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Change is inevitable, and that’s a good thing, especially when it comes to software development, where it’s all about delivering new and innovative features that improve user experience and quality of life. Additionally, in the event of a service migration, a change can result in improved performance and lower costs. However, reliably driving change is no easy task, especially when it comes to evolving architectures that make up today’s modern cloud environments, which are deeply complex and unpredictable.
When your platform goes down, your business suffers and your reliability is compromised, potentially tarnishing your reputation. Therefore, when dealing with major architectural changes, devops teams should always ask themselves: How much work is behind this change? Is it worth?
Enterprise technology companies are tasked with maintaining both speed and reliability, which requires high-performance engineering practices. In order to improve application quality and performance for customers, the platforms and services provided by these companies must never suffer performance degradation. All software providers face the challenge of continuous optimization or risk being left behind for other more powerful services.
Each year, major cloud service providers release dozens, if not hundreds, of product updates and enhancements, requiring engineering teams to decipher which configuration optimizes cloud and application performance. But if there’s just one problem migrating to the new architecture, the likelihood of a disruption increases dramatically.
Given the high stakes of these service migrations, engineering teams need to plan their moves carefully. Adding to the high stakes of these migrations is the annual frequency of cloud feature releases of concern. Over 90% of IT pros and executives say they are concerned about the innovation rate of the leading cloud providers and their ability to keep up.
To keep up, organizations have implemented innovative approaches to service migrations – with a DevOps practice, feature management, gaining significant traction. Faced with similar challenges in continually improving our platform and interfaces, software developers have turned to feature management to continuously ship and release code while maintaining tight controls that allow for real-time experimentation, canary releases, and instant code rollbacks, should an error causing problems .
For years we have used the LaunchDarkly feature management platform to experiment, manage and optimize software delivery; enables a faster pace of innovation without compromising application reliability. Serverless functions make service migrations a breeze because changing the version of a function called is simply a configuration change.
Experiment, but with the guard rails of observability and feature flags
Leveraging feature management, enterprise technology companies will be able to bring the same features into their cloud optimization initiatives. Feature flag functionality enables features that can speed up experimentation and testing, and enables enterprise technology companies to scale cloud architecture on the fly.
Through experimentation, teams can fix issues—like unoptimized code—that can cause lag in execution times. With feature flags, these releases can be quickly rolled back to restore normal behavior for users. With this level of precision and control, teams can limit experiment duration and exposure, mitigate adverse effects, and contribute to more cautious rollouts. Teams can then run follow-up experiments to ensure reliability and performance while using continuous profiling to troubleshoot the issue in their code.
The control, speed, and scope of these tests are only possible with feature management and observability. With feature flags, teams gain greater control to route traffic to test environments, analyze performance, and quickly restore the original environment without disruption or downtime. In challenging situations like these, engineering teams need solutions that take the stress out of their jobs and give them the skills they need to support continuous improvement initiatives and streamline their infrastructure.
More confidence in innovations
Feature flags and observability are appropriate for organizations large and small, traditional and cloud-native. Today, doing things the old-fashioned way often means doing it the hard way and ultimately slows down innovation. By using Devops techniques in software development and cloud engineering teams, companies can take risks with the confidence to truly innovate.
Propelling platforms to new heights often requires a concerted effort that would otherwise be impossible without the security that feature flags and observability provide. By introducing feature management for cloud optimization and migration initiatives, teams can be both fast and reliable while enabling a culture of constant experimentation and innovation.
Adopting new technologies and techniques to accelerate the pace at which organizations can experiment, test, and deploy new code or architectures is proving invaluable across industries. It’s time that demanding processes like deploying code to production and optimizing cloud infrastructure became faster and easier – not only for our engineers, but also for customers who deserve the highest levels of performance and reliability.
Liz Fong-Jones is a Principal Developer Advocate at Honeycomb.
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