DevOps vs Agile: what do these terms mean?
Agile is a relatively recent set of flexible approaches to the organization of the software development. The development process in Agile is broken down into small and consistent subtasks, and the changes to the project initiated by the customer throughout the entire process are considered a positive and quite predictable phenomenon. This methodology came into the active practice about 15 years ago and overcame the previously employed Waterfall process.
In order to understand in more detail the basic principles of Agile, let us consider the main principles of its manifesto:
– Collaboration between the participants of the process is more important than the predefined stages of development and tools chosen for these purposes;
– Successful and efficiently functioning software is more important than the projects documentation;
– Customer satisfaction is more important than contractual obligations;
– Changes to initially approved requirements are natural and characteristic to every stage of the development process.
The DevOps term (“development+operations”) is used to designate the development methodology based on a close interaction with all the company’s employees – developers, system administrators, testers, designers and all other staff actively involved in the creation of the software. Thanks to this approach, the timeframe of the software deployment is significantly reduced, and its performance indicators, such as stability in various operating systems, resilience under extreme loads, protection from hacker attacks, etc., are increased. For example, a typical programmer, as a rule, has no idea how smoothly the application will operate along with other programs installed in the user environment, and to what extent it would be “viable”. Thus, the fundamental difference describing the DevOps vs Agile opposition lies not in the maximum speed of the product deployment, at which all practical implementations of the Agile methodology (Scrum, Kanban, etc.) are also aimed at, but utmost reliability and risk reduction of the customer’s business.
Employing the DevOps, IT company management has to solve the following three tasks:
– Motivate employees to expand their knowledge and become universal specialists;
– Automate the introduction of changes, user reaction tracking and formulation of new tasks (not by increasing the number of staff, but by improving the skills of existing ones);
– Create a team atmosphere that would promote cooperative, rather than disjointed work activities (as in most cases different departments do not interact with each other closely).
DevOps vs Agile: what are the major differences?
Now let us compare Agile vs DevOps. One of the basic principles of Agile is dividing the development process into a number of development sprints that last for 2-4 weeks each and end in intermediate release (every such interim product can be shown to the customer to inspire changes). What does this mean in practice? If the client examining one of the versions of the developed software decides to modify or supplement the features of the final product, most members of the team will immediately accumulate a high number of tasks related to ensuring compliance of the changed software with the real conditions of its operation.
In turn, the DevOps approach, through the provision of productive interaction between all departments involved in the creation of software, is focused on building the “viable” product that can be transited to beta testing conducted by potential users.
Thus, we came to the most important question: what are the key differences between DevOps and Agile?
- Approaches to the acceleration of the release. In order to shorten the release time, the Agile methodology tends to reduce the time spent in development. This is the main difference between Agile and DevOps. Nevertheless, due to short sprints (especially it concerns Scrum), the development team does not always succeed in creating a product in one sprint that could run successfully in a real operating environment. Therefore, in order to be able to maintain a fairly intensive pace of development, the team will need to work out two important points: increase the number of simultaneous “experiments” (test versions of software that can potentially be capable) and increase the speed of implementing customer ideas into a correctly working code. In turn, the DevOps approach, thanks to emphasis on the close and continuous interaction with all departments of the company, can foresee unsuccessful “experiments” (all employees communicate with each other, identify risks associated with implementing new versions of the application, report their faults, and, thus, reduce their quantity to a minimum required amount). In this way, DevOps allows ensuring the most trouble-free deployment of the product in the user’s environment.
- Ensuring the expected quality of the finished project. The one thing is to write code that works correctly in “lab” conditions, that is when it is tested by the same team that created it, and quite another – to get a solution that is extremely adapted for users who generally have no idea how exactly it should work. Agile tries to solve this problem by providing the close interaction between the customer and developers. However, what to do with other departments? The activity of coders may be motivated to employ as many changes as possible (more amendments and additions = more money). At the same time, QA specialists set up their own testing environments. These employees are focused on releasing reliable products, so for them, any changes in the initial conditions are reasons to doubt the product’s stability. Consequently, first modified versions of the application, as a rule, are rarely successful. As for the DevOps approach, all the team members consider their product as a whole through their cohesion and different points of view. Together, they are more likely to be able to predict what problems the newly created software may face when deploying it. Thus, the predictability of the product’s compliance with the customer’s expectations increases with the minimal probability of alterations.
- Ways to minimize the losses in IT. Any manager of an IT company strives to organize the most productive activities of their team. And, although the Agile methodology assumes the maximum use of all the labor resources of a specific company to embody the customer’s idea, today, due to the obvious distance in the interaction between various departments of the company, it does not allow to completely eliminate the idle hours, delays in transferring works from one department to another, as well as all possible force majeure situations related to the customer’s new requirements or suggestions of individual employees. In turn, the principles of the DevOps approach emphasize frequent and regular communication of all employees with each other (both formal and informal), thereby helping to create the most objective representation of the finished product. One example of such relationships is the point of discussion of the software documentation, which in the Agile development is often neglected by coding teams and is extremely important for the maintenance department. This fact allows detecting all risks associated with the release of the software, even in the early stages, and minimize the likelihood of downtime for individual employees or even entire departments of the company.
DevOps vs Agile: summing up Let us sum up the results of DevOps vs Agile comparative. Agile and DevOps are two different methodologies that can be effective in different situations. DevOps uncovers its maximum performance in case of large-scale projects when daily testing of several versions of the same product and the use of resources for its analysis is justified by a sufficiently large budget allocated for its development. As for Agile, implementation of this methodology does not require large financial investments and can bring very good results when developing small and medium-sized projects. However, ultimately, the choice of the specific of these two methodologies depends on the main goals pursued by the company - stability, reliability and predictability of the result, as well as an active exchange of views and experience, in the case of DevOps, or the flexibility of the process and tight interaction with the customer for Agile.