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How To Kick Start A Devops Program

IT Biz Today Staff

Devops has brought a culture change in the IT industry by changing the ways in which the development and operation teams partner and encouraging best practices of automation in order to improve the reliability and speed of deploying necessary changes. There is always a shared understanding between responsive development teams who have the responsibility to release code to production and the operations staff who have to take care of reliability, scalability, and security of infrastructure, networks, and databases.            

Platforms built using containers, automation like CI/CD (Continuous integration and continuous delivery), and IaC (Infrastructure as code) and environments managed with Alops are all examples of devops technologies and practices. In order to develop primary devops practices, organizations hire people with the required skill set, test new technologies, train the existing employees in devops technologies, and iterate on the implementation.

There are chances that you might be tempted to experiment with all devops practices, but know that it is never going to be a piece of cake. It is advisable that you identify a small area to start with and then go on to expand the program.

Technical And Business Objectives

When a technology organization has plans for investing in a new practice or a tool, it will need to take into account the possible impacts and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that are influencing the particular initiative. Before they go ahead with a devops program, the team has to find reliable business sponsors and form a statement identifying issues and opportunities and prioritizing them after a thorough evaluation. Below are some examples of such problems:

  • Configuration problems between development, production and test environments that could compromise the testing of the application.
  • Longer MTTR (Meantime for recover) for applications
  • Manual application deployment practices are prone to errors. They could prevent the development teams from implementing frequent changes as per the needs of the end-users and the business itself.

Opportunities include:

  • Investing in improving automation testing of applications that have a large user base and are investing in incorporating new features.
  • Establishing infrastructure standards during the migration from on-premises to cloud infrastructure
  • Considering microservices or architecture changes as the implementation of automated configurations and cloud services offer long term benefits.

Leaders should prepare a ranked list of opportunities, problems and KPIs by studying the KPI associated with devops programs. The ranked list will give them an idea about the practices that require primary focus.

Prioritization Of CI/CD And Continuous Testing

Some organizations invest heavy sums of money in their application by emphasizing on releasing improved versions on a regular basis. If there is a strong backing of a dedicated development team behind the release of application improvements, it means that starting devops by developing continuous testing and CI/CD can make significant contributions to the business growth.

Not every application will be regarded as equally important by businesses, which is reason enough for variations in investment and application development. Organizations consider various factors including usage, revenue, and business factors in order to decide on the priority of the development of various applications. Applications that experience growth in usage and of high business priority are the right points to start off.

The underlying architecture is also a key consideration in deciding whether or not to invest in CI/CD. Complex architecture that has tightly coupled components, significant associated technical debts, and uses legacy technologies is not really a good choice for early CI/CBD efforts. It is best to choose an application that is a business priority and has a simple architecture as well.

Starting Devops With IaC And Containers

There would be many businesses that are not doing much of application development and deployment but still preserve a multitude of computer environments essential for the smooth running of business processes. They may have BPM tools and CRM or CMS systems deployed in private, as well as pubic cloud environments. Although there would mostly be little development processes happening on these platforms, they would still require testing, development, staging, disaster recovery, and production environments to support their various lifecycles.

It is almost never a necessity to support CI/CD for such commercial or open-source platforms but configuring its infrastructure as code can yield several benefits to the operations team.

Entities that benefit from IaC include large data science teams who build databases and test models and integrate new data sources. Data science teams find it easy to ramp up and resize compute capacity according to their needs by standardizing the infrastructure.

If the infrastructure is your key area of focus, then you will have to choose between the automation platforms, Chef, Ansible, Puppet, or others. It is also important to determine whether containerized workloads offer any advantages and if yes, how.

Alops And Its Prioritization

Suppose you are already running applications in a public or private cloud like Azure or AWS and have stable environments that do not undergo frequent changes. The stability contributes less to motivating the rebuilding of these environments using IaC. Similarly, in instances of applications being deployed infrequently and agile development backlogs experiencing minor support and maintenance issues, investing in CI/CD may not yield visible benefits.

Alops is the third path to devops. It involves increasing the level of monitoring and deploying machine learning strategies to assist incident response. Alops is more suitable for supporting unstable applications and multi-cloud environments.

Splunk and BigPanda are popular Alops platforms that are designed to collect data from multiple monitoring platforms and log files, process it using machine learning, and then route the same to the concerned parties. Alops helps developers figure out the underlying causes of application issues and assist the engineering teams in the task of improving their MTTR.

The Perfect Time To Launch A Devops Program

Timing is a super important factor that needs to be considered, especially when investing in technology platforms. Investing in devops programs is not too simple a task and hence it is quintessential to determine priorities and timing. Here are some appropriate times to think about prioritizing devops.

  • Cloud migrations
  • When a development team is thinking about automating the IaC and then configuring CI/CD.

Adapting to the culture change is essential in improving the collaboration of technology leaders, engineers, and developers.


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