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DevOps vs. Agile: Differences and Using Them Together

In early 2001, 17 experts met and developed the Agile Manifesto as “an alternative to documentation driven, heavyweight software development processes.” Years later, the DevOps movement came about as an effort to bridge the growing disconnect between the teams that develop code and the teams that deploy code. While DevOps and agile are distinct approaches to successful project execution, they can be used together as well. In fact, there are significant benefits to merging these two approaches.

Let’s detail what DevOps and agile really are before discussing how they differ and how they can be used in tandem.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a set of software development practices that enables development and operations teams to collaborate with each other so that they can build, test, and deploy code efficiently.

DevOps represents a cultural shift from the traditional development model, where the development team hands over the code to the quality assurance and operations teams. They then test, deploy, and maintain the code, circling back to the dev team if any issues are identified. As these feedback loops proceed, issues linger on unresolved and the entire development cycle takes longer to complete.

DevOps instead relies on the principles of continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD), and automation. Essentially, it focuses on implementing an end-to-end CI/CD pipeline — as soon as a developer checks in their source code in the repository, automated tests kick off to check for build and runtime errors. The executable then automatically gets deployed in a staging environment, where it interacts with external applications, giving you an opportunity to spot integration errors early on.

Frequent code commits, shorter feedback loops, reliable code, and faster deployment cycles characterise the DevOps culture. Tools and technologies play a crucial role in DevOps as the methodology aims to automate workflows in complex systems at a large scale.

Over the years, DevOps has evolved in different dimensions. For instance, DevSecOps integrates security practices with DevOps, while WebOps introduces DevOps principles in the development of web applications.

What is Agile?

Agile is an approach to project management and software development that breaks projects into smaller iterations and more frequent releases, resulting in better collaboration with users. It is based on four core values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

In a traditional waterfall model of development, each project phase such as design, development, and testing goes on for months, and users do not see the finished product for an extended period of time. Agile, on the other hand, prioritizes getting code done rather than perfecting it. It includes a broad group of concepts — there’s no one way to “do” agile. You can implement it using frameworks such as scrum, Kanban, and extreme programming. Although agile is most strongly associated with software development, it can very well be used in other industries — for instance, lean manufacturing is a popular form of agile.

The Differences Between DevOps and Agile

So, what exactly is the difference between agile and DevOps? Let’s break it down.





Refine engineering processes to achieve continuous testing, integration, and delivery.

Break a complex project into smaller iterations.


Process-oriented approach.

People and result-oriented approach.


Increases collaboration between development and operations teams.

Increases collaboration between project and user teams.


Drafting good documentation is important in DevOps.

Documentation is a lower priority than getting a working model ready.

Team Size

Large team size with people of different skill sets.

Small team size with people of similar skill sets.


Timely internal feedback from test cycles ensures the product is of high quality always.

Timely customer feedback ensures the product satisfies user requirements.


Deployments on a daily (or more frequent) basis to staging or integration environments.

Varies, but typical sprints are released to production once every one or two weeks.


Programmable processes and automated tests.

Frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban.

Technology Dependency

Tighter dependency on tools and technologies.

Tech agnostic.

Examples of Tools

Ansible, Chef, Bamboo, Docker, Jenkins, Kubernetes, Bitbucket.

Jira, Kanbanize, ActiveCollab, Trello, Asana, Basecamp.

The best way to understand the difference between agile and DevOps is to recognize that they are trying to solve different problems. Agile methodologies bring structure to the development process and help avoid a big bang approach to projects. In doing so, they help deliver the end product faster to customers. DevOps focuses not just on software development but also on delivery, testing, and maintenance. It ensures fewer bugs and smoother integration between different modules and applications.

In the real world, there are many instances where agile methodologies and DevOps principles come together in project execution to solve both these problems. There’s a lot of common ground between these two approaches, and since these are high-level concepts you have the flexibility to interpret and implement them to suit your organization’s needs.

How DevOps and Agile Work Together

DevOps and agile can complement each other, and it’s possible for project teams to get the best of both worlds. Despite their differences, the common thread that runs in both approaches is a fail-fast, fail-safe mindset. Both emphasize the proactive identification of issues so they can be fixed quickly. If your automated builds or tests fail, you can immediately troubleshoot your code to resolve the error. Similarly, when sprint results aren’t satisfactory to users, you can go back to the board and adjust your plans accordingly. Other common themes between agile and DevOps include faster release cycles and a collaborative approach.

These unifying threads, and the fact that they tackle different areas of project management and software development, make it possible to blend agile and DevOps together. Investing resources in DevOps infrastructure can considerably reduce the effort it takes for agile project teams to complete their tasks. For instance, one of the challenges with agile is that the focus on shorter release cycles and getting the product to market faster requires developers to get the code production-ready with little time to spare. The ability to run automated tests and create programmable workflows for any new code streamlines this process.

When you merge DevOps and agile, team size and dynamics benefit as well. When projects are broken down into discrete segments, the need for large dev and ops teams ceases. And you’ll find that the boundaries between development and operations teams start to blur with the same team tackling both functions. With small and cross-functional teams, individuals will build skill sets in both development and testing, so these activities can be rotated amongst them. As a result, there’s no need for elaborate cross-team communication and formal handovers, and you’re left with agile teams that can adapt to handle any problem.

Using DevOps and Agile at Your Organization

Adopting a new organizational mindset is never easy, and both DevOps and agile require a fundamental shift in your company’s approach to projects. For DevOps, it’s the introduction of a new process for taking code from development to deployment and beyond. For agile, it’s about being on your toes all the time and delivering smaller chunks of work successfully. And both these methodologies involve a multitude of tools, technologies, and apps.

You may be already practicing one of these methodologies and trying to onboard the other one, or you may be new to both. Either way, a partner who knows both DevOps and agile inside and out — along with the tools you need to use both effectively — can make your journey much simpler. Leverage the knowledge of Contegix’s team of experts who can help you with everything from aligning agile tools like Jira and Confluence with your business goals to getting started with WebOps and building a streamlined CI/CD pipeline.

Contact Contegix today to make DevOps and agile core parts of your organization’s success.