Written By: Daniel Kulvicki, Solutions Director at Calavista


DevOps has made it possible for organizations to develop and release stable applications faster than ever. However, an organization with a proper DevOps pipeline should always include Continuous Monitoring through the development lifecycle. Continuous Monitoring (CM) is a fully automated process that provides real-time data in all stages of an organization’s DevOps pipeline. This data interprets any security risks or compliance issues before the application gets to the production environment.

This article will explain what Continuous Monitoring is and how it impacts DevOps today. Let us dive in!

What is Continuous Monitoring?

Continuous monitoring is one of the most critical processes of DevOps. It is an automated process that allows software development organizations to observe and detect security threats and compliance issues throughout the development lifecycle. Continuous Monitoring also provides automated metric reporting to measure the application’s performance and track the user experience trends.

Continuous Monitoring is crucial to all the stages of software development. It enhances smooth collaboration between the development team, Quality Assurance, and the business functionality teams.

For example, the DevOps team releases an application update; the customer service team will depend on Continuous Monitoring (CM) to identify any complaints from the end-user. The development team will automatically address these complaints quickly. Without Continuous Monitoring processes in place, an organization is usually blind to negative customer sentiment.

In simpler terms, Continuous Monitoring provides feedback on errors, security threats, and compliance issues so that the teams can address or rectify these issues faster.

What is the importance of Continuous Monitoring in DevOps?

Continuous Monitoring delivers the visibility needed in order to help drive greater quality for the entire product. Organizations are now using DevOps to develop multiple applications simultaneously. This means that the developers upload their specific code to a central repository consistently. Continuous Monitoring minimizes the chances of incorrect code getting past the various testing environments. CM automatically detects and reports these errors so that the response team can address these issues in real-time.

Other than identifying and reporting errors, Continuous Monitoring comes with additional benefits:

Enhanced visibility and security

DevOps teams rely on automated processes to analyze data across all the stages of an organization’s DevOps pipeline. Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) are some of the most crucial steps of DevOps. However, these processes involve consistent changes to the code. Continuous Monitoring ensures that erroneous code does not get to the production environment. It will detect these errors as soon as the developers integrate the code in the central code repository. The response team provides a solution to these errors as soon as they are detected through real-time reporting.

Continuous Monitoring allows the operations team to analyze data throughout the DevOps pipeline. This way, they can track any security threats and address them immediately. CM also ensures that the team does not miss any crucial incidents or trends.

Instant Feedback

Continuous Monitoring involves a constant feedback loop. This feedback is essential to optimizing applications to meet the end-user needs. At the same time, the seniors at an organization can use this feedback to make informed decisions that align with the business goals. DevOps is about delivering rapidly without compromising the quality and functionality of the applications.

Real-Time Metrics Reporting

In a development setting, the teams work together to release multiple apps at the same time. However, without a proper continuous monitoring strategy, this can often pose a challenge. It is due to the rapid and frequent changes from different developers and the combined processes of DevOps methodology. It all needs to happen in a controlled environment with real-time reporting of metrics.

Continuous Monitoring tools provide automated reporting of metrics at each stage of the DevOps pipeline. You will need a tool that can look at the team’s productivity. It is also crucial to have a tool that can analyze your processes’ vulnerability and compliance issues.

Continuous Monitoring alerts the operator in any case of a broken code before the downtime occurs. In some cases, the operator can assign automated actions based on the organization’s risk analysis and DevOps strategy.

Enhanced Business Performance

Executives in an organization can use data from the continuous monitoring processes to make time-efficient and cost-effective decisions. In addition, the business functions team can use the metric report to optimize the sales and marketing processes which will enhance the overall business performance.

For instance, the team can use the data to define the key performance indicators of the business. The organization can also benefit from continuous monitoring and produce a customized DevOps pipeline.

Better Automation

Automation is the backbone of DevOps processes, especially when it comes to metrics reporting. Automation is a necessity for all the stages of DevOps. Now, it becomes even more efficient when an organization integrates deployment automation with monitoring tools.

