How DevOps is different from Agile and how DevOps differs from traditional IT operations

How DevOps is different from Agile

Overview of Agile

Agile focuses on collaboration, customer feedback, and rapid releases by following an iterative approach to project management and software development. From the context of software development, agile practices include adaptive planning, continual development, and improvement, requirements discovery, collaboration, solutions improvement, etc. Agile is often a collection of development practices such as scrum, and extreme programming and is not confined to a single development methodology. The agile manifesto is a unification of all these development methodologies.

DevOps

DevOps refers to a set of practices that combines software development and IT operations. It aims to enhance software quality by shortening the development cycle. DevOps provides better collaboration between software development and IT operations. Such a collaborative approach enables the identification of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI). The ultimate aim of the DevOps strategy is to ensure that the service delivery does not get interrupted and that the quality of the service is maintained.

Agile vs DevOps

  1. Agile focuses on addressing the gap between the customer and the development team whereas DevOps emphasizes addressing the gap and breaking the silos to foster better collaboration between the development and the operations team.
  2. Agile focuses on iterative development and constant changes based on small batches and teams whereas DevOps emphasizes more continuous test delivery and automation based on large teams.
  3. Agile focuses on functional and non-functional readiness whereas DevOps emphasizes business and operational readiness.

Traditional IT vs DevOps

1) Data Flow: Lack of Monitoring vs Effective Monitoring

In traditional IT operations, the feedback loop is restricted to the application being worked upon. It is difficult to trace out any downstream effects and is left to the operations team to identify them. DevOps practices are driven by agility and innovation and focused on addressing tasks in an accelerated manner. In DevOps culture, the flow of data and processes is associated with identifying areas of wastage, calculating the end-to-end cycle time, analyzing the quality, etc

2) Information: No Feedback vs Corrective Measures

Information is organized by the operations team in traditional IT. A comprehensive report is created by collecting the data. This data goes to the managerial level and then further to the director’s head. Often these data are limited and contain a lot of discrepancies and many times go unread. In DevOps, data is collected by the corresponding teams. Since the information is prepared by the team itself, it does away with manager approvals, creating lengthy statements, etc. The feedback is faster as the team is able to fully comprehend the data and act on it.

3) Organizational Structure: Skill-Centric vs Cells

In a traditional IT system, all the teams and departments are based on silos whereby they focus on particular and day-to-day routine activities. The project has to go through a number of skill-centric silos prior to deployment and delivery. DevOps involves merging cross-functional teams that act as a dedicated cell, which includes developers, operations specialists, analysts, etc thus paving the way to better handoff.

The cross-functional departments have people with diverse skill sets working together on a specific objective such as developing an application. In DevOps culture operations and development teams together do the paperwork with respect to the development cycle like placing orders for new tools, servers, etc thus resulting in better visibility of infrastructure requirements.

4) Process and Development Flow: Complete Release vs Frequent Release

In a traditional approach, applications go through a time-consuming and lengthy development cycle sequentially transiting through various departments. The end result is a complete release of the product. DevOps involves a development process with frequent releases. The concurrent process flow ensures that the development life cycle does not get delayed, unlike a traditional setup. Also, bugs and errors can be traced out easily and feature modifications can be made quickly.

5) Culture: Early Fail Culture vs Do Not Fail Culture

Traditional IT setups are often averse to code failures and risks. The teams try their best to not harm the business thus following a bureaucratic paperwork model that strictly adheres to well-laid down procedures and approvals. DevOps follows an altogether different culture that considers failure as an inevitable part and parcel.

This understanding itself is what makes teams opt for smaller deployments, as well as creating a well-structured team that is involved with continuous testing based on automation. Deployments based on stages enable the DevOps team to easily track the failures, unlike the traditional approach in which deployment is done on a full go thus accumulating and compounding the errors. Thus DevOps teams prefer to ‘fail small, and ’fail early’ so as to act on the failure faster. The smaller the failure the easier the recovery.

Conclusion

Embracing a DevOps culture provides enterprises with a host of returns. According to a 2017 State of DevOps Report, organizations that adopted a DevOps culture spend 21% less time on reworks and unplanned work and could use an additional 44% more time on a new job. Thus adopting a DevOps culture can have a profound effect on an enterprise. The only prerequisite to embracing that change is the need to realize its importance.

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