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How to raise the operational capability of your software systems

Author: Provotar Olga

     Since software systems have become more distributed and interrelated, vendors face a huge challenge: to make certain that software products are sufficiently functional during their production lifecycle which can be also called an “operational capability”, and consequently, to find a possibility to monitor its operational patterns.

     In order to enhance shared understanding of the software products via tight interactivities which is actually the basic DevOps method, below several recommendations are listed which are called to help your team in setting more effective cooperation to improve operational capability of your software solutions.

  1. Cooperate by logging using activity ID to improve visibility and to get more in-process data

  Issue 1: having poor observation possibility is one of the basic problems when managing distributed software.

   When the development of a comprehensive software production process, it is critically important for the teams to perceive logging as a top-priority issue. Analyzing log tracking data obtained from various devices is an efficient tool to control reactions and flows of the software systems being processed. Being equipped with latest logging instruments a developer can log to the document or STDOUT in case of dealing with a server or a container accordingly. Later, the logs are self-accumulated in a main detectable log storage which can be accessed via User Interface and HTTP Application Programming Interface.

   Until quite recently a method of logging was used mainly to fix the error which was pretty inefficacious. At the same time logging can be an effective tool for tracking application performance, for instance, by applying enum to show the well-marked statuses that can be also called an activity ID. Database Connection Opened and New User Registered can be perfect examples of such deployment.

    Besides, OpsLogger can be considered a successful case of creating logging store which applies methodology similar to the ID procedure.

   When determination and cooperating based on these critical activities the development teams possess a deeper perception of the software system they produce and launch. Therefore, the role of logging goes beyond error-correction area and provides with essential in-process vision.

   Important is that the team members log only on certain stages of software operation process, that’s why it is necessary to justify the reason for each individual case of logging. Such an approach helps us to prevent the situation when the software operation process gets too much burden from viewers. Balanced overview loading on software allows generation of extremely useful data verified and controlled by system-focused staff.

   Conclusion: deployment of enum-sourced ID along with logging helps to analyze software system operation patterns.

  1. Applying Run Book sheets for determination of functional parameters in advance

    Issue 2: Functional features haven’t been accentuated or focused later than required.

   It's a common situation when functional features of software systems are resolved too late or they are left without any attention which significantly aggravates production eco-system. One of the most efficient tools to deal with such cases is to deploy Run Book sheets which represent themselves paper sheets where the basic functional requirements are listed. After each requirement, there is space for team members to bring the solutions or recommendations into. In addition, the big-scale format of paper sheet fosters active team discussions of the functional features. One more good thing is Run Book sheets can be accessed publicly.

   The most productive way to deploy Run Book sheets method is to assign software development team or product release ream on the determination of the basic functional characteristics as the developers will aspire to get more operational data to fill the sheets out. On this stage software structure, the transformation is likely to take place.

   Conclusion: utilization of Rub Book sheets allows identification of functionals parameters to commit to within team discussion circle.

  1. Perform functional testing on final points

    Issue 3: New set-ups often result in failures.

   When new deployments fail, it is disappointing, especially when this happens because of wrong settings of the development ecosystem. The most effective way to eliminate excessive uncertainty from new deployment issues is to conduct functional testing of each element by using HTTP tools.

    If we take a closer look at each individual element or process, all of them have functional testing edge points that respond with HTTP 200 when the process is normal and with HTTP 500 if there is something wrong about it. In fact, you can set more detailed responses to see a bigger picture.

    It is also worthwhile to arrange to assist final points for the processes such as data storage which is not equipped with original HTTP functionality. It will be helpful to establish basic ecosystem control panel with minimum efforts allocated and in turn, the developers will be able to see the status of each element on the surface.

    Such an approach can bring the maximum benefits when the development teams are cooperating between “correct” and “incorrect” definitions. In a long view, you will able to identify really useful interconnections between process parameters.

    Conclusion: the functional testing of the final points allows diagnostics of the health status of the elements and processes.

  1. Use inter-linkage ID to get more detailed transactional tracking

    Issue 4: it may be important to know what servers have processed the data transaction.

   Since the range of software operational stations is growing comprising servers, data storage tanks, Internet of Things etc., development teams are facing the challenge to be able to model the request path through various processing points. Indeed, some of these points may be set in the wrong way or some settings have been skipped which allows detection of a problem on certain stages of software operation procedure.

   It is critical to identify the point when a problem takes place, therefore it will take less time to fix it and to restart system operation. In order to do this, you may employ correlation ID that will help you to enter the software system from its surface and to descend until the incorrect element or part of the process is detected.

   Similarly, this approach can be more efficient if you are deploying it when dealing with multiple teams on tracking process patterns. Interconnection will be of use for developers to generate more functional software products being a productive tool for continuous product improvement.

    Conclusion: using interconnection ID for tracking software performance enables the development team to possess deeper knowledge on system’s operational patterns.

  1. Taking into account the intermediate user’s behavior is also a priority

    Issue 5: hard operability of software implies low-quality User Experience.

   When chasing the objective to make key users satisfied, the development team are often inclined to leave the interests of intermediate users behind the scope. But the intermediate or also called secondary users such as testing engineers, release and operation specialists have their opinion regarding software operation efficacy too and this opinion has to be valued. In particular, if the product is hard for testing, launching and navigating, it is a huge threat for a vendor in terms of potential financial loss.

   To avoid this sort of risk you are suggested to involve lightweight user archetype to outline the requirements, expectations, and worries of testing engineers, release engineers, operation staff and other members of a company who deal with software product as intermediate users.

   If handled properly, user persona delivers a virtual configuration of most expected approaches and features anticipated by software production staff to be provided in the generation process. When facilitating software testing, launching and operation capacities, as a result, you produce more sustainable and flexible products which will definitely find their customer on the market.

   Conclusion: deployment of lightweight user archetypes facilitates intermediate software generation processes by including the requests of testing, release and operation staff.

   Focus on operational model design

  Concentrating on functional features and elements your team will be able to generate software which passes the production process easily. In order to obtain outstanding functionality, it is critically important to establish clear and productive cooperation between multiple teams using the aforementioned approaches.

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