carloscastilla - Fotolia

Optimize application deployments with this expert advice from 2019

As the year comes to a close, review SearchITOperations' most popular tips on app deployment and support, covering topics such as DevOps automation, SLAs and tool tutorials.

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on changes in technologies and practices in preparation for the new year. Every organization should aim to improve upon its existing environments and procedures to streamline and optimize IT, which, in turn, improves its market position and readiness.

When it comes to application deployment, DevOps, IT automation, CI/CD pipelines and containers increasingly play a role -- but more traditional IT operations practices around patching, application availability and security remain very much relevant.

In no particular order, here are SearchITOperations' top 10 tips on application deployment and support from 2019:

1. Focus in on DevOps automation

The drive toward fully automated IT isn't slowing down, but that doesn't mean IT admins can automate everything all at once. Instead, there are three primary elements of an organization's CI/CD pipeline that IT admins must address first for the best chance of success.

2. Test your SLA prowess

IT admins -- and whoever is responsible for signing the service-level agreements -- need a thorough understanding of their organization, its operation and goals to set a proper contract that will truly benefit the organization and its users. But there's a point where expectations go too far. Try this quiz to see if you can set a realistic SLA for your application deployments.

3. Prepare to patch, not panic

When something goes wrong -- and inevitably, it will -- IT pros should fight the urge to rush a partial fix. Sure, IT operations could set a rock star developer on the problem to find a quick solution -- but that doesn't identify the root cause and it opens up the environment to further errors. Instead, create a patch management process ahead of time to improve everyone's experience.

4. Start with PKI authentication basics

Public key infrastructure authentication is used all over the internet -- within and without IT -- so it's important for IT ops pros to know what they're working with. The conversation about PKI often accompanies talk about encryption, but the two are not synonymous. Instead, PKI verifies functions and identities to create secure connections -- but that's just the start.

5. Automate continuous integration with Jenkins -- or Jenkins X

Both Jenkins and Jenkins X do the same job, but there are a few distinct differences between the two tool versions. Determine how much flexibility your IT organization needs in its application deployment processes, or whether it needs Kubernetes -- along with a few other factors -- to identify the best fit.

6. Install Apache Mesos on Linux servers

Many people think Kubernetes when they hear containers, but Apache Mesos is another strong contender in the app containerization space. Also an open source orchestration tool, Mesos operates either alone or in conjunction with Kubernetes in a given environment. Try out this tutorial to get started with Mesos in a home lab.

7. Safety first: Build a preproduction environment

Staging and testing environments are critical to IT success, but they can also lead to chaos if created incorrectly. There are a number of factors IT admins must consider when they build a preproduction environment, ranging from its specific purpose to a backup strategy.

8. Repurpose the feature flag

Feature flags were designed for app delivery and testing, built for a single purpose to instantiate a binary changeover. But some organizations have taken the humble feature flag and embedded the logic into other functions -- IT-related or otherwise.

9. Extend staging best practices to the full lifecycle

Staging environments should mimic production as closely as possible to ensure tests are accurate and applicable. But this kind of situational catering can create a lot of extra work -- and overhead -- if handled inefficiently. To ensure you get it done right, automate what you can and evaluate a change in hosting venue.

10. Support the whole pipeline -- not just your end

DevOps pipelines drive modern application deployment, and management often falls on IT ops admins' shoulders. Don't let the task overwhelm you and your team with these five areas of focus to ease the process.

Dig Deeper on Application Rollout Planning and Problems

Software Quality
App Architecture
Cloud Computing
Data Center