I've heard a rumor that DevOps has beef with Agile. It turns out they're both vegan.

I joke, but there does seem to be some question as to which is better, Agile or DevOps. The truth is, it's an unfair comparison as they're complementary concepts. They both are iterative, and they both encourage continuous development and deployment.

So the question is, what is the difference between them? Furthermore, what makes these two methodologies so different, and why is that important?

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The DevOps Pipeline

DevOps is a software development pipeline designed to expedite and improve the IT software lifecycle. We achieve this through a continuous approach to development and operations as a joined effort.

DevOps is a workflow for IT projects designed to shorten the IT lifecycle, combining the development and operation roles. The joined effort improves communication and efficiency. DevOps offers a continuous workflow and high-quality software at reduced workload through automation.

The DevOps pipeline typically has eight stages. In the Development phase, they are: Plan, Code, Build, and Test. In the Operations phase, the stages are: Release, Deploy, Operate, and Monitor. These stages are typically expedited through automation wherever possible, lowering the manual workload.

The continuous flow of the DevOps pipeline fosters efficiency in both the Dev stages and the Ops stages. The result is that the DevOps stages can run continuously with less friction and fewer bugs. For the customer, this means better quality and reliability. This fun image depicts what a DevOps team might look like when in operation.

Depiction of a DevOps team

DevOps Pipeline Stages

1. Plan

In this stage, the DevOps team decides the requirements, tools, and specific goals for a project. From there, a course of action is planned out and assigned accordingly.

2. Code

The Code stage is when the coding begins for the project, and the design and development teams start creating the project.

3. Build

In this stage, the project code gets built into the development environment for testing purposes.

4. Test

The Test stage is vital because it ensures the project functions according to the plan's expectations. This stage is also where the team identifies existing bugs or issues.

5. Release

The Release stage is the final check for any missed issues before deployment. This stage is where the team will approve or deny the project for deployment.

6. Deploy

In the Deploy stage, the project gets deployed to production for use and observation.

7. Operate

The Operate stage is all about running, managing, and maintaining the project throughout its operation. The Operate stage ensures that the project is scaling with the user load during the rise and fall of its peak use. The team will configure systems like data management and hosting to ensure everything is running smoothly.

8. Monitor

In the Monitor stage, a team will monitor the project and its use for feedback from its users. This feedback gets collated and handed off to the Plan stage for the next iteration.

The Monitor stage is a very long process — and with the iterative nature of it — there is always room for continuous improvement and automation.

The Agile Methodology

The Agile methodology workflow — typically consisting of five steps — is done in individual sprints. The most common stages are: Identify, Plan, Design, Develop/Deploy, and Review. The exact number of steps and names may vary depending on your team's exact needs and workflow.

Agile Definition

The Agile methodology is a series of steps that are by design, iterative. This iterative approach allows for continued improvement without sacrificing time and resources through planning and problem-solving. A team performs the Agile methodology in sprints, with each solving issues discovered during the previous sprint.

The stages in the Agile Methodology maximize the benefits of communication and project planning. It also supports the idea that improvement should come in rapid, high-quality sprints. The Agile methodology utilizes the iterative process to run through the stages in a sprint. Repeating sprints regularly leads to continuous improvement in your team and project.

This image shows an Agile team hard at work improving workflows and setting up new Agile sprints.

Depiction of a team using an Agile workflow

Agile Methodology Stages

1. Discovery/Requirements

This stage is where a team will identify and document the needs and requirements of the given task. These tasks and requirements inform the remainder of the sprint and shape the planning stage.

2. Plan

The Plan stage determines the course of action for the rest of the sprint. This stage handles the given task(s) goals according to the information identified in the discovery stage.

3. Design

The Design stage centers on the solution to the task; this stage designs a solution for the given task(s), using information and feedback from the target audience.

4. Develop/Deploy

The Develop/Deploy stage handles everything from developing, testing, and finally, deploying the project.

5. Review/Monitor

The Review and Monitor stage collects feedback and responses from the audience after the Deploy stage. Review and Monitor also serves the information collected to the Discovery stage, setting the next sprint up for success.

DevOps vs Agile

You may have noticed the difference by now: Agile is a methodology designed to inspire processes like DevOps, while DevOps is a collaborative IT workflow. An organization can apply an Agile methodology to any aspect of their company. You might even be able to use it to decide who's buying lunch.

In the same vein, the Agile methodology can even be applied to its own stages — however, that may be a little redundant.

Agile With DevOps

The Agile methodology can improve any existing workflow, including but not limited to DevOps. Agile and DevOps as a combined effort results in improved team collaboration, productivity, and efficiency. Dividing your team's workflow into sprints means that your organization will collect measurable metrics for the team and the project.

With each sprint, the existing pain points can be identified and backlogged for the next one. The length of the sprint depends on your team's pipeline and the needs of your project.

By starting your DevOps pipeline with an Agile sprint, your team can better plan the pipeline and project workflow. The result is that DevOps can proceed with more confidence and efficiency with correctly identified goals.

This is what it might look like to see an Agile team working closely with a DevOps team to further improve the efficiency of the team and the quality of their work.

Depiction of a DevOps team using Agile methodology

Important Takeaways

Let's look at some final thoughts to take with you.

The DevOps Pipeline

DevOps is a software development pipeline designed to expedite and improve the IT software lifecycle. We achieve this through a continuous approach to development and operations as a joined effort.

The Agile Methodology

A team performs the Agile methodology in sprints, with each solving issues discovered during the previous sprint.

DevOps vs Agile

Agile is a methodology designed to inspire processes like DevOps, while DevOps is a collaborative IT workflow.

Agile With DevOps

The joining of these two concepts leads to improvement in team collaboration, productivity, and efficiency. Dividing your team's workflow into sprints means that your organization will be able to collect measurable metrics for the team and the project.

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Originally published Nov 18, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated November 18 2021