Automation is the key to realizing the philosophy of DevOps and in ensuring that it delivers. The underlying building blocks of DevOps are to ensure that the engineering platform is in place to facilitate continuous delivery, integration, and improvement.
Consider the following processes that have traditionally been carried out manually-
- Creating development, testing and production infrastructure and configuring networks
- Harnessing security and data protection
- Setting up, configuring and deploying software
- Testing and validation of data – data generated from the application and about the usage of the application
- Supporting infrastructure and the applications running on it – maintenance, upgrades and transitions
In a traditional development scenario, each new environment has to be created from scratch and include all of the above processes, making it a very tedious and lengthy process. However, in a DevOps environment, releases are more frequent and time for testing and quality assurance is therefore much shorter. Performing all these tasks manually therefore severely undermines the efficacy of the DevOps approach.
However, it is not just about making DevOps possible, it also has its own advantages. Unexpected errors in production still occur in manual builds as it is difficult to exactly replicate each environment. This in turn, increases the risk of errors occurring in production after testing has been carried out on non-identical pre-production systems. In today’s software world, it is all about productizing and replicating solutions. A product needs to be customized and deployed at a new client site within a really short period of time. Once deployed, the operations support team must be able to support with issues, bug fixes and day-to-day activities in a smooth manner. Similarly, a product deployed for one business domain must easily be configured and utilized by another industry. Such is the flexibility expected from software today.
What’s more, in the traditional development cycle, each member of the team has a local copy of the code. When a developer implements a new feature or fixes a bug locally, once complete, the new code is committed back to a central repository. But in a team of developers and system operators, more than one individual can be following this process at the same time, unintentionally breaking the code or affecting another developer’s code.
The rule of thumb is that the greater the human intervention, the more testing that will be required. Pre-production or development environments become non-standard which makes processes like testing or releasing new software versions more difficult to repeat and more prone to error. In worst-case scenarios, developers are left to re-invent the wheel each time they need to make changes in response to new business demands.
The advantage of DevOps
By creating a more responsive development environment that is closely aligned to business requirements and which removes human error from the project lifecycle, DevOps enables organizations to:
- Reduce the implementation time of new services from months to minutes
- Increase productivity of business and IT teams
- Save costs on maintenance and upgrades, and eliminate unnecessary capital expenditure
- Standardize processes for easy replication and faster delivery
- Improve quality, reliability and reusability of all system components
- Increase the rate of success for digitalization strategies and transformation projects
- Ensure that money invested in cloud infrastructure, analytics and data management are not wasted
Since it focuses on delivering value much earlier in a project lifecycle, DevOps can be seen as an ideal approach to national and government IT projects, as well as massive scale projects for the private sector. It helps accelerate new services through continuous improvement and operational flexibility, providing innovative and cost-effective ways for delivering value through new ways of development and operations.