Dev Ops


What is DevOps?

DevOps is a method designed to increase the speed, security and delivery and efficiency of software development compared to traditional approaches to software development. It is targeted toward collaborative companies who intend to accelerate their software development through automation, allow faster collaboration, and iterative improvement through continually implementing constant feedback.

Going beyond DevOps, however, some companies have started to “Shift Left” completely, instating that the developers can also complete operations management and tasks with just a click of a button.

History of DevOps

The DevOps philosophy was created by the agile method practising project manager Patrick Debois. Debois believed the separation between software development and IT operations raised some inadequacies and disorganisation.

As I have previously mentioned, Debois was an agile practitioner. However, what exactly is the agile methodology? The agile software development methodology is an approach to project management that consists of incrementally and frequently delivering small bits of improvement to the website (correcting errors or implementing customer feedback). The main difference between agile and DevOps is that the latter believes in uniting development and operational teams to develop software continuously, whereas agile is iterative rather than continuous.

How it Works

DevOps means that the development and operations teams work together entirely from scratch to finish the product. It starts by designing and developing the software and then testing automation on that software to achieve the team’s goal. There are four accepted stages to good DevOps:

1. Planning

In this step, the team plan the timeline for writing code, establishing the major and minor specifications for the product as well as the objectives of the team and finally setting up a system to track the progress and change requests.

2. Automate Testing

This phase is essential to the foundation of DevOps. This stage enables the company to be able to test their services earlier and as often as possible and be able to see how users receive their services. When adding or modifying code, the old system must still be able to function without errors, and hence makes this process is repetitive. Hence automation has become a widely viable option. Using automation tools powered by AI or machine learning, testing your services can be efficient and user-focused rather than simply finding errors in the code.

3. Automate deployment:

After your code has been tested for function and security, both teams must run a trial to see if the service can be ready for the public. This is the deployment process, and there are usually tools to help deploy these services.

4. The final stage:

This step is crucial as it ties together all the different changes and loose ends. In this step, the development and operations team can overview the changes made to the code and understand why that has been made. This allows the organisation to manage the complexities and scale of tools, processes and services.

Explanation of the DevOps lifecycle

The DevOps life cycle is a series of phases based on the automated development processes that are gone through when building software. As previously mentioned, this life cycle is continuous, hence the infinity representation of the phases.

The infinite loops depict the collaboration between developers and operations teams and their iterative approaches to building the application.

The 7 Phases in the DevOps life cycle

1. Plan

In this stage, the teams identify the goals, business requirements, and project scope. It is also the stage in which they may collect user feedback and brainstorm solutions by considering that feedback.

2. Code

This is the stage where developers start coding and using tools such as GIT to create and track the changes in the code. This also assists them in avoiding security issues and incorrect coding practices.

3. Build

In the building stage, the developers commit their code to the repository shared between the teams.

4. Test

This is the stage where the code is deployed to the testing environment (not to the public users). In this environment, several types of testing centred around the user are conducted, which helps to ensure and improve the quality of the software.

5. Release

Once the code has passed all the tests, the build is ready to be deployed to the public via the operations team into the production environment. In this stage, the Ops team plans and schedules the release of this code to the public.

6. Deploy

This is where the code is deployed. Infrastructure-as-Code creates the production environment and then releases the build using different tools.

7. Operate

This stage consists of the user interaction and success of the new build. In this stage, the Ops team configures the server and its provisions through tools.

8. Monitor

The DevOps in this stage come together to monitor customer behaviour and user interactions with their code/application. This allows the team to locate issues and errors, increasing both teams’ productivity and goal to fix such problems.

Going Beyond DevOps: Shifting Left

The shift left the approach to testing software earlier in the development lifecycle. To be understood, the approach shifts the testing stage “left,” indicating that the testing is carried out earlier and integrated into each step. At the beginning of the project development, we may not have an application to test, so how is this approach implemented?

Testing is only a piece, empowering developers to plan, build, test and perform more operations to empower the developer to take on operational tasks; people specialised in DevOps empower developers and help automate shifting left for the future. DevOps specialists use IaC to implement this approach.

To think of this approach more straightforwardly, we can split the DevOps lifecycle, which is a continuous infinity loop right down the middle in half.

*insert devops loop here*

In conventional DevOps, the left or the “dev” side develops software that meets user and company requirements. This software then gets pushed to the right side to the “ops” for the production to go public. However, when shifting left, the test stage before the release stage gets moved left in the cycle or implemented throughout each stage of development.

Why is this approach important?

Shifting left can become a very productive and crucial approach in developing any software. It means that development teams can test code in an environment similar to the real-life public setting when it is fully deployed. This allows the team to analyse and fix any errors, which can become more accessible to fix rather than issues later down the line when the code is live and user-facing.

Shifting Right is another approach that helps test code for developers who release new features in the code incrementally. However, this approach becomes part of the DevOps lifecycle to align the development and operations team’s roles more closely.

