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Scalability Is More than Reactive Automation and a Green Status for Your Golden Signals
By Adam Frank, Vice President of Product, Armory 

The topic of application and infrastructure scalability has always centered on one key point: performance. This meant latency, traffic, errors and saturation metrics (i.e., the four golden signals) had been the sole focal points and implemented automations to optimize them were paramount. However, can you scale your business and increase your revenue and growth on these metrics alone?

Scalability considers the performance of your application and its management efficiency (cost optimization) - both from a people and technology resources perspective - and how well your teams are performing in DORA metrics. It's well past time to think beyond "scalability equals application performance." Instead of focusing exclusively on functionality and the reactive automation necessary to keep the four golden signals green, which is still crucial and should be part of your strategy, you must proactively strategize ways to increase your flexibility, stability, consistency, quality and affordability. This approach empowers you with optimal business agility to provide the best customer experience possible.

To achieve your business goals, do you invest in stability? In agility? In cost optimization? Is there a way you can efficiently invest in all three to maximize your return? Everyone wants to increase productivity, quality, revenue growth while decreasing cost, employee turnover and customer churn. Here's how to achieve these goals and truly scale your infrastructure, applications, and, ultimately your business.

The Core Components of True Scalability

Starting from the customer's vantage point, they are looking for a service that is always available, receives useful improvements without customer effort, is affordable and ultimately provides value in a way they can't see living without.

This means your service must constantly be changing for the better. That means:

  • Embracing observability to understand your applications better, allowing you to build in more reliability and automation to help maintain availability.
  • Utilizing Continuous Deployment to repeatedly provide reliable changes and improvements with the ability to roll back automatically if the change isn't going as intended -- all while maintaining uptime and regular operations.
  • Optimizing spending to provide affordable prices that benefit your bottom line.

Elite development teams and high-growth companies are most commonly established by their time-to-market, their quality and innovation stemming from lead time to change, deployment frequency, cost efficiency, their change failure rate - or better defined as the lack of change failures - and their ability to restore service when things do go sideways. At heart lies a secure and reliable deployment strategy that allows them to release consistent and reliable updates whenever they want or need to. This also means they can better manage their spend and not overcompensate for unknowns. They focus more on their competitive advantage: their differentiation and value to their customers.

Focusing on your true competitive advantage

If a development team understands those core tenets, how do they make it happen? Homebrew tools are common in development and platform engineering, but scalability may be a shortcoming of a DIY approach as complexity increases and focus veers from building sustainable value for your customers. A team dedicated to building their own tools, extending free ones or adapting one that might sort of do the job will not leave enough room to focus resources on your software, which is your competitive advantage.

Time saved from a purpose-built Continuous Deployment solution that automatically commits code to production while maintaining service and operations creates a perfect environment for holistic scalability so teams can prioritize their time and resources better.

At a tactical level, this means you are deploying to multiple clouds and promoting from one environment to the next automatically. You can progress your deployment in a controlled manner, update tightly coupled services and roll back poorly performing changes with a single click, all while automatically understanding the impact on your customers' experience both at the production stage and throughout your environments. You shorten your lead times for changes, accelerating your feedback loops. By leveraging the superpower of Git, you can support multiple versions of deployments simultaneously and deploy from any branch. All of this is accomplished without changing existing deployments packaging (i.e., you are deploying any set of K8s objects together without changing the packaging).

Streamlined deployment processes that provide your development teams with an experience that empowers them to write great code and commit to production - without worrying about the complexity of Kubernetes internals - improves your competitive advantage. Collectively, all of the above decrease the need for multiple resources to build and maintain solutions that are not your competitive advantage and rapidly improve your time-to-market and quality.

Scalability and Continuous Deployment go hand-in-hand

When it comes to scaling your business and investing in tools and processes, asking the right questions is crucial.

  • What will this cost me?
  • Are we building unique and differentiated value for our customers and market?
  • How many resources will I commit away from my core business?
  • What is the solution's performance compared to your benchmarks?
  • Is the solution capable of growing with the business?
  • How long until there is a return on investment?
  • Does this improve my time-to-market, provide me flexibility, increase my stability and enhance customers' experience?

Rethinking the concept of scalability is not as easy as flipping a switch. Companies face many opposing forces and hurdles as they embrace DevOps as a culture and agile as a framework to focus on their competitive advantage and grow their business. Ultimately, this comes down to how skilled your developers are with the resources available, the pace at which change occurs, the complexity of the overall business environment, ever-increasing customer demands, and of course - tighter budgets with the expectation to deliver more software capabilities faster and better.

Fortunately, this enables a virtuous cycle of Continuous Deployment. Increased stability and flexibility empower leaders with optimal business agility. Inevitably, you'll see focused and happy developers creating experiences for satisfied customers, and satisfied customers lead to increased revenue and growth.

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To hear more about cloud native topics, join the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and the cloud native community at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2022 in Detroit (and virtual) from October 24-28. 

About the Author

Adam Frank 

Adam Frank is a product and technology leader with more than 20 years of Development and Operations experience. His imagination and passion for creating development and operations solutions are helping developers and innovations around the world. As Armory's VP, Product, he's focused on delivering products and strategies that help businesses to digitally transform, carry out organizational change, attain optimal business agility, and unlock innovation through software.

Published Monday, October 17, 2022 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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