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DevOps Glossary: 89 Terms You Should Know

Maksym Babych

Maksym Babych

CEO

10 min

DevOps has introduced many new terms and concepts that may seem confusing at first. This glossary breaks down over 80 key DevOps terms in simple language, making them easy to understand and remember.

Whether you’re new to the world of DevOps or need a quick refresher, this post is for you. In 5 minutes of reading, you can become fluent in the must-know terminology for modern software delivery and operation.

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A

  • Agent: In DevOps, an agent is a software tool or service that automatically executes tasks, often used in continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.
  • Application Performance Monitoring (APM): Tools and practices used to detect, diagnose, and report on the performance of software applications, ensuring they meet performance standards.
  • Ansible: An open-source automation tool for software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment, part of the larger DevOps toolchain.

B

  • Bamboo: A continuous integration and deployment tool that automates application release management, creating a continuous delivery pipeline.
  • Behavior-Driven Development (BDD): BDD is an approach to software development that encourages collaboration between developers, QA, and non-technical or business participants in a software project to develop software based on its expected behavior.
  • Blue-Green Deployment: A technique that reduces downtime and risk by running two identical production environments, only one of which is live at any time.
  • Bottleneck: A point of congestion in a system that occurs in computing systems where a single or limited number of components or resources limits the performance or capacity of an entire system.
  • Branching: The practice of creating a branch in version control systems, allowing developers to work in parallel on different features or versions of a project.
  • Build: The process of converting source code files into standalone software artifact(s) that can be run on a computer, or the result of doing so.

C

  • Canary Release: A canary release is a technique to reduce the risk of introducing a new software version in production by slowly rolling it out to a small subset of users before making it available to everybody.
  • Capacity Test: Capacity testing is the process of determining how many users or transactions a system can handle to ensure it will perform under production conditions.
  • Commit: In version control systems, a commit is an action that saves changes to a file or set of files, making these changes a permanent part of the repository history.
  • Continuous Integration (CI): A development practice where developers integrate code into a shared repository frequently, preferably several times a day, to detect errors quickly.
  • Continuous Delivery (CD): An extension of continuous integration to ensure that new changes to the software are automatically bug-tested and uploaded to a repository.
  • Containerization: The use of Linux containers (like Docker) to deploy applications in a fast, reliable, and consistent manner, irrespective of the environment.
  • Configuration Management: The process of maintaining computer systems, servers, and software in a desired, consistent state, especially in a multi-server environment.
  • Chef: A configuration management tool used to streamline the task of configuring and maintaining a company’s servers, using code to automate the configuration and deployment processes.

D

  • Dark Launch: Dark launching is a technique for releasing a new feature to a subset of users without actually enabling it for everyone, often used to gather data on its use and impact without a full rollout.
  • DevOps: A set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) to shorten the system development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.
  • DevSecOps: DevSecOps integrates security practices within the DevOps process, emphasizing automation, continuous security monitoring, and integrating security at every phase of the software development lifecycle.
  • Docker: A platform and tool for building, distributing, and running Docker containers.
  • Deployment Pipeline: A sequence of automated processes and tools that allow code changes to be automatically built, tested, and deployed.
  • Distributed Version Control Systems (DVCS): Systems that store repositories in multiple locations, providing a more collaborative and flexible approach to version control.
  • Database Versioning: The management of database changes in a way that allows you to version, track, and rollback changes as needed.

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E

  • Elasticity: The ability of a system to automatically scale resources up or down as needed, a key feature of cloud computing services.
  • Environment: The combination of hardware and software platforms on which software applications are developed, tested, and deployed.
  • Event-Driven Architecture (EDA): EDA is a design pattern where the flow of the program is determined by events such as user actions, sensor outputs, or message passing among processes.

F

  • Fail Fast: Fail fast is a principle in software development aimed at identifying and fixing errors or issues at the earliest possible stage to minimize their impact on the project.
  • Fault Tolerance: The ability of a system to continue operating properly in the event of the failure of some of its components.

