Putting the Developer in DevOps

The term DevOps has been getting a lot of play lately. While it’s possible (albeit unlikely) that DevOps is a passing fad, my personal opinion is that it’s the next logical step in the maturation of the software development process. Which means that, as a developer, it behooves you to become aware of the tasks that make up DevOps and the options which are available to help you accomplish them.

In case it wasn’t immediately apparently, DevOps is a portmanteau of the words “Developer” and “Operations”. The overarching idea is that consideration is given to the needs of the system administrators during the design and development phase of a project. In some cases, this might mean that the administrators themselves work along side the developers. But at a minimum, the developer must have an understanding of the needs of the system administrator after the application goes live and bake the appropriate hooks and instrumentation into the code before it goes live.

This approach is different from the ‘traditional’ approach. For many (most??), the Dev side of the process involves the creation of the software. Ops, on the other hand, are viewed as simply the people who have to deal with the artifact of the developer’s creative genius once it’s in the hands of real people. These two groups have been treated, by management and users alike, as separate entities. Or is that enmities?

However, in the real world, this division is not optimal. It is well documented that the majority of an application’s life will be spent in production. Doesn’t it make sense to include functionality in the application that helps to ensure that this life will be both productive, helpful and informative? Of course it does. But being obvious doesn’t mean that it has come to pass. Yet.

But by taking the more holistic view that operation functionality is actually just one more aspect of an application’s functionality, it makes sense to address delivery and instrumentation right from the start. This results is a more robust product and, ultimately, provides more value to the users.

At ObjectSharp’s At the Movies event in May, I had the opportunity to demo a new component that will provide some of the functionality necessary to integrate your application with operations. Application Insights is an SDK that is available across most Microsoft platforms, including Web (MVC and Forms), Windows Phone, and Windows Store. It’s primary requirement is that a live Internet connection is necessary to send the instrumentation data to a central repository. You (that is, the Dev of DevOps) can submit custom, hierarchical categories, along with corresponding metrics to the repository. And the repository can be visualized using the portal that is available at Visual Studio Online.





As you might expect, there are more features that are available for to help with DevOps, including server performance tacking, availability monitoring for your Web site (either by hitting a page or by running a simple script) and even a live data stream of events while you are debugging your application. And Application Insights is a locus of regular innovation, with new versions of the SDK being released on a regular cadence. Almost too regular, if you catch my meaning.

You can learn more about Application Insights at the Visual Studio Online site and if you would like to see my demo (or any of the other sessions) from At the Movies, you can find it on Channel 9.