DevOps and cloud strategy seem very much alike in what they aim to do – fast and continuous updates, development, delivery and deployment of product and infrastructure. Which is why at often many companies and franchise look to link the both together and create an efficient system.
People require agility more than they do stability in the services they receive
Our economy has transformed from being product based to being service based. Gone are the days when you bought those neatly boxed packs with a DVD inside of product installer and documentation – Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, Intuit, you name it. Major players have shifted the focus to SaaS or PaaS, of course, handling never ending piracy issues at the same time. People require agility more than they do stability in the services they receive. Which is why companies are having to change their approach and turn to cloud-based services. Companies like Amazon and Azure have users that experience functionality and operation as a single dimension. Hence they need to push out an enormous amount of code every day. It all flows smoothly as a unified being for them, along with additional and constant upgrades. Within a DevOps environment, developers and operators work together at the same pace, with similar goals and views in mind which allow the service that is provided to the customer to be as quick and as efficient as possible.
Everything about DevOps is continuous: be it continuous service integration, continuous delivery, continuous deployment, continuous testing, etc. Moreover, this exactly why it is suitable to be used along with the cloud where the code runs everything. Since cloud services are substantially dependent upon IT, it is only understandable that DevOps practices be used for their purpose as they are highly automated. Instead of doing the work in large batches for a longer period, it is done in shorter batches that require lesser time and are ‘continuous’ with one another. This gave birth to terminologies such as continuous integration, delivery, and deployment, that have revolutionized modern testing and development practices.
With continuous integration, each line of code that a developer writes and check in goes through a compilation process or into the mainline where it is checked and tested for quality and defect related purposes. This may also be called continuous testing. The software is unit-tested with each line of code entered in an automated system and in return, rapid feedback is received, making the process of development much quicker and responsive.
Continuous delivery, to put into simple words, is when the software or code is always ready to be released for production. Meaning the software goes through continuous integration and automated testing and is rapidly developed and is now prepared to be pushed into the production phase but only upon the decision of the business or through a manual trigger. This process also ensures a fallback net (safety net) availability most of the time.
Continuous deployment goes one step ahead of this and automates the manual part of continuous delivery: each updated code is automatically released into the production phase after it has gone through automated quality assurance testing. Now this is when it gets tricky at times when vendors do not have access to the customers directly, so this may very well be integrated with a staging environment hosted at customer proxy. This can all be handled beautifully with an excellent collaboration and implemented safety checks and Kaizen practices.
Several tools have been introduced to make possible the aforementioned processes and subsequently incorporate DevOps into the cloud. Some include:
- CHEF: Chef is an automation platform that allows people to configure, build and manage large scale applications easily. It allows the user to use code as infrastructure. Developers build infrastructure by writing and entering code that is automatically tested and put into production.
- PUPPET: Puppet is said to be relatively easier than Chef regarding usability. That being said, Chef is allegedly more loved by developers as they say, but I am no expert in that so feel free to google a vs. story, I am sure you will be surprised. Puppet has its config specific language (easy-to-read apparently) for user specific requirement definition. It turns infrastructure into code and allows the user to set up data centers in the cloud using it as a platform.
- JENKINS: Jenkins is an open source automation server that can be used as a Continuous Integration server or a Continuous Delivery hub as well. You can manage and control dev processes like builds, tests, setup packages, deployment; you name it.
- GITHUB: Github offers a flexible open source repo hosting and integrative platform where you can host and manage your code or infrastructure.