Buzzwords are everywhere these days, and IT World is no exception. One of the most recent buzzwords you could hear or see more often being thrown around in our industry is DevOps – what exactly does it mean?

The Growing DevOps Market

With a market value of $3.42 billion in 2018, the DevOps industry is projected to grow by 3 times in 5 years and become a $10 billion industry by 2023. We also find it interesting how many job listings are available on LinkedIn for DevOps professionals. DevOps salaries are no joke, averaging $120K in the US. Clearly, there must be something special about these professionals because they can get paid so much more than others despite having similar qualifications or experience levels.

In this article we’re dubbing DevOps for dummies, we’ll dive into the details on what DevOps is all about. We’ll discuss DevOps fundamentals, how to implement DevOps, what are the responsibilities of a DevOps engineer expert, and where you can get DevOps online training. Join us as we uncover what makes this six-letter word so attractive and mysterious.

What is DevOps?

The term DevOps came from combining Development and IT Operations. It is described as the emerging set of modern practices used within software development that helps organizations achieve higher speeds at delivering applications with high-quality standards. By delivering better and faster results than the competition, businesses implementing DevOps will eventually attract more customers. 

Still, how exactly can DevOps help in helping businesses achieve their ultimate goals? Why is DevOps considered a game-changer in the industry? To answer this question, we’ll go back a bit in time and discuss the software development cycle frequently used then.

How Did We Live Without DevOps Before?

Software development in the past is quite different from what we know today. Back then, when computers were huge, each server was tasked to perform predefined sets of instructions known as “Programs”. During those times, programs and servers only number a few.

Those who were tasked to develop programs were the “Developers”. On the other hand, those who maintain the computers, and operate backend servers, databases, and operating systems are called “System Administrators”. These two were tasked with pretty different jobs, so there’s little to no interaction between them. Their roles also didn’t have many intersecting skill sets. 

Systems or Software development lifecycle (SDLC) was so long and tedious that before a program could be deployed to the production server, it would take weeks or even months. Each change or code fix had to go through a long, exhausting, and mostly manual process which was prone to human errors and delays.

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) made it difficult to find time for testing new features and fixes before deploying them onto the production server. Each change had to go through an extensive manual process that could take weeks, if not months, depending on how much work is needed. With this tedious approach, it’s no wonder why results are always delayed and have low quality. 

This classic SDLC process consists of the following stages:

Analysis →  Design → Development →  Testing → Deployment → Maintenance

The classic SDLC process

Fig. 1. The classic SDLC process

In many companies, this approach still works fine; it’s known and accepted by all. This won’t be going anywhere any time soon with its own project management methodologies that are being used in the industry today, especially since they’re proven winners!

The Problem With SDLCs

But there’s a huge drawback with the SDLC practice – the lack of continuity and intersection between IT Operations and the Development aspects. 

The success of the whole SDLC process hinges on how the two teams perform. But since the ball is sequentially passed from one team to another, and no fast feedback mechanism is placed to improve coordination and collaboration, it becomes very difficult to restore and recover when things suddenly break down in the middle. 

When a software failure occurs, the blame is frequently placed on the other team. Administrators blame the developers for producing low-quality code, while developers point back to administrators, saying the program’s not running properly because they didn’t configure the servers correctly. This usually happens when a developer successfully runs their program on their machine but then crashes when it’s run on the server.


The blame game between Dev and Ops teams

Fig. 2. The blame game between Dev and Ops teams

This scenario has been a recurring problem among software development companies. Solutions and improvements were made to fix this issue, and this eventually gave birth to DevOps fundamentals. 

The changes in technology and tools require an evolution of processes. The increase of software products and the growth of microservices software architecture, along with a greater workload on IT Operations, have created a new need for better practices that can handle this growth efficiently. 
 

DevOps is The Way!

To operate multiple servers, virtual machines, and containers, the whole software development process must involve automation. Admins began developing custom-built scripts to utilize new servers and perform tasks outside the pre-configured images. They also started developing in-house monitoring solutions, automating tests and checks before patch roll-outs, configuring alarm systems that trigger notifications and alerts in case the system detects something wrong during installation and other scripts that make the development process more efficient. Eventually, the scripts, practices, and tools became commercial and open-source software products.