G

  • Git: A distributed version control system used for source code management that enables multiple developers to work on the same codebase simultaneously.
  • Grafana: An open-source platform used for monitoring, visualization, and alerting on metrics and logs. It’s widely used in DevOps for dashboarding and analytics.
  • Gradle: A build automation tool that builds upon the concepts of Apache Ant and Apache Maven, introducing a Groovy-based domain-specific language (DSL) instead of the XML form used by Maven.

H

  • High Availability: Refers to a system or component that is continuously operational for a desirably long length of time. It’s crucial for mission-critical systems.
  • HashiCorp Vault: A tool for secrets management, encrypting data, and controlling access to tokens, passwords, certificates, API keys, and other secrets in modern computing.
  • Helm: A package manager for Kubernetes that allows developers and operators to easily package, configure, and deploy applications and services onto Kubernetes clusters.
  • Hybrid Cloud: A cloud computing environment that uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud, and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration.

I

  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): The management of infrastructure (networks, virtual machines, load balancers, connection topology) in a descriptive model, using the same versioning as the DevOps team uses for source code.
  • Immutable Infrastructure: A practice in which servers are never modified after deployment; if something needs to be updated, fixed, or modified, new servers are built from a common image with the necessary changes and replaced.
  • Incident Management: The process responsible for managing the lifecycle of all incidents, ensuring that service operations are restored as quickly as possible.
  • Issue Tracking: Issue tracking is the process of managing and maintaining a list of issues and bugs found during software development, often using specialized software.

J

  • Jenkins: An open-source automation server used to automate the parts of software development related to building, testing, and deploying, facilitating continuous integration and continuous delivery.

K

  • Kubernetes (K8s): An open-source platform for automating deployment, scaling, and operations of application containers across clusters of hosts.
  • Kibana: An open-source data visualization dashboard for Elasticsearch, providing visualization capabilities on top of the content indexed on an Elasticsearch cluster.
  • Kafka: A distributed streaming platform that is used for building real-time data pipelines and streaming apps. It is horizontally scalable, fault-tolerant, and incredibly fast.

L

  • Lead Time: In DevOps, lead time refers to the time it takes for a change to go from conception to being in production, providing a measure of the efficiency of the development process.
  • Load Balancing: The process of distributing network or application traffic across multiple servers to ensure no single server becomes overwhelmed, increasing reliability and availability.
  • Log Aggregation: The process of collecting, consolidating, and storing log data from various sources in a central location to simplify management and analysis.

M

  • Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF): MTBF is a reliability metric that measures the average time between failures of a system or component and is used to predict system reliability and plan maintenance.
  • Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR): MTTR measures the average time required to repair a failed component or system and return it to operational status, indicating the efficiency of response to failures.
  • Monitoring: The process of continuously observing a system’s performance, aiming to detect and alert on any abnormalities or failures.
  • Mutable Infrastructure: The traditional infrastructure model where servers are updated, changed, or patched in place rather than being replaced.
  • Monolithic Architecture: A software development model where an application is built as a single and indivisible unit, often contrasted with microservices architecture.

N

  • Nginx: A web server that can also be used as a reverse proxy, load balancer, mail proxy, and HTTP cache, known for its high performance, stability, and low resource consumption.
  • Nexus Repository: A repository manager that allows you to proxy, collect, and manage your dependencies so that you are not constantly juggling a collection of JARs.
  • Network Policy: A specification of how groups of pods are allowed to communicate with each other and other network endpoints in Kubernetes.

O

  • OpenShift: A family of containerization software products developed by Red Hat, based on Kubernetes and providing a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for deploying applications.

P

  • Pipeline: In DevOps, a set of automated processes that allows developers and operations to build, test, and deploy code to the production environment efficiently.
  • Prometheus: An open-source monitoring and alerting toolkit widely used in the DevOps community, particularly for monitoring the performance of microservices.
  • Pull Request (PR): A method of submitting contributions to a development project. It’s initiated by the contributor and reviewed by the project’s maintainers before merging.
  • Puppet: An open-source software configuration management and deployment tool that helps automate the administration of your infrastructure.

