The relevance of DevOps when working with cloud environments

Often here is a debate about whether DevOps has driven business digital transformation through cloud computing or whether cloud environments have boosted DevOps adoption in the IT industry. Practically, in does not matter that much since the powerful synergy between DevOps and cloud computing has been key to overcoming many of the industry’s challenges. Instead of debating which is more important, it is more essential to understand why it is relevant to foster DevOps methodology, especially when working with cloud environments.

The relevance of DevOps when working with cloud environments

What is DevOps, and why is it important?

Like many concepts, there is no official definition of what DevOps includes. A classic definition would be that DevOps is a set of best practices and ideas that combines software development tools, methods and software operations to improve the efficiency of all processes.

However, such a definition does not provide a full overview of the value that DevOps implementation can bring.

Despite of what many think, DevOps is not a set of technologies but rather a combination of best practices, a philosophy of how to streamline the development process so that user requirements are included in applications as quickly as securely as possible.

On the other hand, some think of DevOps as a kind of evolution of Agile software development since its principles fit perfectly with this project management methodology, in the sense that both seek to deliver value quickly and efficiently, breaking down the barriers that separate to development and operations teams.

These definitions (and many others) only demonstrate that DevOps principles are inclusive and versatile enough to adapt and even complement other methods and technologies that pursue common goals. Fortunately, one of the technologies that benefit the most from these principles is cloud computing.

Why DevOps is relevant when working in cloud environments?

Cloud computing has taken the IT industry by storm in recent years. There are so many benefits that this technology brings that it is difficult to overlook them. However, today we are witnessing an equally transformative and powerful trend, cloud-native applications.

To give just some examples to begin with, it's no secret that Kubernetes has taken microservices to the next level. And as evidenced by the rapidly growing Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Landscape, cloud-native applications are here to stay.

What started as a few applications have grown into one of the most dynamic ecosystems in the industry. What does this have to do with DevOps, you may ask?

The flexibility and adaptability of DevOps principles make them the perfect solution for the challenges faced by cloud-native applications. That's because DevOps helps simplify and speed up development processes. In other words, cloud-native applications and DevOps complement each other perfectly, as the former provides the tools used by the latter to streamline all its processes.

Cloud-native applications and DevOps complement each other perfectly, as the former provides the tools used by the latter to streamline all its processes.

Differences between DevOps and cloud computing

While there is great synergy between cloud computing and DevOps, that doesn't mean they are the same thing. On the contrary. DevOps and cloud computing complement each other so well because of their differences.

Cloud Computing. An oversimplification of Cloud Computing is to think of it as hardware and software resources that you can access on-demand, anytime, anywhere.

  • Cloud Computing is a technology whose goal is to provide the infrastructure your business needs over the internet.
  • By definition, cloud environments are flexible. That is, you can scale and reform them in real-time if needed.
  • Cloud infrastructure can be deployed in a matter of minutes.

DevOps. As already explained, DevOps is a philosophy focused on accelerating the software development process.

  • DevOps is a practice, not a technology that can be acquired or deployed.
  • DevOps makes use of several tools, which may (or may not) be cloud-based.
  • Implementing DevOps is more of a journey than a destination. It is a constantly evolving process, so depending on the organization, it may take some time to show its benefits.

The role of cloud computing in DevOps

The unique characteristics of cloud environments discussed in the previous section give an idea of the potential that this technology offers in the digital transformation of business.

Therefore, it is easy to imagine how cloud environments can facilitate the implementation of DevOps.

At its core, DevOps is about improving processes. There is nothing better than the ability to automate as many processes as possible to achieve this goal. Thanks to automation, developers can deploy software faster, minimize human error, and improve security, among many other advantages. But developers are not the only ones who benefit from automation. Operations also benefit greatly from not having to manually provision and configure every piece of hardware.

In this regard, many tools leverage cloud technology to help DevOps teams.

Application-Specific Infrastructure. Possibly one of the most striking advantages of cloud environments is the flexibility to use application-specific infrastructure. With just a few clicks, you can start up a multi-purpose node or optimize for heavy CPU usage. You can also create a node/cluster optimized for RAM-intensive or storage-optimized applications. The possibilities are endless. This degree of customization allows the use of an easily adaptable infrastructure to the application in question instead of a "generic" solution where resources are wasted.

Cloud Infrastructure Automation. Gone are the days when every server had to be provisioned manually. In fact, today, it is so inexpensive and flexible to contract cloud infrastructure that DevOps teams have almost no need to use on-premise infrastructure. Moreover, tools like Terraform, Juju, Ansible, and many others allow both developers and operations to enjoy the advantages of automating both provisioning and configuration via Infrastructure-as-Code. Furthermore, in an era where microservices and cloud-native applications are becoming the norm, enterprises can contract infrastructure with different distributions of Kubernetes pre-installed to start running their applications almost immediately.

