By now, you’ve probably heard all about DevOps, a concept that aims to bring developers into close collaboration with IT operations teams. But you may still be wondering why, exactly, DevOps is useful. On the surface, it’s not always obvious which benefits DevOps practices actually provide, or what the results are of bringing developers and IT Ops engineers together.
If you’re seeking answers about the benefits of DevOps, keep reading for a look at which advantages DevOps provides and how it delivers them.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a software delivery strategy that aims to make development and IT Operations teams work as one unit – hence the term “DevOps,” which is a portmanteau of “development” and “IT operations.”
DevOps is a big deal because historically, developers and IT operations teams didn’t work closely together. Instead, developers usually wrote code, then passed it off to IT Ops to deploy and maintain. This was inefficient because it left developers with little visibility into how their code was being used by actual end-users. At the same time, IT operations teams had little opportunity to provide feedback to developers about which issues the software was experiencing in production.
This disconnect made it difficult for developers and IT Ops to work effectively toward shared goals. Instead, they often ended up working at cross purposes. Developers sometimes did things (like creating features that added needless complexity to an application) that made the jobs of IT Ops engineers more difficult. Likewise, IT operations teams might make changes (such as moving to a new hosting environment) that were important to the way the application functioned, but without informing developers.
The benefits and importance of DevOps
By allowing developers and IT operations engineers to work closely together, DevOps solves the challenges described above in order to deliver a variety of key benefits.
Streamlined communication and collaboration
Because DevOps makes communication and collaboration between developers and IT teams the “default state,” it helps to ensure that these two groups can share information and plans with each other on a regular basis. When you adopt DevOps, you don’t need to schedule extraordinary meetings to bring developers and IT operations teams together; instead, you create a culture where communication and collaboration happen organically and naturally.
Efficiency is one of the most important benefits of DevOps. When developers and IT operations teams support each other and work as a cohesive unit, there is less effort wasted on work that is unnecessary or counterproductive. Instead of creating problems for each other to solve, developers and IT Ops can collaborate to make each other’s jobs as efficient as possible.
Faster software releases
For related reasons, DevOps typically offers the benefit of faster software releases.
When developers and IT Ops teams work together efficiently, it becomes easier to design, implement and deploy application updates on a rapid basis. Without DevOps, it might take months or even years to create a new version of an application. But the efficiency of DevOps-based software delivery means that updates can often be rolled out as frequently as once a week.
Higher responsiveness to user needs
By helping organizations release software faster, DevOps allows them to be more responsive to user needs. When users request a new feature, businesses that practice DevOps can often deliver on that feature in a matter of weeks, thanks to the short feedback loops that DevOps facilitates.
Scalable software delivery
DevOps makes it easier in many cases to create highly scalable software delivery pipelines. When all stakeholders work together on a continuous basis, there is less friction surrounding software delivery, which in turn means that it becomes feasible to implement a large number of software changes on a continuous basis.
Thus, with DevOps, teams can manage hundreds of feature changes and many dozens of application deployments per year. Without DevOps, it would be very hard to manage software delivery operations on that scale.
Standardization of software delivery
DevOps offers the benefit of a standardized, predictable software delivery process.
Because it’s hard for developers and IT operations engineers to collaborate effectively when decisions about software delivery are made on an ad hoc basis, DevOps requires a systematic, consistent approach to managing the software delivery lifecycle. Typically, this consistency is achieved using DevOps tools like Continuous Integration platforms and automated testing frameworks.
As a result of the standardized, predictable nature of DevOps-based software delivery operations, DevOps teams are able to operate in a systematic way. This not only makes DevOps work less confusing, but it also helps to ensure that engineers can come and go from a particular DevOps team without disrupting the team’s operations or facing a steep learning curve when they join a new development project.
Faster feedback cycles and resolution of issues
When developers have deep visibility into the problems faced by IT operations engineers and vice versa, resolving problems becomes easier. For example, IT engineers who identify an application performance problem can quickly collaborate with developers to fix the root of the problem by updating application source code.
Likewise, developers who run into problems getting a new application release to pass automated tests could turn to IT engineers to help figure out what’s wrong. Since IT engineers have experience managing the application in production, they may have perspective on the issue that developers lack, and they can therefore help to troubleshoot the issue more effectively.
DevOps helps organizations embrace the principle of continuous improvement because it enables them to identify and respond to problems rapidly. When developers and IT engineers communicate efficiently and collaborate with each on a routine basis, they can determine where problems exist within software development processes, then quickly address them.
The result is the ability to make software delivery more efficient, more scalable and more reliable on an ongoing basis.
The many advantages of DevOps
DevOps is not a strict requirement for managing software development and delivery today. But for most teams, DevOps delivers a variety of key benefits – such as greater efficiency, scalability and velocity in software delivery cycles – that add tremendous value to the overall business.
So, whether you’re designing an application delivery process from scratch, or you already have a legacy delivery strategy in place that you want to modernize, DevOps provides an excellent framework for getting the greatest possible value out of your operations. DevOps makes the lives of developers and IT operations engineers easier, while also ensuring that businesses receive the software they need to operate as efficiently as possible.