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Agile or DevOps – Which way to go?

If you have ever been a software engineer, there may have been times when you were left floundering in miles and miles of code trying to implement any modifications that the client wanted, after the final product delivery. Now, imagine if the code was written by someone else. This is the stuff of nightmares for most developers.

In a world where the ‘Customer is King’, businesses can thrive only by providing what the client wants in the most efficient, cost-effective way, while also delivering in the shortest possible time frame.

So, how do organizations keep the customer satisfied even as they ensure the sanity of their employees? By going Agile and implementing DevOps.

What is Agile?

Agile is a methodology/mindset that manages software development with a framework called Scrum, which consists of developing software in short iterations called Sprints. A Sprint lasts a couple of weeks at most. There is constant feedback from the client after every Sprint. This ensures that modifications can be implemented in the subsequent sprint without hassle. Agile became the ‘talk of the IT town’ and with good reason. However, after the initial scramble to get Agile ready, it soon became apparent that this was a team-wide phenomenon. The achievements at the development level were getting bogged down by IT operations that were still running on the cumbersome Waterfall model of software development. This meant the transition to production was getting delayed.

Let us understand this in simpler terms:

Agile would ensure that software development was a relative breeze. However, it would only be viable on your system or in a test environment. To have software that works on a mass scale, you need something more than just code that accomplishes some task. If you want this idea to be a useful, working product that delivers value to users, then it should be reliable and stable in the production environment. This is what makes up IT operations.

When development happens with Agility, but deployment is left limping behind, then the organization bears the consequences because the client wants software that works in the real world.

What is DevOps?

Enter DevOps! DevOps bridges the gap between development and deployment. Below are a few points that list the essential aspects of both approaches:

Parameter

Agile

DevOps

Definition

A methodology with different frameworks  for software development

A work  culture that emphasises collaboration of development teams and operations teams

Focus

 

Processes focus on implementing constant changes as per client requirements

Focus is on continuous testing and deployment

Implementation

Iterative implementation in short interactions, using frameworks as Safe, Scrum and Kanban

More about collaboration and hence does not have a predefined  framework

Team requirements

Agile requires developers to be all-rounders so that anyone can substitute for another person and work remains unhampered. Also, team size is small since compact size makes for faster mobilization

The skillset is divided and spread throughout the development team and operations teams. Team size is invariably large since it involves multiple teams to get to production

Area of interest

Emphasises software development and testing focused on delivering high value for the stakeholders and the product.

More about an end-to-end business solutions and faster, more reliable delivery of software with emphasis on all stages of the software development lifecycle

Documentation

Detailed documentation is not a priority compared to the working system, an advantage when the team is flexible and responsive. This, however, can be a disadvantage when the software is being given to another team for deployment.

Documentation is of prime importance since development and operations involve two different teams with different tasks

Combining Agile and DevOps.

Although it may seem like Agile and DevOps are at loggerheads, it is not the complete scenario. There are two significant similarities that are present, namely –

Enhance business productivity – An organization’s primary goal is customer satisfaction. So anything that enhances productivity is a welcome idea. Both Agile and DevOps, have a common goal: to increase business productivity. Both are extremely reliable approaches. Agile gives a much-needed boost to DevOps in terms of speed while DevOps teaches Agile to be intensive while looking at the bigger picture.

Emphasis on communication – To accomplish tasks seamlessly, good communication is key. While Agile focuses on extensive communication between customer and development team, DevOps concentrates on collaboration between development and deployment. Both approaches hold communication as a key to success.

The goal of any organization is to achieve excellence. However, there is no magic wand that will miraculously deliver it on a golden platter. It requires meticulous planning and implementing various strategies for maximum benefits to all stakeholders. The software industry is at its core, all about development and deployment. Whether Agile or DevOps, businesses will surely achieve success. After all, both approaches are essentially an extension of each other. However, an effective strategy would be a merger of the two concepts by which the organization gets the best of both ensuring the entire software cycle proceeds with smooth efficiency resulting in a robust product that stands the test of time.

Agile plus DevOps is a match made in IT heaven that can give a new lease of life to any business.