Cloud Native / Microservices / Contributed

Why Automating for Cloud Native Infrastructures Is a Win for All Involved

23 Jul 2020 12:00pm, by

The holy grail in development is the creation and maintenance of secure applications that yield strong ROI and happy customers. But if this development isn’t efficient, high-velocity and scalable, that holy grail quickly becomes unattainable. If you’ve found yourself expecting more from your current infrastructure, it might be time to consider cloud native. Not only does it check all these boxes, but automating for cloud native infrastractures can improve efficiency and results. Here’s a look at a few of the key ways it helps organizations move faster and keep quality high.

Match Your Spend to Your Usage

Robert Hopson
Robert Hopson is a site reliability engineer at Fairwinds. He cut his infrastructure teeth racking servers in the university basement, and has led cloud migration projects for several Portland-area companies.

Even in the cloud, you still have to run resources. For example, you might pay Amazon for a computer processor, memory and storage space. But, how do you know how much you’ll need? For a lot of organizations, this is a bit of a shot in the dark. If your company needs 100 servers to handle current peak demand, chances are they are sitting idle during off-peak hours. The truth is, you don’t know yet.

Once you’ve deployed something in the cloud, you can automatically collect information about performance. Are your servers crashing? Are they responding quickly to user requests? What is the volume of data coming in and going out? When you know all this, you can incorporate it directly into your infrastructure scaling, in real-time. There’s no reason you can’t close that loop and make it part of your infrastructure automation since the information is entirely in the cloud.

This way, you won’t be spending more than you’re using. There will always be spikes (and dips) in demand. But if you have that automated feedback loop in place, you’ll be ready to meet demand wherever it is — and spend accordingly.

Dramatically Reduce Downtime

Surges in demand can cause additional problems, namely in the form of downtime. If you suddenly find yourself facing major spikes in users — like the Zooms and Slacks of the world did when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged — downtime is pretty common, often caused by unforeseen infrastructure bottlenecks. The same automation in cloud native technologies that understands how to scale up and down as needed understands how to fix these types of issues.

Take, for instance, a crashed server. The automation recognizes this means you don’t have enough servers, and the technology can spin up new servers to handle it. By leveraging the introspection that cloud infrastructure provides, you’ll be able to more deftly handle problems — and decimate downtime.

Increase Development Velocity

Speed in development is crucial to success, and engineers are in their element when they can write code, push a button and see it run. You can enable this in the cloud by putting automation in place around those actions. Turn your existing rollout playbook into a series of automated actions — then use those actions across both development and customer-facing systems. The automated playbook then becomes another core component to iterate on and improve. When you have automation enabled, code can go live and be tested as soon as it’s ready, increasing development velocity. You’re able to push it out quickly, which also means you’ll more readily satisfy customers — and earn revenue.

Another benefit of automating for cloud native infrastructures is that multiple developers can push out features simultaneously. Since it’s automated, they can all test these features separately in the cloud at the same time, without hold-ups or dependency on each other. This contributes to high-velocity development and provides significant productivity returns.

Establish Automated, Responsive Systems

When you work with cloud native infrastructures, you can also benefit from additional technologies that flag possible issues for you. For example, monitoring software can alert you if something isn’t working correctly. Pair that with software that recognizes certain classes of errors, and you can automatically deal with issues as they arise.

If you see an error once, you can either address the source by fixing it or automate its resolution (whether that’s rebooting a server or scaling up by adding additional servers, etc.). Over time, the list of errors becomes known and you can account for them in automation by the same practices a developer or system administrator would use in the form of a script. This saves you time and prevents your team from having to respond manually.

Enable Service Ownership

Cloud native infrastructures are well suited for a microservices approach, in which small teams work on isolated features. The benefits of this are service ownership and security. This way, a developer who doesn’t need access to the entire cloud infrastructure can deploy a small piece of code on a limited set of servers. If someone is working on the front end, doing design work, for example, they don’t need access to the back-end database full of customer information and more. So, you can — and should — automate who in your account may have access to which parts.

Previously, developers had to wait for approval from people who might not be qualified to pull the trigger on a certain feature. With a microservices approach, that friction is removed and momentum is built as developers make changes and see their work take shape in the real world. Not only does this give your team autonomy over their core areas of expertise, but it also heightens security. You can add controls where you need them, while removing barriers and increasing efficiency.

When you automate for cloud native infrastructures, you can enjoy numerous benefits that will ultimately help you save time, improve performance and be more profitable. In other words, you’ll be putting your development team, customers and company first. Everyone wins.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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