Agile and DevOps are two notions that originate from the same schools of thought, but whose paths now have digressed. However, a major amount of confusion still remains within the IT services industry with regards to the relationship between the two and has emerging agile & devops trends in 2017. Hence, it is of value to look at the origins of each and to clarify the disparities between them.
‘Tell me what you want, what you really really want!!’
Does the tune ring a bell? Back in the 1990s, the Spice Girls were expressing to the world what they really really wanted, and similarly business owners and corporate leaders were doing pretty much the same, indicating what they wanted to software developers who were working on enabling these organizations through technology. Unfortunately, these business owners were not as lucky as the Spice Girls. More often than not they really didn’t get what they wanted. By the time business requirements were properly understood, validated and finally realized through software products the business requirements more or less had changed.
This was mainly due to the ‘application delivery lag time period’ that sometimes went up to three years. The result of the aforementioned delay from concept to realization meant that a large proportion of projects were stopped before completion. Even then, those that eventually reached the finish line more often than not did not meet the end users’ expectations.
The introduction of Agile – The change-driven management approach
The search was on for a more lightweight approach to solution delivery and the result was ‘agile’ – a project management approach with a series of new concepts with regards to collaboration between business owners and the implementation team including UI / UX engineers, developers and even QA engineers. Instead of eliciting, documenting and signing off all the requirements up front and getting it signed off before work began, the focus shifted to delivering value through increments of functional software that would evolve over time.
The results indicated that the software implementation team had become more productive, businesses could be more responsive in responding to queries of the implementation team, and user demands could be met more efficiently. However, problems remained. The agile approach didn’t always deliver on the promise of continuous, seamless software development. Blockers continued to exist.
So, what is DevOps?
The first thing to note is the fact that DevOps is not an individual tool or a suite of solutions but more of a philosophy whose primary purpose is to reduce the distance between the worlds of software development and IT operations. It defines how the original concepts of agile have moved downstream to the level of infrastructure and operations.
The DevOps concept sounds relatively straightforward, but in reality it is a little bit more complicated. Software development and IT operations have historically had very different approaches. Software developers appreciate the ability to change things quickly and often they do end up changing things rapidly. In the meantime IT operators focus on stability and on minimizing alteration. This philosophical disparity has often resulted in conflicts. Thus, one of the main challenges of DevOps is to ensure that this conflict decreases before it affects the businesses.
Importance of DevOps Principles
For this very reason indicated above, it is very important to consider and act up on the core principles of DevOps. They are,
- Close collaboration and communication between developers, system operators and software testers
- Continuous integration that requires developers and operators to commit to changes more frequently
- Continuous delivery to increase the team’s speed and efficiency while enabling early detection of bugs
- Continuous deployment to ensure new developments can be released without system downtime
The DevOps philosophy goes hand-in-hand with the delivery processes described in ITIL Framework in terms of support and IT services management. DevOps can therefore be seen as a way to implement ITIL processes in such a manner that meets the demands placed on systems today.