DevOps has been a necessary implementation for many large- and medium-sized businesses for over a decade now, but the recent arrival of the DevOps as a Service (DaaS) model has shaken things up. This article gives a quick recap of what DevOps is, when it can fail, and explores how DaaS solves these problems.
If you are reading this article, chances are that you already know what DevOps are, and the key benefits to the product launch process, so please feel free to skip ahead to the section titled “Why DevOps Sometimes Fails”.
For those new to DevOps, here is a quick overview:
DevOps means the set of ways in which the Development team and the Operations team combine forces to make sure the various moving parts involved in the company’s product launch process are working in harmony, and not against each other. More than a separate business strategy, it’s a way of perfecting existing strategies.
DevOps involves continuous improvement and optimisation of business procedures by methods such as automated workflows and infrastructure, or continuous measurement of the quality and functioning of apps. One of the key best practices for DevOps is Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), whereby code fixes and improvements are constantly implemented to keep apps on the cutting edge of optimisation.
3 reasons DevOps is important are that it lets you:
1. Release new software faster
Streamlined development cycles mean you can launch software releases in a shorter amount of time and put out more of it than before. Better yet, the feedback loop is much tighter, so you can get constructive criticism on your software in near real-time.
2. Improve the quality of your software
DevOps aims at minimising human error in the software processing stage. This in turn lowers the bug and defect rate in your products, saving lots of money on debugging, testing and improvement.
3. Innovate and cooperate to create new ideas
In a highly specific iteration of agile development practices, DevOps methodologies help to cross-pollinate between the development and operations teams for fast problem solving, freeing up more time to concentrate on innovation.
The idea of joining together development teams and operations teams in one fluid unit was originally developed due to a persistent lack of communication and understanding between working units. Under the traditional business model, each team is often blind to the motives, goals and working methods of others.
DevOps will fail where a company is unable to modernise its interdepartmental structure from this traditional model. This normally comes about from a simple lack of information – they don’t have the expertise and just don’t know how to execute DevOps.
One available solution for companies is to hire dedicated DevOps Engineers to manage project development, QA testing and launches to keep everyone in line. DevOps Engineers have training and certification in making DevOps work and can help to ensure a project stays on track.
But this in itself is a big leap for many businesses that are used to having a clear division of labour between teams, and it’s costly. Having a DevOps Engineer in house means finding (and paying for!) someone with extensive knowledge of DevOps practices and tools, and getting all those tools yourself. BMC’s Upskilling 2020: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report found that 52% of businesses who responded to the survey are currently recruiting or plan to recruit DevOps Engineers in the next year, but that 65% of those found the recruiting process extremely difficult or somewhat difficult.
Instead, DevOps can be outsourced. As part of a growing trend towards contracting private agencies for specialised business services, outsourcing DevOps is becoming a more popular choice for modern companies.
How DevOps as a managed service works, is by moving development tools to the cloud so all developers and operators can use automated stackable virtual development tools for standardised procedures across the whole DevOps cycle.
According to Puppet's 2019 State of DevOps report, only 14% of enterprises can reach the upper echelons of DevOps, which is where fixing critical security vulnerabilities and remediating deployment bugs can happen in less than an hour.
Yes, it is true that the same report states that 79% of enterprises can evolve a medium level of DevOps, where fixes can take 24 hours or more, with their own efforts, but time is money, as the saying goes. If your enterprise cannot afford the luxury of taking that extra time, then engaging specialist DaaS is a wise investment.
Most of the benefits of letting an external agency handle DevOps derive from the increased efficiency of automated processes. The DevOps service provider will migrate your product development and operations info to the cloud and integrate it with several industry-standard tools. The increased data storage capacity implicit in cloud computing equals faster testing and launch times for new products.
Another advantage of this cloud-based way of running DevOps is that all the teams involved in the product cycle can cooperate and interact much more easily, while the fact that they are all using a standardised DevOps toolchain and data helps to improve quality control.
Having DevOps as a Service doesn’t mean you can’t still have an integrated Development-Operations team within your own organisation. In fact, your in-house DevOps team will benefit hugely from learning from the expertise and skills of a professional external provider.
DevOps and DevOps as a Service are different, with different use cases for a business. They each have some pros and cons, as explained in this infographic about what DevOps and DaaS can do, and what they can’t do.
A standard in-company DevOps team will be more ingrained in your organisation’s ethos and involved in promoting its mission statement, while the fact that they’re a part of your internal operations minimises certain data security risks. But internal DevOps don’t always have the breadth of experience possessed by external providers who are dedicated solely to that. This becomes a real problem because, not having outside help, your in-house DevOps team needs extensive expertise in all the tools and processes required, and your company will have to acquire these tools itself at great cost. In these cases, in-house DevOps can end up being very expensive in the long run.
It’s true that even when using outsourced DevOps services, you need a certain level of familiarity with DevOps practices, but to a lesser degree. There also exist the usual data security concerns implicit whenever third-party providers are involved in company processes, but a safety-conscious provider will have proper systems in place to mitigate security issues. Measures undertaken by the most conscientious and reputable providers to curb potential issues include managing regular inspections, security monitoring, spotting vulnerabilities to build resilience and speed, and even adopting automation techniques in security. Many companies find that the drawbacks are far outweighed by the benefits resulting from DaaS, including immediate automation of workflow processes, increased speed and quality control thanks to standardised tools across teams, and energised data storage capabilities and communication on the cloud.
Reach out to a DevOps service provider to find out about what they offer and how much it costs. It pays to shop around for the DaaS package that best suits your needs and your budget. Many DaaS solutions will come as a standalone service, but some select providers may offer it as part of a wider 24/7 Managed IT Support Service for added security and uptime Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) support.
The deciding factors when choosing which DevOps Professional Service is right for your company should include:
24/7 DevOps Support: Your chosen DaaS provider should offer extensive end-to-end support of your infrastructures, workloads, and operations, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Continuous Integration and Deployment: You need someone who can continuously merge the code committed to the source control repository and release new features to production rapidly with the latest product testing techniques such as Blue-Green deployment.
Managed Public Cloud: Whether it’s with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or another public cloud platform, there should be constant management of the system to simplify security, scalability and mobility for your company.
Comprehensive Infrastructure Management: They shouldn’t just use online cloud services. They also need to manage interactions between your cloud and on-premises environments, servers, storage, network, virtualisation software and more.
Source Control: A good DaaS team tracks and manages all changes to your code to provide a complete view of code activity to know what has happened, and when, thereby identifying where problems might have arisen in the DevOps cycle and so resolve them swiftly.
Security Monitoring: Look for a provider that takes IT security very seriously and knows it’s a non-negotiable for your business. The security measures they take need to include rigorous inspections, security audits and the application of recognised best practices for online security.
There’s no right or wrong answer as to whether your organisation needs DevOps Professional Services or is content with a DIY approach. You’ll have to consider the costs and benefits for yourself, and remember that if you do decide to get DevOps as a Service, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution – negotiate with your DevOps provider for the services you need.
SmartOSC is a specialist in providing business services to B2B and B2C eCommerce stores, from website development to automated scaling and much more. See the DevOps Professional Services we offer, or contact a DevOps specialist today to find out how you can make your DevOps more agile.