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DevOps and monitoring: how do they work together?

DevOps has been broadly adopted by organisations in the past few years to increase the speed at which applications and services are delivered while removing the traditional barriers between development teams and operations teams. But what does this mean for monitoring and how well can the two work together?

First things first… What is DevOps?

DevOps is the combination of practices and tools that results in the implementation of a software application lifecycle – as shown below - where development and operations teams work as one.

DevOps lifecycle graphic

DevOps streamlines and improves the way previously siloed development and operations teams work enabling them to manage technology through one workstream, going from planning to production to delivery.

By implementing DevOps organisations can tackle the all-too-common challenges created by disjointed team reliance, which often result in slow release times and delays.

In fact, in a non-DevOps environment, once an application is developed, it is released to the ops team in a test or production environment. If the app doesn’t work, both teams go back to their silos and try again using the same process. This often results in a lot of waiting and frustration on both sides.

The DevOps lifecycle allows for increased productivity because the quicker you get on with the next change required, the more you can achieve with the same resources. In a nutshell, DevOps can bring the following benefits for your organisation:

  • Accelerated time from production to delivery.
  • Improved stability and reliability of the production process and the resulting application.
  • Improved time to recovery after an issue is identified.
  • Improved collaboration between previously siloed development and operations team.

How does DevOps help monitoring?

DevOps raises the maturity of the monitoring release lifecycle by turning it into a collaborative venture, where there’s constant communication between the development and operations teams.

Lack of communication between the two teams has been known to disrupt monitoring, as operations are often not aware of upcoming releases and their potential impact.

In the DevOps lifecycle, there’s a constant feedback loop between the two teams which creates improved visibility, leads to noise reduction, and enables a speedier monitoring delivery.


Monitoring and DevOps: what issues should I look out for?

When considering the relationship between DevOps and monitoring, there are a few challenges you should bear in mind. Here are a few of the main issues to look out for – and how to fix them:

1)     Establishing the wrong monitoring requirements

One of the most common issues that can occur while establishing your monitoring requirements stems from a long-standing tendency for development teams to assume operational requirements, while operations teams make assumptions on the requirements needed for service and business users.

This disconnect can result in monitoring, operational and integration gaps and contribute to a blame culture within the organisation, where the people and tools selected are second-guessed every step of the way.

The way to prevent this from happening is to ensure all stakeholders can provide their requirements without making assumptions, as well as work together to establish the deliverables needed to meet those requirements. It’s all about communication and cross-team collaboration.

2)     Inability to change monitoring

The dependencies created by DevOps can sometimes mean monitoring becomes stagnant within the organisation. This stagnation creates monitoring, operation and integration gaps as operations teams feel they have lost the autonomy to implement changes quickly and independently.

To fix this, you should ensure the application and monitoring release lifecycles continue to work independently. Making a change to an application is only one of many reasons for implementing changes in monitoring and there is no need to create blockers to a process that can still be managed separately.

3)     Selecting the wrong monitoring tools or too many tools

Selecting monitoring tools based solely on the development team’s language preferences, without considering any operational and integration requirements can result in the implementation of a toolset that isn’t fit for purpose.

If you have multiple development teams, this problem is multiplied and you end up with multiple poorly selected tools, which results in poor tool value across the business.

To prevent this from happening, monitoring tool selection should be a cross DevOps function decision to ensure all requirements are taken into account before implementation.

4)     Not implementing monitoring best practice

When monitoring solutions are designed without input from all functions, this can lead to poor best practice decisions being made, for example, how to interact with event management processes, when to implement observability vs synthetic monitoring, collection or exception strategies, or AIOps vs configuration functionality.

The impact of these poor practices can translate into poor monitoring solutions and result in missed alerts and increased time to resolution.

These all-too-common issues can only be fixed through cross-function collaboration, by ensuring DevOps stakeholders work together to provide input on requirements and establish the necessary deliverables.


What does it take for DevOps to succeed? 

There are two main steps you can take to ensure you reap the monitoring benefits of implementing a DevOps strategy. The first one is establishing a new level of organisational and cultural maturity in your organisation. This can be achieved by establishing one set of collective results, goals and rewards across your DevOps teams, as well as shared criteria for accountability across teams. This will take time and work, and you’ll need to accept that people, processes and tools will need to adapt to this change, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Secondly, you will need to be aware that the implementation of company-wide operational changes poses a high risk to your operational resilience. Making sure your teams are ready to put in the effort during transition is key to ensuring business-critical functions continue to work during the process. It’s not only about investing in operational changes, you’ll need to invest in a smooth transition process that keeps your business up and running while going through those changes.

Assuming that you have the right technology in place and your competitors do too, these two steps will be the decisive factors that can give you a competitive edge.


How can we help?

At ITRS Group, we’re keen to share what we’ve learned from the thousands of monitoring solutions projects we’ve worked on – letting you know what worked well and what hasn’t, so you can see what’s the best solution for your organisation.

Our in-app monitoring solution provides code-level instrumentation libraries to empower your development team with their monitoring data generation while enabling you to stream events directly into our keyword monitoring plugin.

Additionally, our Log Analytics product provides a feedback loop into the development lifecycle, supporting your DevOps efforts.

And we will not stop there… We’re also planning on including additional APIs and elements of trading data to complement monitoring data within our solution set.

If you want to know more about how we can help with your DevOps and monitoring needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch.