Plan efficient workloads with DevOps

The planning phase of DevOps is often seen as the first stage of DevOps, which isn't quite accurate. In practice, modern software teams work in tight cycles where each phase continuously informs the others through lessons that are learned.

Diagram of the DevOps cycle stages: plan, develop, deliver, and operate. Underlying aspects like collaboration and workflow are also pictured.

Sometimes those lessons are positive. Sometimes they're negative. And sometimes they're neutral information that the team needs so that it can make strategic decisions for the future. The industry has coalesced around a single adjective to describe the ability to quickly adapt to the changing circumstances that these lessons create: Agile. The term has become so ubiquitous that it's now a synonym for most forms of DevOps planning.

What is Agile?

Agile describes a pragmatic approach to software development that emphasizes incremental delivery, team collaboration, continual planning, and continual learning. It's not a specific set of tools or practices, but rather a planning mindset that's always open to change and compromise.

Teams that employ Agile development practices shorten their development life cycle in order to produce usable software on a consistent schedule. The continuous focus on delivering quality to end users makes it possible for the overall project to rapidly adapt to evolving needs. To start seeing these kinds of returns, teams need to establish some procedures along the way.

Adopt an Agile culture

Building and nurturing an Agile culture within an organization is a key investment toward effective DevOps. While the end result might be a specific set of software and services, the human resources that are required to produce and maintain those assets deserve special consideration. Teams see the best results when they invest the time to adapt their culture to match the values of the Agile mindset.

Select an Agile method

Agile methods, which are often called frameworks, are comprehensive approaches to phases of the software development life cycle. They prescribe a method for accomplishing work with clear guidance and principles. One of the most popular Agile frameworks is Scrum. Most teams that are new to Agile start with Scrum, due to its mature community and ecosystem. But there are many alternatives, so it's worth taking the time to review different options before settling.

Embrace Agile tools

There's a substantial industry that's built around tools for DevOps planning. These tools generally integrate with various Agile methods and platforms that are used in software development. One common tool is Kanban, which helps organizations and their teams visualize work in order to better plan delivery.

Build Agile teams

Teams work best when everyone has clear direction. Adopting an Agile method can greatly help in this area because Agile improves transparency in DevOps. But there are also other effective techniques that you can apply to improve the function of teams across project milestones. Any organization can benefit from building productive, customer focused teams.

Scale Agile as your organization grows

As Agile has gained popularity, many stereotypes and misinterpretations have cast a negative shadow on its effectiveness. It's easy to say "Yes, we're doing Agile" without any accountability. As time goes on, it's common for bad habits to form for various reasons, including misunderstandings about the purpose of Agile. Small organizations might find it easy to ignore some of these misconceptions. But in larger operations, these issues can become real headaches if you don't address them. Fortunately, there are helpful guidelines for scaling Agile to large teams.

Next steps

Microsoft was one of the first major companies to adopt DevOps for planning large-scale software projects. Learn about how Microsoft plans in DevOps.

Looking for a hands-on DevOps experience? Check out the Evolve your DevOps practices learning path. It primarily features Azure DevOps, but the concepts and experience apply equally to planning in other DevOps platforms, such as GitHub.