After Cloud Computing, DevOps is the term that gained the attention of customers and industry analysts. Similar to Cloud, DevOps means different things to different people. I have observed architects, consultants and IT managers using this term without fully understanding what it really means to the business. In this series, I will try and explain DevOps in simple terms without using the confusing jargons and terminology.
Have you ever noticed GMail being down for maintenance? Did you notice Facebook silently rolling out new features like editing comments and even your status updates? Google cannot afford to send out an email to 425 million subscribers stating that they wouldn’t be able to send and receive mails for a period of time because they are performing an upgrade. Imagine Facebook becoming unavailable for feature upgrades. It’s not just Google and Facebook; most of the consumer web applications are going through frequent, rapid transformations without ever disrupting the user experience. In fact, most of the contemporary web shops deploy a new version of software multiple times in a week. Flickr does more than 10 deployments in a day. To understand and appreciate this phenomenon, think of the updates that occur to your Android or iOS apps installed in your smartphone/tablet. If you enable auto updates, you don’t even realize how and when you apps are getting upgraded. You would notice them only when you open them the next time. Days are gone where you had to patiently wait for the software vendor to ship a service pack that fixed all the bugs and an expensive new version that offered user interface enhancements. Web and mobile application development has challenged the status quo and changed the software industry forever.
The software application landscape has gone through a radical transformation. The expectations from users have increased manifold. There was a time when user experience was compromised for functionality. But in the current world, there is an equal or may be more emphasis on user experience along with the required functionality. End users expect beautiful looking applications that are equally powerful. It only takes them a few minutes to switch to a competitive product if they are not convinced. This enhanced user experience is expected across multiple form factors including desktop, web, mobile and televisions. It’s hard to be in the business of software development in the current times. There is tremendous pressure on the software product companies to meet the increasing demand from the users. Firstly, they need to deliver the best possible user experience across multiple form factors. Second, they need to deliver frequent enhancements to the functionality and the feature set. Finally, they need scalable and reliable infrastructure to meet the load that’s generated from multiple devices simultaneously talking to the backend application. How do businesses cope up with this?
Software product companies face fundamental challenges that prevent them from meeting the demand from their customers. These challenges are inherent to the traditional methodology that they have been using for decades for developing, testing and releasing software.
Let’s take a closer look at these challenges.
Having seen the challenges that the software development companies face, let’s discuss how to overcome these hurdles.
In summary, I have discussed the changing landscape of application development, the challenges involved and the techniques to overcome those. If you are wondering how these issues are related to DevOps, stay tuned for part 2 where I will define what is DevOps and its relevance in the modern software development methodology.
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