A core goal of DevOps is to cut down on the time, effort, and resources it takes to produce quality software. And a big part of how this is achieved is by removing siloes between development teams and their colleagues in the operations department, and facilitating faster, smarter workflows through automation and continuous improvement.
Many of the advantages of Cloud computing are achieved in a similar way: by integrating and employing managed services, improving access to information, implementing regular updates, and automating wherever possible for greater efficiency.
It makes sense then that Cloud and DevOps should go hand-in-hand. We know that using Cloud-based tools can speed up the software development cycle. So does using DevOps. But using them both together takes your software delivery capabilities to the next level.
So how can leaning into Cloud-based infrastructure help you get more out of your DevOps practice?
Why Cloud infrastructure?
Cloud infrastructure is well-known to deliver improved organisational performance by, among other things, giving organisations access to powerful and elastic resources without needing to have such infrastructure on-premises.
With Cloud infrastructure, organisations can tap into assets and services that power their entire digital estate, from compute and storage to networking, applications, and security. And they can do it quickly, without building and managing on-site hardware when needs change.
Like any kind of infrastructure, Cloud infrastructure needs to be properly architected and implemented to make sure it can fulfil the needs of its users. It has to be reliable, scalable, secure and able to be easily managed as it grows.
Putting a good Cloud infrastructure foundation in place means selecting the right Cloud vendor (or vendors if you’re opting for the increasingly popular multi-cloud approach), designing network topology, outlining security policies, and rolling out infrastructure-as-code practices to help manage and automate infrastructure deployment and maintenance.
Cloud computing and DevOps: Your software development dream team
When it comes to faster and more efficient software production, Cloud and DevOps are a match made in heaven.
Cloud brings scalable, flexible resources to the table, and DevOps brings the work-smarter methodology needed to achieve a more efficient SDLC that results in a high-quality end product.
Let’s take a look at how Cloud and DevOps practices work together to create the ideal environment for software development, and some best practices you can use to make the most of this powerful pairing.
Automate as much as possible
Automation is key in DevOps; it’s essential to delegate what you can to automation if you want to keep pace with DevOps workflows.
You can automate almost all aspects of Cloud DevOps. Managing your infrastructure is one of them. Managing a Cloud environment may be easier than manually setting up additional servers or hardware when you need to scale up, but it still needs to be monitored and administrated to keep it running as it should. Luckily, tasks like monitoring and log management can be automated to help you keep an eye on performance.
Provisioning resources automatically as needed helps speed things up too, so you can get access to the compute power you need to move development forward fast without requiring human intervention.
Automating testing of your code is another good practice and will help you get feedback and spot bugs faster.
Achieve maximum agility with Infrastructure as Code
Cloud infrastructure isn’t reliant on hardware-based data centres, which makes it possible to configure it in alternative ways.
Infrastructure as Code—often abbreviated as IaC—is a way of managing, provisioning, and deploying Cloud infrastructure like networks and virtual machines using configuration files, rather than the traditional (and expensive) method of using manual configuration.
The great benefit that IaC delivers in the DevOps process is consistency; and consistency is essential when you’re aiming for Continuous Delivery. IaC provides DevOps teams with a unified group of tools and processes that make sure every time a new environment is deployed, it’s consistent, reliable, and doesn’t need manual configuration.
Having this infrastructure model in the form of a code file not only means it can be copied, edited, and source controlled, but it’s also highly repeatable. IaC means your infrastructure’s configuration can be rolled out again and again, achieving the same level of quality and stability each time. This ease and predictability allows teams to rapidly deliver environments at scale, so resources can be deployed fast to manage spikes in consumption and maintain availability of services.
It also makes the continuous testing of software required by DevOps practices that much easier.
Implement Continuous Integration and Delivery
Continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) are cornerstones of the DevOps philosophy, allowing developers to build and test code changes whenever they’re made. CI and CD are already great tools for creating software, but when you mix in Cloud computing, you can up the velocity and scale of your development processes.
Most Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) offer their own CI tools to allow developers to create automated builds, run testing, and launch environments whenever new code is committed to the teams’ shared repository.
There are also a plethora of Cloud-based continuous delivery and deployment tools available, so you can go a step further and automate the uploading of changes to a repository, and even the release of software updates into the world.
