What is DevOps? Everything you Need to Know

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What is DevOps?

For those of us who aren’t too technically minded, it can be easy to overlook the different and often disparate roles associated with IT. In creating new IT-powered products and services, businesses must have a clear idea of the roles of IT development and operations teams. One will focus on the planning and creation of IT services, while the other will cover their implementation and ongoing maintenance.

Unfortunately, despite the close proximity of these two departments, they often operate in silos. IT service managers in either group will usually focus on their own priorities, rather than sharing valuable resources and observations with other camps. This can not only lead to expensive delays in creating IT services, but it can also needlessly squander resources, experience, and information which could go towards creating services of a much higher quality.

DevOps, a quirky combination of Dev and Ops, is a methodology for software development. It is unique in that it has a combined focus on software development and information technology operations, helping users to prevent the two spheres from having disparate leadership, KPIs and objectives. DevOps focuses on human issues rather than technical problems, with the aim of boosting collaboration in order to shorten the system development cycle while still delivering features, fixes, and updates frequently and in line with key business objectives. DevOps certified practitioners focus on human issues rather than technical problems, with the aim of boosting collaboration in order to shorten the system development cycle while still delivering features, fixes, and updates frequently and in line with key business objectives.

In short, DevOps helps to deliver top-quality applications and services quickly by ensuring that IT teams can work together efficiently and effectively. This, in turn, can ensure that these products can evolve and improve at a faster rate, with teams automating essential processes and easily adapting in the face of unexpected errors and unplanned work.

How Does DevOps Work?

The main focus of the DevOps tools and methodologies is on building a culture of collaboration between teams, rather than having them work in silos. The goal is to automate processes between development and operations professionals in order to help organizations rapidly build, test, release and improve services that are not only more reliable, but also of an optimized quality.

Unlike traditional ITSM frameworks, DevOps focuses on solving HUMAN problems. For example, rather than having separate departments, a DevOps-oriented company would create project-focused teams which incorporate tools and expertise from both development and operations professionals. DevOps also encourages users to hold regular team, department and project retrospectives, as well as more frequent A/B testing, and so on.

Another unique aspect of DevOps is that it acknowledges the necessity of failure. Even with the greatest will in the world, bugs will always appear during the service development process. As such, DevOps is designed to help teams create automated processes that can catch security flaws and other bugs prior to release, allowing developers to address them quickly. Other processes can also be automated, such as continuous delivery and infrastructure as code.

DevOps also aims to foster continuous service improvement by helping users to track valuable data and user metrics. This can include the average time from service development to deployment, the changing number of people using a product, how often bugs occur, the average recovery time following system failures, and so on.

By sharing these essential metrics, teams will be better able to improve service level agreements, customer journeys, individual product features and more. However, it is not just between development and operations professionals that DevOps-powered companies share information. For example, positive usage data can also be highly beneficial for marketing professionals.

The overall focus of DevOps is on increasing and refining collaboration between development and operations departments, creating shared responsibility, awareness and dedication towards continual service improvement. Those involved in creating products and services have valuable insights and skills to share with those who deploy and maintain them, and vice versa. Why continue working in silos when there is a far more constructive way staring you in the face?

How Can DevOps Help My Business?

Adopting DevOps practices and creating a culture of collaboration can offer several advantages. Most importantly, DevOps cultures encourage shared responsibility, transparency, and feedback, creating a ‘systems thinking’ approach that gives everyone perspective on how their actions will impact the teams involved in a release process. This, in turn, can lead to faster and more high-quality processes, with increased dependency planning, priority alignment, accountability, and teamwork. It can even lead to the odd bit of positive feedback from peer to peer, which can do wonders for company morale.

However, DevOps is not just about creating better products and services for release. It also deals with how to respond and adapt to potential issues (which, in the world of IT service development, are sadly unavoidable). With improved incident response times, more frequent review cycles and automated tests, DevOps-empowered companies can ensure that any issues can be dealt with swiftly and then fully utilized in order to aid future development. Remember, too much delay in solving issues can quickly lead to customer dissatisfaction and opportunities for competitors. Given how familiar development teams are with the ins and outs of their products, why shouldn’t they have more of a hand in adapting them when necessary?

DevOps can also improve the ways in which a company deals with unplanned work. Even with realistic and strict development schedules in place, new jobs can still come out of the blue. Without clear processes for how to deal with these setbacks, companies can see their development cycles needlessly dragged out.

A DevOps team will know how to establish clear priorities and processes when it comes to dealing with unplanned work, allowing crucial tasks to still proceed as scheduled. With the increased visibility and perspective encouraged by DevOps, teams will also find it easier to anticipate unplanned work and share burdens appropriately.

What Is a DevOps Engineer?

Over the last few years, DevOps has become an increasingly popular standard. According to the 2017 State of DevOps Report, companies that use DevOps are able to deploy code 30 times more frequently than competitors, with 50% fewer deployments failing. There are even a number of free and open-source DevOps tools developed and updated by satisfied practitioners.

The widespread use of the methodology and the demand for DevOps professionals have also led to the coining of a new title, ‘DevOps engineer’. However, the exact path to becoming a DevOps engineer, as well as the responsibilities that come with the role, are not clear-cut. You cannot simply start from scratch, search ‘DevOps: What to learn’, and find a career path all laid out for you.

Generally speaking, a DevOps engineer could be a developer taking on more responsibility for operations, or even a liaison with operations experience working closely with a development team. DevOps jobs can vary considerably in what they require, though technically there are no prerequisites to learn DevOps itself.

Some of the most common skills and tasks associated with DevOps engineers include:

  • Re-engineering processes
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Coding
  • Scripting
  • Ensuring software can work across diverse platforms and operating systems
  • Enabling frequent testing and reporting
  • Data management
  • Automation

What Is a DevOps Leader?

DevOps Leader is a new qualification that verifies DevOps practitioners as having the ability to take on leadership positions within DevOps cultures and DevOps transformation projects. DevOps Leaders are able to offer actionable insight, based on real-world examples and case studies, on how to break down silos within organizations and between teams.

The Good e-Learning DevOps Leader course builds on the content covered at Foundation level. It provides students with the practices, methods, and tools required to implement and become involved in DevOps environments, enabling them to earn invaluable experience in applying the framework.

What Is SRE?

SRE or ‘Site Reliability Engineering’ was not originally a DevOps concept. Developed by Google, SRE is “what happens when a software engineer is tasked with what used to be called operations” (according to Ben Treynor, the man behind the concept).

With collaboration between departments and teams as its foundation, SRE certainly has a number of similarities with DevOps. Indeed, Good e-Learning’s Site Reliability Engineering Foundation (SREF) course covers a framework developed by the DevOps Institute. By having DevOps culture members work together in this way, SRE increases reliability, accountability, and innovation, ensuring there is a perfect balance between the need for stability and the drive of developers to get code ready for deployment.

The Site Reliability Engineering Foundation (SREF) course is designed to introduce learners to the concept of SRE, as well as the principles, practices, and key concepts of the discipline. Learners also examine how SRE relates to other frameworks, such as ITIL and Agile.

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