What is DevOps, and how are operators approaching it?

DevOps bonds app development with the IT operations needed to deploy and manage this software. The process is a cornerstone of cloud computing, and by extension, crucial to the future of 5G networks.

A contraction of the words “developer” and “operations,” DevOps describes a process of integrated and continuous software development, through the entire app lifecycle. DevOps is a practical methodology that is sometimes positioned as a cultural mindset for organizations. 

DevOps removes barriers to productivity

Software development and IT operations historically worked independently of one another, siloed from each other like church and state. As businesses adapted agile processes to speed app development, they sought ways to erase those boundaries. Streamlining and automating that process is what DevOps is all about. The DevOps lifecycle is characterized as in a continuous state of flow — each process is fluid, happening continuously as part of an iterative, constant and repeating system. 

How organizations actually implement DevOps workflows is dependent on the individual organization’s requirements. But in broad steps, a DevOps lifecycle includes seven unique steps:

  • Development: Writing of code.
  • Integration: Individual developers merge code changes into a central repository. 
  • Monitoring: Entailing the process of overseeing the entire process from soup to nuts, including testing and verification.
  • Feedback: Internal reviews of how the systems within the DevOps process function.
  • Deployment: The production push involved in publishing the actual software code, again occurring continuously as iterative improvements are made.
  • Operations: Working hand in hand with monitoring, operations oversees the process to make sure everything stays on track.

“DevOps describes approaches to speeding up the processes by which an idea (like a new software feature, a request for enhancement, or a bug fix) goes from development to deployment in a production environment where it can provide value to the user. These approaches require that development teams and operations teams communicate frequently and approach their work with empathy for their teammates,” said Red Hat.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is another key DevOps concept that’s taken root in cloud computing and data center operations.

“Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is an approach to managing data center server, storage and networking infrastructure. IaC is meant to significantly simplify large-scale configuration and management. With traditional data center infrastructure management, every configuration change required manual action by operators and system administrators. With IaC, infrastructure configuration information is housed in standardized files, which can be read by software that maintains the state of the infrastructure. IaC can improve productivity and reliability because it eliminates manual configuration steps,” said NetApp.

DevOps and CSPs

DevOps is a cornerstone of cloud computing production environments. That includes the 5G core network architecture, which models a cloud-native Service Based Architecture (SBA). Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are already applying DevOps principles to modernize and streamline their operations, according to a survey done by Nokia. 

The roundtrip management of Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), Cloud Native Functions (CNFs) and other demands of 5G network operations are only scalable using widespread automation and integration, which is central to DevOps.

“The key to adopting DevOps is to target the legacy processes, tools and personnel skills that have been built up as operators have moved from 2G to 4G. Often, existing tools are isolated, processes are restricted to a specific network domain and people can be too focused on individual work areas or tools,” said Nokia.

“In enterprise environments, DevOps processes and techniques that rely heavily on automation are credited with enabling significant increases in the efficiency of the software delivery cycle all the way into operations. As part of the transition to 5G networks, telecom vendors and operators alike are considering how to adapt DevOps ways of working to boost competitiveness by shortening feature delivery cycles and raising feature hit rates through feedback loops,” said Ericsson.

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