DevOps is a conglomerate of tools and practices that aim to combine software development and IT processes into a seamless development pipeline by emphasizing communication between developers and IT teams, technology automation, and shortening software development cycles while enabling continuous software delivery. By their very nature, DevOps practices continue to evolve over time. Some are forgotten or replaced, while others evolve and adapt to the current needs of software organizations. In this article, we’ll look at some of the technologies currently in use, how DevOps is being applied in small businesses versus larger enterprises, and some of the changes we can expect to see in DevOps in the foreseeable future.
The usual workflow in software companies is for developers to write their code and send it to a production environment, where IT managers must figure out how to integrate any new code into an application without compromising existing functionalities. Given the speed at which this code is produced and the fact that developers are often busy coding new features, testers and IT managers must be constantly active to keep the workflow running smoothly, leaving little time for communication and major environment revisions. This is where DevOps comes in, because it can have a big impact on the way companies work, whether they are large corporations or small independent startups, even though it requires a great deal of knowledge and preparation.
Although large companies have the diversity, experience, and ability to divide their operations and development teams into smaller and more focused groups, the large number of developers and an equally large number of projects can often make code development and deployment a chore.
Because the number of customers in such companies is relatively high, teams typically work in an environment where small changes to the code of one of the core components of an application can have a domino effect on the rest of the working environment if not handled correctly. And since large companies are often trying to bring new features to market in order to stay competitive in the marketplace, the development and production environments need to be aligned.
At Microsoft, for example, there are multiple small teams, each overseeing and managing product-specific entities such as Windows, Office and Azure DevOps, all operating under a common system lifecycle. As a result, DevOps practices can be easily adopted by these teams, also supported by a focused enterprise-level scope that ensures each element doesn’t deviate from established goals.
Conversely, small companies tend to have less specific structures when it comes to managing resources and technology because the number of employees in such companies is smaller, which naturally leads to a more linear environment. Since there are a limited number of developers, IT managers and testers, DevOps is usually done in small meetings spread throughout the week to keep everyone up to date on all project developments.
These allow developers to have more influence on the production environment, for example, to check how much some changes to the code will affect the final version of the product, and keep both parties as close as possible to avoid deviations from the project and fix critical issues as quickly as possible.
The most common and important change small businesses can make when adopting DevOps is to use automation. This process speeds up testing and code deployment by creating scripts that eliminate the need to run the same blocks of code every time an update is made and ensure that changes do not compromise the integrity of the application. Applications such as Jenkins are ideal for enabling continuous integration of new code by using pipelines that repeat the same review processes for each new change. Repositories like GitHub help store the information in a place that is accessible to all.
DevOps is gradually evolving due to the increasing demands of enterprise environments and is necessary for companies to stay competitive in the market. Some of the trends that are currently gaining traction are:
Serverless computing involves using servers in a way that makes them irrelevant to application development, i.e., all valuable information is stored using cloud computing methods. This practice is designed to help DevOps teams focus more on the deployment side of testing, while minimizing wasted resources in creating and maintaining pipelines. It also helps reduce developer effort in server maintenance and system updates, and is a cost-effective, self-scaling and flexible solution.
DevSecOps is the integration of security protocols in the early stages of a project in conjunction with DevOps practices. It grew out of the need to implement security mechanisms throughout the project lifecycle and enables DevOps teams to deliver secure applications with a degree of speed and quality. Incorporating testing and risk mitigation early in the continuous integration and development (CI/CD) workflow avoids the time-consuming and sometimes costly consequences of rework. This shifts security testing toward developers, allowing them to fix security issues in their code immediately rather than at the end of the software development lifecycle. DevSecOps practices are used throughout the project’s lifespan, from planning and design to coding, testing and release.
(DevSecOps aims to seamlessly integrate security protocols into a project’s continuous development cycle)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning
DevOps teams can take advantage of AI technology by using it to anticipate risks in each project cycle, as AI can be configured to learn, identify issues, and provide potential solutions to problems identified in the project pipeline. By working concurrently with machine learning algorithms, AI applications can be extended to data mining and modeling for risk detection as well as deep learning, allowing them to work independently of developers, while machine learning itself proves useful when applied to methods such as predictive analytics.
Microservices architecture has gained increasing acceptance among enterprises in recent years, unlike traditional centralized architectures. In this type of architecture, applications are broken down into smaller, independent services, which in turn allows DevOps practices greater flexibility and scalability throughout the project lifecycle. The DevOps team can then scale each part of the application according to business needs, rather than scaling the application as a whole all at once, allowing changes to be made as the project progresses.
In addition, due to the decentralized nature of this architecture type, developers can easily identify all types of issues and contain the problem without disrupting the entire system. Moreover, the microservices architecture allows DevOps engineers to deploy small features or functionalities to specific components, separate from other modules of the application that are not relevant to such changes.
DevOps remains an integral part of any software enterprise. It helps improve the organization’s ability to design, produce, and maintain high-quality software releases and compete in the marketplace.
While the above trends are still relatively new, they are just a few of many examples of methods that will help companies move beyond simply implementing automation processes, focus on continuously improving results, create a structured and reliable release pipeline, and enable better communication between IT, business and development teams.