Continuous Deployments Tools in DevOps Strengthened
Microservices continuous deployment tools in DevOps perform the process of pushing updates to runtime environments (physical, cloud, Kubernetes) from development through production. For this topic, it’s essential to know the differences between continuous deployment vs. continuous delivery. Continuous delivery is defined as “the ability to get changes of all types – including new features, configuration, bug fixes, and experiments – into production, safely and quickly in a sustainable way,” according to Jez Humble and Dave Farley.
- Continuous delivery is the automation of the life cycle process for managing changes. It serves as the assembly line scheduling builds, running automated tests, and executing deployments in an automated order.
- Continuous deployment is one of the steps in the continuous delivery process. Its job is to push an update to the end users across multiple servers or endpoints.
Continuous Deployments Tools in Monolithic Environments
Deploying software continuously is a relatively recent concept. Monolithic applications are more suited for a managed release process. They are done on a pre-approved, scheduled basis. You must redeploy the entire application package when you make even a small change to a monolithic application. For this reason, the CD pipeline has not always orchestrated production-level releases. Production teams see re-deploying the complete monolithic applications as a risky scenario.
Deploying incremental updates of a monolithic application is impossible. For these reasons, the continuous deployment step of the continuous delivery process has mainly served development and testing teams, but not production.
Application Release Automation (ARA) Solutions
In an attempt to strengthen the DevOps process of continuous deployments, Application Release Automation (ARA) solutions entered the market. The goal of these tools was to reduce the risk of monolithic deployments across hundreds of endpoints. Done correctly, the ARA solution would be built into the CI/CD pipeline so the deployment would be consistent regardless of where it was going.
In reality, ARA was mainly adopted by production teams. The deployment to dev and test endpoints were handled by calling developer scripts as a CI/CD workflow step.
Regardless of how deployments are executed, continuously deploying a monolithic application based on a single incremental change is impossible. The difference is baked in the binary, so the whole binary must go. The good news is that we can begin moving away from monolithic practices by introducing Cloud Native, microservices, and serverless architectures. But to do so, continuous deployments must evolve.
Microservices and Continuous Delivery
For continuous delivery of microservices, continuous deployment can be implemented because each feature of an application is independently deployed. Microservices are the ultimate implementation of agile development. They make incremental continuous deployment a reality.
Continuous Deployments Tools in Microservice Environments
Cloud-Native architecture, particularly serverless and microservice architecture, is based on the concept of small ‘bounded context’ functions being independently deployed. Instead of re-deploying an entire monolithic application with all of his binaries, libraries, and DB changes, you deploy the incremental change. This incremental approach is less risky – you are only pushing a small change.
At the same time, tracking the many moving parts, who owns them, their versions, and their impact is more complex. Continuous Deployment Tools in DevOps are being disrupted to better serve this new and truly agile way of writing and deploying software.
Continuous Deployment tools are evolving to adjust to a ‘component-driven’ approach. Smaller parts must be tracked and deployed across hundreds of endpoints. Their deployment metadata must also be stored, including versioning information, relationships, owner information, inventory, and who consumes them. In addition, modern continuous deployment practices must consider managing the entire supply chain. To track the differences in application releases, we must aggregate the individual parts to represent the ‘logical’ application and then follow those changes over time.
Continuous Deployments Tools in DevOps for Hybrid Applications
In the shift from monolithic to microservice applications, there is a middle path – hybrid. A hybrid application may have a monolith decomposed into smaller microservices or serverless functions, but the monolith itself is still the core of the solution. Continuous deployment tools in DevOps must support both our monolithic continuous deployment and the shift to a component-driven methodology.
Unlike the monolithic release, where all the deployment logic is bundled into one big process, our hybrid deployment requires each object to have its own deployment method. A .jar file needs different deployment logic than a Lambda function or microservice.
Continuous Deployments Tools in DevOps @ Scale
In other words, continuous deployment tools in DevOps must scale to support different tools being pushed to hundreds of different endpoints. To do this, there needs to be a convergence of ARA and the ‘service’ catalog concepts. It is time we re-imagine continuous deployments to serve better a component-driven architecture supporting different tools, languages, and endpoint configurations.
The merging of ARA and ‘service’ catalog technologies will be vital in strengthening the continuous deployments for both today’s hybrid requirements and tomorrow’s fully cloud-native environments. In other words, continuous deployment tools can strengthen DevOps if they begin solving the problem of managing the entire software supply chain and tracking where they have been installed.
The new era of continuous deployment tooling
The new ear of continuous deployment tooling should include:
- High-Frequency Continuous Deployments – support high-frequency continuous deployments with component or microservice versioning and dependency management.
- Component Registry – provide a catalog to organize services based on their functions (Domain) and track their versions, ownership, consumers, and inventory.
- Predict the Blast Radius – show how a release of a single component can impact multiple applications.
- Track SBOM – provide a software bill of material (SBOM) report for the ‘logical’ application as it changes.
- Difference Reports – show the difference between any two ‘logical’ applications or environments, tracking what changed and what may have caused an outage.
- Ownership – Provide microservice ownership information so support teams can maintain SLOs.
What’s important to remember is that you are now tracking a death star with many moving parts running across multiple clusters. You will not be able to do this level of tracking with an Excel spreadsheet. While you may not be at this level now, we are all aspiring to build Amazon and Netflix death stars. Yes, such microservice death star diagrams are now part of the conversation and show the depth of complexity in a component-driven architecture.
Amazon and Netflix Microservice Death Stars
DeployHub and Continuous Deployments
DeployHub is a microservice catalog tool designed to provide you with a continuous deployment solution that can support your current monolithic needs and provide a roadmap for meeting tomorrow’s component-driven demands. It is ready to deliver continuous deployments at scale for DevOps, providing developers the control they need and operations the insight and audit they require. DeployHub is an excellent example of what can be done when ARA and catalog technologies are leveraged together to provide a complete continuous deployment solution.
DeployHub was designed to support a component-driven release process, with the ability to organize components based on Domains. With DeployHub, each component can be defined to use any deployment engine. The component registry connects to your CI/CD pipeline, so new versions of components are easily tracked over time. DeployHub’s dependency tracking can provide SBOM reports, difference reports, and the blast radius of any component before you deploy.
DeployHub is part of a new era of DevOps tooling that unifies continuous deployments by tracking and versioning a wide variety of components. DeployHub’s catalog tracks critical deployment data on components such as microservices, DB updates, salesforce APEX, infrastructure, and monolithic applications.
DeployHub’s Microservice Release Maps
DeployHub Key Features
- Microservice Catalog – Explored
- Microservice Supply Chain Risks Managed
- Aggregated Application Level Software Bill of Material
- Microservice Version Management
- Simplifying Microservice “Logical” Applications
- Domain-Driven Design for Microservices
- Ship Microservices Safely – Know Your Blast Radius
- Improve Your Incident Response – Microservice Ownership
- DeployHub Microservice Dashboard