Digital transformation is still driving technology innovation in today’s organizations. Now, organizations are looking for composable solutions that leverage an ever growing array of platforms. Increasingly, these platforms include SaaS platforms as well as cloud-native applications.
Gartner forecasts that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will reach nearly $600 billion in 2023, demonstrating the scale and importance of cloud technologies in today's digital landscape. And, as the complexity of these ecosystems grows, IT leaders face sprawling DevOps efforts that make it challenging to manage digital applications which run on these platforms. For some large organizations, the sprawl is out of control and has led to increased costs and unanticipated outcomes. Better solutions are needed that allow organizations to consolidate their DevOps management efforts.
This whitepaper aims to guide IT leaders in addressing the challenge of DevOps sprawl across SaaS and cloud-native platforms. This includes SaaS platforms like Salesforce and ServiceNow, plus cloud-native applications deployed on public or hybrid clouds. The aim of this whitepaper is to give you insights on unifying DevOps programs to improve enterprise value and better serve stakeholders. Through gaining an understanding for platform engineering and the DevOps platform, this paper will help you tackle DevOps sprawl through streamlined workflows, better collaboration, and increased innovation across your organization's development teams.
The Challenge of Managing DevOps Sprawl
In today's complex IT landscape, it's understandable that system builders may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of adding management techniques to their workload. However, embracing DevOps and focusing on continuous improvement through metrics is essential to the success of modern IT teams.
By adopting DevOps and consistently tracking key performance indicators, IT teams can streamline their processes, reduce errors, and enhance collaboration. This ultimately leads to more efficient and effective systems, making the initial investment in time and effort well worth it in the long run.
The real problem of DevOps sprawl: because all of these tools are just stitched together from libraries across the internet. And now, every delivery team has a different tech stack, different pipeline, different process.
the real problem – 20 years ago, if you ran into an issue with your software, your team could probably fix it. Now, even the most gifted team of engineers cannot fix many issues that arise because of the magnitude of components and moving parts that go into the products they build.
In 2023, the DevOps message has penetrated most IT leaders’ consciousness. The old ways of doing things with the waterfall techniques, and developers fighting for access to tooling are over. Now, IT leaders are mainly concerned with implementing tooling and management changes. But, not everyone came to this realization at the same time. As a result, teams have started individual DevOps efforts at different times over the last 10 years.
Resource and management problems have naturally arisen because of the nature of cloud native computing and DevOps. The CNCF.io website, which represents most of the open-source technologies used for DevOps and distributed computing, offers over 1,000 choices to system administrators and architects. Without guidance and encouragement, digital product managers pick the solutions which meet their needs, without any consideration of creating new systems that are reproducible and maintainable..
As a result, organizations now face a lack of visibility and control over the development and release processes across various platforms. This fragmented approach not only hinders collaboration between teams but also leads to inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the development and release process. This all ultimately results in delays in digital product deployment.
IT leaders must find ways to address DevOps sprawl in order to streamline workflows, optimize resource utilization, and ensure consistent delivery of high-quality digital products and services.
Tame the Tool Sprawl: An Integrated Approach
Organizations frequently reach differing plateaus in DevOps maturity, with ambitious groups breaking the mold and creating new islands of app production automation.
In recent years, platform engineering has emerged as a critical discipline for organizations who seek to advance the state of DevOps within their own organizations. Platform engineering programs aim to streamline their development processes, improve developer productivity, and ultimately deliver better digital products.
In this section we will explore how platform engineering addresses DevOps sprawl, the importance of adopting a platform engineering approach, and the concept of the Golden Path.
A. Addressing DevOps Sprawl with Platform Engineering
Platform engineering focuses on designing, building, and maintaining the infrastructure, toolchains, and workflows that enable self-service capabilities for software engineering teams. By consolidating and standardizing tools and processes, platform engineering helps create a unified, coherent environment that simplifies application development, deployment, and management. This not only makes it easier for teams to collaborate but also promotes reusability and shared best practices across the organization.
And platform engineering minimizes DevOps sprawl by giving development teams enough support that they don’t need to craft custom solutions. In the end, platform engineering lets teams building digital solutions focus on the solution, rather than the tooling.
B. The Importance of a Platform Engineering Approach
The platform engineering approach naturally knocks down some of the barriers and silos that get built up when a company finds itself dealing with DevOps sprawl. The benefits are numerous, here are the four most impactful to the business:
- Improved Developer Productivity: By providing developers with a streamlined, self-service environment, platform engineering reduces the cognitive load on engineers and enables them to focus on delivering value through application development.
- Enhanced Collaboration: Platform engineering fosters collaboration between cross-functional teams, breaking down silos and facilitating knowledge sharing.
- Standardization and Reusability: Platform engineering promotes the use of standardized tools, processes, and components, which can be reused across projects, reducing duplication of effort and improving overall development efficiency.
- Continuous Improvement: With a product mindset, platform engineering teams continuously iterate on their IDPs, incorporating user feedback and evolving the platform to better meet the needs of the organization.
C. The Golden Path
The Golden Path is a concept that refers to the optimal set of tools, practices, and workflows that an organization should adopt to achieve its desired outcomes. It is one way to think of the “product” that a platform engineering team needs to deploy to get developers on their side. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a Golden Path for your developers.
