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What is the difference between DevOps and Agile?

Agile and DevOps are two commonly used methodologies in software development. Both involve a set of practices to improve specific pain points in the software development process and make it more efficient. Though DevOps borrows elements from the Agile methodology, they are different in their approach.

So what exactly is the difference between Agile and DevOps? To understand this, we will first explore each one individually.

Agile

Agile is a wide-ranging methodology that can include many different frameworks, with Scrum and Kanban being two of the most popular. The essence of Agile is outlined in the four values and 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto. This document was created in 2001 as an “alternative to documentation driven, heavyweight software development processes.” 

To be Agile, teams must adopt these values and principles into their daily practices. They will work in short iteration periods, meaning steps are repeated and refined until the desired outcome is achieved. The goal is to consistently deliver working software and ensure customers are satisfied with the results. If not, they will adapt quickly and make changes to the product.

DevOps

DevOps is a model that merges the two departments of software development and IT operations. DevOps was introduced in 2009 by software developers Patrick Debois and Andrew Clay Shafer, eight years after the Agile Manifesto was published. 

The aim of DevOps is to break down silos between developers and IT professionals so that they can work together effectively. They will work as one under an Agile mindset, which is why DevOps is sometimes referred to as Agile operations

DevOps vs. Agile

Though Agile is ingrained in DevOps, there are a few areas where the two differ:

Team structure: The key difference between Agile and DevOps is the team structure. DevOps unites two big teams for a common purpose: to accelerate a software release and deliver value to customers. Each team member has a specific role that aligns with their particular skill set. On the other hand, Agile teams are much smaller, and they divide tasks equally — for example, if one Agile practitioner has a heavy workload, they can reassign a task to their colleague.

Workload: Another difference between Agile and DevOps is the type of work involved. Agile is mostly used for complex software development projects, breaking them down into smaller increments. Meanwhile, DevOps focuses on end-to-end processes, going beyond the deployment stage to engage in continuous testing, monitoring, and development.

Delivery schedule: Agile teams produce deliverables at the end of every iteration, which could last anywhere between a week and a month. For a DevOps team, delivery is expected daily or even every few hours.

Customer involvement: A key trait of Agile teams is that they welcome customer feedback throughout the various stages of development, using it to tweak the final deliverable. In DevOps, feedback comes from internal team members — this approach can save a considerable amount of time.

Documentation: Agile teams participate in daily standup meetings, opting for face-to-face communication over documentation. DevOps teams work the opposite way, relying on detailed specifications to document their knowledge and understand the software.

In conclusion, though there are numerous differences between Agile and DevOps, the two can complement each other and enable teams to accelerate their delivery.