DevOps Versus Agile, Who Cares?

A lot of people claim there’s a significant difference between DevOps and Agile. Agile is the description of a set of processes and principles, or a set of values guiding how to run software development. DevOps, on the other hand, refers to the umbrella vision of what was once disparate functions of an organization, from development, testing, to other operational functions and how the automation magic can redefine the business. 

In reality, both DevOps and Agile are mindset descriptors, which had to power a more disparate work culture than anything companies had ever experienced, at least not until recently. Today, agile mobile application development is on the rise. Both are buzzy theories, which a lot of organizations are anxious to employ. Nonetheless, there are several overlaps between the two. 

The Agile Approach

As software developers recognized the immediate hitch of heavy processes, such as the Waterfall approach, they searched for approaches based on a more flexible model that allows easier tweaking of software. Furthermore, they also wanted to incorporate end-user feedback into ongoing development work with more opportunities to ensure they were on the right track. In the ‘90s, a lot of lightweight principles and theories emerged in relation to software development. 

The Manifest for agile software development in 2001 codified some of the theories and put all of them under the Agile software development umbrella, or simply, agile development, which paved the way for numerous agile approaches available today. Agile values place emphasis on:

-       People: Customers, teammates and interaction between them rather than tools and processes. 

-       Flexibility: Responding to and embracing change rather than adhering to a predetermined plan. 

-       Immediacy: Working software instead of extensive documentation. 

Furthermore, the Agile framework tears down the ‘finished product’ idea which was the goal of the waterfall methodology. Agile instead emphasizes that developing software is incremental and iterative. With every new software release, customers could boost existing functions.

The agile approach encourages developers to break down the process of development into small bits, also known as ‘user stories’, which highlights the value that the process places on the customer, helping developers through faster feedback loops and ensuring the alignment of the final product with market needs. 

Furthermore, agile advocates continuous development, adaptive planning, early and continuous delivery as well as continuous enhancement so developers can respond to software and client requirements in a flexible and fast manner. 

The Different World of DevOps

Agile was the answer to the Waterfall methodology, but DevOps however, is not an answer to Agile. In fact, the two are not the same. 

As it became critical for business organizations in the 21st century, two vital areas emerged, which are ITOps or IT operations; and DevOps, or Development and Operations. IT operation responsibilities include guaranteeing compliance, reliability and connectivity. On the other hand, DevOps is responsible for the development and deployment of new products to end users. 

IT operations ensure security and safety for the business in utilizing technology while DevOps walks a line between rigorous testing, communication and flexibility, which comes with new software deployment. 

Contrasting Points

While Agile and DevOps can be used in tandem, it’s important to have an understanding of how they vary:

1. Speed

Agile is all about frequent and fast deployment but is seldom a part or even the goal of DevOps.

2. Communication

The heart of Scrum (an agile framework) involves holding informal meetings (standups, specifically) on a daily basis so that each team member can share their day-to-day progress and goals as well as indicate if they need help. DevOps teams meet as needed.

3. Creation versus deployment

Software development is innate to Agile, while DevOps focuses on the right deployment of software. DevOps, for the record, can be used for managing the deployment of software developed via several approaches, such as agile and waterfall approaches. 

4. Size of the team

The smaller the agile team, the lesser people are involved and the faster they can move. DevOps involves having a lot of teams working together.

5. Documentation

Agile teams use low fidelity and simple tools like paper and pen while adopting the principle of “just enough” documentation. Documentation is a serious consideration with DevOps; it requires documents and specifications for thorough comprehension of software releases. 

6. Scheduling

Agile teams work over a short and predetermined period of time, or what is called a sprint. Sprints seldom last longer than a month and could be as short as a week or two. Maximum reliability is the key merit of DevOps, so teams tend to concentrate over a longer period of time, which decreases interruption.

The Agile & DevOps Culture

Although Agile does not lead to DevOps necessarily, both could have extreme shifts in culture within an organization. Agile encourages a change in the way we think about development. It promotes manageable and small changes which can in the end, lead to huge change. 

Organizations of all sizes have experimented with how Agile can improve organizations. Nowadays, several organizations consider themselves to be completely Agile. 

DevOps can also bring its own culture shifts within an organization. These include balancing change, stability, flexibility and improved communication. Opting to use both is an active decision, which a lot of industry experts believe can lead to decision-making that is more rational, thereby improving the company culture considerably. 

Using DevOps and Agile in combination, is an effective way to drive progress within a group, team or organization as a whole. Understanding both requires accepting that change is constant, and realizing that there is no single answer to solving all the needs and requirements of an organization, big or small. 

Authors Note:

Morgan is an IT Consultant at TatvaSoft Australia, an Agile Web Development Company in Australia. Coming from an IT background, Morgan likes to share informative and useful articles and blogs on mobile app development. He has seven years of experience within a technological domain and helps organizations of all shapes and sizes.