Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Dalibor Siroky, Stackify Blog, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo, @DevOpsSummit

Microservices Expo: Blog Post

Continuous Delivery and Release Automation for Microservices By @Anders_Wallgren | @DevOpsSummit #Microservices

In microservices the business functionality is decomposed into a set of independent, self-contained services

As software organizations continue to invest in achieving Continuous Delivery (CD) of their applications, we see increased interest in microservices architectures, which-on the face of it-seem like a natural fit for enabling CD.

In microservices (or its predecessor, "SOA"), the business functionality is decomposed into a set of independent, self-contained services that communicate with each other via an API. Each of the services has their own application release cycle, and are developed and deployed independently often using different languages, technology stacks and tools that best fit the job.

By splitting the monolithic application into smaller services and decoupling interdependencies (between apps, dev teams, technologies, environments and tooling), microservices allow for more flexibility and agility as you scale your organization's productivity.

While things may move faster on the Dev side, microservices do introduce architectural complexities and management overhead, particularly on the testing and Ops side. What was once one application, with self-contained processes, is now a complex set of orchestrated services that connect via the network. This has impact on your automated testing, monitoring, governance and compliance of all the disparate apps, and more.

A key prerequisite for achieving Continuous Delivery is automating your entire pipeline- from code check-in, through Build, Test and Deployments across the different environments-all the way to the production Release. In order to support better manageability of this complex process, it's important to leverage a platform that can serve as a layer above any infrastructure or specific tool/technology and enable centralized management and orchestration of your toolchain, environments and applications. I'd like to focus on some of the implications microservices have on your pipeline(s), and some best practices for enabling CD for your microservices-driven application.

The Challenges of Managing Delivery Pipelines for Microservices
The "Mono/Micro" Hybrid State
It's very hard to design for microservices from scratch. As you're starting with microservices (as a tip: only look into microservices if you already have solid CI, test and deployment automation), the recommendation is to start with a monolithic application, then gradually carve out its different functions into separate services. Keep in mind that you'll likely need to support this Mono/Micro hybrid state for a while. This is particularly true if you're rearchitecting a legacy application or are working for an organization with established processes and requirements for ensuring security and regulatory compliance.

As you re-architect your application, you will also need to architect your delivery pipeline to support CD (I'll expand more on this later on). It's important that your DevOps processes and automation be able to handle and keep track of both the "traditional" (more long-term) application release processes of the monolith, as well as the smaller-batch, microservices/CD releases. Furthermore, you need to be able to manage multiple microservices - both independently and as a collection - to enable not only Continuous Delivery of each separate service, but of the entire offering.

Increase in Pipeline Variations
One of the key benefits of microservices is that they give developers more freedom to choose the best language or technology to get the job done. For example, your shopping cart might be written in Java, but the enterprise messaging bus uses Erlang. While this enables developers to ‘go fast' and encourages team ownership, the multitude of services and the different technologies that your pipeline automation would need to support grows considerably.

This need for flexibility creates challenges in terms of the complexity of your pipeline, and its reusability and repeatability. How do you maximize your efforts and reuse established automation workflows across different technologies and tools?

Ensuring Governance and Compliance
With so many independent teams and services, and the diversity of tools and processes, large organizations struggle to standardize delivery pipelines and release approval processes to bring microservices into the fold with regards to security, compliance and auditability.

How do you verify that all your microservices are in compliance? If there's a breach or failure, which service is the culprit? How do you keep track of who checked-in what, to which environment, for which service, and under whose approval? How do you pass your next audit?

Integration Testing Between Services Becomes More Complex
When testing a service in isolation, things are fairly simple: you do unit testing and verify that you support the APIs that you expose. Testing of microservices is more complicated and requires more coordination. You need to decide how you're handling downstream testing with other services: do you test against the versions of the other services that are currently in production? Do you test against the latest versions of the other services which are not yet in production? Your pipeline needs to allow you to coordinate between services to make sure that you don't test against a version of the service that is about to become obsolete.

