You may have heard the term “DevOps” around the web, especially if you’re managing software projects.
But what is DevOps, really? What value does it bring? Should you add a dedicated DevOps Engineer to your project?
It might be the smart choice, because a DevOps Engineer will:
- prepare environments and toolchains for your developers;
- allow rapid automated code deployment for faster programming and testing;
- keep your server cloud infrastructure healthy and cost-effective.
However, the benefits and intricacies of DevOps don’t end there. Read on to learn more.
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The meaning of DevOps can be variously understood. The question is especially tricky to answer because DevOps is more of an idea, and everyone adapts it to their own requirements. It’s not a methodology like Scrum; you’ll find no “rituals” here.
One way to provide a definition of DevOps is this: it’s a response to the divide between development teams (Devs) and server admins/IT operations teams (Ops). DevOps attempts to bridge that divide.
When you start implementing DevOps, you allow your sys admins to become involved with your development team, and vice versa. In essence, you’re breaking down the two silos.
Okay, “breaking down the silos” may sound great, but when you bring a DevOps expert on board, what do they actually do?
Here are some sample DevOps responsibilities:
- DevOps automate processes so that developers can more easily deploy code. Once the DevOps Engineer is done building the process, it’s not uncommon for deployment to take only one click.
- DevOps can create a new environment for your project from scratch. This includes handling server architecture and storage services, as well as setting up server hardware and software.
- A DevOps Engineer can also help you maintain and optimize your existing environment(s).
- DevOps can help you decide on the best server tech stack to handle your code, taking into account scalability, security, and maintainability.
- On top of all that, a DevOps Engineer will also keep an eye on app and infrastructure statistics to identify insights and potential problems ahead of time.
A typical day of a DevOps expert may involve:
- setting up and configuring virtual servers via AWS;
- implementing Continuous Integration via Jenkins;
- improving the end-user experience by introducing a web caching service;
- creating new automation platforms with Ansible and Rundeck;
- resolving day-to-day server problems, such as running out of disk space;
- documenting the dev toolchain;
- setting up tools for monitoring and collecting statistics from the infrastructure and the application;
- communicating with the dev team to foster good deployment practices.
Check out this discussion on Linux Academy for more examples of DevOps activities.
How exactly does adding a DevOps Engineer help your development team? Let us count the ways.
Very often in standard software projects, it’s the developers who end up configuring the server infrastructure. But if you’re looking to maximize your resources, you should recognize that that is not the developers’ area of expertise. It’s not where they can provide the most value.
With a DevOps expert on board, you have an expert who can handle server infrastructure from A to Z, freeing up the developers’ time.
DevOps Engineers can set up virtual machines and other environments in advance. Thanks to their work, developers begin Day One of the project with a complete toolchain in one hand, the project specs in the other hand, and they can get right to work.
Think of it as the difference between entering a fully-equipped workshop with everything in place versus entering an empty shack with all the tools packed in bags somewhere in the corner. The former helps you start building much faster.
When the code builds automatically in one click, releases become frictionless. When a developer finishes coding a new feature and it passes review, it can get deployed instantly to a testing instance, where testers can begin their work immediately.
While a primer on how to implement DevOps yourself may be outside the scope of this article, we can shed some light on what working with a DevOps services provider like STX Next looks like.
Let’s assume you’re using AWS as the basis for your infrastructure:
- The root account belongs to you, of course.
- You give our DevOps Engineer admin access (we don’t see invoicing data).
- And that’s it!
From the moment we gain access, we can prepare the full stack and architecture.
The reason companies of all sizes employ external DevOps providers is similar to the reasons they decide to outsource in general.
When you outsource development, you have an idea you want to implement or project specs you want to realize, but you don’t have the manpower. So you hire a development team and build the app.
Assuming you’re a good market fit, your app quickly becomes popular. The next problem is scaling.
You want an infrastructure that can take the load and stretch its capabilities to handle usage spikes—but you also want an infrastructure that won’t cost you millions. In that case, an experienced DevOps partner can help you make the optimal choice.
Keep in mind that even if your code is well-written, bug-free, and well-optimized, your server stack may still fail you. Simply put, DevOps will save you from that.
Thanks for reading our quick primer on the value of DevOps for your software project.
If you have a project you’d like to accelerate, feel free to tell us about it.
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