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02-Nov-2022:In contrast to prior shifts in the workforce and operational processes, the fourth industrial revolution places a strong emphasis on large-scale automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and machine-to-machine connectivity. However, with new technological advancements come new challenges, and it is not always simple and easy to employ digital transformation tools. On the road to embracing Industry 4.0 and its business models, organizations have to face critical challenges including a lack of knowledge and skills to manage complicated Industry 4.0 structures, data and IT security risks, interoperability concerns, legacy systems, etc.

Updating, enhancing, and maintaining an existing system frequently requires generating new software upgrades. Traditionally, the development, release, and modification of software projects took months or years, and users were frequently stuck with the initial version of the software since modifications were extremely time-consuming and costly. But DevOps teams have altered the way apps are developed. DevOps simplifies the product delivery cycle including planning, agile development, testing, rollout, release, and monitoring, by collectively involving development and operations teams to develop high-quality software.

Challenges in traditional software development

  • Traditional approaches frequently focus on organizing major releases, which are considered risky as things can become extremely complex very fast when working on longer cycles with infrequent releases. Using the traditional method, businesses aim to maximize efficiency by designing large chunks of new features that require a huge amount of new development effort, which is then pushed into release and production. DevOps, on the other hand, works on smaller releases that are simpler to comprehend and test. Additionally, it also helps in making the planning and scheduling of systems easier by offering better visibility and coordination between teams, reducing the risk of potential failures.
  • In traditional development, it is quite natural for a new feature to go through 3-4 silos before it is ready to be delivered to customers. This results in reduced productivity as most of the time is wasted in between silos. In a DevOps environment, teams are organized into “cells” that comprise of cross-functional teams especially arranged to focus on a single application. This facilitates the smooth execution of ideas, prevents hand-offs, encourages cross-training, and saves time.
  • Traditional development teams take a long time to recover from a failure. However, DevOps teams are equipped with continuous testing, alerting, monitoring, and feedback loops to respond to risks quickly and efficiently.

Hence, to resolve many such challenges, it is crucial for diverse industries to adopt DevOps with its guidelines and standards as it helps in enhancing service uptime, interoperability, efficiency, and administration, lowering development costs and operational expenses, and improving businesses’ time-to-market.

DevOps for Industry 4.0 Journey

In today’s fast-paced work environment, quicker delivery and reduced turnaround time in software development have become critical to an organization’s growth. To cater to this need, DevOps techniques rely on efficient tools to automate and deploy innovative solutions for their clients in a quick and reliable manner. These solutions are designed to handle complicated systems at scale and to automate repetitive and manual activities for creating highly automated environments.

DevOps Best Practices

Agile project management: Implementing agile project management plays a crucial role in ensuring successful DevOps implementation. Instead of waiting for one big release date, agile teams prioritize producing work in smaller chunks. Continuous evaluation of requirements, plans, and outcomes enables teams to adjust course as needed in response to valuable feedback. Instead of investing a lot of time to fully build a feature that eventually falls short, companies can release a small bit of functionality, observe how customers react to it, and obtain their feedback by combining DevOps with an agile strategy. By doing so, companies can boost efficiency, ensure faster deployment and delivery, and improve the software development process significantly. The main principles of agile project management include prioritizing individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, responding to change using adaptive planning and customer feedback, and customer collaboration.

Implement test automation: Software developers must test applications at regular intervals to ensure the delivery of high-quality products. Automated testing is a core DevOps practice that frees testers from repeating routine operations. Automation helps in speeding up the software development life cycle (SDLC) by allowing developers to run more tests frequently. This allows them to fix bugs at an early stage and improve product quality. Along with test automation, it is also possible to automate the complete DevOps pipeline—code merge, build, configure, deploy, test, provision, and release.

Adopt continuous integration and continuous delivery: Continuous integration (CI) can be used to incorporate code modifications made by several contributors into a single repository. It is one of the fundamental DevOps best practices that enable developers to quickly merge code updates and validate the code’s accuracy with automated tools. It speeds up deployment and makes it simpler to find errors and other quality problems in smaller bits of code earlier in the development cycle than on a big codebase created over a long period of time.

As soon as the CI pipeline generates a successful build, the continuous delivery (CD) pipeline typically allows teams to deploy software releases in test, stage, or production environments. Additionally, this enables quality assurance engineers and developers to thoroughly test their work, make changes, and discover any bugs or issues in advance. This ultimately minimizes failure and improves the testing and review processes which aid teams in deploying with less manual labor. In addition to automated testing, CD also provides an automatic release mechanism that can be implemented with only a few clicks.

Use the right tools: DevOps tools are essential for automating software development processes effectively. Each stage of the DevOps lifecycle requires the appropriate tools and a DevOps toolchain that has critical features to improve software quality and delivery speed.

