From conceptualization to deployment, the process of developing software applications or web applications is complex. By going through several intricate phases of development, a web application or software is tested on multiple levels before being proceeded into production.
In most cases, software application development becomes time-consuming due to its specifications and complexities. In order to deliver the application in a short span of time, software developers are following a universal set of practices called the DevOps lifecycle.
So, what is DevOps in the world of software application development? Let’s deep dive into its meaning, uses, as well as each critical phase in the DevOps lifecycle.
What is DevOps? The Origins of DevOps Lifecycle
DevOps is a simple, abbreviated term derived from the words “development” and “operations”. It involves practicing the several tasks of application development in a specific manner. In broader terms, a combination of software development and IT operations is dubbed as DevOps.
Before DevOps, software applications were developed with either the waterfall model or the AGILE development model:
- The waterfall or sequential model was a pioneering approach in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). With this model, software development becomes a linear process where different phases and tasks are positioned successively.
- AGILE software development, on the other hand, involved the use of various approaches and the collaboration of multiple teams in SDLC.
The linearity of the waterfall model and the cross-functionality of AGILE software development were still unable to ensure quick and continuous delivery of flawless software applications.
DevOps Services came into play by effectively serving the purpose of reducing the time involved in SDLC for prompt deliveries and securing the continuous production of high-quality, foolproof software applications.
Running Apps with DevOps
The effectiveness of DevOps in fostering an agile relationship between IT operations and software development is supported by several factors. By enabling better communications within multiple business units in software development and IT operations departments, DevOps improved the overall production of software by incorporating changes such as:
- Stable operating environment
- Super-fast delivery
- Steadfast collaboration
- Time optimization, particularly in fix/maintain phases
- Ongoing innovation
Technical benefits as such make DevOps the world’s sought-after method in software application development.
To learn how DevOps actualizes these benefits, it is important to understand the complete lifecycle of DevOps. Let’s break down the critical phases in DevOps and figure out the process of achieving immaculate, continuous, and rapid software development.
Decoding the DevOps Lifecycle
DevOps is primarily implemented in application development for e-commerce websites, cloud-native applications, and other large distributed platforms. It consists of multiple phases that collectively become the DevOps lifecycle.
- Continuous Development
- Continuous Integration
- Continuous Testing
- Continuous Feedback
- Continuous Monitoring
- Continuous Deployment
- Continuous Operations
These seven phases are the main constituents that ensure DevOps optimizes all development processes, right from proposal to production and the complete delivery. Here is a phase-wise, complete break-down & analysis of the DevOps lifecycle.
1. Continuous Development
The first phase of the DevOps lifecycle is where the planning and software coding takes place. The planning involves understanding the vision of the project and envisioning a software based on those perceptions.
The process of maintaining the code is called Source Code Management (SCM), where version control tools such as GIT, TFS, GitLab, Subversion, and Mercurial, among others, are used.
In the SCM process, GIT is a preferred tool that enables a distributed version control. It facilitates data assurance through circulated non-linear workflows. For large projects, where a vast number of collaborators are involved in the development activity, GIT establishes reliable communication between the teams through the Commit messages.
With the help of a version control tool, a stable version of the application code is built in the continuous development phase. Developers can also package the code into .exe (executable) files by using Garden, Maven, and similar tools.
2. Continuous Integration
The source code gets modified several times, and these frequent changes happen on a weekly or a daily basis. Code integration, the next phase, is the core of the entire DevOps lifecycle. In continuous integration, new codes that support add-on functionalities are built and integrated into the existing code.
In this phase, bugs in the source code are detected early on. To generate new code that brings more functionalities to the application, developers run tools for unit testing, code review, integration testing, compilation, and packaging.
The continuous integration of this new code into the existing source code helps reflect the changes that end-users would experience with the updated code.
Jenkins is popularly used as a reliable DevOps tool for procuring the updated source code and constructing the build into.exe format. These transitions occur seamlessly, and the updated code is packaged and proceeded to the next phase, which is either the production server or the testing server.
3. Continuous Testing
Some developers carry out the continuous testing phase prior to the continuous integration phase. Based on the updations in the application code, this phase can be repositioned around the continuous integration phase in the DevOps lifecycle.
Here, the developed software is continuously tested for bugs. A test environment is simulated with the use of Docker containers. Through automated testing, developers save effort and time, usually lost in manual testing. Reports generated by automated testing improve the test evaluation process. Analyzing the failed test-cases becomes easy. After going through a UAT (User Acceptance Testing) process, the resultant test-suite is simpler and bug-free. TestNG, Selenium and JUnit are some of the DevOps tools used for automated testing. These tools can also arrange test-case execution in a pre-set timeline.
Quality assessors (QAs) can use these tools for parallel testing of several other code-bases.
It ensures the flawless functionality and inter-networking of the application. In the end, the tested code is re-sent to the continuous integration phase for updating the source code.
4. Continuous Feedback
Continuous testing and continuous integration are the two crucial phases that ensure consistent improvements in the application code. Continuous feedback is a peculiar phase where these improvements are analyzed.
Developers can gauge the outcome of these modifications on the final product. Most importantly, customers who tested these applications can share their experiences in this phase. In a majority of cases, this phase of the DevOps lifecycle provides a turning point to the application development process. The feedback is assessed promptly and developers begin working on the new changes. Sooner, there is a positive response in customer feedback, which paves the way for releasing new versions of the software application.
