How DevOps tools make applications go faster and farther

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DevOps toolsThe term DevOps has been in existence for at least a decade now. In tech years, a decade is a long time.

It’s hard to measure how pervasive the DevOps model has become in that decade, but it’s safe to say that most, if not all, development and operations teams know about it, and many of those teams use at least some of its tenets.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, practitioners turn to DevOps tools to improve their work. These tools help teams overcome the challenges that often come with accelerated release cycles, while also helping them achieve greater speed, quality and control.

Challenges of DevOps

Some have said the essence of DevOps is “building cool things faster,” but that’s an oversimplification that overlooks the complexity of mastering the practice. Even teams that have followed DevOps principles for years occasionally falter in their execution.

Some of these missteps are all too common:

  • Component versioning and tracking. Software products are complex and contain multiple components, so manually tracking them is impractical. DevOps tools can map components, making continuous deployment simpler and reducing build errors.
  • Environment variability. Software and apps are tested in different environments — dev, test and production — and each of these can be configured differently. Tracking apps to environments is complex, and mapping environments to build versions is also complicated. Tools that track build versions and map them to environment parameters help alleviate this issue.
  • Continued reliance on manual processes and infrastructure deployment. Human intervention leads to human error. It also prevents repeatability, which is essential for continuous iteration. When there are hundreds of environments at play, virtualization offers the advantages of speed, cost and flexibility. Tools that automate processes and deployments play a core role in DevOps.
  • Lack of consideration for scalability. DevOps projects usually start small. Unfortunately, many teams proceed as if the project will stay small. In initial design and testing, consider how to make processes scale or even if they can scale. If your project can’t scale, you haven’t designed it correctly.

Tools that make DevOps execution easier

Automation solves some of the most common versioning and tracking issues. Continuous delivery provides an integrated set of tools that support app delivery, allowing developers to automate builds, tests and deployments. The open architecture of a continuous delivery tool such as the one from IBM allows integration of open source and third-party tools to make DevOps processes repeatable and easy to manage. These solutions also provide a delivery pipeline that sequences the stages of building, testing and deployment. They can also release updates into production.

Automated application deployment tools enable workflows that usher builds from one stage and environment to the next. By automating application release and deployment to distributed data centers, clouds and virtualized environments, UrbanCode Deploy reduces the chance of deployment failure by delivering higher-quality releases. It serves this function without sacrificing speed, so software delivery can occur at a faster clip. Those processes can apply across dev, test and production environments.

There are also analytics tools such as DevOps Insights that can help improve other DevOps processes and solutions. These tools offer greater deployment quality, enhanced delivery control and even faster speed to market. DevOps Insights contains deployment risk analysis, too, analyzing results from unit and functional tests to prevent the release of risky updates. The tool also analyzes team dynamics through social coding. It learns how a team collaborates, then reveals ways it can work better. Working with IBM Continuous Delivery, the solution also integrates with other continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platforms, such as Jenkins and other third-party tools.

The purpose of DevOps is to make software and apps better, but part of that improvement means making the processes and teams better as well. It may have its challenges, but DevOps tools provide one path to overcoming them.

Applications are the core of DevOps. Application performance management (APM) helps DevOps teams streamline the testing, deployment and management of their applications.

Register to download APM for Dummies to discover best APM practices.

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