The software delivery team is a critical component of the DevOps of any organization. Tasked with developing, testing, and releasing code into the production environment as well as deploying, load balancing, and managing software releases, their work is never done. Given the critical nature of their work and the fact that an error-prone deployment can lead to significant performance issues, it’s key that software developers observe best practices to avoid service disruption for end users.
Additionally, with the rapid evolution of technology, upgrades, releases, and patches are now occurring daily. This has created a strong need for an agile workflow adoption in the DevOps model, which makes it possible for agile teams to evolve applications that achieve high performance and greater accuracy.
The DevOps movement involves the combination of development processes and operations. It represents the melding of standardized practices, collaboration, and efficiency to enable an organization to deliver quality service and reliable application development. Software developers and IT operations that incorporate best practices will help organizations to maintain competitive advantage, serve their customers better, and solve complex problems that enable them to maintain momentum internally and externally in the market.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at those DevOps best practices that help software teams improve their workflows as well as their organizations as a whole.
It’s best not to jump into building your infrastructure before you truly understand your organization's needs and have developed the standards by which you will execute workflows and conduct releases. It’s important to consider your vulnerabilities as well as your growth goals to ensure that compliance is incorporated at every step. Once a software development team’s stakeholders and system administrators are aligned on goals as well as the DevOps model, then you can begin your build of the DevOps environment.
Almost as important as your infrastructure build is the DevOps tooling you will utilize to support your infrastructure and DevOps practices, such as deployment tracking software. Be sure to evaluate new tools before implementing them to ensure they’re compatible with your existing toolset. Also, be sure to include each of your DevOps tools in your debugging process and monitor them routinely to ensure all your processes are occurring as expected and that there is no change in performance due to the tool.
Establishing a knowledge base that contains documentation for all changes as they occur across deployments is critical to the success of the organization. Your documentation should include reports, root cause analysis, as well as change and configuration management best practices. Change management is the process of standardizing all code changes with requirements for requesting, planning, execution, and evaluation requirements. Best practices dictate that team members must follow a chain of command for submitting change requests, provide their rationality, and allow for evaluation of potential negative impacts before implementing the change. Configuration management involves the automation of managing, monitoring, and maintaining infrastructure components such as servers, databases, applications, file storage, and networks. Configuration management simplifies operations, saves time, and minimizes risk. Having these methods in place allows you to troubleshoot issues to avoid service interruption, exercise better version control, formulate new areas for automation for the next cycle, and enforce standard methodologies.
You may think this is implied, but it’s too important not to mention. Frequent communication and on-going collaboration are the cornerstones of the DevOps framework. These components should define your DevOps cultural beliefs if your priorities are to enhance development, improve operations, and increase competitive advantage as an organization.
As your organization is iterating on processes, adopting new tools, and migrating deployments, costs can begin to add up quickly. It’s very important not to shoot yourself in the foot by achieving efficiency at the cost of going over budget. Optimize costs where possible and create a routine audit and evaluation for all costs to ensure they are still necessary to your organization.
With so many moving pieces going on simultaneously in DevOps, it becomes critical to designate a central team to monitor development and operations teams. This team will ensure that agile practices are being followed, investigate new tools, audit existing tools and costs, and provide guidance and second-opinions on all major decisions within the DevOps umbrella. Your sounding board is a crucial piece to creating shorter cycles, increasing testing velocity, and ensuring deployment success.
We’ve already stressed how important communication is within the software team, but it’s also important for stakeholders and decision-makers to notify their teams of changes and upcoming deployments to avoid miscommunication and lost productivity. As part of our commitment to keeping you and your teams informed at all stages of the deployment, Sleuth offers a Slack integration so that your team is always updated on how deploys are impacting code over time. If there are any issues, teams are instantly notified via Slack.
It’s important to implement a performance monitoring plan from the very beginning of your deployment. Routine testing and Continuous Monitoring are critical to validate the quality of your infrastructure and ensure that a slow degradation of performance doesn’t occur over time. Continuous Monitoring is a methodology that suggests that all systems should be surveyed routinely and consistently with tools, dashboards, alerts, and real-time insights to monitor performance, success rates, deployment health, error logs, and more. This process should be shared with operations stakeholders to ensure budgeting is properly being funneled to the areas of the organization that are performing well. Again, Sleuth, with its wide variety of integrations, channels logs and messages generated by these integrations via their APIs, and displays them in one easy-to-use interface (Sleuth Dashboard).
Most DevOps teams with a focus on agile development will incorporate one of the aforementioned methodologies so that they can automate releases, troubleshoot quickly, and constantly improve efficiency. As we’ve explained in our prior post, the continuous deployment process states that any code commits are given automated testing and released into production where they are immediately visible to end-users. Similarly, continuous integration is the practice of merging all developers’ working copies to shared mainline several times a day. Finally, the continuous delivery process involves the release of new code to quality assurance for continuous testing on a rapid basis.
Continuous deployment best practices will involve maintaining a staging environment to test deploys before moving to production and the automation of testing and notification of nonfunctional or error-prone code. Automating testing enables an organization to test more frequently, minimize the feedback loop, and removes the propensity of human error that often occurs during manual QA. It also lends itself to early bug detection, faster patching, and greater user experience overall. Conclusion When software teams utilize best practices like deployment tracking, which allows you to automate testing, improve the efficiency of monitoring, and increase application performance, they can deliver higher quality software. Simultaneously, developers are free from answering fire alarms and can focus on mission-critical projects that further the goals of the organization.
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