Implementing DevOps with Agile Principles

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Implementing DevOps with Agile Principles

Over the years, application development and deployment have become an increasingly critical part of business operations making various entities seek ways to optimize their product development process. Companies are increasingly shifting to the DevOps culture and the momentum of its popularity continues to increase each year. 

DevOps is a set of principles that Development and Operations teams implement to deliver high-quality software in record time. It is a software development culture that unites development, operations, and quality assurance processes into a continuous set of actions. It facilitates cross-functional communication, end-to-end responsibility, and collaboration, and is a natural extension of the Agile methodology. 

In Agile, the development and operations teams worked separately, in silos,  negatively impacting the organization’s overall productivity. DevOps solves that problem by uniting Development and Operations into one group, tasked with working together to achieve common objectives. This automates the deployment of code to production, increasing an organization’s speed to deliver applications and services. At its core, DevOps is a philosophy and practice focused on agility, collaboration, and automation within IT and development team processes.

Transitioning to DevOps is not rocket science, and does not require any technical innovation. It depends on adopting the right DevOps principles in the organization’s culture. The goal of DevOps is to bridge the gap between IT operations and development to improve communication and collaboration, create more seamless processes, and align strategy and objectives for faster and more efficient delivery.

What is Agile and how is it different from DevOps?

Agile Methodology involves continuous iteration of development and testing in the SDLC process. The Agile development process breaks the product into smaller pieces and integrates them for final testing. It can be implemented in many ways, including scrum, kanban, scrum, XP, etc.

DevOps is a practice of bringing development and operations teams together. It focuses on constant testing and delivery implemented by a large team. On the other hand, Agile is an iterative approach that focuses on collaboration, customer feedback and small rapid releases. It focuses on constant changes and requires a small team. 

Mainly, DevOps addresses the gap between development and testing operations while Agile addresses the gap between client and the development and testing teams. JIRA, Bugzilla, Kanboard are popular Agile tools while DevOps uses Puppet, Chef, TeamCity OpenStack, AWS. 

However,  Agile offers a shorter development cycle and improved defect detection and DevOps supports Agile’s release cycle. Thus, DevOps must be implemented along with Agile to have an efficient delivery process. 

What are the practices of DevOps which are developed based on the agile principles?

Based on agile principles like individual interaction, customer collaboration, responding to constant change, DevOps has developed certain principles and practices which are:

  • Bring Value to the customer by delivering smaller, frequent and continuous deployment of the software.
  • Deliver working software in a shorter period of time. While agile focussed on delivering over a few weeks, DevOps aims to deliver small software updates over a few hours.
  • Support changes to the requirements whenever the customer wants, based on the market trend. The software development methodology should be flexible enough to handle any changes asked by the customer and deliver them with comfort.
  • Collaborate and work closely with all teams.
  • Motivate the team, communicate regularly and give freedom to the team members and provide all support required to complete the tasks assigned to them. Maximize  communication via stand up meetings, review meetings etc. 

It is visible that the theories and practices followed by DevOps are placed around the basic agile principles and are an extension of them. The focus is on bringing value to the customer through smaller deployments, faster deployments, and continuous deployments. This is done through collaboration with all the stakeholders so that every piece of information is available to the entire team and is kept in mind while developing the software. The team has to work together, unitedly to solve any problem – may it be related to design, architecture, testing or deployment or application performance. Additionally, technical debt needs to be minimized as much as possible. This means that every piece of the program must be attended to, to ensure quality throughout the process. Paying attention to details, excellence and focusing continuously on customers needs is very important at every stage.

How to enable DevOps in Agile methodology?

The following things have to be followed while implementing DevOps into Agile product development: 

  • Improve Teamwork and Flow

Using the DevOps framework and Agile approach together, the business gets the functional value of DevOps and practicality of Agile. The team members such as the Product Owner, Scrum Master and the PM, along with operations, infrastructure and sysadmin roles must have a broader understanding of all development aspects. The organization needs to consider not only the software development process but also delivery and maintenance. The teams should be equipped with the knowledge of release, service and change management, environment provisioning, automation and tools, and application deployment. 