Common mistakes businesses make when implementing Cloud infrastructure
At RiverSafe, we’ve helped countless businesses build robust and reliable Cloud infrastructure. We’ve also come to the aid of organisations whose Cloud infrastructure implementation hasn’t quite gone as planned.
Here are some of the most common mistakes we see businesses making when rolling out Cloud infrastructure—so you can avoid making the same missteps.
Poor planning and Cloud architecture design
Creating a Cloud environment that will help your DevOps team do its best work starts at the planning stage. You know what they say: failing to plan is planning to fail, and this is especially true when it comes to as complex a creature as Cloud infrastructure.
Broadly speaking, you need to map out in detail what you want your Cloud infrastructure to do, and how you want it to perform. There’s more than one way to crack an egg with Cloud infrastructure, given that it tends to be much more flexible and responsive than traditional architecture.
The flipside of this increased choice and agility is that Cloud architecture can be more complex, so it’s vital that you plan your architecture thoroughly.
Your architectural design needs to take into account how all its moving pieces—servers, data storage, operating systems etc.—interact and affect one another.
Neglecting to implement robust security measures
Security should be top-of-mind when implementing Cloud infrastructure. In this age of sophisticated and organised cybercrime, that means going a step further than slapping security measures on at the last stage before going live. Security should be baked into your architecture from the very beginning.
Taking a security-first approach to designing your Cloud infrastructure will not only ensure your environment is protected from day one, but it’ll also make sure that you have the kind of robust infrastructure that can be developed and upgraded as your environment scales.
Missing out on cost optimisation opportunities
Cutting spending on IT infrastructure is one of the top reasons that organisations choose to migrate to the Cloud. But, while Cloud services’ pay-for-what-you-use model can yield big savings, proper cost optimisation requires planning and careful monitoring.
In planning your Cloud infrastructure, consider how you can manage ongoing costs and cut out any unnecessary expenses before they have a chance to start racking up.
- Think about what processes you can automate to save on time and resources, and only pay for what you need.
- Audit your data and decide what can be placed in less accessible (and cheaper) storage options.
- Analyse previous resource usage so you can choose the right Cloud resources for your current and potential future needs. If you’ve got a fairly predictable usage pattern, for example, see if you can take advantage of reserved instances or spot instances if your Cloud service provider offers them.
Failing to adequately monitor the Cloud infrastructure
Just like with cost optimisation, everything else about your Cloud environment should also be monitored to ensure it’s performing at its best, services remain available, and everything is secure.
Maintaining an optimal Cloud environment that supports your DevOps practices requires transparency into what’s going on within your system at any given time; this is usually done by reviewing and analysing the monumental amounts of data that Cloud infrastructure produces. This scale alone means that monitoring a sprawling Cloud environment is no easy feat, but luckily—like many aspects of Cloud administration—monitoring can be automated.
With the proper tools and configurations in place, you can keep tabs on performance metrics, user activity, and security events using machine learning, so you can get on with other things with the confidence that you’ll be alerted if anything out of the ordinary occurs.
Again, thanks to automation, many events, like spikes in resource consumption for example, can be dealt with without human intervention. Cloud systems can provision and automatically scale resources so your users always have what they need. But it’s still vitally important to have proper monitoring set up so you have the information you need to optimise usage, spending, and configurations based on real-world data.
Letting Cloud resource allocation get out of hand
Being able to automatically procure resources as and when you need them (and shut them down when you don’t) is a massive advantage of Cloud computing. But making sure that your environment is performing at its best requires some oversight into how resources are being provisioned and allocated.
It can be all too easy to boot up necessary resources and forget to shut them off them when they’re no longer needed. Just as you might have automations in provision resources, you can also set up automations to manage them. Cloud automation tools can help you forecast when and where you’ll need extra compute power based on previous usage, for instance—and can be configured to shut down any idle resources or scale down underutilised resources.
How RiverSafe can help
As DevOps experts, we can help you optimise your Cloud resources, reduce infrastructure costs, and improve the performance and availability of your applications.
Our team of experienced DevOps engineers will work closely with you to understand your business requirements and design a customised Cloud infrastructure solution that meets your needs.
We can help you migrate your applications to the Cloud too, as well as configure and manage your Cloud infrastructure, and implement best practices for security, compliance, and disaster recovery.
We’re also vendor-neutral, so you can be sure you’re getting trustworthy guidance on the right Cloud platform for your needs, from AWS and Azure to Google Cloud.