DevOps has transformed how software is developed and deployed, enabling the rapid delivery of high-quality applications. DevOps also streamlines software maintenance, making it easier for developers to add new features to existing software and respond to security threats.
With its emphasis on collaboration and automation, DevOps creates an engaging, dynamic work environment where employees can communicate and share resources efficiently and effectively. It removes barriers to productivity and supports a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. Other benefits of DevOps include reduced operational costs, enhanced software reliability and scalability, and faster error recovery. Owing to these advantages, the global DevOps market is expected to increase by almost 20% over the next five years, reaching a value of USD 25.5 billion by 2028.
In the following guide, we’ll explain what DevOps is, how it works, and its relevance to Quality Assurance (QA). We’ll also discuss DevOps training, best practices, and tools.
What is DevOps?
The term “DevOps” represents a combination of software development (Dev) and operations (Ops). Initially established between 2007-2009 in response to problems with the traditional software development lifecycle model, DevOps encompasses a set of tools, best practices, and philosophies designed to integrate software development and IT operations into a single workflow. This approach marked a radical shift from previous methods, wherein software developers worked separately from operations, who were responsible for deploying and supporting software. In addition to fostering a culture of cooperation between these teams, DevOps updated how software is developed and maintained, striving for improved efficiency and quality control via automation and continuous monitoring.
Today, DevOps is guided by several core principles: Culture, automation, measurement, and sharing (CAMS). Culture is the practice of aligning the goals and responsibilities of the development and operations teams, enabling them to function cohesively. Traditionally, developers innovated and took risks while operations staff maintained product stability, which frequently led to friction between both teams. Under the DevOps model, development and operations staff establish clear, mutual objectives at the outset of projects, preventing miscommunications.
Automation, on the other hand, refers to using automated processes (such as machine learning and AI) to complete tasks with minimal human input, while measurement describes the use of metrics to gauge progress. Finally, DevOps also requires sharing knowledge and data between project stakeholders. Together, these processes result in improved software quality, faster delivery and issue resolution, more efficient resource allocation, greater process transparency, and the creation of a more positive, innovative organizational culture.
What Does DevOps Do? DevOps Best Practices Explained
For DevOps to run smoothly, organizations typically rely on a set of best practices to guide operations. Though DevOps processes may vary somewhat between companies, most strategies incorporate the following principles:
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD)
At the heart of DevOps is the practice of developing and deploying code in frequent, rapid iterations. To make this possible, companies employ a system of Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), also known as CI/CD. In CI/CD, many of the steps involved in building, packaging, and testing software are automated using DevOps tools, such as AWS CodePipeline, Azure DevOps, Jenkins, or Bitbucket Cloud. With these tools, code can be stored and shared in a central repository, making it easier for DevOps teams to collaborate.
CI/CD allows developers to regularly integrate and validate small code changes without compromising the software quality or user experience, even when working across multiple environments. As a result, software can be updated quickly (and more often), and bugs are detected and resolved before deployment to the production environment.
Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is another important aspect of what DevOps does to improve software development cycles. IaC is the practice of using code (machine-readable definition files) to configure and manage infrastructure in place of manual labor. In addition to saving time, this approach improves consistency and reduces errors during deployment by ensuring that developers consistently work within the same environments. IaC accomplishes this by generating an identical environment with each deployment rather than having teams maintain environment configurations individually.
Version control systems, such as GIT, record and track changes to code and infrastructure configurations (these changes are typically called “revisions”) are an integral DevOps practice. Using version control, teams can immediately access information about each revision, including when changes were made and by who. Different versions can also be compared, merged, or restored, which minimizes the risks associated with software updates and helps teams collaborate and divide tasks more effectively.
Continuous Monitoring and Feedback
Continuous monitoring (CM) is the process of using automation to track application performance, detect bugs, and identify potential security threats following the launch of software. In addition to managing risks and streamlining software maintenance, continuous monitoring facilitates Continuous Improvement and Root Cause Analysis, two core principles of Quality Assurance.