Supporting the Proliferation of Heterogeneous Environments
Microservices often result in a spike in deployments that you now need to manage. This is caused by the independent deployment pipelines for each service across different stacks/environments, an increase in the number of environments throughout the pipeline, and the need to employ modern deployment patterns such as Blue/Green, Canary, etc.

Deployment automation is one of the key prerequisites for CD, and microservices require that you do a lot of it. You don't only need to support the volume of deployments; your pipeline must also verify that the environment and version are compatible, that no connected services are affected and that the infrastructure is properly managed and monitored. While not ideal, at times you will need to run multiple versions of your service simultaneously, so that if a service requires a certain version and is not compatible with the newer one, it can continue to operate (if you're not always backwards compatible).

In addition, microservices seem to lend themselves well to Docker and container technologies. As Dev teams become more independent and deploy their services in a container, Ops teams are challenged to manage the sprawl of containers, and to have visibility into what exactly goes on inside that box.

System-level View and Release Management
System-level visibility is critical not only for compliance, but also for effective release management on both the technical and business sides. With complex releases for today's microservices-driven apps, you need a single pane of glass into the real-time status of the entire pathof theapplication release process. That way, you ensure you're on schedule, on budget and with the right set of functionality. Knowing your shopping cart service will be delivered on time does you no good if you can't also easily pin-point the status of the critical ERP service and all related apps that are required for launch.

Best Practices for Designing CD Pipelines for Microservices
You want to embrace microservices as a means to scale and release updates more frequently, while giving Operations people the platform to not only support developers, but to also operationalize the code in production and be able to manage it. Because microservices are so fragmented, it is more difficult to track and manage all the independent, yet interconnected components of the app. Your goal should be to automate the releases of microservices-driven apps so these are reliable, repeatable and as painless as possible.

When Constructing Your Pipeline, Keep in Mind

  1. Use one repository per service. This isolation will reduce the engineer's ability to cross-populate code into different services.
  2. Each service should have independent CI and Deployment pipelines so you can independently build, verify and deploy. This will make set-up easier, require less tool integration, provide faster feedback and require less testing.
  3. Plug in all of your tool chain into your DevOps Automation platform so you can orchestrate and
  4. Your solution must be tools/environment agnostic so you can support each team's workflow and tool chain, no matter what they are.
  5. Your solution needs to be flexible to support any workflow - from the simplest two-step web front-end deployment to the most complex ones (such as in the case of a complex testing matrix or embedded software processes).
  6. Your system needs to scale to serve the myriad services and pipelines.
  7. Continuous Delivery and microservices require a fair amount of testing to ensure quality. Make sure your automation platform integrates with all of your test automation tools and service virtualization.
  8. Auditability needs to be built into your pipeline automatically so you always record in the background the log of each artifact as it makes its way through the pipeline. You also need to know who checked-in the code, what tests were run, pass/fail results, on which environment it was deployed, which configuration was used, who approved it and so on.
  9. Your automation platform needs to enable you to normalize your pipelines as much as possible. Therefore, use parameters and modeling of the applications/environment and pipeline processes so you can reuse pipeline models and processes between services/teams. To enable reusability, planning of your release pipeline and any configuration or modeling should be offered via a unified UI.
  10. Bake in compliance into the pipeline by binding certain security checks and acceptance tests, and use infrastructure services to promote a particular service through the pipeline.
  11. Allow for both automatic and manual approval gates to support regulatory requirements or general governance processes.
  12. Your solution should provide a real-time view of all the pipelines' statuses and any dependencies or exceptions.
  13. Consistent logging and monitoring across all services provides the feedback loop to your pipeline. Make sure your pipeline automation plugs into your monitoring so that alerts can trigger automatic processes such as rolling back a service, switching between blue/green deployments, scaling and so on.

