Home Basics Agile and DevOps: allies or foes in the software development process?

Agile and DevOps: allies or foes in the software development process?

by Srinivas Saripalli

Agile and DevOps can sound extremely different from one another based on their sound bites. In addition to adding to the uncertainty, both notions have their jargon and slogans that seem to defy categorization. Agile may be less ambiguous than DevOps, but it’s not uncommon for individuals to be annoyed by the many different definitions of the term. Many people confuse the two terms because of a lack of clarity in their meanings.

“Agile and DevOps are two terms that are frequently misunderstood. Because of this oversimplification, agile and DevOps are at odds, and you may be surprised to learn that they’re great friends.”

This DevOps and agile relationship can’t be denied. An important link between DevOps and Agile Infrastructure was made during a conversation between Patrick DuBois and Andrew Clay Schafer at the Agile 2008 Conference. The Agile Conference still has a DevOps course, even though Patrick invented the word “DevOps” afterward. But let’s go beyond the history of scrum and continuous delivery and examine the practical linkages between agile and DevOps.

Scrum isn’t the only agile practice. 

Scrum can be the difference between a constant, stressful battle and effective, gratifying teamwork in some organizations. The objectivity and focus that scrum brings to the table substitute the politics and over-commitment of some teams. As if it were dogma, it can be accepted wholeheartedly. An agile team will use the scrum principles as a foundation, then examine their methods and adjust to become more efficient when the restrictions of the business or the task itself require something different. Outside of software development, this becomes much more critical when implementing Scrum.

Preparing for unanticipated requirements 

Scrum is widely used in the DevOps field by those who have experience with agile methods. The release of a major system modification, transferring data centres, or completing system upgrades are all examples of work that can be planned in operations. However, many operations tasks are unplanned, such as surges in performance, system failures, and security breaches. They require prompt action. Waiting for a backlog of things to be prioritized or a newsprint planning session to be held is a waste of time. As a result, many DevOps teams have shifted their focus from scrum to Kanban. This enables them to keep track of both types of work and to understand how they interact. Scrumban or Kanban are two terms used to describe a hybrid methodology (Kanban with a backlog).

Scrum’s widespread adoption may be due in part to the fact that it does not mandate any specific technological techniques. Scrum’s flimsy management techniques frequently have a significant impact on a team’s performance. Rather than a jumble of competing priorities, the backlog now just has one set of priorities. It’s no longer possible to do everything at once, thus a strategy has been devised based on what’s achievable. When all these factors work together, a team can achieve new heights of efficiency. A lack of technical procedures like coding reviews, automated acceptance tests, and continuous integration may limit the team’s ability to produce high-quality software products.

Other agile approaches, such as Extreme Programming, have strong beliefs about how technical practices assist the team’s ability to maintain a sustainable pace and provide transparency and visibility to management and stakeholders. They disagree. Technical tasks are sometimes relegated to the backlog by scrum teams. Even though this is by the principles of the scrum, the problem of product owner bias towards features quickly arises. Technical practices may not be cost-effective unless the product owner has a strong technical background. For a product owner, this becomes considerably more difficult when the technical requirements extend into operations to guarantee stability, performance, and security.

Owners of products and services 

The industry has realized that having two distinct functions for products that are typically in use is beneficial. It’s easy for our product owners to comprehend the features that customers want, but it’s more difficult for them to measure those features against non-functional aspects like speed, stability, and security. This is a problem. As a result, some SaaS products have a service owner who oversees giving top priority to those features that aren’t yet working. The two owners may have to “horse trade” from time to time, but independent teams can usually handle this. However, Product Owners often have a bias toward features, which can be countered by using this technique to “amplify feedback” from operations. There are several approaches to DevOps outside the “two-owner” model. Non-functional characteristics should be viewed as “features” and planned and prioritized in the same way as functional user stories.

None of these concerns are, in the end, specific to scrum. Scrum contains a built-in “process improvement” mechanism known as retrospectives, like all agile techniques. This suggests that some scrum teams will draw inspiration from DevOps and utilize the scrum retrospective as an opportunity to tweak and adjust to the principles of DevOps in their daily work. To be honest, it’s just common sense to know that most teams may benefit from bringing in fresh perspectives. DevOps will not be an organic result of scrum until DevOps is widely accepted and taught in schools. It probably doesn’t matter if the team hires an agile or DevOps coach, if the latter has experience automating software development, testing, and deployment.

DevOps is more than just continuous delivery.

The discipline of continuous delivery (CD) helps to limit the amount of work in progress, while the automation of deployment helps to raise limits. When done correctly. Instead of having to choose between delivering software more frequently or at a higher quality, CD allows a development team to deliver both. Teams that simply focus on scrum can miss the larger context of agile, much as teams who only focus on continuous delivery miss the larger context of DevOps.

Communication issues between an enterprise and a software team are not immediately addressed by CD. An organization with a budget-driven planning cycle that lasts one year may have to wait months before it can react to a team that delivers every commitment into production. Step functions like terminating the project or worsening the project’s team size are all too common (because a large influx of new people is disruptive).

