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The key to understanding what is DevOps lies in the intention of DevOps, that is to create superior-quality software, more quickly and with more reliability while causing greater communication and collaboration between teams. By teams, we refer to these two: Development team & IT Operations team.
In-fact, it is not the collaboration between these two teams which help deliver better software, but the oneness between ‘Dev’ & ‘Ops’ teams which results in improved software, delivered at a greater velocity. And let’s not forget the role played by DevOps tools for achieving automation. They rather sit at the foundation and help support the entire DevOps structure.
The feeling of ‘oneness’, is caused by the bridging of skill-sets & practices between Developers and Operation Engineers, and the implementation of automation (DevOps) tools. Leading organizations across the world have adopted DevOps methodologies to overhaul their performance, security and team dynamics. With more and more companies jumping on to the DevOps bandwagon, it has emerged as a hot skill to master in 2016.
In this blog, let us find out what is DevOps and why is it such a big deal! We will do this by first tracing the evolution of software development methodologies leading to DevOps, then exploring what is DevOps and its life cycle, and finish up by evaluating how top companies such as Facebook are using DevOps to their benefit.
DevOps evolved from existing software development strategies/ methodologies over the years in response to business needs. Let us briefly look at how these models evolved and in which scenarios they would work best.
The slow and cumbersome Waterfall model evolved into Agile which saw development teams working on the software in short sprints lasting not more than two weeks. Having such a short release cycle helped the development team work on client feedback and incorporate it along with bug fixes in the next release. While this Agile SCRUM approach brought agility to development, it was lost on Operations which did not come up to speed with Agile practices. Lack of collaboration between Developers and Operations Engineers still slowed down the development process and releases. DevOps methodology was born out of this need for better collaboration and faster delivery. DevOps enables continuous software delivery with less complex problems to fix and faster resolution of problems.
Now that we have understood the evolution of DevOps, let us look at what is DevOps in detail.
DevOps is a software development approach which involves Continuous Development, Continuous Testing, Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment and Continuous Monitoring of the software throughout its development life cycle. These activities are possible only in DevOps, not Agile or waterfall, and this is why Facebook and other top companies have chosen DevOps as the way forward for their business goals. DevOps is the preferred approach to develop high quality software in shorter development cycles which results in greater customer satisfaction. Check out the below video on What is DevOps before you go ahead.
Your understanding of what is DevOps is incomplete without learning about its life cycle. Let us now look at the DevOps life cycle and explore how they are related to the software development stages depicted in the diagram below.
These DevOps stages are carried out on loop continuously until the desired product quality is achieved. The diagram given below will show you which tools can be used in which stage of the DevOps life cycle.
Now that we have established the significance of DevOps and learnt about its different stages along with the DevOps tools involved, let us now look at a Facebook case study and understand why they moved from Agile to DevOps. We will do this by taking up the use case of Facebook’s 2011 roll-out of new features that resulted in them reassessing their product delivery and taking on the DevOps approach. But before go through the below video on DevOps Tools.
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In 2011, Facebook rolled out a slew of new features – timeline, ticker and music functionalities – to its 500 million users spread across the globe. The huge traffic that was generated on Facebook following the release led to a server meltdown. The features that were rolled out garnered mixed response from users which led to inconclusive results of the effectiveness of the new features, leaving them with no actionable insights.
This led to an evaluation and reassessment of strategies, resulting in Facebook coming up with the Dark Launching Technique. Using the DevOps principles, Facebook created the following methodology for the launch of its new releases.
Dark launching is the process of gradually rolling out production-ready features to a select set of users before a full release. This allows development teams to get user feedback early on, test bugs, and also stress test infrastructure performance. A direct result of continuous delivery, this method of release helps in faster, more iterative releases that ensure that application performance does not get affected and that the release is well received by customers.
In the Dark Launching technique, features are released to a small user base through a dedicated deployment pipeline. In the below given diagram of Facebook Dark Launch, you can see that that only one deployment pipeline is turned on to deploy the new features to a select set of users. The remaining hundreds of pipelines are all turned off at this point. The specific user base on which the features have been deployed are continuously monitored to collect feedback and identify bugs. These bugs and feedback will be incorporated in development, tested and deployed on the same user base until the features becomes stable. Once stability is achieved, the features will be gradually deployed on other user bases by turning on other deployment pipelines.
Facebook does this by wrapping code in a feature flag or feature toggle which is used to control who gets to see the new feature and when. This exposes pain points and areas of the application’s infrastructure that needs attention prior to the full-fledged launch while still simulating the full effect of launching the code to users. Once the features are stable, they are deployed to the rest of the users over multiple releases.
This way Facebook has a controlled or stable mechanism for developing new functionality to its massive user base. On the contrary if the feature does not get a good response they have an option to rollback on their deployments altogether. This also helps them to prepare their servers for deployment as they can predict the user activity on their website and they can scale up their servers accordingly. The diagram given above depicts how a dark launch takes place at Facebook.
Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, along with many leading tech giants, use dark launches to gradually release and test new features to a small set of their users before releasing to everyone.
The intention of DevOps is to create better-quality software more quickly and with more reliability while inviting greater communication and collaboration between teams. It is also an automation process that allows quick, safe and high quality software development and release while keeping all the stakeholders in the loop. This is the real reason why DevOps is seeing an all-time high adoption leading to increasing career opportunities in DevOps.
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Now that you have understood what is DevOps , check out the DevOps training by Edureka, a trusted online learning company with a network of more than 250,000 satisfied learners spread across the globe. The Edureka DevOps Certification Training course helps learners to understand what is devops and gain expertise in various DevOps processes and tools such as Puppet, Jenkins, Nagios, Ansible, Chef, Saltstack and GIT for automating multiple steps in SDLC.
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