The Role of DevOps in Mobile App Development
Learn about DevOps in the context of mobile app development and its recent surge in popularity.
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Over the past five years, mobile devices have become the primary source for accessing the internet for millions of people around the globe. These trends have scrambled many industries to adapt towards the shift in business application users by developing a mobile app for their business.
During the early years of this shift, the IT industry focused on meeting market demand and businesses focused on creating a market presence. They overlooked to focus on app development costs, security, maintainability, and code quality.
As the underlying surge has settled down, it’s now a great opportunity to focus on these issues and embrace new methodologies to lower cost and increase quality.
In this blog, we will be discussing the DevOps approach to mobile app development, the major challenges faced, and best practices to overcome those challenges.
What Is DevOps?
DevOps is a modern software engineering approach which focuses on effective collaboration between project managers, developers, operations staff while aligning with enterprise business objectives.
The conventional techniques utilized before the DevOps approach lacked a powerful coordinated effort between various departments of software development, which eventually lead to additional time in development, more holes in the customer's pocket, and customer dissatisfaction.
Benefits of Adopting DevOps
DevOps has brought the development and operations teams onto the same page. Before DevOps, developers used to write the complete code and then send it to the operations team. With DevOps, responsibilities are distributed equally among different teams with a single goal so that each team has a clear visibility of application performance.
Adopting DevOps in your enterprise offers
- Continuous software delivery
- Enhanced customer experience
- Faster resolution of bugs
- Higher employee engagement
- Faster delivery of the product
- More stable environment for easy deployments
- More time for innovation
- Increased efficiency
6 Cs of DevOps Adoption
Continuous planning refers to bringing your entire team — developers, business analysts, testers, and operations — to a common platform to determine the scope of the application in the preparation of a release plan.
Continuous Integration (CI) address the developer community by focusing on error-free builds following the best practices and standards of version control.
Testing is an important part of the Software Development Lifecycle. Testing ensures the quality of the product delivered to the customer. Continuous testing in DevOps emphasis automation of all the phases of software testing.
Continuous monitoring ensures that the application is performing as desired and the production environment is kept stable no matter the frequency of changes without any human interaction.
Continuous delivery is the practice that ensures that the code is deployed to the production environment by delivering every change to a production-like environment.
The next step of continuous delivery is continuous deployment. Every change that passes the automated tests through continuous testing is deployed to the production environment automatically.
Adopting DevOps in mobile app development can be a game changer. DevOps ensures that all different teams become more productive in terms of execution.
Adopting DevOps is not an easy process as it requires a lot of technical and business decisions, but once implemented successfully, it can bring value to the organization in terms of client satisfaction, increased efficiency, and increased revenue.
To adopt a continuous mobile DevOps workflow, all the bottlenecks and potential problems need to be identified first.
Challenges of Adopting DevOps for Mobile App Development
While the basic principles of adopting DevOps for web apps and mobile apps are the same, there are certain challenges for adopting DevOps in mobile app development.
Mobile applications have multiple target environments. Most mobile apps target multiple devices, OS versions, hardware specifications, and more.
Apple App Store and Google Play Store
Generally, a mobile app cannot be deployed directly to a mobile device. It has to go through the App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android. The app then goes through a submission and review process.
Pull Deployment Model
Traditional deployments operate on a push model where a new version of the application can be pushed, whether it is a web app or a cloud-based app. However, the process of updating a mobile app is a pull process, as it is up to the user to choose whether or not he/she wants to update the app.
Mobile App Testing
Nothing is worse than a 1-star rating for your mobile app. Unsatisfied customers can publically harm your brand through the medium of the App Store or Play Store. It becomes extremely important for you to do rigorous testing using functional, usability, and performance testing techniques.
How to Adopt Mobile DevOps
Adopting mobile DevOps in your organization requires three rules of thumb which need to be followed.
Rule #1 – Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery
- The mobile app development team must ensure the traceability of all the development assets, including code, configurations, scripts, documents, text files, etc. Continuous integration must be practiced, which ensures that the code delivered by one team works with the code delivered by the other team(s). Frequent builds must be done and new code must be integrated with the previously developed code.
- Android and iOS are completely dominating the mobile app landscape, and both are very much fragmented. There are different variants of Android for almost every brand, and Apple has also branched iOS to support the iPad. Due to the fragmentation, developers must maintain a separate build for each of the variants and platforms targeted.
- Mobile app developers are acclimated to utilizing an IDE to manually generate builds. Different builds are generated for different platforms manually. As the number of builds increases, developers can use scripts to generate automated builds. Developers can manage those scripts by assigning versions to them, thereby ensuring that any build can be reproduced at any time.
Rule #2 – Testing and Monitoring
- Mobile app development lags behind enterprise web apps in test automation. Most mobile app testing is done on simulators rather than on actual physical devices, and testing on simulators is a completely manual process. Given the number of platforms and form factors, it is not even possible to do manual testing. The only possible way is to test your app is using automated testing tools.
- Every mobile app needs to interact with the backend application and services. Mobile apps follow a rapid development process which results in more releases as compared to the backend application. This rapid development results in new features in the app which are not yet supported by the production environment. To solve this issue, the entire ecosystem can be made available on virtual instances. This results in rapid testing and also save hardware resources cost.
- It is very common that the app performs well in the test environment but fails in the live environment. There can be different factors associated with failures, such as network conditions, memory, power etc. So it becomes important for the developers to ensure continuous performance monitoring by adding third-party SDKs to the app such as log, crash report, etc to find the root cause of the failure.
Rule #3 – Quality and Delivery
- The developers should closely monitor the feedback and ratings on the App Store for future enhancements and improvements, which results in continuously improving mobile apps.
Advantages of Mobile DevOps
Creating Better Applications
User experience is the most important factor. Mobile DevOps enables instant reporting and feedback, regression testing, and a transparent development process, which results in faster troubleshooting of the errors, faster fixes, and optimized user experience.
Faster Release Time
DevOps increases collaboration among the different departments and teams and simplifies the process of information sharing, which results in faster code releases.
DevOps ensures a transparent process, increases communication among various teams, and helps in building better products. DevOps removes several bottlenecks, including
- Inconsistent development process
- Lack of ownership
- Manual testing process
- Instability in workflow
- Poor communication
Published at DZone with permission of Surender Vikram Singh. See the original article here.
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