Enterprises these days, are always looking to adopt the best technologies and applications for their various business requirements. In fact, it is almost inevitable for organizations to use software to automate their processes and improve efficiency so as to gain competitive advantage. Along with it, organizations also need ways to have more sustainable development processes, and the good news is that they have already started to realize it with DevOps. According to a recent research by International Data Group (IDG), there are only 10% of organizations that do not have any DevOps plans in the near future.
Do you think DevOps is that necessary for your business?
To answer that question, it would be worthwhile to discuss a little history of DevOps, how it came into being, and how it is used by businesses these days.
What is DevOps
According to Wikipedia, DevOps is a culture in business enterprises that emphasizes the need for collaboration, communication and coordination between the software developers and other information technology professionals in the organization, while automating the various processes of software delivery and infrastructure changes. It basically aims at promoting an environment, where application development, testing, as well as release, can be more frequent, fast and reliable. In the traditional setup of organizations, there was a lack of integration of these functions with the IT department, which often led to unsatisfactory results. DevOps seeks to bring about a culture, where the processes and procedures in an organization promote communication and collaboration among the development team, the Quality Assurance (QA) team and the IT operations team.
Nowadays, as more and more applications are being built to meet different business requirements, and they are constantly updated to adapt to the changing needs, the processes become seemingly never ending. This is where DevOps would particularly be useful. It accelerates development, testing as well as deployment of applications with the help of tools and techniques that automate tasks for operations, while at the same time give the developers more control and command over the entire application life.
A brief history
It was in 2009 that the term DevOps became popularized through a series of devopsdays in Belgium. Since then, it has been widely used among web-based businesses, like Netflix and Etsy.7 Although, that is not the case now, when enterprises know and have seen the benefits of DevOps and are capitalizing on adoption.
How enterprises are utilizing DevOps now
According to the IDG research, almost 61% of organizations are embracing new strategies and techniques, like the agile development methodology and DevOps in the upcoming year, which is an increase from 48% this year. This only proves the level at which DevOps has grown in adoption and how much popular it is in increasing efficiency. Up to 77% of organizations say that their software development team and IT operations team collaborate frequently, and 56% of them also say that their IT operations team plays an increasing role in the management of outsourced development activities. This again goes on to prove that DevOps is definitely the way to go. With the increased role of the IT team and considering how important their association is with the development team, a combined culture will go a long way.
Considering that DevOps is a whole culture change and not just a kind of technology that can be adopted and used easily, enterprises do need their time to adapt themselves and get used to the new ways of interaction and working.
Michael Rembetsy, VP of Technical operations, Etsy says, “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort from people at the top and it takes effort from people at the bottom as well. It’s not just the CEO saying, ‘Next year we’re going to be DevOps’. That doesn’t work. It has to be a cultural change in the way people are interacting.”
According to the research, almost 60% of organizations still use a waterfall development approach, which is a linear progression through the development stages of a project. It often leads to misinterpretations and failures, as there may be change requests by the client after the entire process is complete.
41% of organizations use an agile development process, which involves smaller and more frequent builds, regular and continuous planning, testing and integration and a more welcoming attitude towards new requirements. It leads to a faster time to market as well. DevOps clearly serves the needs of this approach, as it involves frequent interactions as well. Simply put, it leads to more sustainable processes.
Another reason why DevOps is necessary is because of the rise in demand for innovative web and mobile applications. Since such applications are required to connect and interact with customers and partners regularly, and capture their preferences and needs at all times, there is no such thing as “one-and-done” with them. They are always changing to adapt to the different needs of customers. DevOps helps to shorten the time of productions of these apps. It adds automation and streamlines workflows so that the developers can build, test and deploy applications smoothly. The research report says that 49% of organizations are planning to increase their investment in custom mobile app development, out of which 57% of organizations are planning to mobilize customer relationship management apps, 51% are planning to go for enterprise relationship management apps and 50% of them for field force automation apps. This only means that DevOps is all the more necessary to keep up with the changing environment.
Benefits of DevOps methodology
According to the report, using DevOps can lead to:
- 41% more automated development processes, which can free up a lot of time for other important activities.
- 38% more positive interactions with the operations team
- 38% accelerated time to production
- 38% ability to improve the product for which a developer is responsible
Not using a DevOps approach can lead to problems like, lack of proper visibility into IT operations requirements in the development processes, increased development costs because of redundant jobs resulting from lack of timely communication and the like. Apart from all these, there will be much less collaboration between the development team, the operations team and the business.
