Every year, seasonal peaks such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring a higher volume and faster pace of work, as well as a considerable amount of pressure. This comes with a number of challenges, including managing traffic influx, ensuring top-notch digital experience, rebuilding catalog infrastructure and carrying out load and performance testing.
Development teams need to navigate increasingly complex tasks in time spans that are shorter than usual. That’s where Agile comes in: With its fast-fail nature, Agile fills the gaps between limited resources and market needs. By prioritizing self-organizing teams and robust feedback, its flexibility allows teams to rapidly refocus as business requirements inevitably shift.
DevOps, on the other hand, offers a more systematic approach. Despite its various overlaps with Agile, its signature benefit is its heavy reliance on the collaboration between development and operations throughout the entire product lifecycle. With continuous testing and delivery, DevOps ensures the delivered product is fully in line with customers’ needs.
Both approaches offer benefits to teams looking to navigate the complexities of the holiday season. Research by Cutter Consortium revealed that combining DevOps and Agile can lead to the reduction of the time needed to get a product to market by 20-40% and to significant cost reductions as well.
Why should teams leverage the marriage of DevOps and Agile to relieve the pressure of the holiday shopping season?
Automation as the Centerpiece
The last quarter of the year is traditionally seen as a trial that often stretches organizations to their full capacity. However, if organizations are still using obsolete manual processes, standards will slip. Exposing high-availability systems to human error during seasonal peaks that bring ten-fold higher traffic than normal may have dire consequences for a business. Automation, on the other hand, ensures that processes are less error-prone and vulnerable to human errors.
DevOps puts emphasis on automation. Not only does it focus on maximum efficiency when deploying software, but it also advocates for close process documentation. Automation facilitates optimal knowledge transfer and frees production teams from time-consuming manual tasks, allowing them to become faster and more adaptable.
It’s common that organizations claim that Agile and SCRUM simply don’t work for them. However, this is mainly because they haven’t achieved advanced enough automation levels or outsourced enough tasks to be fully flexible. But with automation, they can embrace it more effectively–as DevOps aims for the simplification of the entire process, its focus on automation establishes solid foundations for efficient Agile. This means organizations cut down the time to market and are more equipped to face the challenges of high season.
High Flexibility for a Better Product
Seasonal peaks such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are always bound to agility. The revenue potential of an organization depends largely on the flexibility of the team and the processes and systems that, if maintained effectively, can add significant value.
Agile teams usually work in two-week grinds, and each of these sprints should result in certain features. However, in order to meet the business goals, these features must be usable. Without DevOps, it would be difficult to deliver something that brings incremental value. This is, for example, because agile teams often disregard automatic testing. But incorporating this DevOps principle ensures that the process is always moving in the right direction.
Likewise, if agile teams pay close attention to collaboration with customers, product management, developers and other parties, as DevOps suggests, they can develop a better product that has undergone review from various parties. That’s because DevOps can extend agile principles beyond the code to the entire delivered service.
The two approaches fit great together. Agile enables teams to produce minimum viable software and its features in a swift cycle, while DevOps ensures that the delivered product is of a higher quality. Such a complementary relationship wouldn’t be possible with the waterfall scenario where cycles last months or even years. While DevOps encourages integrational behavior, Agile relies on quick evaluation and incentives, so they come together in flexible solutions. This is fundamental throughout the high season, where priorities often shift fast and the needs of customers become more urgent than ever.
Close Oversight to Avoid Failure
As teams face increased pressure during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, errors become more likely. Deploying Agile together with DevOps guarantees there is a robust architecture that’s able to prevent failures.
DevOps practices allow agile teams to respond faster–not only to business requirements but also to any other problems that arise, too. When combined with the best practices of modularity and microservices, failures can often be isolated to a single system. Such a system can be fixed, replaced or completely removed with ease.
Organizations are increasingly aware of the importance of preventative analytics. For example, Slack integrations throughout the DevOps cycle can go a long way for early diagnostics. Agile teams incorporating DevOps can leverage continuous testing and monitoring that bring both constant progress and quality assurance.
Companies such as Etsy, a global handcraft and vintage marketplace, saw a lower occurrence of errors and disruptions after exchanging the waterfall model for a more agile approach. The organization relied on DevOps structures to deploy a fully automated pipeline and assured that continuous delivery practices secured a higher number of daily deployments–with fewer errors at the same time.
High Levels of Synergy
As mentioned earlier, DevOps has many convergence points with Agile, which is why they form such powerful partners with little chance of clashing. One of the fruits of their synergy has crystallized in the form of Infrastructure as Code (IaC).
IaC in a modular system, as promoted by DevOps, brings organizations remarkable benefits, as significant changes can be rolled out across the entire network typology with a single code change in minutes. In the context of feature requirement (or a failure), such velocity is instrumental to leveraging seasonality. This way, developers can alter entire environment configurations, regardless of the initial stage, and thus avoid tedious rebuilding.
Teams looking to optimize their performance shouldn’t be deciding between Agile or DevOps. In fact, organizations will find that their powerful combination can equip them much better for the seasonal peaks and help them deliver greater results than ever.