The Definitive Guide to DevOps

Development and operations (DevOps) empowers organizations to deliver applications, products and services faster and more efficiently than ever before. The DevOps model unifies development and IT operations (ITOps) teams for more efficient achievement of your company’s business objectives.

In this guide, we’ll examine DevOps, how it works and its role in today’s organizations. Additionally, we’ll offer tips so you can build an effective DevOps team that bolsters your organization’s service levels, customer satisfaction and revenues.

Chapter

10 DevOps Terms You Need to Know

DevOps is a complex topic that serves a broad range of core development processes. There’s also some language to know that will help you understand and implement DevOps practices.

Here are 10 DevOps terms that you need to know:

  • Agile: Software development methodology and philosophy that emphasizes user feedback, software quality and the flexibility to respond quickly to changes and new product requirements.
  • Build Automation: Tools or frameworks that enable source code to be automatically compiled into releasable binaries.
  • Configuration Management: Establishment and maintenance of consistent settings and functional attributes for a system. Configuration management involves tools for system administration tasks such as IT infrastructure automation.
  • Continuous Delivery: Software development practice that involves a code change that goes through a pipeline and is automatically put into production. Continuous delivery processes are fully automated and require no human intervention.
  • Continuous Integration: Software development process where a branch of source code is rebuilt whenever code is committed to a source control system. Continuous integration processes may be used for application deployment, installation and testing.
  • Continuous Testing: Process that involves performing automated tests as part of a software delivery pipeline.
  • Deployment Management: Planning, scheduling and control over the movement of releases in test and live environments.
  • Fail Fast: Trial-and-error strategy that involves trying something, failing quickly, implementing feedback and adapting accordingly.
  • Microservices: Software architecture design that involves complex applications composed of small, independent processes communicating with each other using language-agnostic application programming interfaces (APIs).
  • Provisioning: Process of preparing new systems for end users.
Chapter

What Are the Benefits of DevOps?

The benefits of DevOps can be divided into three categories:

  1. Technical: A DevOps team uses continuous delivery to reduce complexity and quickly resolve IT problems.
  2. Culture: DevOps emphasizes collaboration, which results in happier, more productive employees and increased employee engagement.
  3. Business: Thanks to DevOps, an organization can maintain consistent service levels, leading to improved customer satisfaction, reduced incident management costs, and increased productivity and efficiency.
Chapter

A Closer Look at DevOps

DevOps is a set of practices and cultural values that combines software development and operations. DevOps streamlines software release cycles and improves software quality and security. DevOps also provides organizations with feedback loops that enable development and ITOps teams to get feedback early in the development cycle, which minimizes release delays and helps companies deliver bleeding edge products to end users.

DevOps emphasizes communication and collaboration between developer and ITOps teams. DevOps and ITOps teams were once viewed as separate entities that functioned using a request and response communications model. DevOps unites these groups. DevOps methodologies promote interdependence and constant, fluid communication between developer and ITOps teams for ultimate flexibility and agility.

A typical DevOps team performs fast, efficient software development. At the same time, this team is responsible for maintaining service stability and doing whatever it takes to accelerate innovation. To accomplish these goals, a DevOps team builds a cross-functional environment. Shared responsibilities and trust reign supreme among DevOps team members. Plus, DevOps exploits automation technology to streamline and reduce costs in change, configuration, and deployment processes to produce continuous delivery.

Chapter

Why Do You Need DevOps?

A strong working relationship between developer and ITOps teams can be the difference between a good company and a great one. DevOps teams include a mix of developer and ITOps professionals that makes teams well rounded, and multi-capable. Using a shared code base, continuous integration, test-driven techniques and automated deployments, DevOps teams quickly identify IT problems, and perform real-time system performance analysis to understand the impact of application changes to an organization’s operations.

This means that DevOps teams resolve IT problems in fractions of the time it takes segregated developer and ITOps departments to work out. Additionally, DevOps teams are capable of monitoring IT performance and making fluid adjustments in order to predict and prevent issues, which helps your company save big on the bottom line.

Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, and other globally recognized brands leverage DevOps techniques to achieve unparalleled IT performance. These organizations simultaneously deploy thousands of lines of code each day and maintain best-in-class reliability, stability, and security. Best of all, your organization can do the same – all it takes is a strong working relationship between your developer and ITOps teams.

