What are the prerequisites for DevOps?

DevOps

The DevOps approach has greatly revolutionized business operations by enhancing collaboration, transparency, and innovation between teams to improve the speed and quality of deliveries, scalability, and overall productivity within an agile setting. The high value of DevOps for businesses is undeniable. Organizations have implemented DevOps widely to enable scalability, faster incident response, and automation in the product development life cycle. Ultimately, this creates a more stable and predictable operating environment in which teams can work simultaneously and collaboratively. 

With DevOps gaining traction significantly, the demand for DevOps skills is not about to slow down. Many organizations appreciate the value of and are implementing DevOps methodology and best practices in their operations. These organizations are on the lookout for DevOps engineers, software developers/testers, project managers, and other professionals that can facilitate the successful implementation of DevOps. Well, it is one thing to want to become DevOps specialist at such a time as this. It is quite another to understand what it takes to implement DevOps. A DevOps specialist who understands the prerequisites of DevOps and demonstrates the competency of implementing DevOps, whether partially or completely depending on the needs of the organization, will be a great asset to the organization. 

Let’s delve into what DevOps is all about and what it takes to implement the DevOps methodology. 

What is DevOps?

DevOps (Development and operations) is a technology that has brought a complete culture revolution to IT software development processes. Just as the name suggests, the DevOps methodology integrates development and operations teams and processes to streamline software development. It is founded on the principles of agility, collaboration, and transparency in software development to enable faster deployment of high-quality products that not only meet the end user’s expectation of value but also involve them in the software development process. 

One core aim of DevOps is to break down the silos that once existed between the development and operations teams and create a system of continuity in the software development life cycle. This involves continuous code development, integration, testing, deployment, and monitoring within an automated environment to deliver standard output.  

The importance of implementing DevOps 

DevOps implementation comes with immense benefits. These include: 

  • Faster response to business needs. Projects that optimize data to solve business problems, take advantage of opportunities, or make mission-critical decisions in time can leverage the agile nature of DevOps software to address issues promptly as they arise. DevOps enables quicker releases of software and software features and accommodates user feedback to improve the software. 
  •  A culture that fosters efficiency and productivity. While DevOps encompasses good practices and software development principles, it is in itself a culture that breaks down the software and IT development silos to promote inter-dependence and collaborative working between the two. Ultimately, collaboration enables agility, efficiency, and productivity for faster delivery of high-quality products. 
  • DevOps incorporates automation. Also, DevOps is founded on the automation of mundane tasks to accelerate production, reduce human-associated errors, and promote innovation. 
  • Improved communication. Employing DevOps principles and best practices such as collaboration mean that open communication, cooperation, and transparency should be upheld for collaboration to be achieved. This also fosters faster innovation as trust is nurtured between teams. 

DevOps principles

DevOps is not only a framework of flexible software development principles and best practices, it is also a culture that requires a mindset shift in the entire organization to be effectively implemented. DevOps is founded on several core principles. These are: 

  • Collaboration. The unity of purpose among the software development, IT operations, testing, quality assurance teams, and all other stakeholders in the organization is fundamental to the success of DevOps. 
  • Iteration. This involves dividing a project into smaller, easily achievable sections to enable faster, more frequent code releases and accommodation of user feedback so that a product is developed in an iterative fashion. 
  • Continuous improvement. All the phases in the software development life cycle are executed continuously i.e continuous development, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous deployment, continuous feedback, and continuous monitoring. This allows for the continuous improvement of a product before its complete deployment. It also makes it possible for DevOps teams to deploy high-quality products in line with the users’ expectations of value.  
  • Automation. Automation of repetitive tasks such as code testing, infrastructure provisioning, deployments, and other workflows helps reduce human errors and rollbacks and, ultimately, production costs. 

Prerequisites for DevOps implementation

Successful implementation of the DevOps framework takes into account the following prerequisites. 

  • Develop an effective DevOps strategy 

DevOps is not only part of the organization’s IT strategy; it should be part of the organization’s business strategy. For this reason, it should be clear right from the outset what DevOps is all about and how it will meet the objectives of the business.  

It is important to note that DevOps implementation varies from company to company just as much as company needs vary. Thus, before the DevOps implementation roadmap is created, the software development and IT operations teams must reach an agreement on the need for DevOps principles and best practices in the organization. 

As DevOps implementation may involve some uncomfortable changes and alignments between the teams, the IT director should ensure that acceptance is gained by all teams and other stakeholders. Also, the teams should agree to work collaboratively towards a common goal. A buy-in is easily achieved after sensitization and education sessions have been conducted, expectations managed, and awareness created around the importance of DevOps. Fundamentally, the DevOps strategy should promote collaboration, continuous releases, and scalability.

  • Infrastructure redesign 

DevOps is better implemented on an infrastructure that is compatible with DevOps tools and technologies for various functionalities. These include configuration management tools like Ansible and Puppet, continuous integration and continuous deployment tools like Jenkins, automation, continuous testing, continuous monitoring tools like Nagios and Splunk, and containerization tools like Docker and Kubernetes, and more. 

Aside from being open to adapting IT infrastructure to enable DevOps implementation, DevOps teams should also have a working knowledge of DevOps tools in each function. Legacy systems can be a bottleneck in the performance of DevOps in the organization. This is where cloud adoption comes in handy. 

  • Containerization of applications

Containers are virtual environments in which developers deploy and ship code together with all their dependencies to different environments. Containerization has revolutionized software development because containers are lightweight and easily executable. Rather than virtualizing the hardware, containers only virtualize the operating system so that they can run in any environment. 

Containerization enables DevOps teams to build, ship, and manage applications promptly. Technologies like Kubernetes enhance containerization by automating the infrastructure provisioning process. DevOps professionals who have undertaken the DevOps Course should possess working knowledge of at least one container technology.

  • Automation 

Any successful DevOps initiative is underpinned by automation. Automation of the DevOps delivery pipeline creates a standard, reliable software environment for software development. Automation also increases efficiency and reduces human error in DevOps workflows. Automation of tests, quality checks, system updates, deployments, application releases, and other mundane tasks creates a fast delivery cycle of standard high-quality products. It also provides everyone involved in the SDLC (software development life cycle) with a transparent view of the product life cycle at every stage. This builds trust, a sense of responsibility, and accountability for all the team members. 

DevOps professionals should possess a working knowledge of Infrastructure as a code and various automation tools in the CI/CD pipeline. 

Conclusion 

DevOps is a culture that thrives on collaboration, communication, and cooperation between the development and operations teams and other stakeholders. However, the implementation of any DevOps initiative should not fail to align its goals with overall business needs. Also, DevOps initiatives should employ an agile methodology to allow a flexible, iterated software development process. For DevOps team members, DevOps training and certification will come in handy as it demonstrates their knowledge, skills, and ability to implement DevOps solutions in the organization. Finally, having a working knowledge of various DevOps tools should be the priority of DevOps teams. 

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