If you are optimizing your current DevOps processes, we can help. We’ll explain the 7 key principles of DevOps and how to put them into practice.
So, what are the DevOps principles?
The fundamental DevOps principles are:
DevOps has always been about looking at the software delivery lifecycle from end-to-end and bringing together development and operations to address stakeholder needs.
Because of this focus on the entire lifecycle, DevOps principles should also apply end-to-end. An example of how a principle can apply across the lifecycle is thinking about how to be iterative and incremental. This makes code changes occur in smaller and more manageable chunks leading to smoother movement across the entire lifecycle.
As the DevOps model works on code changes happening in smaller chunks on a more frequent level, continuity becomes vital. Automation helps reduce some of the manual work that goes into thorough quality control before code changes are released to the customer. As you design new workflows, it’s best to evaluate them against these DevOps principles to make sure you’re following best practice. Without having continuous changes deployed automatically, you won’t have the manageableness and speed required for a good workflow.
While we’ve looked at the fundamental DevOps principles as a whole, there is still a lot more to examine in how these take shape as DevOps best practices.
For each of the principles identified, let’s take a closer look as to what they are and why they are important.
DevOps is a combination of development and operations, so it stands to reason that DevOps concepts can’t really work without team collaboration and communication. Teams need to collaborate and agree on their priorities for releases, what workflow will work best with the priorities identified, and what day-to-day responsibilities will look like when adopting a certain kind of workflow. Ultimately, establishing DevOps concepts leads to smoother communication, collaborative problem-solving, and sharing ideas. Rather than working in silos, teams come together to create a process that works for them.
Continuous integration when teams commit to code changes at some kind of frequency and break down coding into smaller chunks and integrate continually. Designing with the end in mind is key to this part of the workflow since teams need to have a clear pathway to where code will end up and in what circumstances it will come back to them.
Automation allows for better quality control by detecting bugs, vulnerabilities, and issues in the code changes more consistently. Having automation in place can help increase efficiency, as testing can be done continually without intervention. While there will be some groundwork that goes into setting up tests and monitoring them, automation greatly reduces the manual workload that would’ve normally gone into checking code changes.
Once code changes pass through automated tests, they are released into a production environment for further quality control and checks. An optimized continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline get releases out to customers faster without compromising on quality.
When code changes pass through the DevOps workflow, they are delivered to customers. The production and testing environment are kept closely together, ensuring faster delivery times to customers and more stability in releases.
Cross-autonomy is where teams are in communication but can make progress on their own. Achieving this among development and operations teams is a fundamental part of DevOps principles, and having continuous deployment as part of the workflow facilitates that. Development teams can work at the pace needed to release, and operations teams have less to worry about around the logistics of each release.
After code changes are released, the code in production is monitored alongside customer response and feedback to understand what changes need to be made moving forward. Continuous monitoring is crucial to starting the workflow back up to further improve the product. Customer-centricity is crucial in DevOps working practices, and that’s where continuous monitoring can help improve the experience for customers and teams. Using monitoring tools is key to keeping monitoring continuous, as it allows for automatically generated reports.
Continuous monitoring alongside consistent feedback helps ensure that the product is refined and improved moving forward. Throughout it all, there must be a focus on continuous improvement through feedback. Early feedback keeps teams more organized in their workflow, and receiving frequent feedback is useful for prioritizing code changes and solving issues.
There are a few crucial aspects to consider in the actual implementation of these DevOps principles. It’s unrealistic to think that teams will get it right on the first try, as there are many moving parts that come together to make each part of the workflow come together.
Getting the process right won’t happen on the first try, which is why it’s so important for teams to come together periodically and work on improving it together - which helps encourage proactiveness and the continuous nature of the work. This is a time to improve collaboration and incorporate feedback to optimize the process.
Within this point though, it’s also crucial to think about the broader cultures and how much freedom developers have. For DevOps concepts to work in practice, there needs to be a cultural mindshift to let developers experiment and fail without assigning blame. Any mistakes or issues that are caught can be a learning lesson, rather than incurring penalties.
Having the right DevOps tools can help mitigate some of the challenges that teams might encounter early on. Automation tools are instrumental in implementing DevOps working practices and can help teams work more efficiently.
Depending on team needs, there are a few different types of tools that teams can use for bringing together a more cohesive process and culture. Policy configuration portals, automation tools, and analysis tools to understand incidents and issues will all play a big role in how the DevOps workflow takes shape.
There is a lot of debate and discussion around DevOps versus site reliability engineering (SRE) versus Agile, and it can be difficult to unpick what each one is about and how DevOps concepts fit into this landscape. The key difference between the three is that DevOps is a cultural shift for teams, a philosophy to follow instead of concrete working practices. Agile and SRE are practical ways to implement DevOps working practices into a clear process for teams. Both Agile and SRE have slightly narrower focuses compared to DevOps, particularly around collaboration.
Let’s compare each one against DevOps to better understand where the focus lies.
While DevOps brings together developers and operations, Agile’s focus is a little different. Agile practices are about bringing together developers and product management rather than operations. While Agile looks at ideation and code completion, DevOps takes it a step further by including deployment and delivery into consideration. Automation is also a bigger consideration in DevOps versus Agile, which is another key difference. Ultimately, Agile uses principles as long as they help move development forward, whereas DevOps principles are adhered to in order to build a process for the organization as a whole. Agile can be much more ad-hoc and reactive, whereas DevOps is more systemic and reliable.
SRE focuses on practices and metrics that improve collaboration and service delivery. DevOps is a more of a mindset shift to bring together teams that would normally be siloed. While DevOps is based on the idea of bringing together development and operations, SRE is the way to make that happen by building specific processes and infrastructure. While DevOps focuses on the larger idea of continuous development and delivery, SRE is about improving system availability and reliability pragmatically. That’s why DevOps teams may include SREs, but will also include developers, engineers, and other disciplines. For more on the difference between DevOps and SRE, check out this article we shared a few months ago.
Blameless helps teams streamline their incident response and gain the most value from post-incident reviews. We provide the framework and a data-driven approach to practicing DevOps principles and improving reliability. If you’re curious to explore the Blameless product more, request a demo. You can also sign up for our newsletter below to stay informed when we produce more content like this.
Writer & Researcher