Production software should ideally remain fully functional at all times, which requires close coordination between the development and operations teams. The increasingly distributed nature of IT infrastructure also means that team members are more likely to work in geographically separate areas, which can make collaboration more difficult.
DevOps is a software development methodology that seeks to bridge the gap between development and operations that often occurs in the traditional Waterfall development model, ultimately resulting in the faster delivery of software. It encourages team members to work closely together through the entire development process, from gathering user requirements to deploying the software at the customer’s site. However, the adoption of DevOps also presents challenges that require careful planning to overcome. The following tips can help ease the transition to this development model.
1. Create the team.
The selection of the right team members is an essential step in moving towards a DevOps environment. Above all other considerations, they must be able to serve their own company and its clients honestly because they’ll be responsible for all aspects of software delivery in addition to maintaining it afterward.
Strong candidates for a DevOps team will need a zeal for learning since they may not yet possess all the skills that DevOps requires. Many DevOps tools are now on the market, and team members will routinely need to acquire proficiency in new tools as requirements evolve. The complexity of interoperability in the DevOps environment means that team members must think out of the box when configuring software. This complexity also requires particular patience from team members when troubleshooting problems, especially when it comes to debugging code.
2. Start with small changes.
It’s always best to implement a small prototype before attempting a large DevOps solution, especially if you plan to do so at a customer’s site. For example, developers could develop the code for a single new feature on an existing product using the DevOps methodology. Once the feature is built, developers can deploy it to the QA server for testing and verification. A build tool like Jenkins or TeamCity can help automate the deployment of software to QA.
The QA team can then log any issues in a bug management tool, which is a repetitive process that benefits from automation. A DevOps tool can also automatically build the application at regular intervals, typically at night when developers are less likely to be working.
3. Follow Agile principles.
DevOps methodologies should be based on Agile principles to ensure good collaboration between team members. This requirement involves the development of a cross-functional team that includes many roles, such as analysts, developers, and testers. The use of Agile principles should reduce the number of software defects and development time by delivering the product in iterations. Each iteration should use the principles of continuous delivery and continuous integration to reduce the product’s time to market.
4. Prepare the environment.
A DevOps configuration requires tools to automatically deploy changes to production based on test results, which should also be automated. Organizations must select these tools carefully to ensure they can effectively incorporate them into the existing environment. DevOps organizations typically use a combination of commercial and open-source tools, even if they’re large enterprises.
Continuous deployment requires the development environment to be as close to the production environment as possible, although it’s often impractical for the two environments to be identical. Similar environments also enable continuous testing, which helps the DevOps team detect problems before deploying software to production. The team should give special emphasis to testing because multiple team members should be QA personnel, as the DevOps model treats even small changes as deliverables.
This philosophy means that the team should test changes at different phases in the delivery process, which requires the use of multiple tools. For example, testers can use SonarQube for quality testing and commit the code with an SCM tool. They can then perform unit testing with tools like JUnit or NUnit before running automated performance tests with Selenium.
5. Solicit feedback.
Customer involvement is essential in every step of the DevOps model, from gathering requirements to software delivery. Feedback helps document changes in customer requirements, which occur routinely. Organizations must incorporate these changes into the software, using care to make minimal changes to the code when doing so. Feedback also helps maintain the customer’s confidence in a software vendor and its products.
The shift from traditional software development to DevOps is typically a long process that requires implementation in stages. The challenges you can expect include both personnel and technological issues, which you must address in the right order for DevOps to succeed. Once you successfully implement DevOps, however, your organization will be able to deliver products more quickly and with fewer errors.