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How to create a DevOps self-service portal

Remote DevOps teams need the tools to build and deploy applications independently -- that's where self-service portals come in. Discover the benefits and how to build one.

Businesses are turning to internal self-service platforms to streamline their cloud provisioning and can take the same approach to accelerate the software development process.

A self-service DevOps portal standardizes build tools, technology, configurations, infrastructure and design patterns. Key protections are also built in to support organization-wide security and governance. In light of pandemic-related changes, organizations can use DevOps self-service portals to support remote IT. Self-service portals are a direct improvement over scattered metric-gathering and rotating through program after program to complete a simple task. Instead, they bring all of those elements and documentation into a more centralized and comprehensive dashboard.

Consider the primary benefits of DevOps self-service, explore key platform elements and look at how organizations can prepare their infrastructure for portal adoption.

Self-service DevOps portal benefits

Success depends on the ability of developers and engineers to accelerate software builds and deployments while keeping systems stable and resilient.

Self-service DevOps helps team members independently build and deploy applications. It also facilitates the CI/CD process. A single portal minimizes application delivery interruptions and delays through greater automation, centralized views of the process and independent development -- not just team collaboration -- options. By selecting an agreed-upon set of tools, software delivery teams can access the required resources when they need them, paid for on demand.

A curated toolchain makes operations and security consistent and accelerates development times. Developers can integrate a core service quickly. For example, a development team can add operational features to the application code and deploy applications on their own.

Developers can push changes independently to customers without making requests of the delivery team. Operations can design and build application-delivery artifacts using the same kiosk portal system, whether these artifacts are set up using pre-configured environment profiles, container elements or target infrastructure parameters.

A self-service DevOps portal also benefits IT management. The portal represents a clear point of entry for specific team members -- such that nobody's inbox is flooded with requests they can't resolve, due to permissions or policies -- and serves as a single source of truth. It also offers a centralized view of all active projects.

A self-service approach reinforces best practices because teams use Agile project management and adopt CI/CD approaches. The portal includes the right metrics, tools and reference architectures to guide best practices.

Finally, teams can better manage both planned and unplanned interruptions, as those metrics -- and any notices -- will appear on their self-service portal's dashboard. Rather than navigate around multiple programs and applications, IT admins can find all of that information in one centralized location, which enables IT admins to see a bigger picture than they might with traditional methods.

Capitalize on portal features

With self-service capabilities, DevOps teams gain the benefits of reduced cycle times. This enables them to quickly provide new features and accelerate releases. Along with reduced application backlogs and related bottlenecks, portal automation offers a critical means to increase release frequency and reduce operational costs.

In many respects, these portals are set to become the standard because they enable organizations to accelerate business growth through more frequent deployments and innovation. By 2023, 90% of enterprises will be unable to scale their DevOps initiatives without self-service, research firm Gartner predicts.

The advantages of DevOps portals also correspond to the demands of a more remote workforce. As remote and hybrid work environments become the norm, a DevOps self-service portal offers access to multiple tools to improve collaboration. For example, remote teams can generate cloud and infrastructure diagrams and reference architectures to improve issue response times and guide best practices.

Additional capabilities include generating criteria that define and illustrate how to execute automated operations. Organizations can scale DevOps practices efficiently within the bounds of the portal offerings. They can also automate alerts, security and compliance to protect the overall organization.

Key steps to implement self-service DevOps

A predefined application delivery process must be in place to help structure a self-service DevOps offering. A designated platform team should build the portal. Team members must compile the most frequently used resources and configurations. Various teams might use different tools, and a good portal requires close collaboration between DevOps teams to choose and curate the shared toolchains, practices and metrics.

Assign responsibility for automated operations equally and ensure that both operations and development teams can access those procedures as necessary. Creating a software development lifecycle helps identify processes that lead to interruptions, lag times and unproductive communications between teams. Finally, establish metrics to measure the effects of this new DevOps approach. Measuring before and after enables teams to gauge how processes advance and provides data for continued improvements.

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