DevOps brings together two important groups: the people who create software (developers) and the people who keep computer systems running smoothly (operations teams). The goal of DevOps is to make these two teams work together more effectively to make and update software faster and more reliably.
The DevOps market is projected to have a CAGR of 24.7% between 2023 and 2030. DevOps practices are already commonplace in many organizations, and adoption is constantly growing.
DevOps implementation bridges the gap between developers and end-users, expediting the development cycle and elevating the caliber of final products. If your SaaS organization hasn’t yet embraced the DevOps culture, this guide will help you implement DevOps tools and principles successfully.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a set of practices and cultural philosophies that combine software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). Its primary goal is to shorten the software development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.
DevOps achieves this by promoting better collaboration and communication between development and operations teams, automating the process of software integration, testing, deployment, and infrastructure changes. This approach enhances an organization's ability to deliver applications and services at a faster pace compared to traditional software development and infrastructure management processes.
This approach especially benefits startups aiming to produce stable, reliable, high-quality products with enhanced speed and efficiency.
Planning a Successful DevOps Implementation
Changing your development workflows can create significant upheaval. Proper planning is vital to achieving a smooth transition.
Assessing Your Current Infrastructure
Before you change your existing development practices, you must understand your current procedures and infrastructure.
Choosing the Right Tools and Technologies
A robust toolchain is a vital part of implementing DevOps. What are some of the best DevOps tools and software to consider?:
- Versioning/collaboration: Source code management tools and platforms like GitHub/Gitlab, Subversion, Mercurial, etc.
- Containers and container orchestration: Docker, Kubernetes, etc.
- Testing: Katalon, Selenium, etc.
- Monitoring: Tools for monitoring the performance of your applications and web services, ideally with logging and alerting features
Whether you use in-house scripts or third-party tools to automate deployment depends on the platforms you're deploying to. For example, Amazon offers AWS CodePipeline for easy cloud deployment.
When choosing your tools, consider what you’re already using for software development and what your developers are already familiar with. Try to avoid unnecessary code-switching or developing in-house workarounds to get tools to communicate with each other if there’s already an API available.
If you’re a smaller organization, you may think building by hand or monitoring your endpoints with occasional pings will get the job done. However, this manual approach won’t scale. Start testing your automation today so that you have robust systems in place as your operations grow.
DevOps Implementation Roadmap
Introducing effective DevOps implementation into your organization can't be done overnight. It takes planning, training, and testing to help your team understand and apply DevOps best practices. The following roadmap may help you introduce DevOps concepts in your workplace.
|DevOps Implementation Roadmap
|Planning for DevOps
|Firstly, examine your current development processes and take the time to measure metrics such as how frequently deployments are made, failure rates, and time to recovery.
Take an inventory of your current tools. If you’re using Git or Jenkins or have services running on AWS, this may influence your future tool selections.
Identify parts of your project that might be easy to spin-off from the main codebase so you can test your DevOps workflows.
|Selecting Your Toolchain
|Consider the tools you already use and what you’d need to add to create an entire DevOps pipeline. Platforms such as GitHub offer many DevOps features, but you may want to look into your own tools to build a CI/CD pipeline.
If you’re not confident about embracing full infrastructure automation, start with planning and collaboration tools, test automation, and deployment software.
Consider setting up a test environment where you can experiment with container orchestration, provisioning, and configuration management tools in a low-risk way. Once you feel confident, you can add these tools to your workflow.
|Training Your Team
|Training your development teams and operations staff on your DevOps process is essential. This training should cover not only the technical side but also the philosophy behind DevOps.
Skills such as spinning up an AWS instance or managing docker containers are commonplace even among less-experienced developers. Adapting to new rapid-delivery cycles and continuous deployment tools may be a challenge for developers used to the traditional IT approach.
|Running Pilot Projects
|Low-risk deployments are a core part of the DevOps strategy. Rather than converting your entire software project to a new methodology in one fell swoop, look for smaller projects you can run as a pilot.
For example, if you’re building a web app, consider breaking it up into microservices. An API endpoint could be a microservice you’ll use to test your tools and processes.
|Once you’re confident you’ve got a working plan from delivery to testing, quality assurance, and deployment, you can implement the procedures on a wider scale. Your IT operations and development teams will feel more confident if they’ve seen DevOps employed successfully in pilot projects.
As you execute your DevOps program, continue to solicit feedback from stakeholders across departments and from your DevOps team. The philosophy of continuous improvement doesn’t just apply to your codebase; it should apply to the development lifecycle, too.
Overcoming Common Challenges in DevOps Adoption
Change doesn't always come easily. Consider the following when introducing your team to DevOps practices.
Managing Change and Resistance
It’s normal for developers and managers to be nervous about more frequent deployments and faster delivery. To highlight the benefits, focus on measurable DevOps metrics and emphasize how continuous testing can reduce the impact of human errors while helping your organization achieve its common goal of producing a quality software product.
A well-implemented DevOps program can help you produce a high-quality product with a shorter time-to-market, increasing customer satisfaction and reducing your development costs.
Ensuring Consistent Quality and Performance
Shorter development times and more frequent deployments don’t have to cause more bugs. Continuous integration tools and automated testing tools allow developers to receive near real-time feedback on the quality of their code.
Builds can be deployed to testing and then rolled out to a production environment once they’re proven to be stable. Because each build is smaller and version control systems are in place, it’s easy to roll back builds when an issue is found. In addition, tracing the root causes of any bugs is a more straightforward process because fewer things change in each build.
Integrating DevOps with Existing Processes
Treat transitioning to DevOps in a way similar to migrating to the cloud. Start by containerizing your applications and testing them in a staging area before implementing infrastructure automation tools such as Ansible or Kubernetes.
Containerizing applications makes them easy to deploy, which can save time for testers and quality assurance.
Making larger changes to your infrastructure may be risky if you have complex legacy systems.
As the success stories of companies such as Ticketmaster and Capital One show, gradually breaking off core pieces of functionality into isolated microservices makes the transition to a DevOps methodology relatively low risk.
Measuring the Success of Your DevOps Implementation
Once your DevOps processes are in place, you must review their performance regularly and update them in response to critical metrics.
Key Metrics and Performance Indicators
Track key metrics such as:
- Change rates
- Failure rates
- Successful deployments
- Time to recover from failures
- Application performance
In addition, consider more subjective measures, such as end-user satisfaction. If you deliver stable new releases with often-requested functionality, your users will be happier, and your DevOps strategy will achieve your operational goals.
Continuous Improvement and Feedback Loops
The goal of DevOps is to support iteration and continuous improvement, and your DevOps implementation strategy should be based on the same idea. Seek feedback from key stakeholders and solicit advice from senior DevOps engineers as you interpret data on your development lifecycle. Each time you identify bottlenecks or issues, alter your processes or fine-tune your automation tools to optimize your workflow.
Is Your Workflow Efficient?
DevOps is an essential part of the Agile software development methodology, enabling faster application development, reducing downtime, and helping you deliver a better product for your end users.
What makes the DevOps approach work so well is not just the toolchain; it changes how people think and collaborate. Creating a culture of continuous development, where people aren’t afraid to deploy often and risk small failures, is also crucial.
If you're implementing DevOps in your SaaS organization, we'd love to hear about your experiences. Stay informed by subscribing to our newsletter for the latest technical developments in DevOps.