What is DevOps? The Easy Guide To Understand CI/CD
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What is DevOps? The Easy Guide To Understand CI/CD

DevOps can be a challenging to understand for beginners like us, who don't have wide industry background. But if we get right explanation in some readable English, DevOps is not a big deal.

In this post, you'll get a far clearer picture of DevOps, preferably in the easiest way. 

What is DevOps?

cycle of devops

If I had to be bookish, DevOps is a model or a set of practices based on which software developers and operators work together to produce a quality software product. 

Using DevOps as a framework, software developers and operators may collaborate more effectively to create new software. Developers and operators work together in harmony because of this culture. This model's major goal is to speed up software development.

That's not enough. You should also know what DevOps is not?

  • • DevOps is a methodology, not a set of tools.
  • • There is no such thing as a DevOps product.
  • • The term "DevOps" does not refer to a particular individual or group.
  • • And there's no such thing as a DevOps standard.

If someone says, "Dude, DevOps is just a tool or a set of tools." They are partially correct. However, keep in mind that DevOps is primarily a culture shift.

Goals of Development Team

The goal of the development team is to deliver features into the hands of the customers as quickly as possible. So the goal is speed. 

Goals of Operations Team

The objective of the operations team is to maintain the stability of the system and also to minimize the downtime. The goal is stability.

The War: Development Team vs Operations Team

Speed vs Stability.

The development team's goals are contrasted against the operations team's goals. Because one is concerned about speed and other about stability, so they're leading to new things.

Every time a developer introduces a new feature, he or she introduces instability into the system. Neither the operations nor development teams appreciate this because they are both striving to keep things stable and deploy new features at a rapid pace.

Given that both teams' objectives are completely contradictory, they have a strong incentive to engage in conflict, to be at war with one another. Now, the development and operations teams are at conflict over the importance of speed and stability.

This disagreement prevents either side from completing the task to its full potential.

DevOps: A Problem Solving Model

Now, let's take a look at how the DevOps culture solves the rapture between the teams. And also what are the goals of the DevOps culture now in the DevOps culture?

What develops culture has discovered is that when development and operations teams that come together, they share the same goal. They lay equal value on speed and stability. So all the members of the team get together to find solutions.

Build tools, Build processes that can allow an organization to have both speed and stability at the same time. For customers' sake, the development team need to deploy frequently and promptly, while also making system modifications in a way that keeps those changes uniform.

As a result, both of these goals are achieved in such a strong setting that they no longer compete with one another. So, Development and operations teams are playing on the same team in the DevOps culture.

Now developers are held to account for the reliability of the system, while operations engineers are held responsible for the delivery speed of the system as a whole. Developers communicate their goals with Ops, and ops guys share their goals with development guys. 

So eventually it all boils down to two things. Stability and speed of delivery.

Bottom line, Goals of DevOps model are:
  • • To ensure stability
  • • To Deliver in a short period of time
  • • Minimize the failure rate
  • • Reduce Time to market
Note: If you want to learn DevOps more and get a certification, Udemy and Educative are great resources.

What is One Key Purpose of DevOps?

The key purpose of DevOps is to leverage the speed and stability of the end product in software development.

Moreover, DevOps produce happier teams. 

The technical employees, both the development and operations guys tend to be happier when they do devops. The engineers and the developers were very stressed when they were working in a traditional silo structure because things are automated now in DevOps. So, they will work together towards the same goal. No more finder pointing when there is an issue.

Wait, Automated? 

Hmm! Yes, everything is automated with DevOps, from the development of the code through its deployment. Let's dig a little further, shall we?

Automations in DevOps:

devops workflow diagram

DevOps workflow begins with the developers writing some code. So when the developer commits their code, this initiates a series of automated steps, automated builds, automated integration, automated testing and eventually automated deployment.

Because all these steps are automated, the QA's can get their hands on the code almost immediately after the developers write it. What does it all mean, exactly, indicate? This means they can test continuously while the developers are writing the code.

So it means parallel processing and parallel processing means more efficiencies in it. Once the code is ready for production, the automated deployment process may begin, ensuring that the code is consistently and steadily deployed to production.

There are several automated steps and tools that enable collaboration across the various DevOps teams. To make it work for them, they must all be on board with it and engage into the process, as well as contribute to its creation.

Another benefit of automation is that deploying code in a stable manner is significantly easier, allowing for much more frequent deployments.

It's also possible to have it done several times a day. In other words, we're delivering new features and defect fixes to clients considerably faster.

The stages from code writing to deployment in DevOps model includes:
  • • Automated Builds
  • • Automated Integration
  • • Automated Testing
  • • Automated deployement

Build Automation in DevOps:

Build automation is automating the process of preparing cored for deployment to a live environment. So depending on what programming languages are used or what frameworks are used to create the code.  Many times, before a piece of code can be used for further development, work must be completed on it. The probabilities are it'll have to be compiled.

It may need to be transformed. It's also possible that you'll have to run the unit tests again. That involves taking all of the essential measures to ensure a proper output before automating it. And the only reason you do that is to ensure that the output is consistent and that the entire process operates smoothly.

This is usually done using a build script or a build tool. 

Depending on the programming languages and the frameworks that are being used to build automation, tool may vary, but that one thing that build automation tools will have in common is automation itself. The primary goal of Automation build is to acheive consistency. Using build tools, the project available in uniformed version to everyone. If it works here, it works everywhere. 

Popular Automation Build Tools:

  • • Jenkins
  • • Docker
  • • Gradle
  • • Kubernetes
  • • Ansible etc..

Build automation for Java is and which is a very old tool and the tools that are most used today are Mavin and Gradle. NPM, Grunt, and Gulp are examples of JavaScript tools.

