Cloud Computing is changing application release operations
The use of cloud computing for custom-built, mission-critical enterprise applications is just beginning, but both the technology and mind-set are already influencing enterprise application architectures and delivery.
Virtualization is now the first step for companies embarking on the cloud migration, and the next step usually is a private or hybrid cloud. My belief is that the application release operations will become more and more important and change radically. Basically, just as the Internet and direct user access drives focus on user experience, virtualization and the cloud are driving the growing focus on application agility.
Since an app’s business value is realized only after its release, application agility is one of the primary business benefits from a move to the cloud. For IT, this translates into shorter application release cycles and effective deployment of incremental releases. Most of the work for release operations will be around deploying incremental application releases or new applications.
If application release operations will change in response to the cloud, it’s also important to consider the key ingredients needed to make sure that a company’s release operations for production applications won’t get left behind:
- Operational release status monitoring – as companies do more frequent releases, IT release operations need real-time feedback on the state of a specific release and across multiple concurrent release pipelines.
- Application level versioning and rollback – the frequency of release in the cloud offers abilities like quickly returning an application to a previous version or understanding which application artifacts have changed between releases. In fact, every application release should have an associated remediation process enabling IT to return to a previous version in a safe and repeatable manner.
- Application release window maintenance – Release window maintenance is mainly a manual process, without automated administration or repairing. As the cloud increases the number of releases and release environments, the operations will need the tools to become much more ready at supporting release windows.
- Application sense and response – One of the visionary goals of the cloud is independent sense and response, enabling an app to expand or contract based on user demand. A monitor can sense the need for change, but only a release operations tool can decide what needs to be done from an app perspective to respond.
Companies starting to move to cloud environments need to get ready for the day their customized, mission-critical production apps will also move to virtual and hybrid cloud environments, even though the cloud may be currently used only for dev-and-test.
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