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This post is from the XebiaLabs blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated Nov 12, 2014 — DevOps Expert

Agile vs. DevOps: What Enterprises Need to Know


Gone are the days when it was acceptable for an enterprise application release to take a year or more. Software is paramount to the success of nearly every business, and to excel at creating great software and getting it to market quickly, organizations are embracing the principles and practices of Agile and DevOps. But what does that really mean?

Sure, you understand that, with Agile, your work environment and development process become more flexible and can more easily adapt to change. And it's easy enough to see that the goals of DevOps––a portmanteau of Development and Operations––is to bring together stakeholders in the software delivery process in an effort to overcome the traditional roadblocks to delivering high-quality software faster.

But how do these methodologies actually translate to real world environments? How do they differ? What tools and processes do they involve? Let's take a look.

What is Agile?

Agile is a software development methodology that emphasizes short, iterative planning and development cycles to provide better control and predictability, as well as support for changes. The goal of agile is to increase the output of working software. [["Agile Development” is a proven approach to iterative and incremental software development and is an excellent first step for organizations wanting to embrace DevOps. A precursor to DevOps. Agile is a software development and, more broadly, business methodology, that emphasizes short, iterative planning and development cycles to provide better control and predictability and to support changing requirements as projects evolve.]]

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a set of cultural philosophies, processes, practices, and tools that radically removes waste from the software production process. It aims to create a culture where development, operations, and all other stakeholders work together, rather than being in isolated silos. It enables faster delivery of high-quality functionality and sets up a rapid and effective feedback loop between the business and its users. It’s also not new. DevOps involves concepts that have been in place in high-performing organizations for years. It’s not just about source code and servers, either. DevOps is about meeting the needs of the business. In a competitive economic environment, every organization should look to DevOps to better deliver value to customers and outpace the competition.

Tell Me More

Various methodologies (Scrum, Kanban, etc.) focused on reducing the time to market for software-based products and services began to gain steam in the early 1990’s. The methodologies were eventually compiled and laid out in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, a declaration stating that satisfying the customer is the highest priority and the availability of working software is the primary measure of progress. To make that happen, Agile requires that a software product be broken into smaller pieces, with the pieces then integrated for testing. This continuous iteration of development enables teams to get quality products to market faster and quickly respond to customer feedback. DevOps and Agile are similar in nature, but they are not synonyms. DevOps is really an extension of Agile thinking. While Agile embraces constant change and embeds the customer into the process, DevOps embraces constant testing and delivery and embeds operations into the process. Both Agile and DevOps enable teams to evolve and improve products at a faster pace than those using traditional software development methods. But DevOps goes beyond speed, combining cultural philosophies, practices, and tools to not only increase delivery velocity, but also the quality and security of the product or service.

The Key Differences

DevOps provides a streamlined structure for the processes and roles in software development––a key need for enterprises. Versatility among team members is core to many Agile practices, but in DevOps, the roles are firmly established. This helps enterprises in a lot of ways, one of which is in improving communication. Communication is an ongoing process in DevOps, bringing teams together and ensuring that there is a constant feedback loop for status and improvements. Communication in Agile development typically happens in Scrum-like standup meetings, where the progress of a particular project is discussed. DevOps on the other hand is aiming to unify the end-to-end delivery pipeline and therefore requires a constant communication around testing and delivery so that releases are not delayed are by something unforeseen. There's also a big difference in the way deployments are handled in the two methodologies. While the emphasis in Agile is on developing a working product above all else, properly deploying the product is a core component of DevOps. Automation goes a long way in improving deployment processes, and really, every other process in the delivery pipeline. Software releases in enterprises have become more complicated than any human being can reasonably manage. Minimizing human intervention makes it easier for DevOps teams to ensure that the right things are happening in the right order, while also accounting for dependencies. Agile development teams, particularly those working on small scale applications, are less concerned with automating things like compliance requirements, security checks, and dependencies. Enterprise requirements in these scenarios are often carried out in slow, manual processes that are bolted on at the end of a delivery cycle.


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What the Enterprise Needs

For enterprises, a software delivery pipeline with automated and streamlined processes is the best path to ensuring that quality products and services are always available to customers. The processes––things like Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, microservices, Infrastructure as a Code, monitoring, logging––cover a lot of ground and involve a lot tooling. With so many tools in the pipeline, teams can't just automate, they need to orchestrate and automate their automation. An Application Release Orchestration solution, like the XebiaLabs DevOps Platform, oversees the myriad tools in the toolchain and orchestrates the end-to-end release process. ARO enables teams to model releases and deployments, so that you can easily standardize processes and spread DevOps innovations across the organization. With XebiaLabs you get:
  • A comprehensive ARO solution that includes deployment automation, release orchestration, DevOps intelligence
  • Flexibility to do DevOps on any architecture, mainframe, hybrid clouds, containers
  • Release orchestration for all tools in the delivery pipeline

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