. Automating some or all of the testing process further compounds the benefits of routine testing.
Continuous Monitoring and Feedback
Modern deployment automation tools help DevOps capture detailed logs of any issue that may appear. An error in execution or a problematic bug can be traced down to specific lines of code, saving time and preventing the frustration of identifying them manually.
In CI, an automation tool helps build, test, and package incremental changes in an application’s code for release into production. In CD, developers ensure the most up-to-date, high-quality, and secure code updates go out to users, faster and more consistently. This DevOps CI/CD workflow is critical to expediting the delivery process.
Continuous deployment works similar to continuous delivery, except in the case of the former, the process is fully automated, reducing human error. That helps DevOps push out high-quality and low-risk updates faster and more reliably.
Several different DevOps workflow tools exist that teams can use to automate various aspects of the DevOps workflow, including:
- Cloud infrastructures such as Amazon Web Services (for AWS DevOps projects’ workflow needs), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform
- Source code repositories such as GitHub, TFS, and CloudForce
- Build servers such as Jenkins, Artifactory, and SonarQube.
- Testing automation tools such as Water and Selenium
Getting Started With DevOps Workflows
By this point, adopting DevOps workflows should feel like a no-brainer. But to reiterate, some of the benefits of DevOps include:
- Fast to-market times with a lean, useful product
- Continuous improvement to ensure the latest version offers secure, effective, and efficient features
- A reduction in preventable errors
- Time savings through the automation of crucial phases
- Catching bugs and errors before they become a problem to users