Monitor relevant metrics: Monitoring the DevOps pipeline is crucial to preventing unnecessary delays brought on by a faulty build or failed test. Only by monitoring the appropriate performance measures, such as consumed effort, remaining effort, lead time, mean time to detect, and issue severity, can a DevOps approach’s efficacy be evaluated. Monitoring the three pillars of observability- logs, traces, and metrics- is also crucial in detecting issues at an early stage and recovering quickly. However, the most crucial step is to identify the metrics important to attain business goals and concentrate on monitoring only those to avoid wasting the company’s valuable time.

Switch to Microservices: Microservices is a component of the DevOps methodology, which involves segmenting large, complex projects into smaller units. Unlike traditional monolithic architecture where access codes and user interface are integrated into a single program, smaller applications are deployed as independent services in a microservices architecture, and these services are connected through an application programming interface (API). It allows various services to be developed, tested, and deployed independently, without affecting the entire system.

Microservices are compatible with the DevOps strategy of segmenting large, complicated projects into smaller parts, and support other DevOps core practices like continuous integration and continuous delivery. Besides, Microservices are also simple to expand because the DevOps team only needs to add a new one to provide new functionality without disrupting the rest of the application.

Proactive approach to security: Strong security practices must be adopted to eliminate vulnerabilities and enhance security posture throughout the application development process.Major DevOps security practices include maintaining critical information used by machines and people like passwords, tokens, certificates, and API keys, in a secure vault that is out of source code, developer laptops, and user-accessible storage systems. DevOps organizations can also run regular vulnerability scans and conduct penetration tests to improve the cybersecurity posture and set a benchmark for typical usage patterns to identify anomalies in order to track down fraudulent users and stop them from stealing passwords.

DevOps test automation

Benefits of DevOps Adoption in Industry 4.0

Improved collaboration between teams: Every high-performing DevOps team is built on a foundation of shared accountability, openness, and quick feedback. When development and operations teams adopt a DevOps approach, there is less handoff friction and enhanced communication and collaboration between teams which significantly improves the quality of the product.

Reduced time and cost: In traditional Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), modifications to a product, such as adding new features or resolving bugs, must pass through at least 4-5 distinct silos, generating delays and raising costs. By using DevOps, the software development life cycle is shortened, and updates and new features are delivered more frequently without delay. By employing a DevOps method and streamlining the software development procedure, companies can boost time-to-market and release new products, upgrades, and software at a quicker pace.

Automakers benefit from DevOps because it reduces development costs, number of service interruptions, maintenance costs, and investment costs, and maintains high quality. Furthermore, a higher level of automation, self-service tools, and scripts for support activities help DevOps teams save time and cost on administrative support.

Greater efficiency: With its target customers in mind, Industry 4.0 aims to create production systems that are incredibly adaptable and provide better and safer service in less time. DevOps enables this transformation by upgrading the software development process while ensuring frequent updates, maintenance, constant monitoring, and interaction between people and devices in real-time. Furthermore, using DevOps, administrators can delegate server and technology requirements to development teams while focusing on other essential IT duties.

Reduced downtime: DevOps teams are better able to minimize downtime and respond to problems more quickly due to complete transparency and seamless communication. Furthermore, the Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) is improved when problems occur, which also decreases complexity and errors and improves time-to-market.

Flexibility, agility, and adaptability: According to studies, current manufacturing projects that use traditional software development methodologies have low adaptability. DevOps adoption in industrial settings enables better process interpretation and adaptation, as well as flexibility and the potential to be tailored to the needs of each organization that wants to implement it, depending on its organizational structure, external conditions, internal resources, and supply chain.

Competitive advantage:  The goal of DevOps is to make the launch of various software development processes more swift, reliable, and effective. Solutions for Industry 4.0 give companies more knowledge, control, and data visibility throughout their whole supply chain. Companies can outperform competitors by using supply chain management capabilities to get goods and services to market more quickly and at a lower rate.

Improved safety: By adopting DevOps in Industry 4.0 journey, businesses can anticipate potential challenges even before they occur. Preventive maintenance is performed at factories based on schedule or time when IoT systems are not installed and is significantly more automated and streamlined with IoT solutions in place.

Improved customer experience: With the rising demands of customers to include more features and variants and offer a shorter product lifecycle, ensuring a seamless customer experience becomes quite difficult. Furthermore, in the lack of open communication within teams, crucial issues fall through the cracks, which results in dissatisfaction among customers. However, agile frameworks encourage value creation based on user feedback when creating a good or service so that tasks can be performed in a more systematic and collaborative manner.

How Kalycito’s FSET supports Industry 4.0 journey

With the help of Kalycito’s DevOps solution, FSET, organizations can effectively expedite their digital transformation journey. FSET makes it possible for end users, machine builders, and manufacturers of automation devices to execute intricate user-scenario tests as well as manage and troubleshoot multivendor heterogeneous systems. Building on top of state-of-the-art open-source tools, it offers distributed architecture, off-the-shelf hardware, and use-case testing that help in ensuring a flawless Industry 4.0 journey.

For more information:

Read: IIoT Devops Test Automation

Watch: Case study – DevOps for Industry 4.0 – FSET

Kalycito are thought leaders in using OPC-UA for delivering Industry 4.0 horizontal & vertical use-cases.
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