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What Is DevOps?

DevOps is the practice of combining software development and IT operations teams, technologies and tactics to improve the entire application lifecycle.

The term DevOps combines the words “development” and “operations,” representing the two major components of the application lifecycle.

Due to the benefits of DevOps, adoption has grown tremendously since the term first surfaced in 2009. Adoption increased from 47% in 2016 to 74% in 2021, according to Redgate’s annual State of Database DevOps Report. The market for DevOps tools is projected to be worth roughly $15 billion by 2026, according to Fortune Business Insights.

History of DevOps

The genesis of DevOps is closely linked to the evolution of Agile software development — the modern approach for creating software.

Traditionally, software development was very linear. Under the Waterfall approach, there was a logical planning and design phase, then a development phase, followed by testing, release and maintenance. As the internet and, later, cloud computing placed new demands on software, however, the drawbacks of this method started to show.

A major drawback was that it could not easily accommodate mid-project changes to functionality or design. To solve this problem, Agile software development was born. 

Agile is designed to accommodate constant changes, with a focus on collaboration and speed. Throughout the entire process, applications users regularly inspect and suggest alterations to the project, resulting in cost and time savings, as well as increased overall user satisfaction.

The rigid organizational lines between development and IT operations teams limited these  successes, however, and growing frustration about these siloes created an environment suitable for the birth of DevOps. 

How DevOps Works

There are several key concepts that generally govern how DevOps works. At its core is culture.

In many organizations, a dedicated DevOps team institutes best practices and prioritizes collaboration between teams throughout the entire application lifecycle. In a successful DevOps culture, common goals are aligned, responsibility for the project is shared more equally throughout the organization, and there is an emphasis on speed and efficiency.

DevOps tools and other emerging technologies have made it easier for organizations to embrace DevOps culture, and they play a large role in how DevOps works today.

Repository hosting services, for example, enables software developers to work together through the cloud to instantly make adjustments to code when problems arise, or when users change specifications.

In addition, to support high-volume strategies, ticketing applications enable developers and engineers to solicit requests — feature updates, bug fixes, etc. — and track the progress of these tasks. 

DevOps Best Practices

There are several common elements shared by organizations that have experienced DevOps benefits. These include:

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

CI/CD reflects the iterative approach to software development. Continuous Integration refers to the frequent updating and testing of code. When developers push new code, it can automatically be tested against the rest of the application to check for errors and conflicts. Continuous Delivery is the logical next step, where updated code is deployed into the production environment.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

IaC represents a new way of maintaining and updating computing infrastructure, made possible by cloud computing. When organizations host their environments off premises, they lose physical contact with their hardware, but they gain the ability to manipulate resources as needed through code. 

Microservices

Microservices refers to the architecture of an application. In the past, many applications were written as one large, monolithic unit. In contrast, a microservices architecture breaks the application into many component parts that work together to form the whole. Each component operates independently of the others and performs a specific task. There are several methods for making sure microservices communicate, but the goal is that they operate seamlessly.

DevOps Security (DevSecOps)

DevSecOps is an extension of DevOps that enforces the importance of cybersecurity throughout the application lifecycle. This includes automating tests for bugs and vulnerabilities and having strict quality standards for coders. Software tools such as pre-commit hooks, automated testing and configuration management all contribute to successful DevSecOps. 

DevOps Benefits

DevOps best practices emphasize quick remediation of errors, customer involvement, high testing frequency, cross-team collaboration and infrastructure management. Through DevOps adoption organizations can better position themselves to meet high user demand and avoid setbacks — all in a more efficient manner. This enables businesses to keep moving forward and avoid being left behind.

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