Continuous monitoring is performed with specific DevOps tools, such as Akamai mPulse, BMC Helix Operations Management, ChaosSearch, and Dynatrace, among others. These tools provide DevOps teams with real-time performance data and include an alert system, facilitating a rapid response should issues emerge. In many cases, CM tools also have features that allow DevOps teams to track user feedback and engagement following software updates. By identifying defects immediately and measuring customer satisfaction, CM increases system uptime and improves the customer experience.
Role of QA in DevOps
Though adopting DevOps practices offers numerous benefits, it’s not without challenges. In most cases, DevOps training must be provided so employees can successfully transition from legacy infrastructure to Infrastructure as Code (IaC) systems and adopt new DevOps tools. Organizations also need to undergo a significant culture shift to align the goals of software developers and operations staff. These factors, along with the emphasis DevOps places on speed, can also introduce risks and uncertainties in the software development process. To manage these risks, organizations must practice thorough Quality Assurance throughout the DevOps project lifecycle.
Quality Assurance teams collaborate with software developers and operations staff in multiple ways to ensure the delivery of a quality product. When working within a DevOps environment, some of the primary duties of QA professionals include:
The QA team develops, implements, and manages the project’s Quality Planning strategy. They assist in allocating the resources needed to deliver the project, assign roles and responsibilities to various employees, and specify the goals and requirements for the project. They may also take steps to prevent bugs from occurring in the early stages of the project; for example, by conducting Risk Analysis and making recommendations to ensure security, performance, and stability.
In many organizations, the QA team is integral to bridging the gap between developers and the operations team. QA testers often participate in brainstorming sessions at the beginning of a project and help developers align their workflow with testing priorities. By creating a clear, reliable testing strategy early on, the QA team ensures the production of high-quality code with few errors, making software maintenance easier for operations. When errors occur, the QA team assists developers in finding a solution.
Continuous Testing and Improvement
The QA team actively monitors software after deployment. Continuous testing and incorporating feedback allows for more efficient identification of potential issues and opportunities for improvement.
The QA team is also responsible for choosing the tools and frameworks used for software testing and ensuring a fully automated testing environment (ideally, manual testing should be avoided where possible). Having the right automation tools can speed up project workflow and make the software development life cycle more efficient, allowing stakeholders to test and deploy frequent updates. Without automated testing, continuous integration, development, and monitoring would not be possible due to time constraints, impacting the delivery cycle. Automation also improves the testing process, reduces costs associated with testing, eliminates the potential for human error, and makes tests readily repeatable.
Because automated testing is critical to ensuring product quality in DevOps, software testers specializing in automation are in high demand. As of 2022, 73% of testers are already using automated testing, and the global automation testing market is expected to grow by 19.2% per year, reaching a value of approximately 50 billion USD by 2030.
To delve deeper into the rapidly evolving field of automated testing, check out BusyQA’s Automated Testing Course. In this course, we cover the fundamentals of software testing, including the leading software testing tools and strategies, through a blend of theory and practical instruction.
Today’s customers have high expectations for software, wanting it to be functional, stable, and usable while staying on the cutting edge of technology. For this reason, DevOps has become crucial to customer retention and satisfaction. By expediting software development and improving product quality, DevOps and QA work synergistically to ensure organizations remain competitive. Adopting a DevOps approach can also transform organizational culture, creating a workplace where everyone feels valued, empowered, and engaged. These benefits are so profound that 99% of companies experience positive impacts after implementing DevOps methodologies, with over half (61%) reporting rapid improvements in product quality and time-to-market.
If you want to learn more about DevOps, consider a DevOps training course from BusyQA. Each BusyQADevOps course is taught by highly-trained instructors and offers hands-on learning using the latest DevOps tools, in addition to co-op placement opportunities. Whether you’re entering the IT field or hoping to accelerate your career, BusyQA’s courses provide a welcoming, informative atmosphere and the certification required for software testing and development.