DevOps is definitely becoming increasingly prevalent for all the above mentioned reasons. It is indeed better to shift to a more dynamic and interactive culture today, as the already fast paced business environment is rapidly changing to become even more so in future.
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Can you imagine a day in your life without using any software applications? Yes, that would mean the apps in your phone too, like the calling, messaging, gaming or calendar apps! It will be tough, particularly in this era of technological advancement, when we talk of securely using devices in the Internet of Things, right?! Does it end there? Definitely no, because apart from individual needs, a lot of business-to-business interaction today happens via software applications. A few minutes of downtime in these web applications would bring the global businesses to a halt.
Those myriad overseas businesses, companies outsourcing projects, business partners around the globe, everyone use software applications to communicate, interact, exchange data and accomplish tasks. From simple transferring of funds into bank accounts to deploying global websites updating live pricing information (like e-commerce sites), the adoption of web applications in businesses is very huge. The advent of faster internet, new technologies, connected devices and powerful browsers, have made people depend on web applications and software more than ever.
Ever wondered what are the processes behind developing such smart web applications, which make our day-to-day tasks simply a piece of cake? What ‘behind the screen’ efforts make a perfect Application? Let’s go through these essential phases in the lifecycle of web application development.
The Web Application Architecture
This is the skeleton/ blueprint of your application, giving the overview of what it does, how it does it, who it is for, and the relation between its entities. The most widely used application architecture is three-tier architecture and has 3 tiers, viz., Presentation (User Services), Domain Logic (Business Services) and Data Storage (Data Services).
- Presentation tier: the gateway through which customers interact with the application.
- Domain Logic tier: The tier ranges from web scripting to server side programming, allowing users to do complex actions via a web interface.
- Data Storage tier: Stores, retrieves and updates information at a high level. Few data storage and retrieval devices are file systems, databases and writeable media.
Keeping these tiers in mind, following are the guidelines developers should follow to create a website application:
The feasible project: Choose the right project with respect to the resources, skill-set, publishing capabilities, and budget available.
Planning: Make a wireframe to plan the design of the application you are going to create. The key to a good application is, 50% planning and 50% coding. A properly planned wireframe helps you to envision the app before it’s being built and helps to avoid potential roadblocks. That said, wireframes are just a general structure and layout, and not detailed masterpiece works of art. Use the wireframes to further plan your page layouts and core components in it. But don’t waste time redrawing the components; after all it’s just a depiction of what you are going to create.
Draw out the planned design: Using the good old pen and paper, as opposed to software tools to draw out the ideas in your head actually help put in your raw creative input. It enables you to arrive at better designs in much less time. And you can perfectly translate it into designs.
Forecasting the goals, nature and the direction in which the app development should progress: This is the phase where teams associated with the project, developers, testers, BAs and management get together to discuss the goals that must be achieved through the application. There shall be a clear documentation of what the Application will achieve.
Devising the Plan: How will the application be built? What scripting language should be used, what all features to be included and how long should the development of decided features take? The focus here will be on the Project plan, wherein the timeframe for different tasks and the functional specification which depicts the functionality and flow of the app in detail will be decided.
Development: Once the foundation (project plan and functional specs) are set, the developers can then start coding, testing and publishing. There shall be proper documentation of how the development will progress, and what entities, data variables, and coding procedures will be used throughout the project.
Testing for stability: The phase will test the application for bugs, errors, stability, quality and purpose. There are different approaches for testing, for instance, testing side-by-side with the development is called Test-driven Development.
Staging: is the phase where the release candidate is assembled, tested and reviewed in a website environment similar to the production environment (actual hardware and software in which the application will be used), before moving it to production. This is where the final testing will be performed, adding no new features.
Production: This is the final version of the application presented to the end users. This version of the website application won’t change until its next update is ready after proving to be stable in the staging environment.
Security: Know, design, develop and deploy software with secure features. Many software security vulnerabilities are not coding issues, but are design issues- “Lessons Learned from Five Years of Building More Secure Software”. Security is as crucial as the usability, performance, reliability, or scalability of the application.
Support scheme: Providing support for your application is equally important. Give your clients the ability to contact you, for instance, define procedure call in case of emergencies like application failures, mishaps, or downtime. Ticket tracking system, where requests are identified by unique codes, is a good example of support scheme.
A plenty of smart tools available today help by automating several aspects of website application development mentioned above, making the job much easier than it was before. So, there you have the tools and the wireframe to plan, design and develop your next web application. If you need further help in planning or developing your next software application, be it a website or mobile app, our software experts can help!