Handling Large Releases with DevOps

By: Milecia McGregor

Handling Large Releases with DevOps

When you start working on large scale enterprise systems, handling releases can become complex. You'll have to think about your front-end, microservices, third-party services, and other services. Making sure these things get deployed in the right order and pass integration tests can be tricky once you start working with asynchronous tasks.

That's why it's important to have a DevOps process in place to handle all of these services. Choosing the correct tools and executing steps in the right order takes some time and testing, but after you have it set up you won't have to do nearly as many manual steps. It might get rid of the need for any manual steps at all.

About large systems

There's an extra challenge in deploying applications with a lot of different pieces. You have to check the monitoring logs for each service if something goes wrong or the app starts running slower than normal. There's a chance that one of your third-party services will be down and your system needs to be resilient enough to deal with that without affecting users much.

Your pipeline needs to be able to handle all of the different conditions that come up during a deploy process this complex. That means you might need parallel processes running series with other tasks intertwined. One important thing to remember is that you need to be able to use your monitoring logs to find which services are having problems.

Why they can be difficult to release

What makes large enterprise projects so difficult to deploy is how many services they interact with. Some of them you have control over and some are imported from other sources. When you combine them, there are integration issues that happen when odd values are returned. There are problems with microservices having local bugs that need to be fixed. There is a potential for more problems than it seems when you're putting things together.

If your app is supposed to have high uptime and there are thousands of user requests coming in every minute, you need to know that everything is working exactly like it should. This is really tricky if your team is practicing manual deploys. A microservice update could be forgotten or a front-end regression might slip through.

Complex apps have too many different systems to be consistently deployed by a person or a team. Mistakes are going to happen and they will cause problems for users that lower there trust in your product. That's why we use DevOps to orchestrate all of the tasks that need to happen.

How to handle DevOps

There are a few different things you can do to handle a large deploy.

  • Make sure that you have tasks running in parallel when possible. This shortens the entire run time and helps you get changes out faster.
  • Add automation tools to integrate microservices. Something like Kubernetes will make sure that your services stay up by self-healing containers.
  • Include security checks earlier in the pipeline. Do static analysis on your code to check for the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities.
  • Monitor all of your services. Having a central location for your logs will help you debug issues faster and prevent undetected errors.
  • Outline the key metrics that mean your system is in good health. That could mean handling load balancing or working on streamlining a process.

Including these considerations in your pipeline creation will pay off for years. The goal isn't to make the fastest pipeline, it's to make the most reliable pipeline. If it takes a few minutes to run a test that guarantees all of your services are up before you deploy to production, it could be worth the time.

Other thoughts

Since there are so many tools available, it can be hard to determine what's the best for your application. You can check out the top 15 security tools to use in your application or you can learn more about how to make a DevOps strategy in general.