If you’ve been following the IT and development communities, you know that DevOps is having a moment. Forrester has even dubbed 2018 the “Year of Enterprise DevOps.”
And for good reason. By the end of 2017, 50% of organizations had already begun implementing DevOps.
As the future of IT operations sets its sights on DevOps, it’s important to understand what the DevOps process looks like and how organizations can best implement this new approach.
What is DevOps?
To understand the DevOps process flow, let’s first establish exactly what DevOps is. At its core, DevOps is a philosophy and practice focused on agility, collaboration, and automation within IT and development team processes.
Traditionally, software development occurred in silos, with IT and development working independently within their own teams and processes. This separation and competing values created an environment rife with miscommunication, poor alignment, and production delays (some have even nicknamed the operations department the “War Room”).
DevOps is the response to the “us vs. them” culture of development.
The goal is to bridge the gap between IT operations and development to improve communication and collaboration, create more seamless processes, and align strategy and objectives for faster and more efficient delivery.
Though DevOps is a practical methodology, it is also fundamentally a mindset and cultural shift in an organization. Several key principles underscore this philosophy:
- Continuous improvement
- Continuous testing
DevOps extends the lean agile mindset to operations primarily with a focus on automation and tooling to accomplish faster deployment.
Automation (and the tools that support it) allow developers and IT professionals to combine their efforts into one seamless process and adopt agile practices like continuous integration, delivery, and deployment. This process enables collaboration throughout the entire development pipeline from concept and builds to deployment and testing.
Additionally, DevOps prioritizes iterative processes that make space for continuous testing and feedback. Again, this practice makes it possible to accelerate the development process, but it also improves the quality and security of the products. By continually testing, monitoring, and iterating on feedback with smaller but more frequent deployments, DevOps successfully closes the loop between users, developers, and IT operations.
Benefits of a DevOps process
While it isn’t a magic bullet, DevOps can solve many of the common pain points surrounding a traditional IT organization.
Its focus on collaboration, automation, and agility can have significant benefits, including:
- Faster time to market
- Higher ROI
- Greater user/customer satisfaction
- Increased efficiency
- Improved collaboration
- Early detection and correction of issues
As teams work together seamlessly, supported by both process and culture, the risk of miscommunication or misalignment is greatly reduced. Clear communication results in increased efficiency and ultimately higher quality products.
Additionally, agile practices, such as continuous integration and deployment, combined with automated testing and regular feedback both accelerate the development process and ensure that bugs or other issues are detected and managed early.
Altogether, it’s no wonder so many organizations are rushing to adopt a DevOps mindset. When implemented correctly, a DevOps process results in better products, happier customers, and healthier bottom lines.
The DevOps process flow
The DevOps lifecycle is all about agility and automation. Each phase in the DevOps process flow focuses on closing the loop between development and operations and driving production through continuous integration, delivery, deployment, and feedback.
Continuous integration (CI) is a software development practice commonly applied in the DevOps process flow. Developers regularly merge their code changes into a shared repository where those updates are automatically tested.
Continuous integration ensures the most up-to-date and validated code is always readily available to developers. CI helps prevent costly delays in development by allowing multiple developers to work on the same source code with confidence, rather than waiting to integrate separate sections of code all at once on release day.
This practice is a crucial component of the DevOps process flow, which aims to combine speed and agility with reliability and security.
Continuous delivery (CD) is the next logical step from CI. Code changes are automatically built, tested, and packaged for release into production. The goal is to release updates to the users rapidly and sustainably.
To do this, CD automates the release process (building on the automated testing in CI) so that new builds can be released at the click of a button.
For the seasoned DevOps organization, continuous deployment may be the better option over CD. Continuous deployment is the fully automated version of CD with no human (i.e., manual) intervention necessary.
In a continuous deployment process, every validated change is automatically released to users. This process eliminates the need for scheduled release days and accelerates the feedback loop. Smaller, more frequent releases allow developers to get user feedback quickly and address issues with more agility and accuracy.
Continuous deployment is a great goal for a DevOps team, but it is best applied after the DevOps process has been ironed out. For continuous deployment to work well, organizations need to have a rigorous and reliable automated testing environment. If you’re not there yet, starting with CI and CD will help you get there.
Continuous monitoring and feedback
Finally, throughout the development pipeline, your team should have measures in place for continuous monitoring and feedback of the products and systems. Again, the majority of the monitoring process should be automated to provide continuous feedback.
This process allows IT operations to identify issues and notify developers in real time. Continuous feedback ensures higher security and system reliability as well as more agile responses when issues do arise.
Implementing DevOps in your organization
If you haven’t yet implemented a DevOps process in your organization, the task can seem daunting. Keep in mind—it is not only a process shift but a cultural shift as well.
To adopt a DevOps process successfully, consider implementing it in stages. Depending on where your organization currently stands, you will want to adopt and build on an agile approach.
A gradual implementation sequence might look like this:
- Establish an agile development process
- Adopt cloud computing
- Adapt your processes to a CI and CD workflow
- Automate your software deployment
- Automate software testing
- Implement continuous deployment
Keep in mind that automation brings with it both an infrastructural and tooling shift. Without the proper infrastructure and tools to support your processes, you risk having gaps in your DevOps process flow. To create a true DevOps environment, each stage of the development pipeline should be as automated and agile as possible.
Using Lucidchart to map your DevOps processes
While DevOps is as much about mindset as it is about process, there are still many moving parts to keep track of. As you adapt your processes to a DevOps environment, use Lucidchart to stay on point.
Lucidchart helps developers and IT managers create robust, easy-to-understand diagrams of processes, teams, and data. You can use Lucidchart to model your new DevOps process flow to train team members, document handoffs, track ongoing development progress, and keep everyone on the same page.
One of the biggest challenges for IT managers is managing a large toolchain. In fact, Forbes predicts that fragmented toolchains will be one of the most significant barriers to DevOps adoption in 2018. Whatever tools and applications you use to make DevOps work, Lucidchart can help you keep everything straight.
Lucidchart can help you map out your toolchain and identify how each tool interacts with your DevOps processes. Plus, data linking allows you to connect your diagrams with live source data. You can monitor your application status in real time so you can proactively address issues and communicate with team members to resolve problems.