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4 DevOps Implementation Best Practices That Create the Best Outcomes

A paper DevOps infinite symbol with a world cloud of sticky notes covering DevOps implementation best practices.

DevOps is an infinite journey, not a static process. That means you’ll always be looking for ways to optimize your software development lifecycle (SDLC) and streamline deployments. To ensure the best outcomes for your DevOps teams and end-users alike, you should consider these DevOps implementation best practices.

4 DevOps Implementation Best Practices 

DevOps focuses on blending development and operations teams to remove knowledge barriers and communication bottlenecks, allowing for greater collaboration and a better end product. The key principles of DevOps include:

  • ✓ Creating a culture of collaboration between development, operations, and leadership teams.
  • ✓ Eliminating boundaries between development and testing teams to “shift left.”
  • ✓ Automating software builds, testing, and delivery for fast and high-quality deployments.
  • ✓ Building an application architecture and infrastructure that supports DevOps goals.

With those key principles in mind, here are four DevOps implementation best practices to help you reach the best outcomes.

1. CI/CD and Test Automation

One of the main pillars of a DevOps implementation is automation—automated builds, testing, and deployments.

  • Continuous integration, or CI, seeks to automatically integrate code changes from multiple developers into a single build. According to CI best practices, your developers should merge these code changes into a central repository several times a day triggering a build/CI server to run tests and provide immediate feedback. Continuous integration makes it easier for DevOps teams to collaborate quickly while still completing their tasks independently. In other words, developers can all work on their tasks in tandem and integrate their code changes as needed without stepping on each other’s toes or suffering from communication bottlenecks.

  • Continuous delivery, or CD, automatically deploys your code changes to a production environment as soon as they’re completed. CD automates your release process, so you can deploy your code whenever you want. That means you can release your code in small batches, making it easier to troubleshoot any issues and further closing the feedback loop.

  • Test automation is the process of continuously and automatically testing code throughout the development, integration, and deployment process. This continuous testing allows you to detect quality issues and code defects early on, which drastically closes the feedback loop between end users, QA, and development teams. This is known in the DevOps world as “shifting left.” Test automation is essential for continuous integration because you can commit changes more frequently without compromising the stability of your builds.

Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and test automation support DevOps implementations by allowing for more automation, faster builds and releases, and greater integration of QA with the dev and ops functions of your DevOps teams.

2. Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

Infrastructure as Code, or IaC, is another DevOps implementation best practice. IaC is the process of managing and testing your infrastructure configurations the same way you manage and test your software code. IaC enables DevOps teams to automatically manage and provision your infrastructure by writing code that describes the desired state of machines. That code is used to create your infrastructure as well as to apply a new configuration, install patches and updates, or even roll back changes to bring a machine to the desired state. By treating your infrastructure configurations like software, you’re able to use CI/CD and test automation to ensure resources are provisioned and managed optimally and prevent performance issues and bugs from affecting your end product.

3. Application and Infrastructure Monitoring

DevOps monitoring—which should focus both on your applications and the underlying infrastructure—allows teams to detect and respond to any issues quickly and automatically. Comprehensive monitoring, which catches issues during tests, further enables teams to shift left and prevent issues from affecting production. Good monitoring reduces the impact of issues in production as your operations team can respond quickly or, even better, automate responses (i.e. rollback). Your application and infrastructure monitoring should thus feed into your CI/CD and test automation processes—and vice versa.

4. APIs

APIs have become crucial to DevOps implementations because they allow you to integrate third-party and open-source tools. One of the great things about DevOps is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel—there are plenty of innovative DevOps tools out there to help you accomplish your goals. When you’re building out your DevOps toolkit, you should favor tools with an “API-first” design principle, allowing you to automate and customize your integrations. This allows you to combine the capabilities of a variety of DevOps tools that fit your specific requirements, so you can make sure you’re always using the best tool for the job.

Also, remember that DevOps is an infinite journey, not a static process. That means your tools and systems need to adapt as your business requirements and capabilities change. If a certain DevOps tool no longer fits your needs, you shouldn’t be afraid to replace it with something better. APIs allow you to easily remove old tools and integrate new ones with minimal disruption to your DevOps processes.

Optimizing Your DevOps Implementation

Though your DevOps journey will never end, following these best practices will help you optimize your DevOps implementation. Using CI/CD, test automation, IaC, monitoring, and API-enabled tools will help you get to the next phase of the DevOps maturity model and accomplish your business goals. However, if your organization is facing significant DevOps implementation hurdles, you may want to bring in outside DevOps experts to help you get on the right track.