Enable Continuous Updates (Day-2) for Your Production Environments

Continuous integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) are two important DevOps practices that help move the software development process forward. However, there is a gap between CI/CD and post-deployment monitoring and management known as Day-2-operations.

Day 2 Operations is the practice of managing your production systems in the same way that you would manage a software development pipeline. This includes applying updates to production code, scaling out new applications, and more.

This article will show you how to continuously update your application code and configuration data using best practices and solutions in your production environment.

What are Day 2 Operations? Why is it important in DevOps?

This includes tasks such as monitoring, logging, troubleshooting, and maintaining the health of your applications & servers as they’re running in production.

In a traditional deployment model, you would deploy new code once or twice a year (or never) because it was such a big undertaking that incurring risk on an ongoing basis wasn’t worth it. In today’s world of agile development and DevOps world, dozens of smaller changes take place every day, including code deployment and configuration management.

The main point of Day 2 Operations is to ensure that your services are running smoothly and efficiently 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Continuous deployment needs to be able to deploy at any time and for any reason. If you’re building a web app, you want to be able to push out new features or bug fixes whenever they’re ready. 

You don’t want to wait until a Monday at 9 AM when your operations team can take care of it instead. Therefore, you need a Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) system that allows you to make code deployments at any time without having to rely on a specific time slot during the day. This means providing developers with the tools needed for them to deploy their code whenever they need or want.

You can take several steps to implement Day-2 operations in Continuous integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD. These include:

Enable logging and monitoring

The first step toward Day 2 operations is to ensure your production environment is properly monitored for performance, security, infrastructure, and code changes. 

You should have a centralized log management solution for all your services, including logs transmitted from on-premises systems. 

Data should be pushed into storage such as Elasticsearch or Qbox or streamed into a console. Monitoring should include health checks and identify new issues before they become a problem.

Leverage EaaS for flexible life cycle management 

DevOps Day 2 operations require you to have an operational environment that can support updates 24/7 without any human intervention. For example, if your software needs to be deployed on 1000 servers in production, you’ll need a tool that can perform this task automatically.

Environment as a Service solution such as Cloudify (with ServiceNow integration) enables continuous updates of your software in production. The cloud provisioning solution reduces the risk of unplanned outages caused due to poor release management practices. In addition, it allows increased visibility into your production environment via monitoring tools and automated log collection services.

Automate code deployment 

For efficient open-source deployment automation, you want to make sure you have a way to control the flow of updates to your production environment. The ideal way to do this is by creating a schedule for your builds.

DevOps has always relied on Continuous integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) tools such as Chef or Puppet for configuration management. This is what allows teams to set up environments quickly. But there is a growing need for monitoring and self-healing capabilities in these configuration management platforms so that DevOps teams can proactively detect issues before they impact the user experience.

DevOps Day 2 operations typically involve some orchestration tool that will schedule deployments, monitor services automatically based on metrics gathered from monitoring data stores, and failover services when needed. In other words: automated recovery capabilities in case something goes wrong.

The Cloudify Orchestrator’s platform-neutral design makes it easy to create such scenarios using any application stack (Java, Ruby, Go, PHP) and with any provider. The platform supports both stateful and stateless applications, from web apps to microservices. 

In addition, Cloudify offers application owners the option to create custom blueprints for deploying and managing their applications based on their specific needs, rather than relying on predefined possibilities that may not align with those needs.

Use a centralized orchestrator. 

In development, we create new versions of our application all the time. For example, we might have a staging environment that runs our latest code. We can then push this staging version to production whenever we are ready.

The problem is that there is no mechanism to continuously update our production environment if the code in staging is updated. This can lead to a situation where our production environment has an older version of the code, and it is out of sync with what was deployed in staging.

One possible way of solving this problem would be to use a source control mechanism such as Git or Perforce. However, these solutions require a dedicated machine for each environment (staging and production).

On the other hand, Cloudify provides end-to-end orchestration that enables projects to succeed with lower costs and better stability and scalability due to integrating all aspects of the cloud infrastructure and configuration. The Cloudify Platform can handle all of these aspects typically handled by operations and development teams.

In Day-2 operations, there are a lot of complexities to manage behind the scenes, and Cloudify is capable of handling the majority of them. Cloudify’s platform demonstrates powerful lifecycle management capabilities, and an ability to run on most public or hybrid clouds is only the beginning.

Automate configuration management

Configuration management is one of the most important aspects of production systems. A cloud lifecycle management tool can help to keep your configurations up-to-date and consistent, provide a communication channel between different teams, and enables continuous deployment. 

A configuration management tool is the best way to handle configuration changes between environments. Configuration management tools take configuration differences between environments automatically. This approach also allows you to build common environments that are used across multiple applications and teams. 

Policy Implementation

Ensuring that your infrastructure is running consistently with DevOps policies requires continuous monitoring and enforcement of those policies. Over time, as services are deployed and updated, the number of rules you need to implement and enforce can grow exponentially, eventually reaching a point where manual updates are simply not feasible.

A common way to ensure that your infrastructure conforms to corporate standards is to create a set of rules based on policies that the organization knows. These rules allow you to define what infrastructure components should look like. This could mean ensuring certain software versions are installed or that only specific software packages are running on a server. Whatever it is, these checks allow you to determine if the infrastructure complies or not.

We need an automated way of checking our environment to ensure this compliance. Some very common methods for doing this include:

  • Sending an alert when the state of the environment does not match what’s defined in a policy
  • Blocking new requests for service until an update can be made

Automated DevOps and ITSM tools like Cloudify and ServiceNow run periodically and ensure that machines conform to the policy before allowing them to be used for service requests.

Want to learn more about enhancing DevOps Day 2 Operations in your production environment? Contact us today! 

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