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March 31, 2020   |   4min read

Agile vs. DevOps—Best Software Development Methodologies Explained

As the saying goes, change is the only constant. It’s especially true in the technology industries, where every new startup tries to disrupt the status quo. For that reason, the waterfall methodology of software development was no longer effective from both the business and development perspective.

Today, we will describe the two successors of the waterfall model—Agile and DevOps software development methodologies and the differences between them.

Agile

Agile—as the name suggests—leaves the structured way of the waterfall methodology behind. The most significant problem of the waterfall was that the next phase of the project can only start when the previous one is finished. Assuming a three-year timeframe of the development, the original scope of the project might no longer be adequate for the market. And that’s a waste of money and time.

To better understand the differences introduced by Agile, let’s take a look at a part of the core values of Agile software development methodology:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan

The last part of the manifesto best describes the approach envisioned by its creators. Agile is based on an iterative process, with an emphasis on collaboration. The development is evolutionary, meaning that in the course of the mentioned three years, the project can be adapted to technological and market changes.

Moreover, the client has more influence on the final product, being a part of the team. Being able to adapt at every stage of the software development cycle gives the client a competitive advantage—providing a product that best matches the needs of the users. At Polidea, we emphasize the Partnership aspect of cooperation with clients, because it brings value not only to the project itself but also the overall atmosphere of working together.

Scrum—an Agile Software Development Framework

To show how exactly the process of Agile software development looks like, let’s talk about Scrum.

Interestingly, Scrum is not an acronym; it refers to the play in the game of rugby—emphasizing the importance of small teams working together to achieve a common objective. A scrum project usually involves a Scrum Master, a product owner, and an interdisciplinary team of developers, testers, and designers. Of course, the size and the composition of the team depend on a specific project, but—as a rule—the team should be no larger than 11 people.

In the center of the Agile software development methodology is the Sprint. It is the timeframe in which the team must deliver a pre-defined, usable increment of the final product. A Sprint should not be longer than one month. After each Sprint, the client can see a working increment, that provides value to the project, during a Sprint Review. Then it’s time for a Retrospective, where the team discusses how to improve the collaboration. The cycle repeats until the final product is delivered.

DevOps or Agile?

DevOps was born out of the Agile methodology, and while there are many similarities between them, there are stark differences as well.

DevOps implements the crucial aspects of Agile, namely the iterative approach to software development, delivering products as fast and as reliable as possible. Agile has been around for over 20 years, while DevOps was first introduced around 2007. However, DevOps goes a step—or a few steps, actually—further than Agile.

Graphic present how DevOps Methodology works

DevOps consists of two silos working together, namely the development and IT operations. This allows for increased productivity thanks to closer and more responsive communication between the teams that, historically, were separate departments. It takes a lot of effort to plan and introduce the shift in a software development studio.

Is such a cultural shift worth the time and money?

In a word—Yes. In more words—it depends on your resources and personnel.

The cornerstone of DevOps is the CI/CD (Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery) and Deployment, as well as the automation of processes. “Continuous delivery is an approach where teams release quality products frequently and predictably from source code repository to production in an automated fashion” (Atlassian). This way, Sprints in DevOps are much, much faster, so to speak. The time frame is not days to a month, but a day at the most. Of course, setting up such a system is a long-term project with long-lasting effects.

Another critical aspect of the DevOps software development cycle is automation and standardized tools. The use of battle-tested solutions speeds up the delivery process even further. At the same time, automation assures consistent quality with machine-conducted tests, reviewed by a developer.

DevOps is the natural extension of Agile. Taking the collaborative approach to another level, introducing a greater emphasis on automation and continuous improvement. There is the other side of the coin. No doubt, this software development methodology sounds exciting—right now, you might imagine both the profits and users’ satisfaction. However, companies embracing such change need to have proper resources and personnel to achieve such a state. The adjustment refers not only to the process but the attitudes of the developers.

If you are still practicing waterfall, it’s high time to move to Agile, having DevOps in the back of your head for the time when you will—fingers crossed—grow to make the next shift.

And if you have any questions about the Agile approach or the software development methodology, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our certified Scrum Masters and DevOps will be happy to help you.

Tomasz Szymoński

Communication Specialist

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