The importance of DevOps when deploying with AWS
The fact that ‘Time is Money’ applies today, just as it did the past. In contemporary computing environments, business agility to address customer needs directly translates to the success of your company. This is where the emerging software development paradigm, “DevOps”, which builds on several principles of agile development, lean manufacturing, Kaizen and other continuous improvement processes, can be invaluable.
Companies that operate in the cloud are already familiar with the need for speed in their business operations. When these operations take advantage of DevOps, the combination can be extremely powerful in efficiently and effectively using time to maximize profits.
The importance of taking a DevOps approach to deployment, specifically within the context of an Amazon Web Services (AWS), has specific claims on business agility. There are many other benefits of leveraging DevOps for AWS, such as high availability, improved scalability, reliability, security and compliance.
Amazon Cloud Services comes bundled with a few offerings as part of its solutions to deploy and manage applications and infrastructure as code, with an inherent DevOps bent. Primarily, these include CloudFormation and OpWorks:
- CloudFormation makes it possible to create AWS Resource templates that can be spun into working instances as needed.
- OpsWorks is a full-fledged DevOps Application Management Service that makes it possible to automate the deployment of applications from source code repositories to a production environment.
Using CloudFormation, an organization can customize the settings of its applications and infrastructure, and blueprint their business needs as an AWS resource template. This can then be automatically instantiated based on an organization’s particular operating requirements. This significantly reduces the time needed for application onboarding (aka standup time or load time). This also increases the portability of the applications to be deployed in different environments and/or geographic time zones.
Using OpsWorks, an organization can set up Amazon EC2 instances (also known as a Stack). It is best advised to set up stacks for both pre-production (staging) and production environments. The CloudFormation template and other related resources could then be configured, using pre-built Puppet configs or custom JSON, as layers on top of the stack. All an organization then has to do is to specify the location of its source code repository and define any additional configuration requirements, which OpsWorks takes and from which it generates the application’s executable artifacts. These executables are then deployed automatically to the production environment without any human interaction. This approach shortens the release cycle and makes it possible to deploy changes to code dynamically and frequently, in some cases literally within hours.
Moreover, the likelihood of errors introduced by human interaction is practically non-existent in the deployment process itself, as long as the blueprints and configurations are tested and validated in staging stacks.
A DevOps approach to deployment brings with it several benefits, the most important of which is business agility. Companies today cannot afford not to be nimble in addressing industry trends and incorporating customer needs. Business agility is crucial for the continued success of companies and a DevOps approach to deploy code and infrastructure as code into production is pivotal. After all, time is Money.