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Kit Plummer
Software Engineer :: Techitect :: Evangelist
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In Metrics We Trust

As I’ve stated in the past Trust is the Cornerstone of DevOps Culture and I think we’re getting closer at the root apparatus for creating trust. I do, now, believe that it is more than just QA, providing assurance of functional and non-functional requirements. The problem, that is becoming clearer to me, is the state of change (I know it is a great oxymoron) that is always in play on both sides of the lifecycle (dev and ops). Not only are requirements a moving target, but so is the solution. Agile has taught us to treat the solution as a dynamic entity that is reacquiring the end-state – based on requirements, technology, and people. So, there’s no way QA (process and people) can keep up with the lot, in an effective way that allows for continuous delivery, or even “more” rapid delivery without some means for providing a feedback loop.

That feedback loop is created by metrics. But, metrics that identify the performance of the applications (UI, internal, external, asynchronous processes, etc.) are well beyond just access and availability. Effective Code Instrumentation is really more than “live” tracking a block of code, or capturing log files. Instrumentation also goes beyond failure cases. Metrics provided by instrumentation need to look beyond just a single application, or a single relationship (front-end to database query) and into the full architecture – all tiers.

DevOps is here to help. By creating DevOps-minded environment for Operations to work directly with Developers, early in the cycle (and each cycle) there’s an opportunity to build better applications/services that include the required instrumentation triggers. QA can be included to define the appropriate test cases, and monitoring patterns that will identify trends (especially those associated with changes to infrastructure, business activities, and general load). Obviously, the actual strategy for which metrics are best suited is part of the problem. The Dev, QA, Operations triad is required to work the strategy from the start, and to continuous evolve the strategy – learning from all angles as the solution matures.

Did you know there’s actually an open standard for instrumenting code? Wonder if anybody actually uses it in their Apache HTTP server runtimes.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it at Devopsdays 2011 – Mountain View

Help us out – and vote on a t-shirt design for the event too:

In Metrics We Trust – could be a really cool t-shirt design. (I think this was actually Patrick Debois’ idea. :))

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