In today’s world of cloud platforms and applications, typically delivered as SaaS (Software as a Service), it is critical for organizations to ensure efficient collaboration between software development and operations teams. The software development team codes the software application or platform, while the DevOps team streamlines and automates the entire production lifecycle, from development and testing to deployment.
Today, applications are updated anywhere from weekly to daily, requiring fast turnaround. In the old days, every change request would go to the different stages–software design, development, testing and release. This can’t be sustained in an agile environment where updates must be as close to instantaneous as possible.
How can organizations achieve this, and where does observability fit into it all?
What Is Observability and ODD?
Observability-driven development (ODD) adds another layer to software development by encouraging the development team to think about the application availability and uptime throughout their development process and similar to unit-testing development, wrap their code with more verbose logging, metrics and KPIs. This gives the IT operations team more data on the application and improves overall observability, allowing an organization to detect predictable and unpredictable permutations of failures that may occur in the future. ODD observes the behavior of a system throughout the entire development cycle in order to learn what behavior is normal and abnormal, and to detect potential weaknesses.
Observability provides everything with a real-time status of a product–this includes software developers, DevOps and any other department that requires it. Each role has different needs. Software developers need to know why a certain feature has to be added or developed in order to understand its business value and prioritize it over other features or updates. If a certain feature is likely to require many future updates, this also needs to be taken into consideration in the development phase so that the code can be adjusted easily without negatively affecting DevOps teams when they test and deploy the feature.
These are just examples of things that must be taken into consideration during the development process. Organizations must be able to create transparency and effective communication between the different departments and roles.
Inefficient Collaboration in the SaaS Market
DevOps need to ensure zero downtime, fast updates, constant monitoring and more. This can be done by maintaining an operational mindset during the development process. Traditionally, developers write the code, QA do the testing and operations take care of deployment, but there needs to be more collaboration between these three stages with each doing their part with an understanding of everyone else’s roles and needs pertaining to the product. When this isn’t done, numerous problems arise. Operational inefficiencies can ultimately lead to a delay in delivery time and even affect system availability. When there are multiple teams involved, especially in different locations and even time zones, there can be ineffective communication and hand-offs, particularly between software development and operations teams.
Meanwhile, ad hoc changes must be implemented, negatively affecting product stability and release cycles. Miscommunication and inefficient operations lead to confusion over who is responsible for what task, feature and target. These are all issues that can result in significant downtime, losses, wasted resources and frustration within the organization. Effectively streamlining the software development cycle using full transparency and seamless collaboration between development and operations solves these problems.
ODD Can Improve Your SaaS Product
A strong proactive observability platform can predict and address issues before they occur, thus increasing effectiveness and speed when it comes to updating and tracking changes, as well as releasing new features. It simplifies complexities and management, and allows to automate operations so that organizations can maximize efficiency.
Benefits of ODD include:
- Common goals.
- Shared metrics.
- Execute on goals and recognize results.
- Performance guidelines.
- Application governance strategy.
- Alignment between IT and business perspectives.
Employing ODD when developing cloud applications is critical. This is due to the highly distributed nature of cloud architectures, increasing the chances of a failure exponentially compared to traditional systems. As a result, developers should be educated to think and implement observability to create highly available and resilient applications and systems.
How to Integrate ODD in Your R&D Practices
Today, development teams and practices are under constant pressure to meet scrum deadlines and release features on time. They are measured on their code effectiveness and meeting deadlines, while ODD adds another layer of measurement of serviceability and observability metrics to their considerations.
Implementing such an approach requires organizations to provide their development teams with the right toolset and knowledge on how their code affects the SRE and IT operations teams. From a technical standpoint, development teams should be familiar with all levels of monitoring for application infrastructure (for example Kafka, RabbitMQ, Kubernetes), application performance metrics (user experience, transactions per second, etc.) visualizations and their respective remediation processes.
ODD culture changes the way organizations think about their development process, and essentially injects an operational mindset to their daily practices and processes which should increase the availability and performance of their cloud application while streamlining collaboration and work processes, and improving teams’ satisfaction and productivity.