DevOps vs. agile

Both DevOps and agile are modern software development practices aimed at providing a framework to produce a part of a product, a launch, or a release.

Understanding the difference

Although both DevOps and agile result in the development of software, they have different approaches, involve different groups and departments and structure production differently.

The most important thing to know about DevOps versus agile is that they are not mutually exclusive. DevOps is a culture, fostering collaboration amongst all participants involved in the development and maintenance of software. Agile can be described as a development methodology designed to maintain productivity and drive releases with the common reality of changing needs. Although DevOps and agile are different, when used together these two methodologies lead to greater efficiency and more reliable results.

An at-a-glance comparison

When evaluating DevOps versus agile, it is important to understand the overall philosophy of each, where they’re similar and where they’re different, as well as how to integrate each within your team. DevOps and Agile are not mutually exclusive—you can incorporate aspects of each in your business. The information below will help you gain a broader understanding of the key similarities and differences between DevOps and agile.

DevOps definition

DevOps is a software development practice that brings people, process and technology together to deliver continuous value. The approach is divided into planning and tracking, development, build and test, delivery and monitoring and operations. DevOps is unique in that development, IT operations, quality engineering, and security teams work together to create efficiency across all tasks involved in launching a new product, release, or update.

DevOps philosophy and focus

Rooted in stability, consistency and planning, the DevOps culture seeks to identify new ways to improve and streamline processes. As a result, DevOps focuses on maximizing efficiency, identifying programmable processes and increasing automation.

DevOps scope

DevOps represents the intersections of development, operations and quality assurance. Cross-disciplinary teams unite and collaborate in the development and delivery of software.

DevOps manifestations

  • Continuous integration
  • Continuous delivery
  • Continuous deployment

Type Definition

Commonly used in software teams, agile development is a delivery approach that relates to lean manufacturing. The fundamentals of agile center around creating a working prototype or build amidst the realities of changing needs and requirements. Bridging the gap between the development team and the end user, adaptability is a core attribute of agile, giving precedence to the needs of users and stakeholders over rigid plans.

Agile philosophy and focus

The fail-fast mindset of agile centers around adaptability and keeping pace with customer needs and expectations. Features are described as user stories, placing the focus on the individual user, what he or she needs and why.

Agile scope

Agile development is specific to the development team, it is productivity and it is progress toward completing the project at hand. Development is completed in incremental sprints, and software delivery, deployment, or ongoing maintenance of each release is managed by different teams.

Agile manifestations

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • In development:
  • DSDM
  • Extreme programming
  • Crystal
  • Feature-driven development

How DevOps and agile work together

Both DevOps and agile offer a structure and framework that can speed software delivery. You do not need to choose between DevOps or agile—instead, you can make use of both methodologies. Agile is strong on methods to organise work, such as through Scrum or Kanban and DevOps drives a broader culture of getting software delivered faster and more reliably.

Instead of a decision of DevOps versus agile, the question—actually—is how to practice both. When considering how to build a development practice with the best of DevOps and agile, here are some examples of key benefits and features that can help you create a highly optimized development environment.

Top features from DevOps

Broader scope, wider reach

DevOps addresses all stages of software development and delivery, seeking to make releases faster and more reliable.

Inter-department collaboration

A culture of reducing friction and fostering cross-functional teamwork can produce an improved work environment and more effective teams.

Efficiency from automation

The DevOps practice seeks to find opportunities to create programmable processes and automate workflows where possible, driving efficiency.

Top features from agile

Workflow productivity tools

Kanban, Scrum and other familiar planning tools from agile help track work, helping organize requirements, tasks and progress.

Incremental progress

Using sprints or other time-boxed production approaches help create a consistent development cadence.

Needs of the customer

Agile’s fail-fast, fail-early mentality helps provide a consistent feedback loop, bringing customer expectations to the forefront.

Tools for DevOps and agile

As you build your approach and software delivery practice, you’ll want to find a set of tools to best match your workflow. Azure DevOps provides everything you need to plan smarter, collaborate better and ship faster with a set of modern dev services.

Azure DevOps includes Azure Boards, a set of tools that help you plan, track and discuss work across your teams. Scrum-ready and Kanban-capable, Azure Boards make it easy to bring agile software development into your DevOps approach.

Azure DevOps lets you customise your experience to fit your workflows—build, test and deploy with continuous integration and continuous delivery, use proven agile tools to plan and track work and test and ship with confidence. With modular, mix-and-match tools, this comprehensive suite is flexible for development on any platform.