Blink once and the trajectory of technological advance shifts slightly. Blink twice and today’s technology is now irrelevant.
As technology evolves faster and faster, companies have responded internally by embracing more streamlined and flexible operational workflows that allow for an environment of constant innovation, collaboration and development. To stay competitive, it is essential to seek ways to optimize production and performance. There are a few different approaches to consider when seeking operational transformation, but two methodologies that come up most frequently are agile and DevOps. But, which one is better?
Agile and DevOps
One thing is for sure; gone are the days of the linear, waterfall approach to product development where complete product development lifecycles can stretch on for months or years. Yes, specifications, goals and timelines are clear and static in the waterfall approach, but by the time product launch comes around, usually the market has shifted. The waterfall approach is more heads-down, end-product focused which doesn’t really jive with the current environment where improving customer experience is prioritized above all.
In 2001, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development sparked a new way of thinking about development. Agile is an iterative approach to development where large, complex projects are broken into many smaller projects or “sprints” with the goal of increased speed, flexibility and improved responsiveness to user feedback. This allows companies to build and innovate while having a thumb on market trends. Agile is all about streamlining process and allows teams to constantly refine and improve a product in small, incremental and impactful ways. Originally, agile was primarily focused in the world of software development, but now all varieties of teams are beginning to apply an agile approach to their processes.
DevOps evolved due to the need for rapid deployment (i.e., getting a great product to the end user quicker). In order to achieve this, the traditional silos that existed between development teams and operations teams were removed, and DevOps emerged to represent the seamless collaboration of these two teams. DevOps is development and operations working as one with the common goal of quickly delivering a product. With the advent of cloud computing, DevOps teams, tools and techniques have become essential for managing the increased need for frequent deployments.
Goals of Agile and DevOps
Even though Agile is about process while DevOps is focused more on collaboration between teams, these approaches share many of the same underlying values and goals:
Both seek to incorporate user feedback and resolve problems and bugs quickly and efficiently. Agile and DevOps both value CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) goals.
Both Agile and DevOps break down traditional organizational structures and silos and instead embrace cross-team communication.
High quality and high speed
Agile values high-speed production and DevOps seeks frequent releases. Whether it is reduced downtime or superior customer experience, both approaches value high quality product.
Both DevOps and Agile seek clever ways to automate to streamline and increase efficiency throughout the CI/CD pipeline. In an agile development environment, this may be automated builds and validation. In DevOps, automation might be seen in configuration and monitoring tools.
Customer satisfaction and faster time to market
Unlike the traditional approaches of the past, Agile and DevOps both evolved from the need to improve customer experience and deliver products to the market faster.
Develop + deliver with agility
So, to answer the question of which approach is better – both together is better. Agility should not end with development. If a development team is already working in an Agile environment, it just makes sense to bring operations into the fold via DevOps. DevOps then becomes an extension to Agile development rather than a competing or separate approach. Combining Agile and DevOps completes the product development lifecycle by adding streamlined deployment, configuration, and monitoring to the loop and promotes end-to-end collaboration and automation. Agility is then built into the entire development/delivery cycle: design, develop, validate, deploy, monitor, and repeat.
Adopting both methods in parallel avoids the creation of any silos across the organization and promotes company-wide processes and collaboration. In the end, this equates to better customer experience and quicker time to market.