How devops tools accelerate software delivery

Devops is a little bit of philosophy and a lot of tools. Here’s how those tools work their devops magic

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Needless to say, such reports require some skill on the part of tech support to dig out enough of a description and steps to reproduce the problem in order to allow a developer to work on the problem. It may also require remotely entering and running diagnostics on the user’s machine.

Sometimes such problems will not reproduce on a developer’s machine. One common reason for this is that the development box is too fast and has too much memory to show the problem. Another possibility is that the developer has a library installed that the user lacks. And a third is that the user has another application installed that interferes with yours.

Once you’ve determined the user’s runtime environment, the developer can use configuration management tools to create a similar runtime environment in a VM. Vagrant, in particular, is intended for such purposes. The test VM may run locally on the developer’s machine, on a server, or on an IaaS cloud.

In some cases, the steps to reproduce the user’s problem would change the production database. In these situations, it’s useful to have a scaled-down copy of the production application running in a PaaS, so that changes never propagate to the production environment.

Once a fix for the problem is identified and a change set added to the code repository, the revised application must at least be regression tested, and preferably all acceptance tests will be run. If the change is accepted, then the release manager or customer service manager needs to decide whether to propagate the change to production or schedule it for later integration and whether to give the user a patch or an operational work-around.

The never-ending circle

If the modern agile application life cycle sounds a little like Ezekiel’s vision of a chariot having wheels within wheels, that’s OK: It is. One wheel set represents the sprints—typically one to two weeks—after which an application version is released from development to testing. Another wheel set represents a given build’s climb from development to testing to staging to production. An inner wheel set represents the life cycle of a story card or application feature. And the tiniest wheels represent bug reports and fixes.

In this complicated environment, development shops can easily bog down at any stage. The purpose of devops is to see that the routine things, such as bringing up a clean test database or promoting a build, are quick and easy, so that the developers can concentrate on building actual features and fixing real bugs.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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