- Clear Mission and Role: A platform engineering team must have a well-defined mission statement and role within the organization. The mission should focus on improving developer experience and productivity by enabling self-service capabilities and minimizing the cognitive load on engineers.
- Treat the Platform as a Product: Platform engineering teams should approach their IDPs as products, with developers as their customers. This product mindset helps ensure that the platform is designed and evolved based on user needs, feedback, and requirements.
- Focus on Common Problems: Platform engineering teams should prioritize addressing shared challenges across the organization by building solutions that cater to the majority of use cases. This approach helps to standardize processes and tools, ultimately improving efficiency and productivity.
- Glue is Valuable: The value of platform engineering lies in its ability to connect various components of the development toolchain, creating seamless workflows and processes. Platform engineers should embrace and promote this role as a key value-add within the organization.
- Don't Reinvent the Wheel: Platform engineering teams should avoid duplicating effort by leveraging off-the-shelf solutions and tailoring them to the specific needs of their organization. Customizing existing solutions can yield significant time and cost savings compared to building new tools from scratch.
By implementing an integrated approach inspired by platform engineering, organizations can unlock the full potential of their development teams, streamline processes, and ultimately deliver better digital products.
Leveraging Platforms to Manage DevOps Sprawl
Creating a Golden Path is especially important for developers creating cloud native applications. But it is even more important for application developers working on SaaS platforms like Salesforce.
SaaS is a latecomer to DevOps. It wasn’t until the late 2010’s when DevOps techniques were applied to Salesforce and other SaaS application development processes. One reason why Salesforce was first was because their Salesforce Developer Experience program exposed settings and other metadata-related information to APIs and command line utilities. That went a long way toward automating Salesforce release processes.
But, after gaining access to all the Salesforce metadata, something quickly became apparent to the industry. The amount and diversity of setup information for SaaS systems like Salesforce are so complex that Salesforce DevOps practitioners need another SaaS system to manage it. Today there are at least half-a-dozen vendors who offer server-based solutions for managing Salesforce DevOps.
But some Salesforce DevOps vendors, including Opsera, have taken this idea a step further. They offer DevOps platforms that use plug-and-play, low-code, and scriptable tools to manage CI/CD pipelines, including SaaS platforms and traditional cloud native DevOps pipelines.
A. How Does a DevOps Platform Address DevOps Sprawl?
A DevOps platform is a comprehensive, integrated solution that provides organizations with the tools and resources required to streamline software development and deployment processes. These platforms enable teams to automate workflows, monitor performance, and collaborate more effectively across various stages of the development lifecycle. In the context of SaaS and Salesforce DevOps, a DevOps platform is particularly essential in managing metadata complexities and other unique challenges that come with these environments.
It is remarkable how well a DevOps platform fits into the needs of platform engineers. In many ways, platforms give users off-the-shelf capabilities needed to build a Golden Path. By using centralized application lifecycle management features found in DevOps platforms, platform engineers help their users deploy more efficient DevOps pipelines.
B. Strengthening Security and Compliance in the Development Process
In addition to addressing sprawl, DevOps platforms play a critical role in enhancing security and compliance in SaaS and cloud native environments. IBM recently commissioned a study of 550 organizations who experienced a security breach. The study found that these breaches cost those organizations an average of $9.4 million per incident. With the growing number of data breaches and regulatory requirements, ensuring that applications are secure and compliant has become a top priority for organizations.
DevOps platforms create a powerful amalgamation of services. They provide built-in security and compliance gates that identify potential vulnerabilities and mitigate risks throughout the development process. These features may include automated code scanning, vulnerability assessments, and compliance monitoring. This enables platform engineers and IT leaders to proactively address security concerns and maintain compliance with industry regulations.
Moreover, DevOps platforms instill a culture of security by integrating security practices into the development process, ensuring that security is considered from the earliest stages of application design and development. This shift-left approach to security not only helps to reduce the risk of security breaches but also fosters a greater sense of ownership and responsibility among developers.
This whitepaper has given you valuable insights into tackling DevOps sprawl and the importance of harnessing the power of platform engineering, the Golden Path, and DevOps platforms. As we wrap up, let's recap three key takeaways that IT leaders should keep in mind as they address the challenges posed by DevOps sprawl in their organizations.
First, the complexity of SaaS systems, such as Salesforce, necessitates the use of another SaaS system to manage them effectively. The sheer volume of metadata and diverse setup information involved in managing these platforms requires a powerful solution to streamline workflows, enhance collaboration, and ensure consistent delivery of digital products and services.
Second, adopting a DevOps platform like Opsera provides a centralized solution that can manage various SaaS platforms and traditional cloud-native DevOps pipelines. By leveraging a DevOps platform, organizations create an environment that fosters better collaboration, efficient resource utilization, and improved overall development efficiency.
Lastly, embracing platform engineering is vital in taming DevOps sprawl. Platform engineering helps create a unified, coherent environment that simplifies application development, deployment, and management. Through the use of SaaS tools like Opsera, platform engineering reduces duplication of effort, promotes reusability, and establishes shared best practices across the organization. This approach not only streamlines workflows but also enables development teams to focus on delivering value through application development, rather than getting bogged down by managing complex toolchains and infrastructure.