Provisioning versus Configuration

There’s a ton of hype and excitement surrounding containers, a la Docker, today, much in the same way virtualization took the data center by storm. In both cases, the excitement for operations focuses on the ease with which infrastructure might be deployed and managed via such technology. Whether container or hypervisor, however, there remains a distinct difference between server and network virtualization that must be considered before getting too excited about the possibilities. There are two distinct use cases for which virtualization and containerization of anything are considered beneficial: scale and deployment. Scale In terms of scale, both virtualization and containerization are excellent technologies. Both can fully encapsulate a service – whether application or network – and enable rapid deployment of multiple instances of the same service with very little (if any) post-provisioning requirements. This is the premise upon which cloud computing and NFV is based: clones of services and ...

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DevOps doesn’t end at deployment

If you ask five IT admins the question “What is DevOps?” you maybe get eight different answers. We’ve attempted to define and explain the term DevOps here on DevOps.com a few different ways, but a precise definition is still elusive. One thing is certain, though, DevOps is about more than just automating virtual server deployment and configuration. At Velocity 2009, John Allspaw and Paul Hammond presented a session titled “10 Deploys Per Day: Dev & Ops Cooperation at Flickr”, which some credit with launching the concept of integrating development and operations—at least to mainstream IT. For many, though—especially those who are still trying to understand what DevOps is, and what it means for their organization—DevOps amounts to tools that simplify the process of implementing tens or hundreds of virtual server instances, and automating the initial configuration. Automating IT Tools like those offered by Chef and Puppet Labs are useful for ...

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Releasing your team from Release Thinking

How much time do you spend optimizing your delivery pipeline?  My guess is none. Many teams have figured out great ways to automate their releases, and some even automate testing and monitoring.  But they don’t often take the next step and learn from those results to refine the delivery processes. ...

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Security in the operational relay race

If you’ve ever seen people run a relay race, you’ll notice that most of the risk happens when the baton is handed from one runner to the next.  In IT processes, there is also dramatically increased risk during handoffs.  Whether you’ve moving from one process phase to another, one “owner” to another, or one environment to another the risk is greatest during the phase transition. Security can play a strong role during these handoffs, whether you’re using DevOps or not.  Here are some principles that can help safeguard the handoffs and reduce the risk in the operational relay race. Reduce access They say too many cooks spoil the broth and that can apply to IT processes, as well.  Limit the number of people who can directly make changes in production and you have a shot at increasing security and defending availability by reducing random acts of deployment, as well as ...

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DevOps and faster feedback: fewer problems, better features (part 2)

As the experts established in part one of this series , the tightening of feedback loops through DevOps gives developers a better chance to learn how well their coding choices perform in the context of production environments. This makes for higher quality code in the long-run and constantly improved skillsets among development teams. But fast feedback loops don’t just improve the line-by-line coding work the development team puts out. It can also push through a huge boost in the value of the features they’re producing for end users. “Feedback loops are important not just for technical feedback or feedback about things not working,” says Aater Suleman, CEO of Flux7 Labs and a professor in computer systems design and architecture at the University of Texas. “There’s also the feedback around what customers are looking form in terms of particular features and whether or not those features are doing well in the market ...

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Advanced Automation – Getting Your Systems to Work for You

In my previous post I discussed how to take your DevOps to the next level by taking it beyond infrastructure automation, to the automation of your deployments and code pushes, through patches and updates. And then I promised to make it interesting…so here is the next stage – actually using the extracted data to get your systems to work for you. Monitoring Like IT’S YOUR BUSINESS Let’s start by discussing what it means to monitor your application, and what kind of data you can extract from it. At the most basic level, you want to know whether your application is available for your users. It sounds very basic and simple, but setting it up properly is actually not an easy task. It is intended to give you an answer to the most important question to your business: can my users use the application? Think of it as a big red ...

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Nagios is not a monitoring strategy

When I visit clients to talk about DevOps, I usually ask them what their monitoring strategy is. Too often, the answer I hear is “We use Nagios”. I think Nagios is a great tool, but it sure is not a strategy. Nagios does a good job of monitoring infrastructure. It will alert you when you are running out of disk, CPU, or memory. I call this reactive monitoring. In other words, Nagios is telling you that your resources are getting maxed out and you are about to have issues. Proactive monitoring focuses more on the behavior of the applications and attempts to detect when metrics are starting to stray away from their normal baseline numbers. Proactive monitoring alerts you that the system is starting to experience symptoms that can lead to a degradation of performance or capacity issues which is more preferable than Nagios telling you are about to be ...

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From Simple Automation to DevOps Like a Boss

Automation as We Know It Today If you haven’t been hiding in a cave in the last year or two, you’ve probably heard the terms DevOps and infrastructure automation more than once… But even today, infrastructure automation is mostly focused on setup and deployment of complex systems. For example, if you’d like to deploy your application to the cloud, you would likely automate the steps of provisioning the cloud resources, installing the right components on top of these, and then orchestrating the startup of your components – or better known as – cloud orchestration. Take even the simplest application that has a web server and database. After installing and configuring everything, you’d first need to ensure that the database is started, and only then the web server. You’d also need to propagate specific runtime information from the database to the web server, such as the database’s host and port. This ...

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