Matt | 31 January 2022

Do Software Engineers Need To Know DevOps Too?

There are many different people that make up a development team and so many job roles involved in the release of a software product. Generally, DevOps training and knowledge was reserved for developers and dedicated DevOps engineers, but now other professionals are increasingly needing to know the methodology.

Software engineers are the latest profession to be thrown into the world of DevOps and for good reason.

Almost every software engineering role is now requiring applicants to have DevOps experience and knowledge. These engineers are no longer just building the applications in question, but they are responsible for continuous integration, maintenance, and deployment.

The understanding of DevOps methodology has to start with Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment, or CI/CD.

What Is Continuous Integration (CI)?

CI refers to the practice of integrating code changes from various contributors into an application automatically. In most developments, there are various engineers and developers merging their code into the master every single day.

CI ensures there are automated checks in place to keep the code in a good working state. Prior to integrating new codes to the master, code formatters, unit tests, and code linters should be run.

CI pipelines work to automate this whole process instead of having to rely on developers to use these tools manually. Using Continuous Integration pipelines, you can prevent bad code from being integrated into the application.

A CI pipeline should be very fast, which requires pipeline jobs to be run alongside one another with a fast test suite. As well as timely, CI pipelines must also be extremely reliable. If a section of code is broken, software engineers must be on hand to resolve it immediately because one build failure will block all new merge requests from completing.

With a successful CI pipeline set up, development teams can commit to the master branch every day, sometimes even multiple times a day if necessary. It eliminates the need for lengthy feature branches waiting to eventually be merged together.

What Is Continuous Delivery And Continuous Deployment (CD)?

CD stands for Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment, but these two terms do have some slight differences to be aware of. Continuous Delivery is the result of creating a build with a CI pipeline, and it happens naturally in the process. The build artefact becomes a working version of the application, which can then be deployed to a specific environment.

With this strategy, an application is ready to be deployed at any time. Software engineers can then choose when they deploy, whether that be daily, weekly, or monthly. With Continuous Delivery, the software is ready to deploy at any time, but manual interaction is needed to start the deployment process.

With Continuous Deployment, the process is taken one step further, and the deployment process is automated with the CI pipeline. This means that the deployment process will start without human interaction as soon as the new code is merged with the master branch.

With CD, software developers can see their working code in production right after merging. With automated checks in place in the CI pipeline, any failed code will be blocked and prevented from being released to production.

Organisations can choose between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment, and the right option for your applications will depend on your team and processes. The goal for both strategies is to deliver software products to customers as frequently and quickly as possible.

Both these options take away a lot of the risk of human error, as even with a continuous delivery method, the application should have the ability to be deployed with a single button.

Deployment Strategies For DevOps

With a CI/CD pipeline, software engineers are required to be very involved in the DevOps process. There are various deployment strategies that can be used:

  • Canary Deployment

With this strategy, the first release of a new software version is delivered only to a small subset of users. This gives software engineers the opportunity to ensure the changes are functioning properly for these users. Once satisfied, the update can be rolled out to all users. Canary deployment is generally considered a cautious option for code release as changes are applied gradually.

·                 Blue/Green Deployment

Blue/green deployment is a popular method for software engineers, and it involves using two production environments. One is actively used for the productions and has the most up to date versions of the software. The second has no traffic sent to it and is essentially on standby.

When the new application is deployed, it is done so to the standby environment, and then all traffic is routed here. The old production environment will now become the standby environment and receives no traffic. With this method, it is easy to roll back releases if necessary.

·                 Rolling Blue/Green Deployment

Similar to blue/green deployment is rolling blue/green deployment. This is often used when multiple instances of the software are running simultaneously in the same environment. This could be the case if you have four nodes used for production, and then you swap out the first one with another, which is running an updated version of the software.

You would then have three nodes with the old application and one with the new, and you continue this process until all nodes are running the latest version.

Because of the rolling nature of this deployment, it is less risky than other options; however, it is also more time-consuming for a full release.

Ultimately, it is clear that software engineers need to know DevOps in the same way that software developers do. Entire teams should be knowledgeable about CI/CD practices and approaches and understand how to use these appropriately.

Keeping software engineers in the loop with DevOps will increase productivity and cut back on application errors. We offer a range of DevOps training courses to help software engineers and developers stay up to date with the methodology.

Choose from our SAFe DevOps Certification, DevOps Foundation Certification Training, or SRE Foundation (SREF). For advice and guidance on the best course for you or your team, contact us today.