Are you in search of DevOps best practices you can use? If the answer is yes, here are eight practices to streamline your existing process and how to implement them.
Most of the best practices mentioned below revolve around implementing continuous integration and deployment, regularly testing, enhancing collaboration between teams, and modifying the organization’s culture. Following these practices will result in greater efficiency during deployment and more reliable services in the long run.
Before we look at the best practice, let’s get familiar with DevOps.
What is DevOps?
DevOps can be best understood as a business ideology that focuses on improving communication and collaboration among development and operation teams to improve the speed and quality of software development. It is a way of working that brings significant benefits to both the teams and the organization they are part of.
The Importance of DevOps
Yes, a DevOps transformation can be challenging as it demands overhauling the business structures and processes. Nonetheless, it is well worth the effort.
According to a DevOps Trends survey, nearly 99 percent of participants said that DevOps positively impacted their organization. Similarly, another DevOps study found that practitioners of the ideology release 208 times more frequently and 106 times faster than low-performing teams.
However, it is not just the speed to market that DevOps guarantee. It also helps reduce the failure rate by seven times compared to low-performing teams.
DevOps Best Practices
#1 – Agile Software Development
In software development and project management approach, Agile leverages the actual customer and user feedback to offer value to end-users faster. Teams that have adopted the Agile method focus on delivering in small increments. All steps involved in a process, including plans and requirements, are regularly assessed to help teams respond and adjust to the changing scenario and market demands.
When it comes to DevOps, the main purpose is to deliver reliable code faster, ignite cross-team collaboration, and embrace automation; whereas Agile primarily focuses on workflow productivity, customer requirements, and incremental progress.
Hence, by using Agile in DevOps, you get to enjoy faster release cycles with enhanced reliability for the end-user.
#2 – Continuous Integration (CI)
A software development practice, continuous integration (CI), involves regularly merging the source code into a central repository. Once merged, automated tests and builds are initiated to validate the quality of the code.
CI focuses on finding and addressing bugs earlier in the lifecycle, improving the overall code quality, and maximizing deployment efficiency. With teams working in unison, it leads to improved processes, which boosts the frequency organically. Additionally, detecting bugs earlier in the development cycle aids teams in steering away from potentially significant issues after the code is released to production. Over time, this will also improve technical debt.
#3 – Continuous Delivery (CD)
Software deployment spans building, validating, and version controlling to processes involved in the deployment and post-deployment phase. Continuous delivery (CD) is an approach that comes under software development and acts as an extension of continuous integration (CI).
So, what is CD about? CD is where the development team produces the code in short cycles that can be automatically released at any time. All changes in the code are built, tested, and released into production automatically.
In an organization with an efficiently implemented CD, developers possess a deployment-ready build that has passed the standard test procedure. CD further offers an automated release process atop automated testing, which can be easily deployed with a few clicks. This reduces the manual effort a team has to put in when deploying, as the framework automatically boosts the testing and review steps. Ultimately, this streamlines the journey of a code towards production and mitigates failure.
#4 – Continuous Monitoring
Another crucial DevOps practice, continuous monitoring, offers you complete visibility into the health and performance of the overall application stack—from the basic infrastructure to the high-level software components. To achieve this, the DevOps team leverages a collection of telemetry (event data and logs) from various parts of the system.
Continuous monitoring improves the visibility of a system’s operations, particularly those susceptible to security breaches. With that sort of visibility, you can easily set up alerts and work to address the issues as soon as they arise. Additionally, you also get to identify performance bottlenecks and fix them before they lead to further damage.
The DevOps teams can leverage monitoring dashboards and set meaningful alerts against collected data metrics to watch how the services are performing in the production or how users feel about various parts of the service. These real-time insights help teams better understand how specific changes affect the end-users and how you can work to fix or improve the experience.
#5 – Microservices
The microservices architecture combines several services in a distributed application, each with a specific function or feature. Under the microservices architectural pattern, each service could be deployed separately, run its own processes, and interact with other services through a web interface. You could use languages or frameworks to write different services within the microservices architecture, which can further be deployed independently or as a collection of services.
Now, why are microservices so interesting? Because they are open and closed at the same time. The overall architecture of microservices is open for extension through the exposed interface. However, it is closed for modification which can only be implemented and versioned separately.
The main advantage of the microservices architecture is that it’s pretty straightforward to remove a single point of failure by making sure that an issue with one service doesn’t affect the other. Furthermore, microservices are easier to scale. All your DevOps teams have to do is extend the functionality by adding a new microservice without impacting the rest of the application.
#6 – Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Infrastructure as code (IaC) involves provisioning and managing a service’s infrastructure using coding and software development techniques like version control. IaC helps teams to communicate with the infrastructure programmatically rather than making changes to the configuration manually or using scripts.
In simple words, the infrastructure in DevOps is considered the same as any other code. And as it is defined by code, the infrastructure and its services can be quickly deployed through standard patterns and updated using the latest patches and releases.
With IaC, DevOps teams get to test the applications earlier in the development stage, much like in a production environment. The code is tested and validated to avoid common deployment issues. Typically, the DevOps teams anticipate facilitating various on-demand test environments reliably. IaC helps them prevent manual configuration and enforce consistency. Hence, teams that embrace IaC can deliver stable environments quickly and at scale.
#7 – Configuration Management
Configuration management revolves around managing the state of a system’s resources like virtual machines (VM), servers, and databases. By leveraging configuration management tools, teams get to automate and standardize the otherwise manual configuration process. This helps the system admins from having to spend hours manually configuring the operating system, server software, and system app. Additionally, it also enables developers to roll out changes systematically, thereby lowering the risk of accidentally changing the system configuration.
Generally, configuration management is used in conjunction with infrastructure as a code. By templating the system definition and configuration, teams become empowered to operate complex environments at scale.
#8 – Version Control
As the name suggests, version control involves managing the software code in versions. This is beneficial as the development team gets to track changes and revisions and quickly review and recover a code. Much like infrastructure as a code, and continuous integration (CI), Version control is an essential DevOps practice.
Typically, Git is used to implement version control, which enables multiple developers to collaborate and code. Every developer works on their copy of the code and the changes aren’t integrated into the main branch unless it is approved by the repository owner. The process of merging the code changes within the same file makes it easier to deal with conflicts and roll back changes without impacting the codebase.
A Better Culture for a Better Future
DevOps is all about transparency, trust, collaboration, and empathy. Meaning, if your organization’s culture is one where these qualities are already established, it will be relatively easy for your teams to adopt the best DevOps practices. However, don’t worry if your company culture isn’t up to the mark. A tad bit of extra effort is all it will take to develop these qualities.
A majority of organizational structures are siloed—different teams are offered as separate areas of ownership and responsibilities, and there is just a small amount of cross-team communication or collaboration.
For DevOps to be successful, these barriers should be eliminated using the “you build it, you run it” practice. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be people or teams specializing in a specific area. Instead, the lines of communication and collaboration between teams should be kept open.
Lastly, remember that improving your DevOps practices is a continuous journey. So, focus on people and processes as you begin your DevOps transformation. Then move on to integrating advanced tools, resources, features, and functionality as you slowly become a mature team.
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