Content By Devops .com
Over the past year, enterprise adoption of low-code software development platforms surged across the world economy as COVID-19’s economic consequences drove an unprecedented number of digital initiatives. Enterprises are turning to low-code platforms to rapidly build new apps that empower customers, remote workers and external end users conducting business operations or pivoting to new opportunities.
Accelerating software development, however, only solves half the puzzle of a digital-first approach. Quickly getting solutions into users’ hands requires careful planning to determine how these new applications will function within the organization’s overall software operations strategy. This is often conducted across multiple cloud deployments.
But the real prize comes when low-code’s underlying principles of automation and abstraction are extended into the DevOps domain of software maintenance and management. The ability to push out a continuous pipeline of software updates with the click of mouse, with streamlined testing and quality assurance, requires a platform that automates myriad, time-consuming tasks associated with building, testing, releasing and maintaining applications in an enterprise-grade production environment. This inevitably leads to the concept of “low-code operations;” or, to coin a phrase, “Low-CodeOps.”
Indeed, unless the benefits of abstraction and automation — in this case, primarily speed — extend to operations and deployment, the real benefits of low-code development are elusive. A platform that lets you build an app in six days but requires six months to deploy is no solution at all.
Harnessing the Cloud for Game-Changing Results
To witness the vital role seamless cloud operations played in business innovation, look no further than biotech giant Moderna and its success in Operation Warp Speed. Moderna used the public cloud to pull together geographically dispersed collaborators, integrate scientific insights and refine its production cycle, enabling the company to deliver its first batch of mRNA vaccine samples a mere 42 days after the COVID-19 virus genome was sequenced. The time-to-value for this solution was definitely warp speed.
And, it’s safe to assume, expensive. Cloud engineers and DevOps system administrators are highly skilled specialists who roll up their sleeves at 2 a.m. to fix unexpected glitches buried deep in the connected ecosystem of software operations. They figure out how to make the software actually run. Enterprises, no doubt, wish they could hire more of them.
But the same shortage of skilled IT professionals that fueled today’s demand for low-code software development also impacts DevOps. In this case, the same low-code platform is the solution, empowering a wider cross-functional, collaborative team to reduce operational burdens — in a word, Low-CodeOps.
Essential Features of Low-CodeOps
To achieve a frictionless handoff when moving applications and data to the cloud, a production environment leveraging low-code principles will deliver on these key principles of low-code operations:
Performance monitoring: Daily monitoring and log checks of platform infrastructure are the backbone of modern DevOps operations, ensuring that complex interdependencies are running smoothly. Automated dashboard monitoring can transform hours spent on these repetitive tasks into opportunities for engineering teams to focus on innovation, while still ensuring the health and performance of enterprise software portfolios. The tooling needs to enable automated end-to-end visibility into application workloads and performance characteristics of upstream and downstream services.
Compliance: Every economic sector is subject to specific government regulations. Software platforms and DevOp teams must keep track of every requirement when integrating new functionality into software upgrades. Banking customers must deploy digital solutions on infrastructure that’s earned ISO/IEC 27001 certification. Healthcare solutions must conform to federally mandated HIPAA requirements. Defense contractors must be FedRAMP certified. Data—the lynchpin of any digital solution—is subject to privacy laws that differ across nations and borders. Imagine having to manually recheck every iteration of your application deployments for compliance. Luckily, low-code operations mean having an automated, system-wide compliance framework in place. This makes short work of service organization (SOC) audits and reporting.
Security: Cyberattacks that lead to system outages and disruptions are a growing concern in our digitally connected world. Well-resourced cloud giants are not exempt from damaging cyberattacks, such as last year’s SolarWinds hack. Resilience is key. Ongoing security scanning can halt automatic software deployments when suspicious changes are detected. Prevention is always best. Monitoring tools identify vulnerabilities, enabling systems to quickly come back online and help prevent outages that can last for hours or days.
Infrastructure independence: Widespread enterprise adoption of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud for operational efficiencies has made flexible infrastructure the new standard. Organizations are bypassing single-vendor lock-in to spread workloads across multiple cloud partners. That means DevOps needs streamlined configuration and management tools that can track relationships between resources and keep track of compliance issues. Geopolitical considerations may enter the equation when cloud providers turn out to have close ties with governments antagonistic to other global trading partners. Monitoring instruments that provide observability across the range of vendors consuming enterprise data and applications is mission-critical.
Resilience: Snafus happen. Platforms can automate continuous domain-level metrics to correlate performance from different sources (including logs, metrics, application tracing and outside penetration testing), speeding up detection and response time. Fast auditing and debugging tools, combined with real-time dashboard monitoring and system-wide alerts, plus an ounce of detection, equals a pound of cure. For agile DevOps teams, reactive firefighting is transformed into resilient firepower.
Adopting an All-in-One Low-CodeOps Approach
Low-code’s power to enable frequent iterations of software ideation, creation and deployment may seem contrary to the DevOps mission to minimize risks. However, the same radical abstraction and automation that has made software development faster, higher quality and more accessible to a larger cohort of developers can also reduce the operational burden of landscape management. Every low-code vendor touts the governance features in its platform. But the nuts and bolts of governance require some assembly, including system-wide actionable monitoring, testing alerts and compliance safeguards. Low-CodeOps combines the most efficient, agile, flexible development platform and powerful, streamlined operations tools, infusing both domains with solid guardrails for operational control and predictability. Adopting this approach will greatly increase time-to-value for enterprises, putting innovative digital solutions directly into the hands of end-users with the click of a mouse.