When we think of Devops, the first thing that comes to mind is automation, right? After all, Devops = Dev + Ops, where Dev is the practice of developing software and Ops is the practice of operating a group of software. However, automation in Devops comes in many forms and can be implemented in a number of ways. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common types of Devops automation that we encounter.
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Continuous integration is the practice of integrating the software development process with the software testing process. When the CI software build tool detects a new version of the application code, it triggers the testing process as well, thus ensuring that the latest changes contribute to the overall reliability of the software. Furthermore, the testing usually takes place on a more frequent basis, which in turn helps to ensure that the software is always performing at its optimum level.
Continuous deployment is similar to continuous integration in that it involves the automation of the deployment process. However, with continuous deployment, the focus is more on the speed at which new versions of the software can be deployed. The idea is to integrate the manual steps involved in deployment as much as possible and take the pain out of software update management. Popular tools for continuous deployment include capistrano, which was originally created for Ruby on Rails applications, and docker, which is open source and cross-platform.
Extensive Test Suites
Extensive test suites are those that exercise all the major functionalities of the software under test. When developers are creating a new application, they usually focus on the functionalities that differentiate their product from the competition. However, it’s important to note that the functionalities of an application should never be considered complete. Extensive testing ensures that the software can perform its required tasks effectively, regardless of the circumstances. There are several advantages to having extensive test suites, including the fact that they catch more bugs and provide better value for the development team.
While continuous integration and deployment are concerned with the code and the way it’s being handled by the development team, deployment processes are more focused on the way the software is being put into production. Deployment processes can be either automated or semi-automated, depending on the sophistication of the software under test. Popular tools for deployment include Ansible, Chef, and Puppet; however, a stand-alone machine or a cluster of machines should be able to handle most deployment tasks.
Monitoring And Feedback
Monitoring is an important part of every software project. However, it’s often overlooked in the rush to get the software out the door. Without proper monitoring, it’s difficult to tell how effective the software is, and whether or not it is performing at its optimal level. Monitoring tools can help with this by collecting statistical data and displaying it in a dashboard. Popular tools for monitoring include Datadog and New Relic; however, there are many others that provide similar functionality.
Automatic patching involves the continuous application of patches to existing software. This is done in an effort to fix bugs and security holes and keep the software up to date. Since this process is automated, it rarely entails any human interaction. Popular tools for performing automatic patching include WinSCP, Plink, and WinMerge; however, they all rely on heuristics to determine what needs to be updated. This type of setup is usually not as efficient as it could be, as it tends to apply patches that are never meant to be updated; resulting in more work for nobody in the long run.
Version management is the practice of ensuring that the software under test always builds and runs on the latest version of the operating system. While newer versions of the operating system usually introduce new features and enhancements, older software rarely comes with full compatibility. There are several tools available that can help with version management. Popular tools for handling versions include Semantic Versioning and Git. Semantic Versioning 2.0 was created by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), and it’s been widely adopted by the open source community.
The build process of a software project is the combination of multiple processes that bring the project from a set of requirements (i.e., the user story) all the way up to the production of a working software application. The build process can be broken down into individual components, such as integration, testing, code analysis, and packaging. Most of these processes can be automated using tools such as GNU make, which can help build both large and small projects alike. Popular tools for performing the build process include Maven, Ant, and Gradle.
Quality assurance is the process of ensuring that the quality of the software meets the requirements set by the project. It’s often broken down into two parts, namely testing and verification. Testing usually covers the functionalities of the software while verification focuses on the quality of the code. Both of these processes can be automated using tools such as Selenium and QA plugins for Firefox and Chrome browsers, respectively. Popular tools for performing quality assurance include JUnit and Hamcrest. Many software quality assurance tools are available in open source; however, there are also a number of proprietary options as well.
Keeping a close eye on the security of a deployed application is one of the essentials of a Devops engineer. After all, it’s relatively easy for hackers to compromise a poorly secured application and take over its victims’ computers. If you’re not convinced that security is a major point of concern for your Devops team, let me introduce you to the mantra: “Security is always a top priority.” Popular tools for performing deployment security checks include Wappit and Appscanner. Wappit is a free and open source solution that provides vulnerability assessments on the go. Appscanner is a paid tool that performs static code analysis and offers suggestions regarding ways to tighten up the code. These two tools work in tandem to provide the necessary coverage for your team.
In the big picture, Devops stands for the practice of automating many of the administrative tasks that are involved in maintaining a working application. Examples of these tasks include software patch management, monitoring of processes, and keeping the version of the operating system up to date. These tasks are generally tedious and often involve quite a bit of manual intervention. Popular tools for performing these tasks include Chef, Puppet, and Ansible.
If you’re looking for a new way to increase the productivity of your development team, consider exploring the world of Devops. The term Devops usually means one thing to everyone — the practice of automating many of the tasks that are usually considered part of the job duties of a programmer. However, to ensure that your team gets the most out of it, you need to be cognizant of some of the things that they might not be experienced with, such as continuous deployment, automatic patching, and version management. This will require some adjustments on your part but, in the end, it’s all about having a greater degree of trust in your team.