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Developers First Line of Defense When Adopting DevOps

From Live! 360: A move to DevOps requires several key changes, including the idea that end product delivered to customers will have its imperfections. So, it's key that developers get in front of that with continuous app testing, debugging and delivery to keep the IT machine running smoothly.

Life isn't perfect, and neither is software creation and delivery. And that's where DevOps comes in, representing a fundamental shift in the way many organizations are developing and delivering applications to users and customers. While DevOps isn't new, more organizations are building it into the way they deliver IT and experts expect that trend to continue next year.

Organizations that are new to the DevOps concept are grappling with how to get their distinct IT operations and development organizations to embrace it, where the two collaborate and build more automation into their systems to make it easier to deploy apps more dynamically.

A successful move to adopting a streamlined and efficient DevOps depends on several factors, according to Don Jones, curriculum director for IT Pro content for Pluralsight and Brian Randell, a partner with MCW Technologies, specializing in software development. 

The two described from both the IT pro and developer points of view on how to move to a DevOps culture in a keynote address at Live! 360, which took place in Orlando, Fla. The conference is produced by 1105 Media, which is also the parent company of Visual Studio Magazine.

Jones and Randell outlined the following considerations:

  • Collaboration: All team members should have the same goal to successfully deliver to the customer.
  • Integration: DevOps should be a fluid exchange of ideas.
  • Automation: By automating repetitive tasks, it becomes easier to iterate quickly, and ensure a smooth delivery path to eliminate bottlenecks.
  • Cooperation: Successful DevOps also requires a measure of cooperation.

The DevOps movement essentially stems from the agile development movement. "Agile is working," Randell said. "Three quarters of [development] teams are doing some kind of agile. It comes down to the focus on delivering to the users. It's not a one size fits all situation."

Development teams are now the first line of defense for effective and smooth-running apps, Randell added. The move to DevOps has changed the app testing process. Testing now becomes embedded into the development teams as part of the process. By iterating frequently and delivering rapidly, apps are tested and debugged on a more continual basis.

"It really does turn DevOps into a machine," Jones said, noting even Microsoft no longer has a QA department which has led to the delivery of new code to fix bugs faster. "This ensures a smooth flight path from the developer to the customer," Jones said.

DevOps becomes a continuous cycle of integration, testing, deployment and feedback. Automation plays a big part of this, according to Jones. "The real purpose of automation is consistency, but there are other benefits as well," he said. "The idea of reducing manual effort is a side effect."

While the automation, continuous iteration and delivery means code will be delivered with bugs, it can always be fixed, he added. "You are going to ship bugs," he said. "You just have to learn to fail with style."

Randell agreed. "A key success point is to stop assigning blame," he said. "You have to create a culture of empathy and continuous code delivery." It's a process of constant improvement that ensures customers get the features they want and need.

A full recording of the presentation is now available for download. Next year's Live! 360 conference will be held Dec. 5-9, 2016.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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