Q

  • Quota: Refers to the limits set on resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage, to ensure fair usage and prevent any single user or service from consuming all resources.
  • Queue: A fundamental data structure used in DevOps for managing processes, tasks, or jobs sequentially, ensuring they are processed orderly.
  • Quiescence: Refers to bringing a system or application to a state of inactivity or minimal activity, useful in DevOps for maintenance, backup, or transitioning between states.

R

  • Release Management: The process of managing, planning, scheduling, and controlling a software build through different stages and environments, including testing and deploying software releases.
  • Repository: In version control systems, a repository is a central file storage location where developers store and manage their code, documents, and other project-related items.
  • Resilience: The ability of a system to handle and recover from failures, ensuring that it can continue to operate under adverse conditions.
  • Rollback: The process of reverting a software application or system to a previous stable version after a failed upgrade or release.

S

  • Scalability: The capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work or its potential to be enlarged to accommodate that growth.
  • Service Mesh: A configurable infrastructure layer for a microservices application that makes communication between service instances flexible, reliable, and fast.
  • SLA (Service Level Agreement): A commitment between a service provider and a client that specifies the performance standards the service is expected to meet and the penalties for failing to meet those standards.
  • Source Control: Source control, also known as version control, is the practice of tracking and managing changes to software code, enabling multiple developers to work on a project simultaneously.

T

  • Technical Debt: Technical debt refers to the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.
  • Terraform: An open-source infrastructure as code software tool created by HashiCorp that allows users to define and provision a datacenter infrastructure using a high-level configuration language.
  • Traffic Management: In DevOps, especially in microservices architecture, it involves controlling the flow of network traffic and requests to ensure that resources are optimally utilized.

U

  • Uptime: Refers to the amount of time a system, service, or application is operational and available to users, often used as a measure of system reliability and stability.
  • Unit Testing: Unit testing involves testing individual components or units of source code to verify that each part performs as expected, a fundamental practice in software quality assurance.

V

  • Version Control: A system that records changes to a file or set of files over time to recall specific versions later, essential in DevOps for managing code revisions and collaboration.
  • Virtual Machine (VM): A software emulation of a physical computer that runs an operating system and applications, allowing for efficient resource utilization and isolation.
  • Vagrant: An open-source software product for building and maintaining portable virtual software development environments; it enables developers to create and configure lightweight, reproducible, and portable development environments.
  • Vulnerability Scanning: The process of inspecting the potential points of exploit in a computer or network to identify security holes, commonly integrated into DevOps pipelines for early detection.

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W

  • Wildcard Certificate: In SSL, a certificate secures all domain subdomains, facilitating SSL management for services and applications with multiple subdomains.

Y

  • YAML (YAML Ain’t Markup Language): A human-readable data serialization standard that is commonly used for configuration files in DevOps tools and practices.
  • Yocto: An open-source project that provides templates, tools, and methods to help create custom Linux-based systems for embedded products used in DevOps for IoT and embedded system development.
  • Yarn: A fast, reliable, and secure dependency management tool in DevOps environments, particularly in JavaScript and Node.js projects, offering better performance and reliability over the npm client.

Z

  • Zero Downtime Deployment: A deployment methodology that enables the deployment of new versions of an application with no service interruption, a key goal in DevOps practices.
  • Zabbix: An open-source monitoring software tool for diverse IT components, including networks, servers, virtual machines, and cloud services, widely used in DevOps for real-time monitoring.
  • Zookeeper: A centralized service for maintaining configuration information, naming, providing distributed synchronization, and providing group services used in distributed systems.
  • Zsh (Z Shell): A Unix shell that can be used as an interactive login shell and as a command interpreter for shell scripting, known for its improvements over Bash, including themes and plugins, popular in DevOps environments.
  • Zipkin: An open-source distributed tracing system that helps gather timing data needed to troubleshoot latency problems in microservice architectures, useful in DevOps for performance and reliability analysis.

 

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