DevOps is a technical and cultural approach to development, deployment, and infrastructure that unites the responsibilities of development and operations teams; facilitates fast, iterative code releases; and provides seamless infrastructure scalability. The DevOps methodology brings together operations and development through a set of workflow best practices that give engineers control over the infrastructure that runs their applications.
DevOps is made possible by a combination of technical tools and cultural guidelines that support a path of continuous improvement. These include virtualization, containerization, orchestration, and automation technology, along with organizational modifications to eradicate silos and solve IT challenges. When embraced as a whole, DevOps allows engineers to manage infrastructure as code, deliver software releases faster with fewer bugs, recover quickly from failures, and orchestrate deployments automatically with tools like Kubernetes.
Without automation, the agile development process facilitated by DevOps wouldn’t be possible. Traditionally, deploying and managing the infrastructure that supports applications and services was a slow and time-consuming process involving multiple specialist teams and quality control workflow constraints. Because the technology and cultural habits underlying DevOps automates much of the development, testing, and deployment lifecycle, engineers are empowered to independently perform all of these tasks while building quality into the development pipeline from project inception. Code can be written, tested, and put into production with minimal lead times.
Accelerated Code Deployment
Research from DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) and Google Cloud demonstrates just how big of a difference DevOps can make to a single team as well as to an organization’s whole value stream. The study found that DevOps-invested businesses saw:
- 46 times more code deployments with 7 times fewer change failures.
- Reduced commit-to-deploy lead times by orders of magnitude.
- Incident recovery times slashed by 2,604 times.
The extent of the improvements in lead times and error reduction has a significant impact on an organization’s strategic business goals, not least competitiveness and revenue growth.
Reliability and Scalability
Two of the most important aspects of a DevOps workflow are containerization and orchestration. Kubernetes is now the most popular tool for orchestrating container deployments and management.
Each container carries with it everything needed to deliver a chunk of an application’s functionality. A container might run a web server, a logging service, a database, a message queue, or any other software service. Containers are built automatically according to a pre-configured recipe. Kubernetes is responsible for managing the automatic deployment of containers across a cluster, also in accordance with a team’s playbook — recipe — hence the term orchestration.
In more modern architecture, DevOps encourages the use of microservices, where applications are broken into units of functionality, each of which can be deployed in a container or a group of containers, known as a Pod in Kubernetes terminology. Kubernetes clusters are also managed through the Services feature, which controls communications between Pods. Services can be scaled and updated independently, and this combination of Pods and Services provides incredible reliability.
Because Pods communicate via Services, it’s easy to launch more containers automatically without having to reconfigure the connections between them. To take a common example, a business could scale the number of back-end containers up or down without ever having to worry about how the front-end connects to these containers. Every part of the application can be scaled (or replaced) independently. Organizing applications in this way is incredibly flexible and resilient.
With these building blocks, developers can design, deploy, and manage complex infrastructure architectures without ever having to think about the underlying physical infrastructure or how it all works — they instrument the application and the system automatically complies.
The Journey From Legacy to DevOps
The DORA Report mentioned earlier also highlighted the struggle many businesses have when transitioning from legacy infrastructure to a DevOps approach. The J-Curve of Transformation shows that teams see initial benefits from automation but quickly run into roadblocks caused by technical debt and increased complexity.
But businesses don’t have to make the transition alone. DevOps-as-a-Service empowers businesses to take advantage of the experience and infrastructure of a partner who can accelerate their adoption of DevOps improvements, tapping into the benefits we’ve discussed in this article without the challenges of building or scaling a team internally.
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