Chapter

Top 10 Barriers to DevOps Implementation

A recent survey of 2,000 IT executives conducted by cloud sandbox software company Quali highlighted these top 10 barriers to DevOps implementation:

  1. Culture: Many IT executives understand the importance of culture relative to DevOps, yet few know how to build a successful DevOps culture.
  2. Test Automation: Oftentimes, test automation gets lost in the DevOps shuffle, despite the fact that continuous testing is a critical part of DevOps success.
  3. Legacy Systems: Integrating new systems can be a major challenge in organizations of all sizes and across all industries.
  4. App Complexity: Few IT executives account for application architecture changes during deployment processes.
  5. No DevOps Plan: IT executives often fail to develop a DevOps strategy or DevOps goals.
  6. Managing Environments: A lack of standardization and automation creates complexity in DevOps environments.
  7. Skillset: Finding talented developer and ITOps professionals who are capable of working together to achieve common goals represents a major hurdle for many organizations.
  8. Budget: DevOps ultimately helps an organization reduce its incident management costs, yet few organizations know how to create an effective DevOps budget.
  9. Tools: Fragmented tool adoption limits the overall performance of a DevOps team.
    Executive Support: Finding the best ways to educate executives about the importance of DevOps and getting executive buy-in can be exceedingly difficult.
Chapter

CALMS Framework for DevOps

To overcome these common barriers, many organizations embrace the "CALMS Framework for DevOps," which emphasizes five key elements:

Culture

The DevOps culture is all about constant learning and improvement. It focuses on eliminating barriers between developer and ITOps teams and ensuring an organization can identify and address potential IT problems faster than ever before.

Transformational leaders usually spearhead DevOps teams by driving cultural change first. A transformational leader encourages a culture of open communication and collaboration that embraces the DevOps model and helps a DevOps team deliver code, build good systems, and apply agile principles to how the team manages its work and develops products. He or she also implements technologies and processes that foster developer productivity, drives innovation, and creates strategic alignment across a DevOps team.

There is a strong correlation between successful DevOps cultures and transformational leadership. The Puppet "2017 State of DevOps Report," a survey of 27,000 DevOps professionals from around the globe, showed high-performing DevOps teams often feature transformational leaders who display the following characteristics:

  • Vision: Know where an organization is going and where it should be in the next few years.
  • Inspirational Communication: Inspire and motivate team members, even in a challenging work environment.
  • Intellectual Stimulation: Challenge the status quo and encourage team members to think outside the box to solve problems.
  • Supportive Leadership: Show care for and attention to team members' personal needs and feelings.
  • Personal Recognition: Compliment team members for a job well-done and acknowledge the achievement of goals and improvements in work quality.

Building a successful DevOps culture starts at the top. With transformational leaders in place, an organization can create a DevOps culture that delivers exceptional results.

Automation

Today's businesses move quickly. If even a single department falls behind, it may cause significant delays.

IT problems can put a business in jeopardy. If a DevOps team cannot streamline its day-to-day tasks, it risks downtime, outages and other critical incidents. Yet many of these problems could be avoided with automation. To understand why this may be the case, let's consider the impact of manual configuration errors.

On average, manual configuration errors resulting in web application downtime cost companies up to $72,000, according to a recent survey of 249 IT professionals conducted by Hurwitz & Associates. Meanwhile, the survey showed that application maintenance costs are increasing at a rate of 20 percent annually, and 35 percent of respondents said at least one-quarter of their downtime was caused by configuration errors.

Automation makes it easy for DevOps team members to eliminate manual configuration errors and similar problems. DevOps teams are designed to take advantage of automation tools that make daily operations more productive, efficient, and reliable.

Let's not forget about the impact of automation on incident management, either. If a DevOps team deploys an incident alerting system with automatic escalations, for instance, it can ensure the right team members are automatically notified about critical incidents. This helps accelerate incident management and response and reduces the risk of costly, time-intensive downtime and outages.

Lean

The concept of "lean" relative to DevOps refers to striving for continuous improvement and accepting failure as part of a systematic approach to everyday operations. DevOps principles bring development and ITOps teams closer to customers and create feedback loops where developers can learn what end users actually want and provide products that reliably meet consumer demands. This process of feedback and adaptation is a core element in the DevOps methodology.

DevOps teams also build internal feedback loops to unify the team, explore opportunities for improvement, and create a high-performing collaborative unit. Emphasis on feedback and improvement builds trust between DevOps team members, and between a company and its customers.

Measurement

What good is DevOps without consistent metrics to track and analyze a DevOps team's success? Measurement is vital for assessing the effectiveness of standard operating procedures and identifying opportunities for improvement. Using the right metrics, a DevOps team can understand its strengths and weaknesses. Then, this team can explore ways to transform its weaknesses into strengths.

