Agile and DevOps are two of the most popular practices in enterprise software development.
Agile, in particular, has established its dominance in enterprise software development teams. Agile adoption rose by 7% from 2017 to 2018 alone, according to a Sauce Labs study. DevOps is also making waves in the software development field, with 41% of businesses citing DevOps adoption as a top priority in the coming years. However, businesses often confuse DevOps and Agile as they have overlapping concepts and practices. What are the differences between Agile and DevOps and how can organizations link the two to improve their operations?
How Are Agile and DevOps Implemented in Enterprises?
Agile in Enterprises
Agile enterprises operate differently compared to traditional businesses. Agile is all about moving fast, learning from past failures and experiences, and coming up with rapid, innovative solutions to keep up with customer and market demands.
The most important aspect of Agile is transforming how team members work with each other―by prioritizing people over processes. This means total enterprise agility can only be achieved if everyone collaborates efficiently.
Agile enterprises can afford to release products quickly as they ditch traditional, outdated software development lifecycle (SDLC) models in favor of lightweight development frameworks. This reduces the time taken to release software, which cuts down on development costs and human resources while simplifying project management significantly.
Another key factor of successful Agile implementations is embracing small, incremental releases instead of working on one huge deliverable―as in the case with traditional SDLC models.
Many Agile principles can be replicated in other business departments to bring benefits as well. Marketing, for example, is an area that is starting to implement the best of Agile to improve company sales performance.
Several techniques that Agile businesses often practice include:
- Visually presenting ideas and discussions
- Utilizing Kanban boards (e.g. Trello) to illustrate the flow of tasks and responsibilities among team members
- Enhancing collaboration and communication through daily scrums and standups
What About DevOps?
DevOps is a relatively new concept for enterprises. Like Agile, DevOps emphasizes releasing products quickly, but with one caveat―businesses cannot compromise the quality of their outcomes just to achieve rapid delivery.
DevOps achieves rapid delivery by improving collaboration between developers and IT operations (ITOps), two departments that have traditionally worked separately. By linking these two business units, organizations can deploy more code in much less time, which promotes faster product releases.
DevOps combines the best of software development principles (including Agile practices) and business tools that enable enterprises to deliver high-quality software at breakneck speed.
Puppet’s 2017 State of DevOps survey concluded that DevOps-practicing companies pushed out 46 times more code deployments on average while having 440 times shorter commit to release times.
The positive impacts of DevOps adoption in enterprises (Image Source).
A major contributor to the skyrocketing popularity of DevOps is the increasing relevance of cloud computing. DevOps and the cloud are a match made in heaven. DevOps processes like automation, continuous integration, and containerization benefit immensely from the collaborative, easily replicating, rapid-deploying nature of the cloud.
Agile vs. DevOps: The Key Differences
1. Different Approaches to Software Development Methodologies
Agile is a software development lifecycle (SDLC), which means teams focus mainly on developing software and releasing it through several Agile phases.
DevOps, however, does not govern how organizations should develop software. It is not an SDLC. Therefore, businesses can use whatever development model they prefer in building software. Instead, it is a way for Dev and Ops teams to work together seamlessly in achieving business goals.
2. Different Team Size Requirements
Agile is best suited for small, 3 to 9 person teams instead of full-scale departments. The more individuals there are in a team, the harder it is to benefit from Agile, as implementing its practices efficiently in big teams is not easy.
DevOps has no restraints on team size. What matters is the level of collaboration among team members. For instance, an organization with a 500-strong IT department can benefit from DevOps just as much as a small, 5-person team.
3. Different Team Functions
In Agile, every team member is expected to be multi-skilled and capable of handling other team members’ tasks. This boosts productivity, as team members can cover for each other when help is needed. This is also known as cross-functional teams in some Agile definitions.
As a result, Agile organizations are more likely to have well-rounded employees compared to their DevOps counterparts.
DevOps, however, involves two separate units: the development and IT operations teams. Both teams need to coordinate and collaborate well with each other to realize the full benefits of DevOps.
4. Different Approaches to Project Planning
In Agile, products are released incrementally (i.e. sprints). Agile developers set a specific time period (for example, 24 hours) to implement new features and changes. The feedback collected from the latest release is then used to establish the requirements for the next sprint, and the cycle goes on.
An example Agile sprint cycle (Image Source).
DevOps, on the other hand, has no time constraints, as there are only two deployment options to choose from: deploy updates as soon as possible (via MVPs) or wait until every task is completed before releasing the final product.
Why Enterprises Must Link Agile and DevOps
It’s clear that both Agile and DevOps give organizations the ability to facilitate rapid software delivery. Smart businesses understand that using both is the ideal strategy.
How does adopting both Agile and DevOps benefit enterprises?
1. Both Work to Optimize Business Performance
Both Agile and DevOps have one common goal: to improve business performance through optimizing work processes and cutting down on inefficient tasks. Agile forces DevOps teams to work smarter while DevOps amplifies the impact of Agile with its best practices (e.g. automating product tests).
2. Both Embrace Lean Philosophies
The lean methodology is popular in the startup world, but the same principles can be utilized to great effect in enterprise software delivery. Agile and DevOps embrace lean principles by allowing teams to fail fast and respond quicker, also known as the idea of moving fast and breaking things.
This methodology is further magnified by Agile’s incremental development approach and DevOps’ focus on collaboration and teamwork―as explained in the following point.
3. Both Focus on Collaboration to Improve Work Productivity
Collaboration matters a lot in successful Agile and DevOps implementations. Teams―including leaders and executives―are expected to collaborate and work together in meeting business goals, with one example being sharing task updates in daily team meetings.
The necessity for collaboration is further amplified by the diversity of future workspaces. With employees coming from different backgrounds and parts of the world, they need a solid collaborative culture to appreciate and leverage the differences of every individual to benefit the team and improve work productivity.
Panoptics Connects Agile & DevOps Seamlessly for Enterprises to Improve Their Workflows
Having a thorough understanding of your existing IT backbone is another crucial aspect of successful Agile and DevOps implementations.
Making rapid software changes without knowing the state of your infrastructure is a recipe for disaster. Without understanding the impacts of a change, there is a high chance that your change will affect other IT assets negatively, which can lead to broken applications, or worse, unplanned downtime.
A code dependency mapping tool like Panoptics prevents this by visualizing every dependency in your application environment. Panoptics works at the code level so organizations can track minute details in enterprise IT environments―even hidden dependencies in cloud applications.
Our platform gives your developers the insight they need to plan and execute rapid software changes, resulting in faster software deliveries and smoother Agile implementations.
Ready to get the most out of Agile and DevOps in your business?
Try Panoptics for free today to see how we can help your business achieve successful Agile and DevOps implementations.