Not so long ago, the job of a developer was to write code, without having to worry about testing, deployment, or infrastructure. If code ran locally on the developer’s machine, the assumption was that it should be able to run anywhere. In recent years, however, the previously separate worlds of development and operations have collided to create what has become known as “DevOps.”
As a result, developers have been forced to delve into the mechanics of software delivery and deployment. This article will discuss the benefits of DevOps for developers and tips for getting started and up to speed as quickly as possible. It will also cover the tools, technologies, and resources you need to know about.
What Is DevOps?
In traditional software development, highly specialized teams are responsible for specific areas only, such as testing. The major criticism of this approach is that this often creates silos within organizations, which can result in bottlenecks that seriously impede productivity and slow down the release process.
DevOps combines different approaches, methodologies, and tools to enable teams to deliver and deploy software and services faster than when using traditional software development practices. It combines methodologies and practices from both the R&D and operational disciplines, such as agile, test-driven development, and lean manufacturing. It encourages the creation of multidisciplinary teams in which each team member handles a broad range of tasks. Furthermore, DevOps encourages automating all stages, including building, testing and releasing applications.
A key aspect of DevOps is to gather as much data as possible from all aspects of the delivery process to define key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Analyzing this data can provide actionable insights. By implementing DevOps practices, teams create a culture of continuous improvement, leading to faster delivery cycles, improved software quality, higher return on investment (ROI), and increased job satisfaction.
What You Need to Know
Developers’ knowledge of and experience with writing code often gives them an advantage over their IT counterparts, since many core parts of DevOps (e.g., creating automated tests and building continuous integration, delivery, and deployment (CI/CD) pipelines) rely on writing scripts to automate mundane and repetitive tasks. In addition, many common IT-related tasks for building and provisioning servers can be handled using configuration/infrastructure as code. Another important element of DevOps developers should already be familiar with are source control and version management tools.
DevOps is a vast field and the amount of background knowledge required may seem intimidating. Following are some key areas you should be familiar with.
As previously noted, source control plays an important part in the DevOps process. To this end, understanding distributed version control systems—especially GIT—can be of great assistance.
It’s important to understand the various parts of the build process and how they relate to CI/CD pipelines. Because a CI/CD pipeline is only as good as its underlying infrastructure, you should also be familiar with all aspects of IT and operations, such as networking, operating systems, and their related command line (CLI) tools. Gathering metrics and KPIs is another important aspect of DevOps. You should therefore understand software and performance monitoring, logging, and data analytics as well.
To get the most out of DevOps, it’s important to understand certain methodologies and practices. First, you should be familiar with the various forms of agile development, such as XP and SCRUM. You must also be capable of using tools for managing the process, such as Atlassian Jira and Microsoft’s Team Foundation Services.(TFS is Old version of the Azure DevOps.
Many agile teams also use a Kanban board to track project tasks. In this system, individual tasks are represented by cards that are moved across columns on a board. While some teams prefer to use physical Kanban boards, agile project management tools (e.g., Jira) provide electronic versions.
Tools and Technologies
DevOps also requires experience working with a number of different tools and technologies. For many years, companies that built developer tools, such as Microsoft and JetBrains, attempted to insulate developers from understanding their IDE’s development environment. In fact, developers could often avoid having to deal with an operating system and its command line interface by using tools such as Visual Studio and IntelliJ.
DevOps, on the other hand, encourages the use of open source and command-line-based tools. Since these tools originate in the Linux world, knowing Linux and its command line is essential. Moreover, learning command-line scripting can simplify the use of command lines. In the Windows world, Powershell is a popular scripting tool. For various forms of UNIX, including Linux and MacOS, BASH provides nearly everything you need. And if you prefer a higher-level language to automate basic tasks, Node JS or Python are good options.
For many IT professionals, building and provisioning physical servers was once an integral part of their job. But this has changed over the last decade, with physical servers being replaced by virtual machines running the same tasks using software. Building virtual machines has thus become an important part of the DevOps skill set.
One problem with virtualization was that each virtualized server would run an instance of an operating system on simulated hardware. Now, many of the same tasks that were handled by VMs are executed using containers. A container is a lightweight form of virtualization that uses the host system’s operating system to provide better performance and portability. Building containers using Docker and orchestrating their deployment with Kubernetes are thus essential DevOps skills.
As companies transition from on-premises software, DevOps professionals must understand cloud services, including all the major cloud players (Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP)). Familiarity with these services will enable the virtualization and containerization of software locally and their deployment to the cloud.
But cloud services, containers, and virtual machines are not only used to deploy software; they also provide infrastructure. This means using these tools effectively requires knowledge and hands-on experience building and maintaining infrastructure.
Developers will likely already be familiar with some of these tools, which are used to persist application data and state in relational or document databases. But areas such as networking, performance, and security technologies such as firewalls are less familiar, though becoming increasingly important.
Today, infrastructure is managed using orchestration tools, such as Terraform, Chef, Puppet, and Ansible that allow you to write scripts for handling basic and complex tasks. And tools used to build CI/CD pipelines, such as Jenkins, CircleCI, TravisCI or Spinnaker, are also important to know.
The DevOps Trend: Implications for Developers
DevOps has merged development with operations to deliver software faster. But do developers really need to know DevOps tools? The short answer is yes. Not only are operations becoming an integral part of development; the direction the field of operations is headed means IT professionals will in fact need to learn development skills.
For all those involved in building software, these developments will lead to the creation of better and more robust software. It will also make the jobs of all those involved in the process of building, delivering, and maintaining software more dynamic and create new opportunities.