Packer is another fascinating tool. It is a build automation tool that isn't particularly targeted toward creating code, but rather virtual machines, images, and even containers.

It's a tool for building containers that works just like build automation tool that you would use in order to build code. But it builds machine images and containers.

  • • Independent of IDE
  • • Saves time
  • • Consistency
  • • Portable
  • • Machine Hardware Independent

Continuous Integration in DevOps

Continuous integration is referred to as CI, and it is a practice of frequently merging the code changes that are done by developers.

The phrase "continuous integration," or "CI," has been widely misinterpreted. Let's take a look back in time to see how developers used to work. Assume we have two devs, John and Mary, who are both developing a software. So their  job involves writing code for customers.

And imagine they're likely in two distinct parts of the country. So after they're done with it, they're going to merge the code. The features and functions will be merged as well. This is normally done with the use of a software, and the merging process is really fast.

In the process, there is a possibility of code or merge conflict. There may be a few lines from John and a few lines from Mary that contradict, causing issues during the merge.

Look at the real world, thousands of lines have been written, and millions of applications have been submitted, and they've been working on it for weeks. That means that this entire code problem will be magnified.

In this current world, where we are developing modern applications, how do we prevent the code merge problem?

Let's have a look at how it's done nowadays.

Returning to the same use scenario, let's assume John and Mary brought code for the new functionality that the customer wanted.

Now it's time to merge the code together. It's done in DevOps with the help of an automation tool. This automated tool is constantly looking at the code and grabbing it, building it, and testing it, or most likely running the unit tests.

What happens if it doesn't work out? If it fails, a notification is triggered to the team informing them that, hey, these changes made by, say, John and Mary have caused it to fail. So go ahead and fix it.

That means there is a safe process. In turn the testing team will be able to perform specific tests on that build. That also ensures the QA team has a testable build on hand all the time.

So, what are the advantages of this, in your opinion? Continuous integration ensures that everyone's code changes to be integrated. You'll be able to discover bugs early on and avoid merge conflicts.

Tools for continuous Integration:

So, if we use one of these automated build tools like the ones that we just mentioned could be Mavin Gradle for Java, our continuous integration server is going to execute the Mavin or greater build and perform the build in response to a change in the source control one of the major continuous integration tools as Jenkins'. 

Jenkins is an open source tool from Hudson. Jenkins  is very widely used. It's a Java servlet based system. So Jenkins itself is a Java so read web application. It has a web interface where you can go configure your bills and it will see your changes in the source control and automatically execute builds based upon those changes.

If you use GitHub for source control, Travis may be a great option. I'll tell you one interesting feature of Travis. The Travis executes each build in a clean virtual machine and that can be very important because you do not want multiple builds running on the same continuous integration server to affect one another

Continuous Deployment in DevOps

continuous integration continuous deployment

Continuous deployment is a practice where every change that is passing through all the stages of your production pipeline, then is released to your customers. There is no human intervention and only a failed test will prevent a new change to be deployed to production.

Continuous deployment is an excellent way to accelerate the feedback loop with your customers and take pressure off the team so that they can then focus on better activities.

Developers can focus on building software and they can see the work themselves that it is going live minutes after they are finished working on it.

How often deployments happen?

Even though some firms deploy to production on a continuous basis several times a day, there is no accepted standard for how often you should do so. Continuous deployment performs well when it is deployed more frequently.

Deployment to production is a routine, commonplace event and it's not a big, scary event like what it used to happen earlier.

The code gets committed to, let's say, the GitHub. Then there's a trigger that tells that there's a new code here. So the build server automatically does the build. It then triggers a deployment to the QA.

It then automatically triggers our tests and if they pass, trigger more tests will be triggered automatically. So the whole process is continuous and it's fast at this point. We need some kind of a human interference or a process that will approve the movement of software from the final stage, the staging environment to the production.

Typically a change authority board that will approve this. And it's kind of a decision making. This is the idea of a continuous delivery, moving code from the social control manager, to build to the testing environment, then to production.

So here, when we refer to continuous delivery, we just mean that we want to keep the code in a deployable state.

This means regardless of whether or not the decision is actually made to deploy a particular version of the code, the code is always in a state that is able to be deployed. The move of whether or not to deploy is purely a business decision.

But we as developers should keep it ready.

How about Problems in DevOps?

You might ask, what happens if the latest deployment broke something?

What happens if the developers do deploy some bad code and something is broken in production?

In the context of DevOps, one of the most crucial tasks is monitoring. In this case, automated monitoring promptly identifies the problem and alerts the team.

Now the team can use the automated monitoring system and roll back the deployments using the same tools they had before.

Using an existing functional version of the code, they may swiftly deploy a newer version. As a result, the issue has been resolved instantly. Although a rollback is normally viewed negatively by the development team, this is not the case when it comes to the DevOps environment.

Always keep in mind that we are all here to accomplish the same goal. So, we went back in time and performed a rollback. That new feature set can be deployed an hour after it was broken by the development team since they were trying to deploy it when something went wrong.

So we had an immediate recovery from the problem that was introduced. And very quickly, we were able to roll out a fix. So we have speed of delivery and stability even when there's a problem. And in several cases, the problem can even be fixed before customers really know about it.

DevOps: Closing Thoughts

This is pretty you need to know to get started with DevOps. However, DevOps learning curve is more on the actual field, and more importantly based on nature of the project.

Here, we have talked about only development team and Operators team. But in real time projects, there can be possible to have multiple teams that deal with each technical are of pipeline. Nevertheless, the motive of DevOps to bring them together to leverage speed and stability of the end product.

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