In the Agile Fluency Model, “Focus on Value” is the first level of fluency. CD can easily develop into a never-ending cycle of technological progress with no noticeable value for the business if it lacks this fluidity. A team may become adept at providing high-quality products quickly, but at the expense of creating value for the business or its customers. Even if there are a significant number of satisfied customers, and evaluation of low value may only be possible at the portfolio level. Without fluency in the language, it is difficult to compare features and practices. Those working on a legacy codebase may not have automated tests or a design that is suitable for frequent deployments. A CD changeover can take years in a legacy environment. As a result, being able to show a return on investment is even more critical.

The three methods 

When it comes to DevOps there’s more to it than just automating the pipeline. “Ops who think like devs. Devs who think like ops” is the essence of DevOps, according to John Allspaw. Gene Kim discusses The Three Ways as principles of DevOps in further detail:

The first waySystem ThinkingAs opposed to focusing solely on the performance of a single silo of work or department, it stresses the performance of the entire system.
The second wayAmplify Feedback Loopsconstructing the feedback loops that go from right to left. Shortening and amplifying feedback loops is at the heart of nearly every process improvement project.
The third wayCulture of Continual Experimentation and Learningfostering a work environment that encourages two things: the willingness to try new things, the willingness to fail and the acceptance that practise and repetition are necessary for success.

Continuous Delivery (CD) focuses on The First Way: The dev-ops pipeline is being automated. Automation plays an important role in speeding up a deployment process. However, systems thinking involves more than just computerization.

The Second Way is characterized by the practice, -“Developers also wear pagers.” Even if pagers aren’t used in the strict sense, this means developers are being dragged into operational concerns. This aids programmers in comprehending the ramifications of the decisions they make during the creation process. Developers, for example, maybe inspired to put log messages in better locations and to make those messages more meaningful as a result. It’s not merely a matter of raising consciousness, either. To speed up the troubleshooting process, developers bring their knowledge of the system to the table.

Third Way experimentation is not only about making incremental changes to the application moving through the pipeline; rather, it’s about experimenting with the system. To put it another way, it’s quite simple to see how long automation takes and to continuously improve it by utilizing more powerful infrastructures. It’s more difficult to see how the transfer of responsibilities or organizations causes delays. Human collaboration can be improved by teams “inspecting and adapting” throughout the entire delivery process. CD also necessitates the development of a constant state of improvement and adaptation. No matter how hard the team works, the CD will not grow and prosper if they don’t reflect on how they can be more effective. Everyone in the team must have the confidence to take responsibility for their actions.

In scrum, each retrospective is an opportunity to improve the practices and tooling. But if the team isn’t taking advantage of those opportunities to solve both short-term and long-term technical problems, then they will just wait for the product owner to put CD tasks into the backlog, which will never happen.

Each retrospective in scrum is an opportunity to improve the methods and tools used in the process. However, if the team does not take advantage of these changes to fix both short-term and long-term technical challenges, they will only wait for the product owner to put CD tasks into the backlog, which will never happen.

Beyond the software team, DevOps is agile in action. 

Scrum mostly corresponds to the notion of agility, “Even in the final stages of development, it is acceptable to accept new needs. For the competitive benefit of the customer, agile processes harness change.”

The agile principle, “Our highest aim is to satisfy the client through the early and continuous release of valuable software,” is a key component of continuous delivery.

So, rather than relying on formalities like stand-ups and sprint planning, agile emphasizes welcoming both incoming and outgoing change. Indeed, the Agile Manifesto includes ten additional principles. Instead of choosing between several principles, look at them all together. Agile and DevOps share a commitment to constant improvement and iterative development.

These employees have been tasked with maintaining systems that are both delicate and critical to the company’s operations. Because of their importance to the company, they are the areas that require the most attention. It’s not “change for the sake of change” when it comes to this agile approach to accepting change. By holding developers responsible for the quality of their work and enhancing their total capacity for generating value for the company, this goal can be achieved. Agility and DevOps both emphasize the importance of delivering value to customers.

Agile and DevOps are not business objectives in and of themselves. Both movements have the potential to provide your business with more effective methods of attaining its goals. Agile and DevOps function better together than when they are adversaries. The key to preventing a clash between these opposing viewpoints is to grasp the underlying values and principles that underlie them. Strict definitions lead to compartmentalized thinking. Knowing more about agile than just scrum and DevOps than just CD puts you in a position to take advantage of the potent agile + DevOps combination.

Set up automation for your tools. 

Contextual shifts and interruptions are perhaps the most difficult aspects of using many tools at once. After being interrupted by non-code work, it can take hours to get back in the groove. More and more people are automating their git repositories and work management systems as a result. Listed here are three of the most frequently used automation rules.

  • Transform an issue from ‘To Do’ to ‘In Progress’ when a commit is made, and the status is set to “To Do.”
  • When the Pull Request is merged, change the status to completed.
  • Add a remark to Jira and Slack the team if a build fails in Jenkins.

Recommended Reading: Explaining Agile to the Dummies

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