The 2018-19 school year is in full swing, and just like the kids are going to the bus stop with their new backpacks and shoes, it’s time to refresh your DevOps tool chain and look to the future. Remember, just like education, DevOps never ends. It’s a lifetime pursuit that constantly improves your life.
The DevOps tool chain of the future must include:
Time to get your branch and merge skills down pat. Git is the best source code control to offer this to development teams. Companies should be actively moving to git to allow their development teams isolated feature development with pull merges and pushes to the trunk for releases.
If you are not using git, it’s time to start justifying why you are not. Given the speed at which businesses are moving, it is time eliminate blockers for development to release features. Git is built for speed and large numbers of dispersed developers. Remember: it was built by Linus Torvalds to support Linux kernel development.
Database Development Tools
When planning for your DevOps tools, seriously consider database development tools as well. But, if you want comprehensive results when developing your database, you need tools with a DevOps flare.
If we didn’t have the efficiency and speed that we got from Agile software development, we wouldn’t have created DevOps. So, bringing Agile to database development was a must for database DevOps to solve problems. One tool in particular that we use supports some incredible features for Agile development. A database is different than an application; because of this, a database will have state. So, having a database instance we can compare to with our team is critical. The tool we use has this functionality, which has allowed us to thrive. It also lets users work with existing source code control along with a live database to help database developers. Because of this, users can execute this functionality against database objects such as stored procedures and tables.
Application Release Automation
Application software can be difficult to manage. Often, they have too many components to manage easily, which is where automation can help. Application release automation helps your team move from learned and taught processes to basic scripts that are easily scalable and can help deploy applications rapidly. If you’re working with a team that cares about data and DevOps, Application release automation is a critical tool.
Test Data Management
No matter how rapidly you are able to deploy applications, you’ll need to test. The faster you deploy, the more tests you will need to run. But a massive problem with testing can be the lack of quality. Many applications pivot functionality depending on the data stored in a datbase. So, providing data that is or, at least, matches the production data is critical to guarantee high test quality. Without the right data, you could be running massive amounts of tests that are also providing bad/false results. And, with DevOps, you’re committed to improving your software and working to enable more testing for that software.
Don’t Forget the Database
A key finding of the “2018 State of DevOps Report” is that integrating database change management into your DevOps toolchain early in the process drives higher performance.
This is obvious to anyone that has released software before. However, for large siloed enterprises, this is non-obvious. For too long, we have been told to leave the database to the DBAs. Well, it turns out that approach (though sensible in the ’90s, when we started it) is no longer working for us.
Your application will not run without database schema and logic changes about 80 percent of the time. So, there is no reason to have a separate manual process. Here’s someone saying that exact same thing in 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDZIiGT3jzs
Having all the right tools is a necessary first step, but it doesn’t stop there. To fully succeed with these tools, a few key strategies must be put in place as well:
One Ring to Rule Them All
DevOps has taught us to break down silos. Yet, we see silos now being created based on tool choices. Companies should standardize DevOps tools across the entire value chain. If some parts—say Dev and Test—are using Artifactory, for example, the operations team should also use it and not rely on the release teams to put the release on a shared network drive. Ops should use Artifactory, too.
This will require some horse-trading. Some teams will dig their heels in on a tool because it provides value specifically to them. Well, so be it. As one of my favorite Venture Bros. character, Dr. Henry Kissinger, says, “Compromise, my friend, is the essence of diplomacy, and diplomacy is the cornerstone of love.”
When I hear “cloud” from IT leaders, I immediately think of Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride” when he said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has defined cloud computing to have five essential characteristics:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity or expansion
- Measured service
Your DevOps tools should also have these characteristics. Specifically, if you are not allowing external teams to utilize your tools and require someone to make a request via ticket first, you are doing it wrong.
Time to learn how to offer DevOps as on-demand self-service.