What Is DevOps? - ITU Online

What Is DevOps?

What Is DevOps?

What Is DevOps
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DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) with the goal of shortening the system development life cycle and providing continuous delivery of high-quality software. The term “DevOps” is a portmanteau of “Development” and “Operations,” and it represents a cultural shift that promotes collaboration between these two traditionally siloed teams.

Key Objectives of DevOps

Faster Time to Market: Accelerate the delivery of software and updates to end-users.

Detail: In traditional software development models, the time between writing code and deploying it to end-users can be lengthy. DevOps aims to streamline this by automating various stages of the development pipeline. By doing so, organizations can release new features, bug fixes, and updates more quickly. This rapid release cycle gives them a competitive edge and ensures that end-users always have access to the latest functionalities.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines automate the testing and deployment processes.
  • Feature flags allow developers to roll out features incrementally, reducing the risk and time involved in deployments.

Improved Collaboration: Foster a culture where developers and operations teams work together more efficiently.

Detail: Traditionally, the development and operations teams have worked in silos, leading to delays and friction. DevOps encourages a culture of collaboration where both teams work together from the start of a project to its deployment.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Shared responsibility for code and infrastructure encourages communication.
  • Collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Jira facilitate real-time communication and project tracking.

Quality Assurance: Ensure the high quality of software through continuous integration and continuous testing.

Detail: Quality assurance in DevOps isn’t just about finding and fixing bugs; it’s about creating a quality product from the start. Automated testing is integrated into the development process, ensuring that issues are identified and addressed as soon as they arise.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Automated testing in the CI/CD pipeline allows for immediate feedback.
  • Tools like Selenium, JUnit, and TestNG can be integrated for comprehensive testing.

Operational Efficiency: Automate manual operations work and improve resource management.

Detail: One of the significant challenges in software deployment and maintenance is the manual work involved in setting up and managing servers, databases, and other resources. DevOps aims to automate these processes as much as possible to improve efficiency.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC) allows for the automated setup, configuration, and management of servers.
  • Configuration management tools like Ansible, Puppet, and Chef automate the deployment and management of applications.

Resilience: Create more robust and more resilient systems that are better prepared for unforeseen challenges.

Detail: Systems need to be resilient to various types of failures and challenges, from server crashes to security vulnerabilities. DevOps practices aim to build resilience into the system by default, rather than as an afterthought.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Automated backup and recovery processes ensure data integrity and availability.
  • Monitoring and logging tools provide real-time insights into system performance, enabling quick identification and resolution of issues.

By focusing on these key objectives, DevOps aims to create a more efficient, collaborative, and high-quality software development lifecycle.

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Core Practices

Continuous Integration (CI): Developers frequently merge their code changes into a central repository, where automated builds and tests are run.

Detail: Continuous Integration (CI) involves the practice of merging all developers’ working copies to a shared mainline several times a day. The main aim is to prevent “integration hell,” a situation where integrating various pieces of code becomes increasingly complex over time.

How It Works:

  • Developers submit their code changes through “pull requests.”
  • Automated build systems compile the code to check for errors.
  • Automated tests are run to ensure that the new code does not break existing functionalities.

Tools Commonly Used: Jenkins, Travis CI, CircleCI, GitLab CI

Continuous Delivery (CD): Automated delivery of code to an environment where it can be tested in production-like conditions.

Detail: Continuous Delivery (CD) ensures that code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for a release to production. It extends CI by deploying all code changes to a testing environment and/or a production environment after the build stage.

How It Works:

  • After passing CI tests, code is automatically deployed to a staging environment.
  • Additional tests may be run in this environment to simulate production conditions.

Tools Commonly Used: Jenkins, GitLab, Spinnaker, Octopus DeployContinuous Deployment: If the code passes automated tests, it is automatically deployed to production.

Detail: Continuous Deployment goes one step further than Continuous Delivery by automatically deploying changes to the production environment, without manual intervention, as soon as they pass automated tests.

How It Works:

  • Code that passes all stages of CI and CD is automatically released to the end-users.
  • This ensures that new features and fixes are delivered as quickly as possible.