Keep in Mind
For both Continuous Delivery and microservices, a highly focused and streamlined automation pipeline is critical to reduce bottlenecks, mitigate risk and improve quality and time-to-market. While some may choose to cobble together a DIY pipeline, many organizations have opted for a DevOps Automation or Continuous Delivery platform that can automate and orchestrate the entire end-to-end software delivery pipeline. This is particularly useful as you scale to support the complexities of multitudes of microservices and technologies. You don't build your own email server, so why build this yourself?

Want More?
For more tips on microservices, to learn if it is right for you and how to start decomposing your monolith, checkout the video below of my talk on "Microservices: Patterns and Processes" from the recent DevOps Enterprise Summit.

Now, do it yourself:

Download the community edition of ElectricFlow to build your pipelines and deploy any application, to any environment- for free.

More Stories By Anders Wallgren

Anders Wallgren is Chief Technology Officer of Electric Cloud. Anders brings with him over 25 years of in-depth experience designing and building commercial software. Prior to joining Electric Cloud, Anders held executive positions at Aceva, Archistra, and Impresse. Anders also held management positions at Macromedia (MACR), Common Ground Software and Verity (VRTY), where he played critical technical leadership roles in delivering award winning technologies such as Macromedia’s Director 7 and various Shockwave products.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
It has never been a better time to be a developer! Thanks to cloud computing, deploying our applications is much easier than it used to be. How we deploy our apps continues to evolve thanks to cloud hosting, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and now Function-as-a-Service. FaaS is the concept of serverless computing via serverless architectures. Software developers can leverage this to deploy an individual "function", action, or piece of business logic. They are expected to start within milliseconds...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
For DevOps teams, the concepts behind service-oriented architecture (SOA) are nothing new. A style of software design initially made popular in the 1990s, SOA was an alternative to a monolithic application; essentially a collection of coarse-grained components that communicated with each other. Communication would involve either simple data passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. SOA served as a valid approach to solving many architectural problems faced by businesses, as app...
Some journey to cloud on a mission, others, a deadline. Change management is useful when migrating to public, private or hybrid cloud environments in either case. For most, stakeholder engagement peaks during the planning and post migration phases of a project. Legacy engagements are fairly direct: projects follow a linear progression of activities (the “waterfall” approach) – change managers and application coders work from the same functional and technical requirements. Enablement and develo...
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
From manual human effort the world is slowly paving its way to a new space where most process are getting replaced with tools and systems to improve efficiency and bring down operational costs. Automation is the next big thing and low code platforms are fueling it in a significant way. The Automation era is here. We are in the fast pace of replacing manual human efforts with machines and processes. In the world of Information Technology too, we are linking disparate systems, softwares and tool...
DevOps is good for organizations. According to the soon to be released State of DevOps Report high-performing IT organizations are 2X more likely to exceed profitability, market share, and productivity goals. But how do they do it? How do they use DevOps to drive value and differentiate their companies? We recently sat down with Nicole Forsgren, CEO and Chief Scientist at DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) and lead investigator for the State of DevOps Report, to discuss the role of measure...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
"As we've gone out into the public cloud we've seen that over time we may have lost a few things - we've lost control, we've given up cost to a certain extent, and then security, flexibility," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics,in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
These days, APIs have become an integral part of the digital transformation journey for all enterprises. Every digital innovation story is connected to APIs . But have you ever pondered over to know what are the source of these APIs? Let me explain - APIs sources can be varied, internal or external, solving different purposes, but mostly categorized into the following two categories. Data lakes is a term used to represent disconnected but relevant data that are used by various business units wit...
With continuous delivery (CD) almost always in the spotlight, continuous integration (CI) is often left out in the cold. Indeed, it's been in use for so long and so widely, we often take the model for granted. So what is CI and how can you make the most of it? This blog is intended to answer those questions. Before we step into examining CI, we need to look back. Software developers often work in small teams and modularity, and need to integrate their changes with the rest of the project code b...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud4U builds software services that help people build DevOps platforms for cloud-based software and using our platform people can draw a picture of the system, network, software," explained Kihyeon Kim, CEO and Head of R&D at Cloud4U, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lav...