Not only does this provide better reporting, but it also enhances smooth collaboration between the developers and the operators. They do not need to go back and forth to analyze data and fix issues. Continuous monitoring automation alerts the operators whenever there is a bug in the development phase. The operations team will alert the response team and have the bugs fixed in real-time. This process reduces the chance for bugs to reach the production environment.

With automation, the team can also assign automated actions for repetitive tasks to allow a smooth feedback loop in all development phases. As a result, organizations adopt DevOps to allow faster and continuous delivery of high-quality applications.

Three Types of Continuous Monitoring in DevOps

Security threats and compliance issues are some of the challenges that software development organizations face today. However, a strategic continuous monitoring process allows DevOps teams to foresee these problems. In addition, continuous monitoring helps organizations stop malicious attacks from outside, unauthorized access, or control failures. There are three different areas, or types, of Continuous Monitoring in DevOps that help organizations combat the security threats and compliance issues they’re faced with.

Infrastructure Monitoring

Good infrastructure enhances your application delivery. DevOps teams can use infrastructure monitoring to collect and analyze data to point out any disruptions or incidents that may occur. It includes monitoring the operating system, storage, user permissions, and the overall server status and health.

Network Monitoring

On the other hand, network monitoring looks at the performance, including server bandwidth, latency, and availability. As a result, the operations and QA teams can scale the organization’s resources and distribute the workloads evenly through continuous network monitoring.

Application Monitoring

Lastly, application monitoring analyzes and fixes performance issues. The team can rely on application monitoring to analyze app error rate, uptime, user experience, and system response.

Best Practices for Continuous Monitoring in DevOps

Continuous monitoring should be applied in all areas of the DevOps pipeline for accurate metrics and timely response. Below are the 4 best practices for continuous monitoring:

1. Define the organization’s scope of Continuous Monitoring implementation

Like all the processes of DevOps, you will need to identify your scope for Continuous Monitoring implementation. This involves a thorough risk analysis to determine the processes that you will prioritize when implementing CM. For instance, if you are in the finance industry, you may want to analyze the security risks before settling on the processes to monitor.

To do this, you will need to collect as much information as possible about your DevOps Pipeline. Then, by analyzing this data, you can understand what the organization requires to perform at an optimal level.

Choose to monitor processes that will provide crucial feedback that will help you improve your environment to enhance your overall business performance.

2. Use metrics and historical data to determine trends in risk management

Analyzing historical data is an excellent way to decide what to monitor based on risk analysis. For instance, historical data reveals the security threats or compliance issues the company has faced in the past. This way, you can use the trends and apply continuous monitoring to the relevant processes accordingly.

3. Incorporate automation in all stages of developments

Once you identify the processes you want to automate, it is crucial to automate the monitoring process. Automating continuous monitoring leaves the team to focus on other essential tasks. Besides, it aids in risk mitigation as the operators are notified of any security threats that occur. The operator will then alert the response team to resolve these issues immediately.

As with automation, it is best to include continuous monitoring in all stages of the DevOps workflow.

4. Choose an appropriate monitoring tool

Getting the correct DevOps monitoring tool is crucial to successful and consistent tracking. Using the data collected, you can choose a monitoring tool that best suits your DevOps workflow. You should therefore outline your preferred functionalities for your monitoring tool.

An excellent monitoring tool should include reporting and diagnostic features. It should also have an easy-to-use dashboard, one that stakeholders, developers, and operations teams can learn quickly. Continuous monitoring is all about providing relevant data to help improve the DevOps workflow of an organization. Thus, your chosen tool should collect vast amounts of data. It should also include notifications to alert the admin immediately to a security risk, or compliance issue is arising throughout the DevOps pipeline.

Some companies prefer custom-built DevOps monitoring tools, while others will use third-party tools. However, the tools must align with the goals of the organization. In addition, companies should incorporate continuous monitoring in all stages of DevOps as identifying issues arising is crucial to fast and high-quality application delivery.

Conclusion

Now that you have a good idea on what Continuous Monitoring is and the benefits that it grants, our next blog will dive into the actual metrics that allow us to fully gauge the quality of the products we are delivering. If you have any detailed questions about Continuous Monitoring, I would be happy to answer them!