DevOps vs Agile: What are the Differences and Similarities between them?
Agile teams rely on automated build, test automation, Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). DevOps teams often use all those tools and more, including the addition of configuration management, metrics and monitoring schemes, virtualization, and cloud computing.
For software developers who were frustrated by the shortcomings of a Waterfall approach, Agile felt like a whole new world. But Agile wasn’t perfect either. Common drawbacks to Agile planning include missed deadlines, completed software components that are incompatible with each other due to separated scrums, or teams, and new features breaking old functions – which is a direct result of missed cooperation with DevOps and ITOps. One thing linked all these problems with Agile development: lack of communication.
This is where DevOps begins to fill the gap: DevOps is a theory rooted in communication – both within itself, as the developers and operators have to coordinate, but also across other departments. DevOps frequently communicates with ITOps to ensure secure and stable environments for testing, and their crossover to other teams like marketing and customer service makes sense as they deploy new software.
Proponents of using both theories in appropriate business needs believe that DevOps can be seen as an extension of Agile. Agile relies on cross-functional teams that typically include a designer, a tester, and a developer. DevOps takes this one step further by adding an operations person who can ease the transition from software to deployment. Because of DevOps’ inherent communication with other teams, DevOps can help automate processes and improve transparency for all teams.
Contrasting points While we are proponents of using Agile and DevOps theories together, it is important to understand where they clearly differ:
- Speed: Agile is all about rapid and frequent deployment, but this is rarely the goal, or even part of it, for DevOps.
- Creating vs. Deploying: Developing software is inherent to Agile, but DevOps is concerned with the appropriate deployment of said software. For the record, DevOps can deploy software that was developed in any number of approaches, including Agile and non-Agile theories, like the Waterfall approach, which is still appropriate for certain projects.
- Specialization: Agile is an equal opportunity team – every member of the scrum can do every job within the team, which prevents slowdowns and bottlenecks. DevOps, on the other hand, assumes separate teams for development and operations, and people stay within their teams, but they all communicate frequently.
- Communication and documentation: Daily, informal meetings are at the heart of Agile approaches, so each team member can share progress, daily goals, and indicate help when needed. These scrums are not meant to go over documentation or milestones and metrics. DevOps meeting are not daily, but they require a lot of documentation in order to communicate software deployment to all relevant teams.
- Documentation: Agile teams don’t codify their meeting minutes or other communications – often preferring lo-fi methods of simple pen and paper. DevOps, on the other hand, requires design documents and specs in order to fully understand a software release.
- Team size: Staying small is at the core of Agile – the smaller the team, the fewer people on it, the faster they can move, even if they are contributing to a larger effort. DevOps, on the other hand, will have many teams that work together and each team can realistically practice different theories.
- Scheduling: Agile teams work in short, predetermined amounts of time, known as sprints. Sprints rarely last longer than a month, and often can be as short as a week. DevOps, on the other hand, values maximum reliability, so they focus on a long-term schedule that minimizes business disruptions.
- Automation: This is the heart of DevOps, as their overall goal is to minimize disruptions and maximize efficiency, especially when deploying software. Agile doesn’t require automation.
These stark differences remind us that Agile and DevOps, at their roots, are not the same.