Though DevOps is technically a decade old, a new trend in software development – the move from versioned software to a continuous, service-oriented process – is perfectly suited to DevOps’ core tenets. More than a tool or an app, DevOps brings a whole paradigm for working on continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD) projects. Though there are constant stories of how DevOps "failed" or how companies cannot fully implement it, it is not meant to be a silver bullet, and it is clear DevOps is not going anywhere. Here are five reasons why, even after 10 years, companies still turn to the paradigm.
It creates more secure development pipelines
Across updates, projects that focus on versioned releases can increase from a few kilobytes in size to several gigabytes. Though not inherently a problem in itself, this can lead to security vulnerabilities or gaps that can be exploited – massive updates to software can have thousands of lines of code, so if there is an error, finding the root cause can take a long time and can leave software and users exposed while solutions are found.
More importantly, traditional software development paradigms focus on security as an additional step: A revision or audit once updates are completed and ready to deploy. This is not inherently bad, but it does create some pitfalls, such as missing important issues that are not readily apparent before launch. DevOps, instead, focuses on security as part of the process due to its shortened development window. Moreover, the small, iterative updates reduce the likelihood that malicious or unsecure code will make it to new versions.
It reduces friction between key teams in organizations
One of the biggest difficulties for tech companies of all sizes is the disconnect between their key developers and operations teams during the development and innovation cycle. In this situation, both teams have similar overarching goals, but their reasoning and priorities are usually different. When they are not fully aligned and collaborating, this leads to complications and extended development periods.
DevOps (as the portmanteau name implies) prioritizes collaboration between these two teams to reduce friction and speed up development and integration cycles. Most crucially, it reduces the time it takes for teams to communicate with each other. Instead of having to make requests and wait for them to be fulfilled, collaboration means that products can be updated quicker so that new innovations can be deployed more rapidly.
Automation frees up teams to work on more relevant issues
In CI/CD, much of the work is reduced to performing iterative changes and handling smaller tasks like pushing code to repositories, carrying out small tests and other incremental work that can bog down the process of developing software. One major advantage the DevOps philosophy brings is its focus on automating the smaller tasks, which tend to be repetitive in continuous integration development teams anyways.
For smaller companies, this means that the limited number of developers and operations staff can focus on improving the technology, building new software and continuing to innovate. Even for larger companies, this automation focus means lower costs in terms of hiring testers, maintaining more staff and reducing wasted time on redundant chores. Most importantly, automation helps companies better allot resources and react more swiftly when emergencies or unforeseen circumstances occur.
It cuts down on failure-to-recovery time and bug fixes
Failures and errors are an inevitable part of any development and software project. Even the best and most focused teams are likely to let a small bug slip in a code-base that is hundreds of thousands of lines long. Even testing cannot always predict how software will react when it encounters the real world. The problem is not that these errors exist, it is how long it takes teams to recover and fix the failure.
DevOps places a strong emphasis on failure recovery and cutting down the time it takes to roll out fixes. The iterative update model has two important advantages: Errors, if they do occur, are smaller and more contained and when failures do happen, they can be fixed significantly faster thanks to the constant updates. Even better, the larger focus on containerizing code means that when catastrophic failures do occur, it is easier to replace the code-base with a pre-existing image in no time.
It results in more productive and engaged workers
Perhaps the most important benefit DevOps brings, and why so many companies choose to implement the philosophy, is that it does more than improve code – it boosts productivity and engagement. According to a study by DevOps Research and Assessment ( DORA) in collaboration with Google, companies that have fully implemented DevOps practices have 46 times more frequent code deployments. Perhaps more surprising is that it can also lead to a whopping 2,555-times-faster lead time between code commits and deployments.
This means that teams can innovate more quickly, resolve issues faster and generally get more out of the same amount of time. Moreover, they also tend to have lower failure rates and faster recovery times (seven times lower and over 2,600 times faster, respectively) than companies which do not use DevOps or have implemented it poorly. In the end, it also leads to a better work environment, as employees waste less time on "mindless" tasks like code commits, pushing to repos and basic testing that can be handled by software.
DevOps is not a silver bullet or a panacea for developers, but it does give a clear way to improve workflows. By embracing the philosophy and striving to fully implement it, developers can create better software, have happier employees and continuously innovate and improve on their work, all with minimal resources and time wasted.