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Cloud-native DevOps gets real with new tools

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Jason Bloomberg, President, Intellyx

DevOps practitioners take heed: Cloud-native computing will be the overarching trend for enterprise application development in the 2020s.

Cloud-native computing is a paradigm shift in enterprise technology that extends the hard-fought best practices of the cloud to all of IT. In particular, this approach centers on a comprehensive abstraction that hides the complexity of hybrid multi-cloud environments from the workloads and applications that run on them.

For many people, the starting point for cloud-native computing is the infrastructure, where Kubernetes carries the flag. The point for IT infrastructure, however, is the applications organizations put in front of their customers and employees.

Connect the dots. By extending cloud best practices to building applications while leveraging cloud-native computing, what do we get?

Cloud-native DevOps, of course. Here's how to put it into practice.

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Get started with cloud-native DevOps

Cloud-native computing is so all-encompassing that it’s difficult to know where to start. In practice, different organizations start in different places.

Many enterprises begin their journey to cloud-native by implementing a cloud-first strategy: choosing a cloud option over an on-premises one whenever the cloud alternative will meet the business need.

Other organizations begin with a hybrid IT or multi-cloud starting point, as they realize that multiple environments are an intentional, long-term choice that aligns best with the business needs over time.

But there is a third starting point: DevOps. As agile development shops realize they must implement both the automation and cultural change necessary to deliver better software faster, DevOps becomes a priority.

Soon, many of them get bogged down with infrastructure details, like multiple hybrid environments, an inconsistent data landscape, and governance challenges—especially involving the delivery of software.

New tools are emerging in the cloud-native DevOps world that offer fresh ways of demonstrating how cloud-native computing and DevOps fit together.

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The cloud-native toolbox expands

At the end of October, I attended two conferences: IT Revolution's DevOps Enterprise Summit and NetApp Insight. With their respective foci on DevOps and IT infrastructure, the thread tying these themes together was cloud-native computing.

Cloud-native persistence

Hammerspace, a hybrid multi-cloud data infrastructure provider, is one service that drives the cloud-native abstraction for data persistence, providing a single namespace across all on-premises and cloud-based file data storage options.

Above the cloud-native abstraction, Hammerspace looks like a single massive file volume that comprises all underlying data. Beneath the covers, it automates data tiering (a.k.a. cold, warm, and hot data), multi-cloud data sharing, data protection via disaster recovery, automated failover, and automated fallback, among other capabilities.

The service provides persistent data management for multi-cluster Kubernetes deployments, as one might expect from such a cloud-native vendor. But its cloud-native story focuses on supporting the need of applications for data in a hybrid multi-cloud world.

For DevOps practitioners working in a cloud-native context, leveraging a comprehensive abstraction across all data sources is essential for building modern enterprise apps. 

Continuous delivery as a service

AppDynamics founder Jyoti Bansal’s new venture, Harness, fills a critical gap in most DevOps tool chains: continuous delivery (or deployment), a.k.a. CD.

Coupled with continuous integration (CI), CI/CD describes the central processes for creating and deploying software rapidly and at scale—processes at the heart of the DevOps movement.

With increasing competence with the open-source CI tool Git and the Git-centric practices known as "GitOps," most organizations seeking to follow DevOps have shown marked success with CI.

CD, however, is an entirely separate challenge. Even organizations that have nailed CI often stop dead in their tracks when it comes to deployment.

There are many possible reasons for this impediment. Perhaps acceptance testing throws up a roadblock. Or maybe the change advisory board needs to meet and make a decision, slowing everything down. Or any number of people, from the engineering manager to the compliance officer, have to apply their stamp of approval before the software goes live.

Harness offers an automated CD platform, delivered via SaaS, that includes a delivery pipeline builder, a workflow wizard, continuous deployment verification, automated rollback, and several governance capabilities.

Harness abstracts the choice of environment while running as a service, both characteristics of a cloud-native approach. But it’s the way the product automates governance tasks, from approvals to audit trails, that cements it as a critically important part of any DevOps tool chain.

The only way to conduct cloud-native software deployments at scale is to follow automated CD processes. Harness makes such processes a reality.

Measuring product-oriented software delivery

TaskTop's new Viz service provides real-time value stream modeling of an entire software tool portfolio, measuring the efficiency and velocity of DevOps efforts and uncovering bottlenecks that can impede CI and CD.

The core concepts behind the company's approach are flow metrics—measurements that tie directly to the business outcome of a software development effort. In particular, Viz measures the velocity, distribution, time, efficiency and load of value streams—five metrics that indicate in real time whether the software product in question is on track to achieve the goals set out for it by the business.

Viz provides a real-time view into the business outcomes of any software effort, thus aligning the entire cloud-native story with the business goals set out for it.

Customers drive the business outcomes, the business drives the applications, and the applications drive the infrastructure. Without tools such as Viz, there’s no way to know if any cloud-native computing effort is delivering on the value that the business expects.

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Cloud-native delivers on business outcomes

DevOps teams should think in cloud-native terms, leveraging a comprehensive abstraction across the infrastructure while upping their automation game to overcome the roadblocks that impede their progress on business outcomes. These three tools should help.

Share your experiences with cloud-native DevOps. How does it work in your organization?

NetApp is an Intellyx customer, and AppDynamics is a former Intellyx customer. None of the other organizations mentioned in this article is an Intellyx customer.

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