Another big change that happened is the evolution of the software process. The inadequacies of the waterfall SDLC model gave birth to Agile methodologies which were adopted by many companies.

Agile processes focus not only on metrics like cost and capacity of resources but also on time. In the world of Agile methodologies, speed is key. Businesses and consumers don’t want to wait for weeks or months before receiving new features. Additionally, new requirements appear constantly and frequently that old ones become obsolete before they’re delivered. 

Since time and speed are of prime importance, companies were competing on who can do things faster without sacrificing quality. Many are even going the extra mile and giving more than what’s required by the client. Those who are able to do this have an edge over others in terms of delivering products with highly satisfactory aesthetics, functionality, and performance.

With all these improvements in the process, excuses like “It works on my machine” are deemed invalid and unacceptable. 

There Must Be A Way

To remain competitive in the IT industry, software development companies MUST find ways to:

There must be a way to make the software work the same way in all environments, regardless if it is on developers’ machines or production servers.

There must be a way to reduce the time it takes for the developer’s code to commit to Version Control System (VCS) such as “Git” until the feature or the fix is deployed to production.

There must be a way to automate this process, and make it trackable, measurable, and flexible, all while having a clear picture and actual state of all resources and tools being used.

If it is not a silver bullet, then it must be something close to it.

We are not talking only about a set of software tools to automate software development and delivery activities. We also want a set of practices and approaches on how to organize the process itself, train personnel with relevant skills, and continuously improve the process and make it as agile as possible.

DevOps-Ready Ecosystem

Of course, the DevOps methodology is not something that works on its own. It organically fits the current software development ecosystem:

1. Where high-level programming languages like Python and Javascript have become more developer-friendly.

2. Where Virtualization, Containerization, and Cloud Computing have converted servers from pieces of equipment into virtual entities that can be transferred over the network as a regular file.

3. Where modern version control systems allow multiple programmers to work with the same codebase without conflicts.

4. Where software testing is automated.

With the evolution of computing, we can conclude that the whole software industry has changed. DevOps is the inevitable result of combining the best practices from both sides – Software Development as well as System Administration (IT Operations).

This continuous feedback loop is what differentiates DevOps from classic SDLC. It offers more granular control over issues and tasks, with an endless stream of information flowing both ways between Dev and Ops.

DevOps fundamentals with continuous feedback

Fig. 3. DevOps fundamentals with continuous feedback

(Source: Wikimedia)

DevOps teams are composed of universal soldiers that have an extremely broad set of weapons in their arsenal. They are expertly skilled and highly trained to make software development, execution, and product delivery as smooth as possible.

Tools and Automation – Empowering DevOps Fundamentals

Our discussion on DevOps for dummies will not be complete without talking about tools and automation. For those asking how to implement DevOps successfully, take note that these components are vital to the whole process. 

One common term you may have frequently heard of when talking about DevOps is Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery (CI/CD).

CI/CD is a method to frequently deliver products by integrating automation in the different stages of app development. It consists of a set of infrastructure automation tools that perfectly complement the DevOps practice. 

The main idea for CI/CD is that small and frequent releases are less likely to fail and break the system. The practice also makes it easier to fix small errors compared to big ones. This doesn’t mean though that buggy releases are okay to be rolled out to production to be experienced by end-users. What it states is that if the program fails, it’s better to fail fast and at the earliest phase possible, for instance, when it’s running on the test server. Through this approach, small releases can be tested much more often, reducing the risks of failing big when the program is launched in production.

How to Apply DevOps Fundamentals in Your Organization

The question remains on how to implement DevOps in your company. Now that you’ve got a grasp of the DevOps fundamentals, you may be wondering how you can become a part of this exciting community.

As I’ve mentioned, DevOps adoption is more than just utilizing the tools and improving processes. If you want to adopt the DevOps culture, you should also follow the core philosophy behind the approach. For this to happen, you must be prepared to transform existing processes: Decompose them into measurable blocks and then recompose them and integrate automated processes if possible. It’s a never-ending cycle of improvement with the ultimate goal of enabling your business to develop products faster and better. 

