How does DevOps compare to traditional development methods?

DevOps has evolved over several years to become the go-to methodology for developers. It’s been adopted by some of the worlds most successful companies – Netflix, NASA, Etsy and Hertz. The rise in DevOps has been thanks to more companies adopting an agile development process. And technology is evolving to keep up with this trend too – look at Microsoft for example, they’ve created Azure DevOps which comes packed with industry-leading features such as Azure Pipelines, Azure Boards, Azure Repos and much more. If you’re looking to find out exactly what DevOps is, how it compares to traditional methods and how you can adopt it to benefit from some of these new technologies then you’ve come to the right blog. 


What is DevOps?

Microsoft defines DevOps as; A compound of development (Dev) and operations (Ops), DevOps is the union of people, processes and technology to continually provide value to customers. 

Adopting a DevOps culture alongside practices and tools, your team will be able to efficiently respond to customer needs and build applications quicker than ever. DevOps brings together siloed jobs such as IT operations, development teams, quality assurance and security to create a more fluid way of working that encourages collaboration. Which allows you to produce better applications or software by having all of those roles working towards a common goal. As all of those roles are working towards the same goal, right? 


How do traditional development methods compare to DevOps? 

We have answered some of the most popular questions we get asked on how traditional development methods, such as waterfall, compare to DevOps. 


How efficient are the development cycles? 

  • Traditional methods often focus on planning big releases, which are much riskier due to the amount of work involved. When working in longer cycles with infrequent releases things can often become complex quite quickly. You’ll be up against hard deadlines compiled with a list of added features. Whilst the big releases look impressive, they are often an inefficient way of working. 
  • DevOps on the other hand takes a different approach. They run with smaller releases that are often much easier to understand and test – making the release a lot less risky. It’s also easier to manage if things don’t go to plan as there isn’t so much to fix. By running more frequent smaller releases, DevOps enables your business to quickly respond to any new customer needs or requirements. 


How do they manage scheduling? 

  • Traditional methods often use planning and scheduling systems, to help manage any development. Within traditional methods there are typically a lot of moving parts to a development cycle, making scheduling quite a challenging task. 
  • DevOps is built on continuous smaller releases and automation from a dedicated team, making it much easier to schedule. You’ll be planning for the coming weeks as opposed to a few months, giving you better visibility of your team’s time. Plus, by having a dedicated team working on this, you’ll be able to coordinate everything effectively rather than having to schedule different people in different roles. 


What’s the big deal? 

  • Traditional methods often make an event of their upcoming release or update. A lot more work would have gone into a single release when a company uses traditional methods – meaning there’s a lot more at stake and much higher risk. Have you ever seen developers locked in a room for hours on end before a big launch? That’s because they’ve been working weeks, if not months for this release and are spending the final push fire-fighting any last-minute issues to hit their hard launch date. 
  • DevOps works in much smaller, more frequent cycles, meaning they don’t go popping the confetti every time they launch a release or update. There’s a lot less risk involved as not as much work would have been required since the last cycle. Plus, with automated testing in place, they can rest assured knowing that their environments are in sync. DevOps only promote from one stage to another if they are confident it will work. Thereby, eliminating the release window so they can move new functionality into productions at a faster rate. 


How easy is it to turn data into actionable improvements? 

  • Traditional methods will typically have to get numerous different parties involved when trying to collate information and data, which often ends up in a wordy report that’s shared with management. Lengthy reports can typically become a bottleneck as it’s not clear on what data is relevant and can result in unactioned tasks. 
  • DevOps enables you to quickly react to data thanks to the automated processes within the team. Meaning, you won’t have to sit and scroll through pages of information. By having a dedicated team gathering data from the application, you’re able to ensure that everyone within that team has a better understanding of the relevant information and data. This not only eliminates the time taken to gather the data but also to get sign-off from management. 


What type of culture do they encourage? 

  • Traditional methods are often risk-averse. The culture is built around trying their absolute best to not harm the business, which results in them having a lot of pressure to get things perfect. When in reality, is anything ever perfect? 
  • DevOps creates a culture very different from this. They adopt a ‘fail early’ culture, understanding that failure is inevitable. That’s why they’ve created a strong structure and process around controlled failure through continuous testing, smaller deployments and automation. The team adopts the mindset of the sooner you fail, the smaller the impact and the quicker you recover. 


What metrics do they use to measure success? 

  • Traditional methods use a cost and capacity model which looks at how much they get done for the least amount of money. The key challenge with this model is that it can be difficult to cut costs but still maintain the same capacity – which is why a lot of companies using traditional methods have to regularly outsource tasks. 
  • DevOps has taken this model one step further by adding in ‘flow’ since new applications should be measured by the time involved. This encourages them to review the end cycles time to identify any areas of waste by calculating true productivity so they can focus on the activities that add the most valuable. 


What do they define as a completed task? 

  • Traditional methods often complete a task by doing their part and passing it onto the next person. They’ll be so focused on completing a task by meeting the deadline rather than making sure what is done is deployable. Using this method can often lead to a loss in quality and a lack of accountability. 
  • DevOps on the other hand focuses on creating a cross-functional team where everyone’s accountable for the task being completed. All team members will be working towards the same goal and will therefore have the same definition of a completed task, which is creating high-quality software. They are driven by the bigger picture rather than focusing on the specific tasks they need to carry out. 


Looking to modernise your DevOps practices? 

Are you keen to start using DevOps practices to adopt new technologies? We can help. Microsoft has created Azure DevOps, which provides you with the tools you need to adopt a DevOps culture effectively. As an Azure Expert MSP, we can support you in transforming the way you work. Get in touch to talk to our experts about improving the way you create applications. 

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