5. Continuous Monitoring
Monitoring the performance of an application is of key importance for application developers. In this phase, developers record data on the use of application and continuously monitor each functionality. “Server not reachable” or “low memory” are some of the common system errors resolved in this phase.
Continuous monitoring helps in sustaining the availability of services in the application. It also determines the threats and root causes of recurring system errors. Security issues get resolved and problems are automatically detected and fixed.
Compared to the software development teams, the IT operations teams are more involved in this phase. Their role is pivotal in supervising user activity, checking the system for unusual behavior, and tracing the presence of bugs.
Sensu, ELK Stack, NewRelic, Splunk and Nagios are the key DevOps tools used in continuous monitoring. These tools enable complete control in overseeing the performance of the system, the production server, and the application. The operations team can actively engage in increasing the reliability and productivity of the applications with the help of these tools.
When major issues are detected in this phase, the application is swiftly rerun through all the earlier phases of the DevOps lifecycle. That is how finding a resolution to all sorts of issues becomes faster in this phase.
6. Continuous Deployment
Conventionally, the phase of continuous deployment takes place before continuous monitoring. But, developers make sure that this phase is always active in the DevOps lifecycle, especially after the application goes live and starts receiving high traffic.
In this phase, the finalized application code is deployed to the production servers. Configuration Management is a key process in this phase, and it carries out the precise deployment of application code on all servers. Consistency in the application’s performance and functional conditions is established and curated. Code is released to the servers, updates are scheduled for all servers, and these configurations are kept consistent throughout the production process. Ansible, Puppet, and Chef are some of the effective DevOps tools used for Configuration Management, where they frequently execute the quick and continuous deployment of new code.
Containerization tools are used to achieve continuous deployment through the Configuration Management process. Vagrant, a containerization tool, develops coherence in different environments - from development and testing to staging and production. Similarly, the scalability of continuous deployment is handled by tools like Docker. These tools nullify all sorts of production failures and system errors by replicating and packaging the software couplings from testing, staging, and development phases. Ultimately, the application runs smoothly on different computers.
7. Continuous Operations
The last phase of the DevOps lifecycle is the shortest phase and the least complicated one. The purpose of continuous operation is to automate the process of releasing the application and the subsequent updates. Development cycles in continuous operations are shorter, allowing developers to ongoingly accelerate the time-to-market for the application.
The Key Deliverables of DevOps Lifecycle
Every phase in the DevOps lifecycle is governed by two common factors - maximum automation and continuity. Extra steps are replaced with multi-purpose tools and the time taken to detect faults is reduced significantly. DevOps runs on a lifecycle that offers nothing less than the best version of the software application.
- The end-product enables businesses to revive the speed of rampant development and improve user experiences simultaneously.
- Cost control is streamlined with a high RoI (Returns on Investment). Development and operations teams can co-work organically.
- Integrated with continuous deployment solutions, shipping the programmed code to over a thousand production servers is feasible. In the DevOps lifecycle, there are advanced patterns designed for deployments. Similar features are used for delivering on-demand deployment and auditing.
- With endless innovations in technology, DevOps continues to evolve at maximum quality and speed. It is now a strategic part of digital transformation journeys for millions of companies around the world.
- The lifecycle clearly breaks down the barriers to teamwork. There is no need for supplicating work when you can build responsible business environments with DevOps.
- Reports generated by DevOps tools provide business insights and enhance the visibility in SDLC. By managing the value from end to end, DevOps increase the delivery velocity systematically.
- With DevOps, the task of project management and planning takes place conclusively. DevOps is built for large enterprises as well as small teams. Organizing, arranging, aligning, and tracking the project becomes easy. All phases in the DevOps lifecycle maintain complete traceability
- Most software developers benefit from the branching tools provided by DevOps. It is productive to design the application UI and manage the UX code. Project data is developed and stored securely.
- Since each change in the code affects the production stage, tools for automatic monitoring and release management help detect bugs and simulate user responses respectively.
- Workflows aren’t disrupted, owing to the single distributed version control tools and by delivering high-value business products with the liberty of quick iterations.
- Creating a dependable supply chain for software applications is possible with the DevOps package management tools. Applications and their dependencies are bundled together into containers which are further managed. Developers can build code packages with ease through a secure container registry and repository. DevOps accelerates the free, uninterrupted flow by automating the software development pipelines.
- Automated testing allows teams to fully embrace the different phases of DevOps lifecycle. High standards of product quality are maintained. It is easy to code, verify it, make changes, build new codes, and even integrate them into the source code.
- In addition to automated testing, there are processes such as code quality analysis, dynamic analysis security testing, and static analysis security testing to collect important feedback and pass it on to the developers and testers. This empowers the abilities of development and operations teams in boosting the quality of their code.
- Access to critical infrastructure configuration information (passwords and login IDs) is protected with tools that disguise them into secret variables. For extra security, DevOps offers limited access - only authorized users and processes can gain entry.
With its de-silo and faster development approach, DevOps becomes a great contributor to the technology marketplace. It is the foremost set of tools used for meeting technical business challenges by creating dynamic apps.
The adoption of DevOps continues to increase, considering the benefits of such practices to developers and users alike. While the DevOps lifecycle endures in the technical backdrop of software development projects from a majority of businesses around the world, it will continue to be applied diversely in the development of modern static webpages and dynamic software applications in the years to come.