What is DevOps?

DevOps is a set of practices combining software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). DevOps aims to streamline development and enable continuous delivery of high-quality software.

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DevOps explained

DevOps improves software development pipelines by automating manual processes. This makes it easier to get code from development into production more quickly while maintaining code quality. Tools and technologies like version control for source code management are part of DevOps, but the single most important component is cultural. 

DevOps requires close collaboration between development and operations teams, and encourages a willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes. Teams that practice DevOps can deliver software more rapidly and with fewer errors. DevOps methodologies are growing in popularity, particularly in industries where moving quickly is essential to remaining competitive.

How does DevOps work?

DevOps streamlines development by making key areas of the pipeline more efficient. Feedback loops are implemented to monitor application performance and identify areas for improvement. Technologies like error tracking software and build deployment tools automate simple and repetitive development tasks, enabling developers to focus on more important and fulfilling work, like coding new features.

To achieve best results with DevOps, teams must collaborate closely and work in lockstep towards the same goal. This enables organizations to deliver better software, faster.

DevOps principles and culture

Communication and collaboration

DevOps teams must be able to share information and ideas efficiently. Communication tools like Slack or Jira help simplify collaboration and teamwork, whether employees are working onsite or remotely. Consider solutions that integrate with your other DevOps tools to give everyone visibility on the status of projects.

Automation

Automations help teams release updates more efficiently at higher quality. Many DevOps automation tools exist, from Jenkins or Unity Build Automation for continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), to Puppet or Chef for provisioning and configuration management. When choosing tools, consider whether they can be customized to your needs.

Feedback

Feedback is crucial in DevOps, as it helps to identify areas for improvement and ensures that the right changes are implemented quickly. It can come in many forms, from code review to user testing and more. Establish a clear process for collecting and responding to feedback – and consider automating parts of that process – to see the benefits.

Shared responsibility

Both development and operations are responsible for the full application lifecycle, from development to production. The entire team should have insight into things like codebase changes, since working in silos often results in miscommunications and inefficiency. DevOps helps teams work in sync to launch quality products.

What problems does DevOps solve?

Implementing DevOps can help teams and resources align for better collaboration and solve many software development issues, which results in better experiences for the end user. 

At the core, DevOps practices  enable teams to make changes quickly through rapid iteration and testing while reducing or eliminating inefficiencies in existing development workflows. That's why moving to a CI/CD workflow helps teams roll out new features more often and respond to customer feedback more quickly.

When your team and resources are aligned, collaboration becomes a much more efficient process, leading to more stable, frequent, and higher-caliber releases. Delivering a steady stream of solid releases and providing consistent customer value can help your business naturally grow.

Challenges and benefits of DevOps

DevOps often requires a complete shift in how teams carry out their day-to-day operations. Previously siloed teams are now expected to collaborate using a new set of tools, automations, and practices. Development and operations teams must work together to address these challenges and create a seamless new workflow.

When these roadblocks are overcome, DevOps practices provide numerous benefits. Teams can achieve their goals faster when they work with greater agility. Morale also gets a boost when teams work closely together on releases that happen at higher levels of quality and stability.

The DevOps workflow

Plan

Step one in any DevOps initiative is to create a plan laying out overall goals, how they’ll be achieved, implementation timelines, and who’s responsible for what. Next, identify and implement necessary tools and processes. These will vary by project, but can include setting up a CI/CD delivery pipeline or configuring a monitoring system.

Develop

Once plans are in place, it’s time to start developing. In this phase, code is written and tested frequently to ensure that it’s stable. Once the code is ready and meets the requirements of the intended user base, it’s handed over to the operations team for deployment.

Merge

“Merging” is the process of integrating changes from different sources into one codebase. This can be done manually by running a merge command in a version control system like Unity Version Control, or automatically by using a CI system. The goal is to create a single, consistent view of the codebase.

Build

In the build stage of the DevOps lifecycle, code is created and compiled before being packaged for distribution. This process can be automated with tools like Jenkins or Unity Build Automation. Build tools help to ensure that builds are reproducible – if there are any issues, they’re easier to identify and fix.

Test and stage

Code must be thoroughly tested both automatically and manually to ensure it’s stable and production-ready. Automated testing speeds up this process and ensures consistency. Manual testing helps identify issues that automated tests might not catch. All of this can be done in a staging environment with no risk to live code or applications.

Deploy

Once code has been written and tested, it’s time to deploy it to a production environment. In DevOps, this happens frequently as part of the process of continuous deployment (CD), which makes it easier to find, catch, and address code errors earlier in the process, usually within minutes or hours rather than days.

Get started with Unity’s DevOps tools

Whether you’re a programmer trying to branch and merge code, or an artist updating a character model, Unity DevOps solutions are designed to help every member of your team create.

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