Tools in DevOps: categorise

For each phase in the DevOps lifecycle, there are countless tools that software developers and operations teams must get familiar with to design and maintain their software successfully. The vast abyss that is tools in DevOps can seem too big a task to learn for a developer who is already tasked with the role of building this software. For many small and medium-sized businesses, the engineers building the product do not have the time, energy and capability to learn these new and emerging tools required to maintain DevOps.

We can help with that. Canditude is a service that remedies this issue for the developer. We are a long-term DevOps partner for businesses seeking to outsource DevOps to a company specialising in many cloud tools and architecture systems such as Terraform, Ansible, Git, YAML, Kubernetes and more.

Having everything written in code may also be regarded as a form of inventory of all the cloud resources being used. You can keep track of what you use this way, making it easy to analyse consumption, anticipate costs, and make decisions.

Many businesses that push their engineers into learning all these tools end up with a developer who is essentially firefighting to keep up. The following tool categories are essential for each developer in their DevOps journey:

1. Deployment

Once the software has been built and is ready for testing out to the public, it must be deployed in the public environment. As DevOps aims at automated testing, knowledge of CI/CD automation is necessary for the developer to be familiar with. This stands for continuous integration and delivery, in which any change to the software build can be almost instantly deployed to the public via tools such as Git. However, to set up this automation, knowledge of only Git is not enough. It is also essential to understand containers and container orchestration.

Containers and container orchestration is the automation of the operations required to run containerised services such as provisioning, deployment, scaling, networking and more. When we use a container orchestration tool like Kubernetes, the application's configuration is described using either a YAML or JSON file. These files tell tools like Kubernetes where the container images are located, how a network should be established and where logs to file changes and updates are stored.

2. IaC

You can look at our other article to understand what IaC, or infrastructure as code is. However, IaC is the process whereby computer data that creates a data infrastructure is provisioned and managed. To implement IaC, the developer has to familiarise themselves with the processes of automating infrastructure updates and learn tools such as Terraform to assist them in creating, changing and improving infrastructure. To successfully use Terraform, however, users need to be able to use the declarative configuration language called HashiCorp, or they can use JSON.

3. Observability

This category focuses on providing a technical solution via such tools for teams to actively debug their system after it has been monitored. It is slightly different from the monitoring stage, as the data is gathered, analysed and tracked in the monitoring stage. In contrast, Observability is the actual understanding of the data generated in the monitoring stage. Observability utilises logs, metrics and traces collected in the monitoring stage to explore and locate the main issues that may have gone previously unnoticed.

Tools in this category include Grafana (for visualisation) or Prometheus, which allow the user to monitor their software live and in real-time. This allows the operations team to monitor software health, behaviour and performance and collects this data from infrastructure platforms such as Kubernetes.

4. Security: DevSecOps

Security in DevOps alludes to the practice of protecting the DevOps environment created and set up by either the DevOps engineer or the developer through methods, strategies, processes and technology. Due to complex applications within the DevOps environment, ensuring the safety of these applications can become a challenge.

Due to the automation of processes, e.g. code repositories required to build and run applications, when these processes communicate with each other, often multiple at a time, how can the security of the information processed and transferred be guaranteed?

In each company implementing automation, security needs to be prioritized from the beginning to the end of the life cycle. To enable security of DevOps in your business/organization, integrating security policies in processes such as within CI/CD pipelines, creating passwords and saving them within applications such as Bitwarden, network security and protocols, source code scanning before deployment for potential vulnerabilities within the code and automatic threat detection in operating system security is crucial for the safety and protection of sensitive information.

2021 IEEE Standard 2675:

Since 2021 IEEE has developed a new standard for DevOps, Standard 2675, which highlights how DevOps can help find solutions for challenges in software development methodologies that can help achieve end-user goals and improve the developers' productivity and quality.

The standard is suitable for businesses and organisations that focus on embracing and managing risk and security within their company while allowing for rapid development and growth. The standard assists businesses in helping implement the DevOps transformations to their workflow efficiently and securely as the standard is closely aligned to all stages of the DevOps lifecycle.

The standard provides the developers with specific requirements, criteria and guidance to be met when implementing DevOps, especially to define, control and reliably improve software and systems. The business’ developers and operations can build, package and deploy software and communicate effectively with each other and to the stakeholder. It also applied a common framework across the different businesses for the lifecycle of software development which makes working with other companies and collaborations between projects easy and efficient. The standard contains processes, activities and tasks applied to software systems, products and services, including development, production, utilisation, support and retirement.

The standard can apply to all software systems and software portions of any system, including software portions in firmware. The standard applies to unique and standalone software systems, commercially and publicly used systems, and customisable and adaptable software systems. It also applies to standalone systems, which can later be integrated into more extensive, complex, complete systems.

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