Cloud and DevOps- Rules of Engagement

As organizations are seeking to increase quality and agility in order to expedite application delivery, decrease time to market, provide optimal user experience and, thus maximize revenue, they are adopting (or at least exploring) cloud computing and DevOps software development methodology. According to a recent Vanson Bourne survey, 39% of IT teams had adopted some form of DevOps, and 27% were planning to do so in the near future.


If you are 1 in 6 IT managers not really sure what the term DevOps means (the IT movement /development methodology that represents Dev & IT Ops working together), think about DevOps as a unique function that facilitates cross-functional collaboration by getting more of the operations' point of view into the development process and vice-versa.

DevOps and cloud are separate entities, but they go hand-in-hand in many instances. For example, if you are moving to an IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) model you shouldn't do it without DevOps.

Here are some quick pointers to help you get started in a cloud + DevOps world

1. Get everybody on the same page. Developers need to know enough about web operations to understand the end-to-end architecture, because “just running-it-all on 1- box like we do here in development” can't scale in a production world. Similarly, operations need to know some basics about the language stack that they support, to be able to read a stack trace as part of your troubleshooting workflows. You can merge it all in a formalized DevOps function.

2. Plan everything, put some processes in place. Now that multiple teams can spin off cloud resources as needed, there is a risk of VM proliferation and/or overpaying for cloud resources that you don't really need. Put some processes in place to track and document access to cloud resources (DevOps could hold the key to this). To avoid overpaying for unneeded capacity, make sure that after provisioning temporary processing resources, you retire them when no longer needed.

3.Optimize app performance on an on-going basis - before and after you move to the cloud. A good rule of thumb is to fix application issues and bottlenecks before you migrate, as the extra complexity of a cloud-based architecture will amplify application performance problems later on, obscuring troubleshooting tasks. Follow Agile methodologies and don't forget to baseline key performance indicators and compare performance changes overtime to quickly react to changes on an on-going basis.

4. Get one unified view of application performance from user experience, through infrastructure components, down to a failing line of code. That way DevOps can easily route issues to the right team, and attach diagnostics information.~ Otherwise, they be looking for a needle in a haystack, and troubleshooting issues in the dark. Remember to holistically monitor :

-- Infrastructure performance in your datacenter, end-to-end~ (databases, mail servers, web servers, application servers, and any other element responsible to present content to the user to isolate overloaded resources and capacity constraints).

-- Cloud Resources (Monitor VMware vSphere hosts and virtual machines performance to quickly identify ESX/ESXi Servers running short of resources, and performance for EC2 & RDS instances).

-- Application code (capture real-time transaction traces to immediately identify common problems like slow DB queries, underperforming methods, or hanging threads).

-- Multi-step Web transaction monitoring (oversee end-to-end response time and content accuracy to detect failing transactions and/or errors before your users are impacted).

-- 3rd-party components (marketing analytics, social media feeds, webpage forms, ad servers…) -- if they underperform they can severely impact user experience. DevOps can also help by building a plan outlining how to handle external problems and cloud-provider violations, since these components are outside your control.

5. Select Cloud-ready Monitoring delivered as Software-as-a-Service. Traditional on-premise APM tools do not adapt well to rapid Agile development cycles (after a long implementation cycle, many tools are useless by the time they go live since the application has already changed anyways), and they offer limited visibility into cloud-based architectures. Look for an innovative cloud-based solution that understands the dynamics of the cloud, and is designed to help accelerate your cloud migration initiatives. Plus a flexible "pay-as-you-go" SaaS licensing model lowers your operational costs, and reduces your risks. Every month you can measure your satisfaction level, and cancel your contract at any time- is that simple.

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