Building a DevOps Infrastructure: Copado’s Best Practices for Any Enterprise

Two engineers stand in front of a projection of the DevOps infinity logo and related concepts as they plan an DevOps infrastructure build-out.

Every enterprise is unique, which makes every DevOps implementation unique as well. No two DevOps infrastructures are exactly alike because a successful DevOps transformation is highly tailored to your specific business requirements, skillsets, and goals. That’s why this guide is not an exact blueprint for how to build your DevOps infrastructure but rather a list of principles and best practices to follow as your organization starts its journey to DevOps maturity.

Build a DevOps Infrastructure: Best Practices for Any Enterprise

A successful DevOps infrastructure build generally focuses on five key areas:

  1. Comprehensive planning and preparation
  2. Streamlining infrastructure deployments
  3. Continuously integrating and delivering code
  4. Strategically automating and orchestrating workflows
  5. Implementing DevOps infrastructure tools and technology

Now, let’s discuss each of these DevOps infrastructure best practices in greater detail.

Starting Out

The hardest part about adopting the DevOps methodology is knowing how to begin. In addition to the practical and technological considerations, you must also tackle cultural and organizational ones. The latter is often much more difficult, so let’s start with the former.

Like any other project, you need to start your DevOps infrastructure build-out with a clearly defined scope of work. To do so, you must answer questions like: 

  • How many servers do you need to provision? 
  • Where will they live, and do you need to deploy any additional networking appliances or services to reach them? 
  • How many concurrent development projects need to be supported? 

Defining your scope of work will help you determine the budget for the project, as well as estimate how many people you need on your DevOps infrastructure team and the necessary skillsets to pull the project off.

For instance, if you’re developing cloud-based applications, you might consider a cloud native approach. That means, instead of simply migrating on-premises systems to the cloud or designing your cloud infrastructure using the same approach you’d use in the data center, you build your infrastructure in and for the cloud. Often, this means using cloud native containers and microservices, but it could also mean relying on a service-based architecture like Software as a Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). And to successfully execute either of these approaches, you’ll need a DevOps infrastructure team with experience managing cloud native architectures.

An efficient implementation will start by laying the necessary cultural and organizational groundwork for a successful DevOps transformation. That means shifting your corporate focus to increase the velocity of knowledge, both for new hires and across teams. This can be achieved if you prioritize:

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Eliminating silos between departments so information is actively and openly shared with all stakeholders

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Finding the right tool, one that will not only enable but incentivize team members to collaborate and share knowledge.

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Striving for constant and continuous improvement by encouraging questions, rewarding initiative, and not punishing mistakes.

DevOps Infrastructure Management

Another challenging aspect of building and managing DevOps infrastructure is provisioning servers at the speed developers require without sacrificing quality. The best practice that addresses this DevOps infrastructure management challenge is Infrastructure as Code, or IaC.

IaC involves abstracting server configurations as software code and completely decoupling them from the underlying hardware. What that means is you can write one configuration file and deploy it to many servers at the same time. This both increases your provisioning speed and ensures that consistent and high-quality configurations are applied to your entire DevOps infrastructure. You can also use automation and orchestration tools to execute entire playbooks of configuration scripts to further streamline the provisioning process.

One of the big benefits of IaC is that it allows you to apply DevOps management best practices to your infrastructure configurations. For example, you can store your configuration scripts in a central repository with version control, so if there’s an issue with the deployment you can roll back to a working version. You can also integrate your IaC configurations into your CI/CD pipeline (more on that in a moment), which allows for automatic testing and deployments.

Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

Continuous integration/continuous delivery, or CI/CD, is a DevOps process that involves – you guessed it – continuously integrating and delivering code. A typical CI/CD workflow, and the underlying DevOps infrastructure needed to support it, looks something like this:

  1. Developers work on small units of code that are frequently checked into a central code base or repository. Automated version control and organizational knowledge sharing ensure they can all work together without overriding anyone else’s code.
  2. Code is checked into the developer’s working branch, where it undergoes basic unit testing. This allows DevOps teams to detect and fix issues before they can affect later builds, which is known as “shifting left.”
  3. The CI/CD pipeline re-verifies the unit tests and then integrates code into the next upstream environment: first Development, next QA, and then Staging. Some of this process is automated, but often tests require subjective, human feedback. One common example is looping marketing in to sign off on a product’s final look. 
  4. Code is held in a deployable state in the Staging environment until it is ready to go live.
  5. Finally, the finished build is delivered to the production environment.

DevOps Infrastructure Automation

Automation is a core DevOps principle because it facilitates easier collaboration, a “shift-left” testing process, and quicker, more streamlined releases. However, when planning your automation initiatives, it’s important to account for the size and experience level of your DevOps team.

For example, any size DevOps organization could benefit from an automated CI/CD pipeline like the one described above. If you have a smaller or less experienced team, you can even use a low- or no-code CI/CD platform that doesn’t require as much (or any) manual programming. IaC is another DevOps infrastructure automation method that you can scale up or down depending on your needs – you can stick with a handful of simple scripts, or invest in an enterprise infrastructure orchestration solution like Chef or Ansible.

DevOps Infrastructure Tools

To successfully implement these DevOps infrastructure principles, you need the right tools and technology.

Starting Out

Starting Out

Value stream maps (VSMs) are one way to analyze your current processes. They can identify inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement. During DevOps transformations, VSMs help you find gaps in your infrastructure deployment and management processes, then determine the size and scope of the changes needed.

 

Infrastructure Management

The DevOps infrastructure management tools you use will depend on your architecture and the complexity of your infrastructure. For instance, Docker is a popular containerization platform for cloud native infrastructures; Kubernetes helps automate and orchestrate those containers. For IaC-based infrastructures, tools like Chef and Ansible centralize the management and orchestration of your automated configuration files.

Infrastructure Management
CI CD

CI/CD

Continuous integration/continuous delivery tools for DevOps infrastructures need to address a variety of tasks, including source code version control, testing, automatic delivery, and overall pipeline management. You can choose tools that cover each of these processes individually or find a solution that combines all this functionality into a unified technology stack. However, these solutions have plenty of tradeoffs. Individual tools are “free” upfront, but maintenance and training costs can add up. Centralized stacks can handle the whole CI/CD process but are expensive and not always intuitive.

DevOps Infrastructure Automation

Many DevOps tools provide opportunities to automate parts of your workflow – Kubernetes automates and orchestrates containerized infrastructure management, Chef and Ansible automatically execute IaC scripts (which themselves automate your configurations), and automated CI/CD solutions handle integration, testing, and delivery.

Infrastructure Automation

Build Your DevOps Infrastructure with Copado

One way to further streamline your DevOps infrastructure build-out is to use a centralized DevOps management platform like Copado. The Copado low-code DevOps solution gives you a shared system to manage every part of the development lifecycle. The Copado platform includes features like:

Plus, Copado’s team of DevOps infrastructure experts can work with your enterprise to develop a DevOps strategy custom-tailored to your unique environment, requirements, and business goals.

Contact Copado today for more help building your DevOps infrastructure.