Agile vs DevOps? DevOps vs Agile? What are they? How do they work? How they differ and what similarities do they have? It is true, that both of these terms are so often used that managers and specialists often consider them interchangeable (which is obviously not true). So let’s look at each of these methods separately in order to answer all questions, that are stated below.
DevOps vs Agile
Before looking for differences or similarities between Agile and DevOps, it is necessary to describe their full and expanded characteristics. What is Agile? What is DevOps? How to work in each of this systems?
What is Agile?
Agile is a development methodology. According to its basic document “The Agile Manifesto”, priorities of Agile technique are:
• individuals and interactions (over processes and tools)
• working software (over detailed documentation)
• collaboration with customers on the harmonization of the terms of contracts
• responding to changes (over following a plan)
The Agile method can be implemented in various ways, including scrum, kanban, scrumban, extreme programming, etc. In fact, Agile provides for a change in the approach to work, and the change is so deep that sometimes this technique is distributed to the entire organization.
What is DevOps?
In the words of John Allspaw, DevOps is about, “Ops who think like devs. Devs who think like ops.” There are two most important points in DevOps method:
• close interaction between the two groups of software development and operation
• automation of software deployment processes
Just like Agile, DevOps can be implemented in many ways (scrum, kanban, waterfall), but it’s main goal is to provide technology to business units in time and ensure its uninterrupted and trouble-free operation. The definition does not say anything about fast or frequent deployment. But DevOps can come in handy to provide annual software updates without problems.
Difference between Agile and DevOps
Now that we have figured out what Agile and DevOps are about, we can already observe some differences in this two methods. Now, let’s go a little bit deeper in this two techniques and explore how they function.
Methodology vs Deployment
Agile is a software development methodology, which means that after software is created and released, the development team engage in another project.
DevOps, on the contrary aims to take a ready-made software, and deploy it in a safe and reliable manner. At the same time, DevOps does not depend on software developed using the Agile technique. Therefore, when using DevOps it is quite possible to apply the waterfall development model.
Cross-functional vs fragmentation
Another important difference between DevOps and Agile is the way teams work in every approach. Each member of the team, that works on Agile method can do all sorts of work. This way every member of the team can be replaced by another one. It works pretty well when developing a software, as it speeds up the development process and improves communication in the team.
DevOps, on the contrary, implies the presence of two separate teams – development and operation teams. They all are specialists in their area of work and they have to communicate a lot in order to achieve wanted results.
The most common way to implement the Agile method is the scrum model. Scrum is a framework for completing complex projects. Scrum originally was formalized for software development projects, but it works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. In short, the model implies daily meetings, where every member of the team speaks of what work he had done already and what work needs to be done. This way it is easier for team leader to plan the work for a day and to allocate human resources correctly.
It works differently for DevOps. Documentation plays a very important role in the work of this methodology, as operation team has to know every detail of new development for they must correctly organize the process of its deployment. Sometimes operation team even invite consumers to check how they react to new updates. Surely, such communication does not happen on daily basis, but still it is very relevant.
How many teams?
As Agile method often uses the scrum model, it is obvious that the team can not contain a thousand members. So a team that works with Agile approach will lose effectiveness with every new person in the team.
DevOps, by definition, involves the joint work of several teams. Some can work on a scrum model, others on kanban, others on waterfall, but they all need to come together at the time of release for discussion with the deployment team. Here it is important to understand that the DevOps methodology does not depend on any development model.
The Agile method involves creating new versions and updates each agreed period of time (once a month, for example). This period of time is called “sprints.” To begin with, the time for the nearest “sprint” and a set of functions that must enter it are selected. Teams know that then the duration of the next “sprint” and they know that it will have even more functions. They learn the opinions of users and finish checking the current functionality created during this last “sprint”.
According to DevOps, the deployment is planned to minimize business disruptions. For example, you can deploy every update as soon as it appears or wait for the appearance of several updates and deploy them all together in order to less disturb the business. Priorities of DevOps are not rapid deployment, but a minimal disruption to the business and maximum reliability.
As it was said earlier, one of Agile’s priority is working software over detailed documentation. And detailed documentation is not really needed as according to this methodology team has daily meetings. Yet it may be really problematic to transfer project to another team without it.
DevOps on the other hand has different situation. People in here are already divided into several working groups and the quality of their product depends on their cooperation and understanding. That is why documentation is very important to them.
DevOps strongly depends on the automation of the deployment, which is necessary for this process to be carried out reliably and without problems. The relevant tools are a part of DevOps.
Agile-command, on the contrary, can choose which tools to use, because this technique does not impose any requirements on tools.
Agile and DevOps
Based on all of the above, there may be an impression that Agile is mainly used for software development, and DevOps for software deployment. Hence the logical question arise: Is it better to replace Agile with DevOps at some point? The answer is no, not necessary. Although sometimes Agile method extends to the entire organization, this does not mean that Agile will inevitably lead to DevOps. The DevOps approach includes completely different methods and disciplines. Therefore, these approaches should not be seen as synonyms, denoting the same thing, but as different disciplines that can work together.
Thus, the listed differences show how unlike the techniques of Agile and DevOps are and how important it is to see this difference when working on a project and using one of this approaches.