Mobile DevOps is more than simply adopting a new set of tools and practices. It also comes with the need to adopt a completely different mindset, in the form of a cultural-organizational change. The approach is based on the Agile methodology, but takes its practices further— not only by getting other teams more involved, but by replacing function-based teams with product- and project-oriented teams as well. The main idea behind this is that nothing inspires collaboration like having a common goal and working together towards reaching it.
Let’s take a look at the key elements of Mobile DevOps practices.
Continuous Communication and Planning
The goals and purposes of Mobile DevOps correspond with the original DevOps principles, such as customer satisfaction, sustainability, enhanced teamwork and shortened software development lifecycles. Similarly to DevOps, it aims to resolve problems by using common sense and implementing a culture of shared responsibility, transparency and shorter review cycles. In mobile development, constant and interaction-based communication between developers, website, product and QA teams is particularly important in order to accelerate feedback loops and consequently, resolve issues faster. In Mobile DevOps, there is more focus on transparent, traceable documentation, which can be achieved by using a source control system that helps keep track of documentation of code changes and details of the whole process. Raised visibility also helps teams share the workload—especially when it comes to unexpected work—and to fix incidents, and unblock the release pipeline rapidly.
Continuous Integration, Delivery and Deployment
The Android and iOS operating systems are dominating the current mobile landscape, and both of them—especially Android—are incredibly fragmented. For this reason, it is necessary for developers to maintain separate builds, depending on the many supported versions, device types and platforms. A stable CI/CD tool ensures that the codes created by different teams are compatible with each other and new ones can be integrated into previous ones with no issues. These tools eliminate the manual aspects of app development from planning, code testing, integrations to deployment and monitoring, and automate as much as possible throughout the entire lifecycle of app development, which ensures the seamless merging of codes and reduces the risk of errors. Device fragmentation is the main reason why Mobile DevOps and CI/CD automation are inseparable in any team that wants to automate their app development, their testing and their monitoring processes.
Continuous Testing and Monitoring
Mobile applications have to go through rapid iterations and more frequent releases than web applications. This results in new features in the app which are not always supported in the production environment at the time of the release. To understand the quality level and potential risk of each new release, mobile app companies can conduct different types of tests—ranging from automated unit and UI interaction testing, all the way to manual QA testing—depending on the maturity of the app and the size of the team. Besides implementing an iterative process for testing, adding monitoring and real-time performance tracking tools are all crucial in mobile app development. Not only do these enable teams to find the root cause of failures faster, but to save on hardware costs as well. Adding third-party SDK, performing crash reports and continuously monitoring both the app performance and the feedback in the app stores all help developers constantly improve the quality of the app.
DevOps is just as much about the culture as it is about technology. Successfully adopting Mobile DevOps requires all teams at app companies to make important technical and business decisions, have a hard look at their processes, identify the bottlenecks and be prepared to make significant changes. The essence of Mobile DevOps not only lies in a mindset change and choosing the right tools, but also in close-knit teamwork that allows teams to focus on market needs, user behavior, feedback and other factors that significantly affect the product perception.