Tools Commonly Used: Jenkins, GitLab, Spinnaker, AWS CodeDeploy

Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Manage and provision infrastructure through code instead of manual operations.

Detail: Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the management of infrastructure (networks, virtual machines, load balancers, etc.) in a descriptive model, using the same versioning as DevOps team uses for source code.

How It Works:

  • Scripts or configuration files define the desired state of infrastructure.
  • These scripts are stored in version control systems and can be audited and rolled back if needed.

Tools Commonly Used: Ansible, Terraform, Puppet, Chef

Monitoring and Logging: Keep track of performance metrics and errors to improve the system proactively.

Detail: Monitoring and logging involve collecting data on software performance and user activities. This data is then used for troubleshooting issues, understanding user behavior, and improving the system.

How It Works:

  • Metrics like server load, error rates, and response times are continuously monitored.
  • Logs capture specific data about system behavior and user activities.

Tools Commonly Used: Grafana, Prometheus, ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana)

Collaboration and Communication: Use tools and practices that enhance collaboration and communication among teams.

Detail: Collaboration and communication are foundational to DevOps. The idea is to break down silos between teams and create a culture where knowledge and responsibilities are shared.

How It Works:

  • Teams use chat applications for real-time communication.
  • Project management tools help in tracking progress and assigning tasks.

Tools Commonly Used: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Jira, Trello

By implementing these core DevOps practices, organizations can achieve a more streamlined, efficient, and effective software development lifecycle.

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Common DevOps Tools

Version Control: Git, SVN

Git: Git is a distributed version control system that allows multiple developers to work on a project simultaneously. It’s known for its speed, data integrity, and support for distributed workflows. Git is widely used in open-source projects and has a large ecosystem of tools and GUI clients.

SVN (Subversion): SVN is a centralized version control system that also allows multiple people to collaborate on a project. Unlike Git, SVN does not have a local repository; everything is centralized. It’s often used in enterprise settings and is known for its simplicity and fine-grained access control.

Build Tools: Jenkins, Travis CI

Jenkins: Jenkins is an open-source automation server that helps automate parts of the software development process. Jenkins has a vast plugin ecosystem and integrates with virtually all DevOps tools, from Docker to Puppet. It’s highly customizable and widely used in CI/CD pipelines.

Travis CI: Travis CI is a cloud-based continuous integration service that automatically builds and tests code changes in GitHub repositories. It’s known for its simplicity and ease of integration with GitHub. It supports multiple programming languages and allows for matrix builds.

Configuration Management: Ansible, Puppet, Chef

Ansible: Ansible is an open-source automation tool for configuration management, application deployment, and task automation. It uses a simple, human-readable language (YAML) and works over SSH. Ansible is agentless, meaning you don’t need to install any software on the nodes you manage.

Puppet: Puppet is an automation software used for system management. It uses a master-slave architecture and a domain-specific language for scripting. Puppet can manage complex and distributed environments and is extensible through modules.

Chef: Chef is another automation tool that manages infrastructure as code. It uses a Ruby-based DSL for writing system configurations. Chef has a strong focus on automation and integration and is often used in large-scale enterprise environments.

Containerization: Docker, Kubernetes

Docker: Docker is a platform that enables developers to develop, ship, and run applications in containers. A container is a standalone executable package that includes everything needed to run a piece of software, including libraries, runtime, and system tools.

Kubernetes: Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that automates the deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It works with various container tools, including Docker.

Monitoring: Grafana, Prometheus

Grafana: Grafana is an open-source platform for monitoring and observability. It allows you to query, visualize, and alert on metrics and logs no matter where they are stored. It’s highly customizable through plugins and dashboards.

Prometheus: Prometheus is an open-source monitoring system and time-series database. It features a multi-dimensional data model, a flexible query language, and integrates well with Grafana for visualization.

Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams

Slack: Slack is a collaboration hub that connects work with the people you work with through channels, where you can communicate and share files easily. It also supports various integrations, including with DevOps tools like Jenkins and GitHub.

Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a collaboration app that helps your team stay organized and has conversations all in one place. It’s deeply integrated with other Microsoft Office tools and allows for video conferencing, file sharing, and extensibility through plugins.

