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What is DevOps?

DevOps is the backbone of modern agile software delivery and IT infrastructure and every business wants a DevOps engineer. DevOps architects and engineers design and implement streamlined software development pipelines to ensure customer-facing web apps have zero downtime and developers are able to deliver high-impact features directly to consumers at high velocity. DevOps is driving the future of information & technology and enabling the business of tomorrow. This cutting-edge field merges the disciplines of software development with IT operations and DevOps engineers possess the skill sets of both worlds.

Let’s break this down further and think about the typical life cycle of an application from its inception to its consumption by the customer.

Your typical technology cycle at a high level can be encompassed by the following three phases:

Plan → Build → Run

Of course, we are omitting a lot of details including pre-plan and post-run activities. But for now, let’s focus on these three and go from there.

The Plan stage is where the product & development teams gather business requirements and start to design, architect, and propose the software and application solutions to help solve the business challenges or advance business strategy. Here considerations must be made regarding available resources (staff, skills, technology stack), project deadlines, and what features will deliver value to the business and customers.

After gathering the requirements and designing the solution, the teams move on to build the solution. Development teams start putting ideas into real code and features get developed that address the business and stakeholder requirements. Once developers are confident the code functions as intended and delivers the desired value they test, build and package the application and hand it off to the IT Operations team.

In the Run stage, the purpose is to put the software & application product in an environment that allows customers to directly consume the product. For example, this could be officially launching a website to the public accessible over the internet or publishing the product on Apple’s app store. Whatever channels are decided on, in this production environment the Operations team has to ensure that the product works as intended – there are no security flaws and the application can sustain the scale of customers using the product.

When we think about this whole cycle and where each of the teams sit in the different stages, it suddenly becomes a little more clear that there are demarcations between the development and operations teams. Their focuses, priorities, and therefore modes of working will differ due to what they’re trying to accomplish. Developers are more inclined to build new features and functionality fast to ship to the customers. On the other hand, Operations teams need to focus on stability, uptime, availability, and resiliency of the applications. The operations teams are responsible for ensuring the production environment is replicable and safe for the customers to consume the products. They have to ensure the right infrastructures are in place to support the applications and their consumption. If developers rapidly produce software but the operations teams are unable to provision the appropriate infrastructures or configure the production environments as quickly, then the new releases will have to wait for all the checks and balances.

DevOps is a collection of approaches, practices, and tools that strives to resolve most of these challenges that development and operations teams face. If done correctly it can help foster greater integration and collaboration across the whole software lifecycle and help developers release features at scale, with greater velocity directly to the customers. To make this happen, development and operations goals and objectives need to merge, product responsibilities and accountabilities fall on both teams, and there becomes a singular vision shared across teams. Thought of another way, if suddenly a developer had rotating duties and was on call for a weekend night shift, they’ll probably do their due diligence with appropriate testing and security checks before handing the app over to operations to release in production. That’s why it’s not just about the tools or technologies, it’s also about how organizations approach the solutions and the workflow.

The DevOps workflow builds on top of the Plan → Build → Run framework to include continuous integration, monitoring, and feedback steps. In general, the DevOps lifecycle can be represented as an infinite loop of Plan → Build → Continuous Integration & Delivery/Deployment → Monitor → Run → Continuous Improvement/Feedback. DevOps engineers ensure every step of this loop runs smoothly and build the application pipelines and infrastructures to enable this software delivery flow.

Hence, DevOps teams leverage the right tools and technologies to streamline application creation and delivery. In later sections, you’ll learn about the tools DevOps engineers employ to make all this work. Because DevOps is not simply one tool or one skill set or one person but a collection of many gears turning together and working in sync, the right combination of people, technology, and culture must be in place for organizations to reap the most benefits from DevOps.

The upshot of all this is that DevOps once implemented sets in place a shift in mindset and approach for a business and organization regarding their technology architectures and operations. As an organization progresses towards more DevOps maturity, they also will embrace and leverage a stack that emphasizes these three components: cloud, automation, and microservices. The marriage of these three components allows organizations to maximize the benefits of DevOps and gain a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Read on to learn more about a career in DevOps and how WeCloudData can support you on your journey into DevOps.

Check out other career guides

Our Career Guide provides all the resources you will need to help you get started in navigating data careers. We include free resources, guides, and tools that will help you get started.

Recommend courses for DevOps Engineering

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