The Key Points That DevOps Bring

To summarize, the key points to remember about DevOps practices are:

  • Automation
  • Measurability
  • Continuity
  • Monitoring and proactive reaction
  • Frequent releases
  • Fail fast, recover faster

DevOps Engineer is now an incredibly attractive position in the IT world. Decent experts with years of experience are in high demand on the market. But the role of a DevOps engineer expert is also very competitive, challenging, and demanding. You have to both master multiple technologies and tools and understand deeply their underlying concepts.

As a professional, you must practice the philosophy of constant improvement and total automation. You should be willing to track and monitor every possible action, and retrospectively analyze which areas can be improved, optimized, and automated to make the whole process more efficient. 

During interviews, hiring companies often ask applicants about the tools and technologies they’re familiar with. Below are some of them that you should be knowledgeable of if you’re aiming for a DevOps position:


Technologies you’re expected to be familiar with as a DevOps engineer expert

Fig. 4. Technologies you’re expected to be familiar with as a DevOps engineer expert

But do not be scared! The field of DevOps is still young and is a dynamically evolving practice. A lot of the tools involved perform similar specialized functions. What’s more important is that you know what each one does and the overall concept surrounding the DevOps fundamentals. 

If you understand one Version Control System well enough, it will be relatively easy for you to study another system that does the same thing. The same goes for Monitoring tools or Configuration Management tools. 

I need to remind you that being a DevOps engineer expert is a demanding role that requires both knowledge and skills. It’s without a doubt though, that it’s one of the most rewarding jobs in the IT industry. As a DevOps professional, you’ll get to work on huge projects. And if you become a master in DevOps, you can move up to the CTO/CIO role.

Join the DevOps Army!

Now comes the exciting part. Where should you start? What skills should you master? What technologies do you need to study? 

Many DevOps engineers have IT Operations, System Administration, Development, or QA backgrounds. They have pretty deep knowledge and understanding of how Server Administration (Windows, Linux, Unix), Network (TCP/IP), Web (HTTP), Security (AAA), and Database Administration works. Many also have a working knowledge of scripting languages such as Bash, Perl, Python, or Javascript.

If you have these backgrounds, you’re probably the ideal candidate to be a DevOps engineer. You have the basic skill set and knowledge of IT concepts even before you start learning more about DevOps technologies. You’ll find that it will be easier to absorb the concepts of CI/CD, Infrastructure as Code (IaC), Containerization and Orchestration, Cloud Computing (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS), Monitoring and Logging, and Complex Process automation, to name a few. The more you can contribute to the end-to-end process of software development, the more valuable asset you become.

As a DevOps engineer, you’ll have the best view and understanding of the core business processes. You might possibly be even more knowledgeable than the CTO because your role requires you to constantly track, measure, and monitor everything that’s happening in the company. 


What If I Don’t Have Any IT Background?

Hope is definitely not lost if you are coming from a completely different career. Even if you don’t know how to implement DevOps, you still have a chance to enter the competitive market. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen people switch careers from fields like Accounting, Management, and Field Engineering, and then become DevOps engineer experts in just 6 to 12 months. 

Do you want to fast-track your career as a DevOps professional? It’s possible to gain the right knowledge and experience in a few months. But that can only happen if you have a dedicated mentor to guide you, plus the opportunity to work on real-world projects that will help hone your skills. So, how can you make this happen? 

This is where DAREY.IO shines the brightest. 

We at Darey.io have established a system that helps people to learn the DevOps tools on the job. Our unique DevOps online training program will equip you both with the skills and experience needed to succeed in the field. You have to check it out to believe it.

There is No Better Time Than NOW!

Now, you might have this question in mind: “With all the developments today in the IT industry, is it too late to start learning DevOps”? 

The answer is NO. The field of DevOps consists of a vast ocean of knowledge, and there will always be more improvements and innovations to come, so progress is not going to stop. There is no better time than today to start learning about DevOps fundamentals. 

Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll lead exciting projects, improve existing tools, or even invent something completely new that will make the DevOps approach more efficient.

Conclusion

In conclusion, DevOps is a mixture of technologies, processes, and people with the right working culture and mindset. Only this combination can compose a strong value chain. DevOps, in general, is a self-improving mechanism ensuring that the software development process is constantly measurable and can be monitored for enhancement. 

Start your journey to becoming a DevOps engineer expert. It is the right time to become a part of it.

Let us begin!


written by
Naica Almacen

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