Each of these tools plays a critical role in a DevOps environment, helping teams to automate tasks, collaborate more effectively, and maintain high-quality software.

Benefits of DevOps

Speed: Enable faster development and release cycles

Detail: One of the primary advantages of DevOps is its ability to accelerate the pace of software development and deployment. This speed is achieved through automation, continuous integration, and continuous delivery, which eliminate manual errors, provide quick feedback to development teams, and enable fast release of new features.

How DevOps Helps:

  • CI/CD pipelines allow for automated testing and deployment, reducing the time between writing code and deploying it to production.
  • Automated build and test processes mean developers spend less time fixing errors and more time creating new features.

Reliability: Ensure that changes are reliable and secure through automated testing

Detail: Reliability in DevOps refers to the consistency and stability of software performance. Automated testing is a cornerstone of this, ensuring that all code is verified before it’s deployed. This reduces the chances of a new update causing a failure in the live environment.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Automated testing frameworks can simulate thousands of different scenarios to ensure code reliability.
  • Rollback features allow developers to revert to previous versions quickly if an issue arises, ensuring system stability.

Scalability: Use automation and consistency to manage complex or changing systems efficiently

Detail: As systems grow, the complexity of managing them increases. DevOps practices like Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and containerization help manage this complexity, making it easier to scale systems up or down as needed.

How DevOps Helps:

  • IaC allows for the automated setup, configuration, and management of servers, making it easier to scale infrastructure.
  • Containerization technologies like Docker and Kubernetes make it easier to manage application deployment at scale.

Improved Collaboration: Break down silos and encourage open communication and collaboration within the organization

Detail: DevOps encourages a culture of collaboration and shared responsibility. This is a shift from traditional models where developers and operations teams often worked in silos, leading to delays and friction.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Shared tools and practices, such as version control and continuous integration, encourage collaboration.
  • Real-time communication platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams facilitate better communication among team members.

Security: Integrate security into the software development lifecycle

Detail: Security is often considered a separate domain from development and operations, but DevOps aims to integrate security into the development lifecycle. This practice is sometimes referred to as DevSecOps.

How DevOps Helps:

  • Automated security testing can be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline, ensuring that vulnerabilities are identified and addressed as early as possible.
  • Configuration management tools can enforce security policies automatically, reducing the risk of human error leading to security issues.

By focusing on these key benefits, DevOps aims to create a more efficient, collaborative, and high-quality software development lifecycle.

DevOps is not just a set of tools or a job title; it’s a culture and a way of approaching the problems of software development and operations. It’s about breaking down barriers and building a collaborative environment where teams can share responsibilities and work together more effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About DevOps

What is the difference between DevOps and Agile?

While both DevOps and Agile aim to improve software development processes, they focus on different aspects. Agile is primarily concerned with the development phase, emphasizing iterative progress, flexibility, and collaboration with stakeholders. DevOps, on the other hand, focuses on the entire software development lifecycle, from development to operations, aiming to create a seamless pipeline for delivering software.

How does DevOps improve software security?

DevOps integrates security into the software development lifecycle, a practice often referred to as DevSecOps. Automated security tests are included in the CI/CD pipeline, ensuring that vulnerabilities are identified and addressed as early as possible. Configuration management tools can also enforce security policies automatically.

What are some common DevOps tools?

DevOps employs a variety of tools to automate and streamline the software development and deployment process. Some common tools include:

Version Control: Git, SVN
Build Tools: Jenkins, Travis CI
Configuration Management: Ansible, Puppet, Chef
Containerization: Docker, Kubernetes
Monitoring: Grafana, Prometheus

What is Infrastructure as Code (IaC)?

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a DevOps practice where the infrastructure of a system is managed and provisioned through code, rather than manual operations. This allows for automated setup, configuration, and management of servers, databases, networks, and other system components. Common IaC tools include Ansible, Terraform, Puppet, and Chef.

How do I get started with DevOps in my organization?

Implementing DevOps in an organization is a cultural shift that requires buy-in from both management and technical teams. Start by identifying bottlenecks in your current development and deployment processes. Then, choose appropriate DevOps tools and practices to address these issues. Training and collaboration are key, so make sure your teams are up to speed with the new tools and practices.

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