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What tools are needed to build a DevOps management model?

Amy Larsen DeCarlo answers why so many businesses are combining their development and operations teams and what tools are needed to make effective DevOps management happen.

Traditionally, application development and IT operations teams have been separate entities focused on their individual core competencies. In recent years, however, as organizations re-evaluate their approaches to IT to optimize processes, there has been a shift toward more collaboration across development and operations groups.

The result of this collaboration is an approach called DevOps. In a DevOps management model, the development and operations teams work together through the entire lifecycle -- from design through post-deployment production support. Such a strategy can eliminate bottlenecks that delay application deployments and seed performance issues.

In theory, the benefits are apparent. DevOps promises to accelerate development, reduce quality-assurance testing cycle times and expedite deployments. But, in practice, working through the cultural and technical challenges of getting previously siloed teams to cooperate can be difficult.

With respect to DevOps cultural issues, it's critical for IT leaders to put communication processes in place that will stimulate better collaboration. From a technical perspective, there are many tools to help organizations successfully implement a DevOps management model.

Choosing the right tools for DevOps management

But, in practice, working through the cultural and technical challenges of getting previously siloed teams to cooperate can be difficult.

Having the right set of tools to enable a unified front across development and operations teams is absolutely essential. Every step of the lifecycle requires tools to optimize workflow and cooperation. These include communication and planning tools, as well as tools for continuous development, testing, integration, deployment and post-production support.

In addition, development and operations teams need tools that record each request for changes in the software. Automation is an important element, eliminating the need to manually accept or modify change requests.

DevOps-specific project management tools take into account capacity and flow, assigning tasks to available engineers and alerting the team to potential bottlenecks. These tools support the Agile development process that underpins the DevOps management model.

Continuously testing automation aimed at checking code quality and overall performance is another vital element of the process. Tools are available to intercede automatically when bugs in the code are detected, creating a "fail faster" environment. There are also tools available to perform acceptance testing throughout the development and deployment processes. Acceptance tools provide transparency to both development and operations engineers throughout the development process.

Finally, ensure you have a continuous feedback loop through all stages of the process. DevOps-specific tools exist for version control, build and deployment, testing and provisioning, and change management. These tools not only help accelerate the shift in processes, but they can ultimately improve outcomes to deliver on the promise of a more collaborative approach to IT.

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