CI/CD Automation. There is no doubt that one of the major benefits that cloud environments bring to DevOps is the ability to easily implement Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) practices. Thanks to platforms such as Jenkins, Travis CI, Circle CI, Gitlab, AWS CodePipeline, among others, development and operations teams can work together to automate the building, testing, and deployment of applications.

Collaboration Tools. One of the basic principles of DevOps is collaboration. To this end, there is a gigantic array of cloud-based services dedicated to making collaboration between teams simple and effective. From project managers to file-sharing services to communication tools like Slack, teams have never been so connected. Best of all, because these services are cloud-based, team members don't need to be physically close to each other, which is very useful today.

Analysis and Monitoring Tools. One of the promises of DevOps is to improve the security of applications and services. Advanced monitoring and analysis tools such as Prometheus, Grafana, Nagios, InfluxData, Gradle, and others are of great help in this regard. Thanks to these tools, it is possible in many cases to prevent problems before they occur, or in the worst case, to make quick audits so that the downtime is as short as possible.

The above are just some of the tools available thanks to cloud technology. While these tools are not essential to implement the DevOps methodology, they facilitate each phase of the DevOps process for both development and operations teams.

What are the benefits of DevOps in the cloud?

Cloud environments provide the technology and services needed to drive digital business transformation. However, to take advantage of all its benefits, it is necessary to have efficient and reliable processes.

This is where DevOps brings great value to cloud environments.

Increased autonomy. Traditionally, developers had to wait for the operations team to provide them with the necessary infrastructure to perform their tests. This inevitably produced friction between both teams. Both parties perceived this process as a waste of time, the devs for having to wait and the operators for having to provision and configuring the infrastructure for each test. The DevOps methodology radically changes this situation by empowering developers to create and provision their own infrastructure by leveraging the available IaC(infrastructure as code) tools. Moreover, by automating these processes, developers can do more tests in less time. Also, the relationship with the operations team becomes more fluid as devs only need general guidelines regarding hardware specifications. This turns a tense situation into an opportunity for both teams to pool their knowledge of infrastructure, security, and the code needed to create the right cloud environment.

Supercharged collaboration. Cloud technology enables better collaboration at various levels. Version control platforms such as Github, Gitlab, or Bitbucket are an integral part of the collaboration process among developers. Furthermore, thanks to the flexibility offered by the cloud, dev and ops teams can work in parallel instead of working independently (or worse) in opposite directions. The result is that faster progress can be made by eliminating inefficiencies resulting from miscommunication. In fact, cloud-based environments have proven to be a common ground between developers and operators as both use this technology to make their processes easier. For example, developers can support operations by improving their automation code while operators can bring their infrastructure expertise to make test environments more efficient.

Shorter release cycles. DevOps seeks to do more in less time. In that sense, the automation tools mentioned in the previous section are the perfect way to achieve that goal. Every process that can be automated can shorten the time to launch products and services. Even the most complex processes can be coded to help make the process repeatable over time. Automation additionally decreases human error and improves the quality of the final product.

Simplicity. An additional advantage of automation is that it reduces project complexity. Breaking down a very complex project into more manageable processes is beneficial, but even better is to take those processes and automate them. Since developers by nature tend to reuse code, the challenges of a new project can be used to simplify another project in the future. Put another way, the DevOps methodology provides the principles to manage complexity and cloud environments the means to get the job done.

Better security. From every point of view, a simpler application, with easier to manage components, is much more robust and secure. However, the convergence of DevOps and cloud computing makes possible many other things. Automated security testing can be integrated into the continuous integration and deployment process to validate code before releasing it to the public. This adds another layer of security to the complex job of keeping applications safe from new threats.

Greater scalability. The scalability potential of cloud environments is undoubtedly one of their strengths. However, resource scalability should not be confused with the scalability of your development process. In other words, no matter how much infrastructure your business has, it cannot be leveraged without a methodology that helps you tackle challenging projects. DevOps provides the knowledge and principles that will help you get the most out of cloud resources and achieve sustainable scalability.

Better response time. The sum of all the elements mentioned so far, automation, simpler and more manageable processes, collaboration, and scalability, helps when things go wrong, and a quick fix is needed. Downtime is significantly reduced when the dev and ops teams work to pursue an effective solution. Moreover, cloud environments offer the advantage of having resilient systems with failover mechanisms that allow teams to look for the root cause of problems with greater peace of mind.


DevOps and cloud environments are the ideal combination for streamlining software development. It is safe to say that adopting its principles is not only relevant for cloud environments but also for any emerging technology.

DevOps is one of the key elements for successful development, especially when working when multi-vendor environments with various software components.