Some of the key metrics that a DevOps team monitors include:

  • Change Lead Time: Time between the start of a development cycle and deployment.
  • Customer Ticket Volume: Number of customer tickets generated due to downtime, outages and other incidents.
  • Deployment Frequency: Direct or indirect measure of response time, team cohesiveness, developer capabilities, development tool effectiveness, and overall DevOps team efficiency.
  • Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR): Average elapsed time from when an incident is first reported to when it is fully resolved.
  • Performance: Indicator of whether a product or service is operating within predetermined threshold.

For DevOps teams, daily, weekly, monthly, and annual metrics are important. DevOps teams track metrics and create regular reports to find out whether they are meeting or exceeding various goals. DevOps teams also use these reports for creating new milestones for continual improvement.

Sharing

The days of data silos are over. DevOps teams operate with open information sharing that makes it simple for team members to stay up to date on important issues.

For example, consider what may happen if a DevOps team fails to share information about an outage. In this scenario, DevOps team members may receive notifications about an outage. But if team members lack crucial details needed to address the issue, they are unlikely to resolve the incident in a timely fashion. And the longer an outage lingers, the more likely it becomes that the incident will damage an organization's bottom line and brand reputation.

DevOps teams that consistently share information can keep team members informed about all aspects of an incident from onset to resolution. Team members then learn from the incident, provide feedback about the event, and allocate time and resources to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Chapter

How to Build an Effective DevOps Team

Major corporations and small businesses alike can benefit from DevOps. Here are five tips to help you build an effective DevOps team:

  1. Start small and make gradual progress. Rome was not built in a day, and an organization should not expect to build a successful DevOps team on day one. Develop a vision of what you want your DevOps team to accomplish and establish steps to achieve DevOps goals. This slow but steady approach will minimize failure and optimize your DevOps team's performance over time.
  2. Foster a culture of experimentation and learning. The DevOps team for one company may look very different from the DevOps team for another. Rather than try to develop a formula for building your DevOps team, you should strive to build your DevOps team based on a culture of experimentation and learning. If DevOps team members are willing to try new things – even in the face of potential failure – they could become valuable contributors within your organization. In time, a DevOps team that consistently experiments and learns will drive innovation that helps your organization further improve service levels and revenues.
  3. Promote resiliency and be ready to adapt. Legacy systems that worked years ago are unlikely to meet the needs of today’s DevOps team. Comparatively, your organization should maintain agility and provide DevOps teams with the tools and systems they need to thrive – even if it means changing a business strategy on the fly. With the technology to adapt to a rapidly evolving global marketplace, your DevOps team should have no trouble keeping pace with the speed of business.
  4. Get buy-in across an organization. DevOps is complicated and highlighting its importance to all departments within an organization is key. Developing educational materials to teach different departments about DevOps can make a world of difference. If business departments understand the value of DevOps, a DevOps team can gain immense support throughout an organization. This makes it easier for a DevOps team to get the budget and resources it needs to succeed.
  5. Stop the blame game. Regardless of a DevOps team's best efforts, downtime, outages and other critical incidents can happen in any organization, at any time. If an incident happens, it’s important to view it as a learning opportunity. If organizations immediately blame a DevOps team or other departments for incidents, a culture of mistrust may develop within an organization. On the other hand, an organization that encourages its employees to learn from mistakes may be able to educate workers about the root cause of an incident and prevent similar problems from happening in the future.
Chapter

Conclusion

DevOps is a difference-maker for organizations big and small. It bridges the gap between developer and ITOps teams, ensuring both groups work together for faster product development, increased productivity and efficiency. Ultimately, this leads to more cost effective product deployment, and more revenue.

Yet DevOps alone is insufficient. Even if an organization devotes significant time and resources to build a DevOps team, this organization still needs the right strategy and tools to help its DevOps team succeed.

Alert escalation and incident management software is an excellent place to start as you begin equipping your DevOps team. This software enhances the automation, communication, and collaboration already inherent to DevOps teams. This software is easy to implement across a DevOps team, and integrates with many of the communications, incident monitoring, and DevOps platforms you may already have in place, and brings more ROI from the resources you’ve already invested in your company.

Check out AlertOps for alert management software that offers real-time collaboration and communication, alert escalation and state-of-the-art incident monitoring capabilities – you'll be happy you did. With AlertOps, your DevOps team will make your organization more successful.

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