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DevOps vs Agile! Everything You Need To Know

Anurag Sinha  Print   7 min read  
09 Jul 2020
28 Jul 2020
Intermediate
371

Let us try to define Agile. The literal meaning of Agile is to be fast, to move quickly and rapidly. Let’s fit this in IT and project management terms. Agile is something which helps us to release products and services faster.

DevOps vs Agile! Everything You Need To Know

In this article, we will talk about:

  • Agile
  • DevOps
  • Comparison between Agile & DevOps
  • Collaboration between Agile & DevOps
  • Conclusion

Agile

Let us try to define Agile. The literal meaning of Agile is to be fast, to move quickly and rapidly. Let’s fit this in IT and project management terms. Agile is something that helps us to release products and services faster. Release faster will in turn subject to smaller release components. In other words, Agile is a methodology is which small features are shipped in faster release cycles. Responding to change quickly is an important state of Agile, in which requirements, plans, standards, and results are evaluated continuously. A visual representation is given below (Image 1).

Image 1 – Agile methodology

DevOps

Let us see try to define DevOps. DevOps is an IT strategy, a culture that combines development, IT operations, and security practices of an organization to produce, support better products and services, keeping in mind greater reliability and fault tolerance. On a high-level DevOps is an amalgamation of Development and Operation Processes. A visual representation is given below (Image 2).

Image 2 – DevOps

To compare 2 entities, we first need to understand what caused the emergence of an entity. Let us try to explore the emergence of Agile and what led to its dominance in IT project management and delivery.

Emergence of Agile

Initially, we had a Waterfall model of project delivery, in which a large chunk of deliverables was scheduled to be delivered in an expanded timespan, after valid due diligence, requirements assimilation, design, development, QA activities, and users acceptance testing. This was no doubt successful, every sphere was pre-planned. The waterfall model didn’t account for frequent changes, early feedback from the customer. As the clients grew, requirements grew and became more dynamic in nature, the need for change to a more feedback-driven system arose. Feedback driven system tends to give rise to back and forth communication cycles, hence Agile was coined and it emerged. The visual representation is given below for reference and better understanding (Image 3).

Image 3 – Waterfall vs Agile

Now, we know how Agile emerged, the background behind it; let us try to compare Agile and DevOps. To compare 2 entities, we need certain uniform parameters on which both the entities suffice. Let us look at the comparison based on few parameters.

Comparison between Agile and DevOps

Implementation

Agile is implemented via a framework. The framework can be Scrum, XP, etc. DevOps is not implemented via a framework; rather it is a collaboration amongst devs, IT ops, QAs, security engineers.

Onus and Focus

The focus is on timely delivery with feedbacks in Agile. DevOps focuses on automation, reliability, continuous delivery.

Feedback

Customer feedback plays a vital role in Agile; in fact, evolving customer feedback was the need for Agile to emerge as a methodology. DevOps has team-driven feedback, feedback travels within the team to get better continuously.

Tools Used

JIRA, Active Collab, etc. can be used to implement Agile. DevOps uses a plethora of tools in its every step. Jenkins, Azure Pipelines, Kubernetes, Docker, git, SonarQube, Ansible, Terraform are few examples. A comparison table is presented below.

ParameterAgileDevOps
ImplementationThrough frameworkThrough tools
OnusTimely Delivery, Priority on changeAutomation, continuous delivery, reliability
FeedbackCustomer-driven feedbackTeam driven feedback
Tools UsedJIRA, Active Collab, etc.Jenkins, Git, Kubernetes, Docker, Terraform, etc.
CollaborationDev, Ops, SecurityDev, QAs, Customers

As we have seen how DevOps differs from Agile in terms of implementation, focus, framework, tools used, let us compare DevOps and Agile in terms of betterment and replacement over one another.

DevOps vs. Agile

We cannot deduce as to which is better: Agile or DevOps. They both stand true on what they bring in to the table. Choosing one over another or saying one is better than the other depends on the project situation. Agile has been a front runner in project methodologies, it has been robust and has been battle-tested. Project Requirements, Type of client, Cost assessment, risk assessment, time to market, share of automation, number of resources, skills of resources, etc. play a vital role in deciding what to choose – Agile or DevOps. If there's a client trying to provide a fixed cost project with a certain time limit and he/she needs the product/service ASAP, then Agile is the best option because DevOps takes into account detailed planning, n number of tools, costs and licensing involved, DevOps experienced professionals. In my opinion, an organization needs to set itself on the DevOps path and culture, build out practices and resources required, and then can pitch in for projects stating advantages of DevOps and its perks. A sane and valid client will not hesitate to shell in extra money to get the best product via a vendor’s DevOps related project methodology.

Microsoft has launched its DevOps related service, known as Azure DevOps, which is available both as a stand-alone server and a service, which hosts all the major DevOps related stuffs under a single hood. Integration with other open source tools is quite straightforward, integration with Azure cloud is inherent, and the documentation and support is of top notch. It's worth taking a look.

Is DevOps Agile applied beyond the Software team or collaboration?

We would try to answer the question: Whether DevOps is Agile applied beyond the Software Team, i.e. Can Agile and DevOps collaborate together?

  • Agile says We welcome changes, even late in development phase.
  • DevOps says We are collaboration between Devs, Ops, Security, and we strive to deliver in a reliable way.
  • Since DevOps combines Dev and Ops practices on a high level, Ops needs to work in the same manner as the Devs do, i.e. in an Agile way, welcoming changes late as well. Last minute network patches, resolving security vulnerabilities, change in SFTP servers etc.
  • Agile and DevOps work better in combination only when their deeper values are understood, else there will be confrontations.
  • Quick but vague understanding causes siloed thinking, i.e. Devs will do only dev work, Ops will do their Ops work. None of them will try to take the ownership and the blame game will start to arise, in case there’s a product/service failure.
  • People think Agile is nothing but Scrum and DevOps is nothing but Continuous delivery. Once this thinking broadens and people tend to understand the deeper values/nuances of both Agile and DevOps, the collaboration among them starts to begin and ultimately flourish.
  • Last but not the least, the organization has to push for the above, the organization shouldn’t shy away from failure, rather learn from it and move forward.
Conclusion

I would like to conclude by saying that Agile arose as a replacement for the Waterfall methodology, but DevOps is not a replacement for Agile. Agile works well in many scenarios. DevOps in conjunction with Agile is the best option, provided the organization you work for backs you up. It's clear that DevOps is the principal to combine Devs, Ops, principals, security & tons of other stuff to learn theses skills DevOps online course, training, or an expert mentor require who can help you build CI/CD for your client & projects. 

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