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DevOps based Web Application Development and it’s Implementation

In today’s competitive world of accelerated product cycles, a siloed system of working separately as development and operations teams may seem undexterous. DevOps does away with silos, makes it possible to automate delivery pipelines, and this leads to the team taking the product back to the drawing board and working with lightning speed in case of changes. It becomes possible to deliver a superior product to the market without any time delay.

It is no wonder then that most companies are turning towards DevOps to develop products quickly, test them, and thus get them to the market with no delay.

More than a system, DevOps is a cultural rethink, which accounts for its immense power which enables the tremendous success of companies that hire DevOps consultants or partners.

DevOps – a critical component to ensuring successful DevOps based web applications

According to this developer survey, IT organizations that brought the DevOps culture to their teams experienced 60X fewer failures, 30X more deployments, frequently and 200X shorter lead times. The report also points to how DevOps improved the quality of code deployments and how this impacted the IT performance and the overall organizational culture.

DevOps based web applications mean that the benefits of DevOps extend to the daily functioning, troubleshooting, and monitoring of a web app. Automating development, deployment, and management of the software delivery process ensures that you are continuously integrating changes and customer feedback with the software delivery processes. The result? You move fast, follow a process of continuous integration and maximize your company’s productivity.

There are specific DevOps tools that help web app developers manage complex functions, scale effectively and produce quality at a high velocity. Most importantly, by diving into DevOps, developers can bring in building, integration, testing, and continuous planning into the equation. This means that instead of writing superfluous code, they focus on writing quality code. By automating and refining the software delivery process, developers have fewer worries about the code that they write not working or holding up in the testing, production, and deployment environments. Developers can focus on building better code than worrying about deployment environments. When they put to good use the broad knowledge of the working infrastructure of their web applications minimizing all the other hassles, they can produce better results.

So how do you implement DevOps in web app development?

The process of implementing DevOps in web app development follows a sequential application development process. Web applications and their implementation typically follow a sequential approach. You would start with a requirement or a need analysis, then dive into design, take the design to development, apply it to the testing floor, go right into development, and then release the product followed by maintenance.

There is a downside to this though, and if you don’t address it, you are bound to be ousted from a playing field that has giants like Google and Netflix, who have redefined product lifecycles. The downside is this — you cannot bring feedback into the mix until you complete the product and all its phases. But what good is that? Also, products in today’s markets should operate within changing requirements and parameters. The market is complex and more long-term than what a sequential model allows.

With DevOps, you bring continuous feedback and integration into the system. Here is an example of how Nokia adopted continuous integration (CI) for its software development:

DevOps and web applications workflow explained

Unlike a traditional software development lifecycle, by implementing DevOps to web application development, you are bringing continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery/ deployment (CD) to form the core of your delivery process. All functions circles back to CD and CI to keep track of quality and also on time. Estimation of the time it takes to get the product to market is another major drawback in a traditional software delivery model, but with DevOps, you operate in short timelines known as ‘sprints.’

DevOps based web applications and the DevOps workflow

In a CI and CD pipeline, if you are building a web application, your team of developers writes the code and run it by version control. After version control, the code then goes to the build phase, and during the build phase, the code gets production feedback from all the branches of the process, and this helps in compiling the code. The code then goes to the deployment phase, and then the testing phase, and if all is well, it goes to production.

In case of bugs or problems, the code goes back to the developers, who then fix it and repeat the process. A CI tool called Jenkins can automate this entire process and build a watertight system, one that is finetuned by reiterations.

This is what it looks like:

Planning –>Coding and Version Control (with tools like git or svn) wherein you write and build code –> Deployment phase (with tools like Docker)–> Testing (Automated by tools like Jenkins and Maven) –> Monitoring and Production

If you think this is a linear process, think again. Depending on the code you write, if there are bugs or problems in the CI environment, you receive feedback from the application and performance environments. Feedback can also arrive from the performance and testing rooms. The result is a multi-pronged approach that brings every person into the fold and gives responsibility for the entire process to every member involved in the software delivery process.

Difference between web app development with and without DevOps

There are many differences between DevOps and traditional web app development practices. The principal difference is that traditional processes divide themselves into silos that are determined by skills. In other words, developers do their bit, and the operations team does its bit. DevOps splits the process into cells (comprising testers, coders, developers, and operations specialists) and separate phases that are extremely cross-functional and self-sufficient. The result? Productivity increases 2 times over for every ¼ reduction in production cycle and operation costs reduce by 20%. According to this report, DevOps teams are quicker to act upon problems and bugs, and reduced cycle time significantly.

There is another interesting difference between a DevOps-backed web application development process and a traditional one. In a traditional software delivery process, the project infrastructure is configured manually, which wastes a lot of time and resources. There are silos and extensive workarounds. In DevOps, it is all about perfect synchronization. Continuous integration and version control help to facilitate a programmatic infrastructure interaction and practice.

Benefits of a DevOps-enabled web application development process

There are many benefits of DevOps that web application developers can reap, and which will impact them very positively.

Scalability: One huge advantage is that with such a finetuned and well-functioning cross-curricular environment, scalability is easier. This also means better team scalability.

Flexibility: Another huge advantage is that the code is written giving scope to flexibility, without undue dependence on the technical documentation. Therefore, when you need to rewrite or adjust the code, you can do so seamlessly by using the code itself.

Speed: The speed of delivery in a web app development process that follows the DevOps philosophy is significantly quicker. DevOps gives developers a broader perspective and a more comprehensive view of the processes. For instance, a web developer who changed to a DevOps team writes in TechBeacon about how DevOps added crucial layers to his process. In a traditional system, a developer would directly write code that adhered to a fixed set of standards, but a developer who has worked with DevOps takes into consideration many things before finishing writing code – for example, how will this code fare in the automation tests and will it work in the CI environment. In other words, the developer also understands the environment within which the code is going to operate even before writing the code.

A cultural shift and a broader perspective: Another huge benefit is that if there is a fault in the CI environment, it helps if the web applications developer to replicate the very environment in which the problem arose. DevOps gives the developer the superior technical toolkit and the thinking culture to build that environment. It challenges developers to look beyond their limitations.

Better code: Due to the highly synchronized and flexible working processes in a DevOps system, developers are encouraged to come up with better code, and there are qualified cells to perform regular code reviews. When developers look beyond just the technical dynamics of code and bring in maintainability, deployment and testing standards to the process of coding, the result is a very superior product.

There are many benefits – automation of the delivery pipeline and a cross-collaboration that propelled the likes of Netflix and Google to fame — but the most positive impact of DevOps is on the organizational culture and the spirit of collaboration that it produces.

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