If you’re new to software development, you might’ve heard of Agile and DevOps. Both are popular approaches with similar goals – to ship your code (or whatever your end-product is) as efficiently and quickly as possible. However, this similarity can cause confusion as to what each one really does, how to implement, and where they overlap.
Let’s start by looking at Agile and DevOps individually, comparing their benefits and drawbacks, and then see how they can work together.
Agile is a project management approach that first appeared in 2001, with the agile manifesto. This collection of four main values and 12 guiding principles can be implemented to build a software development culture that lets teams move more quickly – or be more agile.
Overall, Agile is grounded in a mindset that emphasizes accountability, self-organization, and teamwork. Specifically, Agile practices are focused on moving towards a specific goal, but moving forward with continuous reviews, re-alignment, and changes as customer needs change throughout the development process. You can see how this would be beneficial while developing software, or any project, really.
An Agile process is really more focused on the people, as opposed to the tools or process. It’s ideal for larger projects that are likely to encounter consistent change, or where frequent releases or iterations are ideal. This is different from the more traditional “Waterfall” approach, where a project starts and isn’t released until it’s completely finished.
The group of people working on an Agile project is typically called a “Scrum team”, and usually has 5-6 people. This small group encourages high-quality work by focusing on staying lean and results-driven. There are three primary roles:
- Product Owner: this is the “visionary”, and is typically an executive or other key stakeholder. This person has a high-level view of the end product and how it will fit within the company’s long-term goals.
- Scrum Master: this is the closest to a project manager. This person owns the process, ensuring feedback, day-to-day functions, and other logistics are flowing smoothly. They keep the project on track.
- Team Member: these are the “doers” – usually a combination of front-end developers, back-end engineers, copywriters, and other creatives. They are responsible for actually producing the end product.
What Is Agile?
Agile is often used in software development to more effectively manage issues like changes in priorities, timelines, and requirements. It’s used to accelerate time to market, increase quality, and improve team morale while reducing cost and risk. But what exactly is it? And why does it work? In this course, you’ll start to answer these questions by learning the basic concepts and principles of Agile.
Whereas Agile is a project management approach that focuses on incorporating and adapting to frequent change, DevOps is a practice that encourages collaboration between software developers and IT teams. The DevOps team is encouraged to escape their traditional silos and work side-by-side through each step of the process, from the initial designs all the way to the final release of the product.
The name itself is the giveaway – it combines software DEVelopment teams with IT OPerationS. Bringing these two groups together promotes continuous deployment and integration, more automated testing, and even more open sharing of code repositories.
While development and operations teams can be configured in many ways, there are seven roles that you’ll usually see.
- Evangelist: as DevOps can be a huge shift for many companies, it’s important to have an evangelist whose role is to encourage a strong DevOps culture. This person is responsible for identifying, quantifying, and educating on the core business benefits.
- Release Manager: sometimes also known as the Product Stability Manager, this person serves as the project manager. In order to ensure continuous delivery, they will focus on integrating the development, testing, and deployment.
- Automation Architect: their sole responsibility is to ensure a high performance team that can deliver in near real time. This will include DevOps tooling and configuration management.
- Software Developer/Tester: in addition to writing code, this person will also deploy, test, and monitor throughout the project. They’ll also work closely with the Automation Architect to ensure they are able to efficiently deliver high-quality code.
- Experience Assurance Professional: in addition to ensuring that the final product meets the specifications, this person will also focus on the overall user experience. This is separate from the functional testing that the Software Developer conducts – they’re actually looking at whether the product is easy/enjoyable to use.
- Security Engineer: security is always a top priority, so this person is an expert in any related regulations, standards, and protocols to ensure that the final product is safe from attacks. They will also work with the Software Developer(s) to ensure that any user data is protected.
- Utility Technology Player: as DevOps is focused on bringing the development and operations teams together, it’s important to have a utility team member who can help out in the various specific areas easily.
DevOps: More Than Just Dev & Ops
First things first, what is DevOps? Where did it come from? Why do organizations adopt it? Should your organization adopt it? Well, DevOps adds great business value. You’ll learn about a few high performing companies that adopted a DevOps culture and how it benefits them. You’ll also learn its origin and the overall purpose. As you become a little more familiar with DevOps in this course, you’ll consider how it might be beneficial for your organization.
As you can see, Agile project management is primarily focused on making it easier and more efficient for teams to collaborate. This enables them to more easily adapt to change while continually moving a project forward. DevOps focuses on bringing two historically siloed teams together so that they can release software more quickly and frequently.
There are also some differences in how the two are managed. With DevOps, the emphasis is on frequent releases – sometimes several per day. Agile, on the other hand, uses “sprints”, which are usually two weeks long, but can vary by team.
One thing that Agile and DevOps have in common is that both can be a pretty big cultural shift. This may cause conflict and limit how quickly they can start to show benefits to your organization. That’s why it’s really important to ensure that your team has the knowledge, skills, resources, and stakeholder buy-in to make the change.
The good news is that you can introduce both Agile and DevOps to get some pretty great mutual benefits, as they work really well together. Both can allow you to develop and implement significantly more quickly, and both have a focus on putting customer needs at the forefront.
In fact, Agile and DevOps are extremely complementary to each other. You can use Agile to motivate your team to adopt a DevOps mindset. DevOps helps companies innovate more quickly and move faster, while Agile keeps the focus on your customers and your people.
If you’d like to learn more about the specifics of Agile Project Management and DevOps, we have expert-led online courses that cover both. With our Foundation subscription, you’ll get unlimited access to these and other great skills training.