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Using DevOps principles for better application modernization

There are many different approaches to modernizing an app with DevOps principles. The goal is to make an app that's efficient, scalable, agile and continuously delivered.

A modern application is an app that adheres to DevOps principles. What does that mean? Keep reading for an explanation...

of app modernization the DevOps way.

Defining DevOps principles

To understand what the "DevOps way" is, you have to understand DevOps principles.

Briefly, DevOps is an approach to software development that emphasizes constant collaboration between developers, IT ops admins and everyone else who plays a role in software development. By maximizing communication across the organization, DevOps aims to make software delivery faster, more reliable and more efficient. It also increases the agility and scalability of your software by facilitating a faster change process.

Modernizing your app the DevOps way, therefore, means making your app agile, flexible and efficient.

App modernization the DevOps way

Your app wouldn't have to be designed with DevOps principles in mind for it to be modernized. You can teach old apps new DevOps tricks. When modernizing your app for DevOps, you should begin by thinking about what your app needs to do, then find ways that DevOps can help you do it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Should you rebuild or refactor? Rebuilding means recreating your app from scratch. That's necessary in some cases. But because DevOps is so flexible, there's a good chance you can instead refactor your app -- meaning you can adapt it to work with DevOps practices by, for example, making the app run as a set of microservices rather than as a monolith. You may have to rewrite some parts of the app to refactor, but a total rewrite is rarely necessary.
  • What are the best tools for delivering and deploying your app? If you're not taking advantage of next-generation tools like Docker containers to help deliver your app, consider doing so. In many cases, porting an existing app to run as a Docker container is relatively straightforward: You build a Dockerfile, create a container image and run your app as a container. Hosting your app with Docker could provide major efficiencies compared to hosting it with virtual machines.
  • How can you sync all parts of your app delivery process? Since collaboration across the IT organization is essential for DevOps, placing all your IT teams in sync is important for modernizing your app. For example, if your app developers currently work in isolation from the QA team or from IT ops, you should reorganize your workflow so that these different teams work together.
  • How can you maximize scalability and agility? A DevOps-friendly app that can scale without limit is not dependent on a certain type of infrastructure or platform in order to run. If your app doesn't currently meet this criteria, consider making it more scalable and flexible by, for example, migrating it to the cloud (which enables scaling) or refactoring it so it's environment-agnostic (one way to do that is by using Docker containers, which allow your app to run on any server with Docker installed).
  • How can you deliver your app continuously? Continuous delivery means that changes to your application are rolled out on a continuous basis. If your app isn't currently delivered continuously, build a continuous delivery pipeline for it by making sure that everyone who is involved in app development and delivery is working together. Also make sure you have the infrastructure tools in place to roll out changes quickly from development to production.

When modernizing your app for DevOps, there's no single path to take. Your approach to app modernization will depend on your particular needs and goals. That's what makes the DevOps principles so powerful: There are many ways to do DevOps, just as there are many benefits to derive from it.

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This was last published in March 2017

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