DevOps Toolchain: Software tools for agile teams

    IT Development and Operations are growing together in many companies. This principle is called DevOps, and it has to be reflected in the technical tools: Shared software enables a seamless cooperation. Our practical example illustrates how companies can put together an optimal tool chain.

    Initial situation:

    A corporation seeks to reorganize its internal software development to make it more agile: In the future, developers and operations specialists will work together in interdisciplinary teams. This principle is known as DevOps. In order to maximize the productivity of collaborative projects, the company wants to eliminate cumbersome technical interfaces. Development and Operations are called upon to harmonize their tools. The objective is for DevOps team members to be able to put together the optimal applications and features for each project, allowing them to use them together.

    Challenge 1:

    The company must make a reasonable selection of software features: IT staff should have some flexibility but the tool catalogue has to remain clear and cost-effective.

    Challenge 2:

    IT needs a platform where the different applications can be simply assembled into a toolchain and made available to the users.

    Implementation:

    In the first step, we conducted a written survey among the IT specialists to find out which software features they needed. We also asked them to prioritize their requirements. The result was a list of the most important tool features required along the DevOps cycle.

    Together with the customer, we identified suitable all-round solutions on the market and requested offers. Cloud solutions were a priority. The company invited several providers for presentations. The shortlist included three tools enabling IT to implement a quick release (in agile terminology: an MVP, Minimum Viable Product):

    • GitHub as a central development tool in which employees can work on various tasks from source code management to project documentation
    • MS Teams as a collaboration tool to facilitate communication within the team and make workflows more efficient
    • Docker as a container runtime environment

    A minor project team successfully conducted a pilot test: The MVP worked without any problems, even together with interconnected systems that were already in use, such as the company's central people directory and login tool.

    The only thing missing was a solution allowing IT staff to order a toolchain and share selected applications with colleagues. With our support, the company has developed a dedicated web platform for this purpose.

    Results:

    The new tool catalogue is tailored to the interdisciplinary workflow and reduced to the essentials. Users can easily manage their toolchain via the online portal, for example by requesting access for external partners. Each tool is linked to work examples, help pages, forums and further training offers. The majority of applications are cloud-based and offer flexible, usage-based licensing models. In case more employees use a particular solution over time than expected, the company can quickly order additional licenses.