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15 Simple Steps to Save Time & Money for Your DevOps Teams

27 May, 2015

Writer, blogger, Mary Nguyen, Ruxit, shares her insight and experience on DevOps improvement steps to consider:

Software development can be an arduous endeavor with numerous steps spanning a few programmers to a couple hundred developers.  And keeping that software running smoothly can be even more costly and time-consuming as a few features are added, bug fixes applied, or third party tools integrated.  A recent post from Gartner estimated the cost of downtime could be as high as $5,600 per minute which translates to over $300K per hour!  Of course this figure varies based on the industry, size of the organization, and other factors but no organization can afford extended downtime in today’s competitive marketplace.

Your Dev/Ops team needs the right application monitoring tools, processes, and culture to avoid downtime and support aggressive revenue and customer retention targets.

So how can you simplify your development process to deliver tangible savings and minimize downtime?  Here are 15 simple steps you can implement to save time and money for your Dev/Ops teams.


1. Start with a baseline assessment of your current performance

Without knowing current performance metrics you’ll never know the ROI associated with new Dev/Ops practices & tools. Inventory existing tools to understand current investments and be better prepared to manage adoption of new tools that consolidate or eliminate spending.

By baselining each application’s acceptable service level and linking these to the impact on the bottom line, you can set availability and risk levels.  Next, you need to measure and monitor these applications service levels in real time and trend over time with tools that span the full stack across client-side, server, service, virtualization and cloud metrics.

2. Map out and document application dependencies

Knowing application dependencies ahead of time will allow you to configure your virtual environment and virtualization management around them which will minimize app downtime and balance performance.

Multi-tier applications that depend on services running on other VMs such as web tier, app tier, or database tier are typically all or nothing, if one tier is unavailable then the application can fail.  And you know failures translate into costs. Documenting what your application needs to function properly can help you find the right design for your environment.

3. Identify friendly users for pilots

Consider areas with real user monitoring as it typically produces the most data and is relevant to the business – where would you be without end users?

Consider an area with a true, immediate business need that addresses cultural adversity rather than area that has high probability to fail due to traditional IT dependencies or easy to win apps that won’t carry impact to other areas of the business.

Picking the right pilot will help your Dev/Ops team demonstrate ROI and hasten rollout in other areas, saving money across the business faster.

4. Set-up real-time user monitoring and feedback loop

To create a Dev/Ops culture you need to utilize end-to-end tools and adjust disjointed processes that separate ops teams from developers.  This will also shorten the software development lifecycle and lead to faster resolution of bugs.

Be sure you include real user monitoring in the end-to-end view. Seek out end user monitoring tools that measure response times in your customers’ browsers and break down the results into JavaScript execution time, network time, and server time.  Knowing what is making your application slow to the end user allows the Dev/Ops team to make the right adjustments to meet performance targets.

Go beyond these tools and discuss lessons learned.  By sharing success stories you can help change the culture so change can spread across the organization quicker.

5. Socialize your vision

Having a big vision for shifting your Dev/Ops team from one focused on reliability and scalability to one centered around speed and agility starts by socializing your plans with leadership and key stakeholders.  Having champions will speed implementation times and deliver savings sooner.

6. Seek out a free trial

You should be able to install and test this yourself.  If you have to rely on professional service consultants you cut into ROI and increase TCO.

Many firms may offer a free trial but before you leap, consider what others are saying about their experience.  Does the system really pass the test of almost zero setup effort?

7. Look for autonomics

A framework with tools that incorporate autonomics ensures learning.  It also means no more verifying thresholds or adjusting static alerting thresholds which can cause alert spamming and hide bigger problems.  Automatic adjustments can also minimize on-boarding of new developers and keep documentation current, reducing the probability of bugs.

8. Set up a local development environment that replicates production environment

If you can catch bugs in local development it will save time and cost associated with bug fixes – and positively impact customer satisfaction.  There’s no faster way to lose customers than exposing them a swarm of “bugs.”

9. Leverage cloud based monitoring

Incorporating cloud based solutions to improve apps agility means you need monitoring tools that extend to the cloud to allow in-depth analysis across all operations no matter where the app is located.

Tools today can learn the details of your elastic cloud environment and keep you updated on the launch and termination of instances.  If you’re not able to view a real-time map of your applications, services, and AWS resources then you don’t have the right tool.  You need a cloud server monitoring tool that allows you to see how these components communicate with each other and understand if your architecture and environment are working as designed.

10. Design the dashboard of your dreams

Assess the multitude of dashboards currently in use and define an easy to read, customizable dashboard.  The easier it is to spot trouble, the quicker you can fix.  Visual comparisons should be clear so action can be initiated before problems occur.

A single, infographics-oriented dashboard can show the full picture across networks, applications, and cloud to accelerate MTTR.  Live visualization can simplify your most complex environment, across the Intranet and the Internet.  Top notch providers have invested in easy to read infographics to inform you about the performance of your hosts, services, and applications in context with one another and your environment.

11. Implement service virtualization

Select an aspect of the development process to incorporate service virtualization.  Pick an area commonly known for problematic dependency.  Service virtualization simulates particular behaviors of software that your application needs rather than virtualizing any function, API call, or service that you don’t require for your test environment.

By applying service virtualization, your Dev/Ops team will be able to speed up testing without waiting for key components to become available.

12. Add predictive analysis tools

Predictive analysis tools should move to the front of the line.  If you already use predictive tools then move them as early in the pre-production process as possible.  Earlier identification of bugs and dependencies will shorten development times and bug fixes allowing you to bring products to market sooner and improve customer satisfaction.

13. Time for a health check

Consider implementing changes to current server management tools with one that provides integrated health management, including process-specific metrics.

Your monitoring tool should give you a clear picture of the metrics that really matter: CPU, memory, disk, and network health all in a single view.

14. Go mobile

Problems don’t happen only when you’re at your desk.  Look for a tool which supports today’s mobile workforce by offering mobile alerts whenever unusual events occur.

15. Simplify your toolkit

Seek a single framework that covers 100% of your environment and gives you a full picture down to the process level. This will allow you to select the right tool for the right job, reduce maintenance & training costs associated with multiple tools, and eliminate license fees.

Too many tools translates into too much data which can cripple the team or waste valuable programmer time.

Get started today

Get started today by applying just one or two of these tips.  You’ll be surprised how much you learn about your Dev/Ops team and the impact these tips can have on improving your contribution to the bottom line.

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