The operations team must be continuously engaging with the development team throughout the lifecycle of the solution development. This helps in thoroughly understanding the release timelines and helps in determining the solution’s technical and scheduling feasibility to validate the Ops related requirements. The DevOps team has to help the Product Owner understand the non-functional requirements (NFRs) so that the development team can take these into account when creating the final product architecture and solution. 

  • Adopt DevOps in Sprints

Agile process breaks the software development process into sprints, thus to add to the strategic advantage, DevOps management should be integrated into the sprints. This can be initiated by inviting the Ops/Infrastructure/Support personnel to planning sessions and upcoming sprints and discussing product functionality and operability features. The DevOps team can be involved in sprint backlog planning and daily meetings, as well as sprint review and scrum and plan alignment. The Ops team can then help the development team in planning the release schedule with greater accuracy and can assist them in shipping the product faster.

  • Regular communication in each phase

QA and continuous testing should be a part of the entire development life cycle is an essential factor while integrating DevOps and Agile. Agile follows functional testing, and DevOps approach requires performance and load testing of the software.  Along with functional testing, there is an additional premium placed on performance and load testing making ‘Continuous Testing’ as important as ‘continuous development’.

  • Service Backlog under DevOps

Rebuilding the service backlogging process is crucial while integrating DevOps with Agile. It should include the scalability of the software, the deployment and service monitoring, software testing, security and compliance etc. 

Implementation of security controls takes up prominence when implementing DevOps in agile development. Since organizations may need to bypass some security controls during the software development process when implementing DevOps, aligning security measures such as team segregation, ITIL services, role-based access to systems and codes, access restrictions, compliance with industry security standards, etc. have to be implemented.

When implementing DevOps in agile, it is also essential to take into account product backlog related to NFR, the tech requirements for deployment and support, performance requirements, rollback and roll forward guidelines and most essentially, security and firewall needs.

  • Automation and using the right tools

The software development process configuration management tools should be able to create and replicate infrastructure using the IaaC (Infrastructure as a Code) as it is the base of DevOps. This facilitates the deploying of the application on different types of platforms without any reworking efforts.

Automating most of the code, scanning processes and avoiding any potential vulnerabilities is essential. Build artifacts in a repository, or automate the release out the door. There should be greater automation to minimize the need to coordinate activities between infrastructure and development teams.

Documentation must also be adopted. While in the Agile approach, teams don’t document their meeting minutes or other communications. DevOps, on the other hand, requires entire design documentation and specs to understand a software release.

  • Measurement and Analysis

Establish metrics to measure the effectiveness of the integration process that will allow for the successful enablement of multiple releases to production faster. The Scrum Alliance Organization recommends the following metrics:

  • Percentage of release date adherences.
  • Percentage increase in release numbers.
  • Time taken for release to production.
  • Defects attributable to platform/support requirements.
  • Percentage of NFRs met.

 Conclusion

DevOps would be just another buzzword without the proper implementation of certain principles that sit at the heart of DevOps. Building a devops culture requires an organization to work as a unified team, from Development and Operations to stakeholders and management. That is what sets DevOps apart from other development models. When transitioning to DevOps, remember that these principles are not set in stone. Organizations should implement DevOps methodologies based on their goals, workflows, resources, and the team’s skill set.

If your organization is planning to implement DevOps, consider implementing it in stages. Depending on where your organization currently stands, you may want to build on an agile approach for DevOps implementation. A gradual implementation sequence might look like this:

  1. Establish an agile development process
  2. Adopt cloud computing
  3. Adapt your processes to a CI and CD workflow
  4. Automate your software deployment
  5. Automate software testing
  6. Implement continuous deployment

DevOps implementation comes with both  infrastructural and tooling shifts that require the proper infrastructure and tools to support processes. To create a true DevOps environment, each stage of the development pipeline should be as automated and agile as possible.

 

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