Everything you need to know about OutSystems DevOps implementation

Everything you need to know about OutSystems DevOps implementation

With the dynamic shifts in customer expectations, maintaining pace with innovation while delivering seamless digital experiences across touchpoints is an accomplishment and challenge for enterprises. To achieve this much-talked about transformation in today's competitive landscape, enterprises must break down data silos and adopt leading-edge technologies and platforms to build or restructure their operations. This is where DevOps principles play a vital role. DevOps breaks down traditional barriers between teams, thus streamlining the application development, testing, deployment, and maintenance processes, and reducing time-to-market. Along with the high-performance low-code platform like OutSystems, DevOps enables reliable and rapid low-code application development and deployment.  

In this blog, we will dive into the common challenges enterprises face with their software development lifecycle (SDLC) and how a leading low-code platform like OutSystems implements DevOps to increase productivity and rapidly deliver robust software products that enhance customer satisfaction. 

What is DevOps and how does it work? 

What is DevOps and how does it work?

The DevOps approach focuses on the primary aspects of collaboration, communication, and integration between the software development (Dev) and IT (Ops) processes. By implementing DevOps principles into the SDLC, enterprises streamline and accelerate their building, testing, deployment, integration, and maintenance of their software solutions, making dynamic innovation accessible and easily practicable. Overall, DevOps implementation accelerates delivery cycles, drives operational efficiency, and results in rapid bug resolutions. 

That said, DevOps processes are built on the following core principles:

  • Seamless collaboration and communication between development and IT: DevOps foster a collaborative culture between software development and IT teams, breaking down silos, increasing transparency, and resulting in faster and efficient product releases. 
  • Continuous integration (CI) approach: While developers push code changes multiple times during a day to a shared repository, the CI approach in SDLC automatically triggers a build that compiles it and runs automated tests to ensure that the code changes doesn’t hamper any existing functionalities.  
  • Continuous deployment (CD) approach: An extension to the CI approach, continuous deployment (CD) protocols involve automatically deploying the code in the staging or production-like environment for further testing. The team performs user acceptance testing, load testing, integration testing, etc. to ensure that the code is always in a releasable stage. Once the code passes all tests, it is then ready for the production environment.  
  • Automation: To minimize human-made errors during the software development process and make the entire process fast and cost-efficient, software automation plays a crucial role. Automation in DevOps implementation involves eliminating the manual and repetitive tasks, empowering teams to focus on more ROI-driven activities. You can choose the processes you wish to automate across the entire software development, testing, integrating, deployment, and maintenance processes. 
  • Continuous monitoring & feedback: DevOps implementation results in continuous monitoring and improvement of software solutions to detect and fix performance issues and bugs. The DevOps team can continuously analyze system health, user behavior, and response times to deliver innovation at scale. 
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): IaC is a practice that involves versioning your infrastructure configurations and storing them as code. This makes it easy for DevOps teams to manage, replicate, and scale environments while reducing configuration errors. 

Why does DevOps matter?

Although DevOps adoption is on a rise by enterprises looking to deliver software products faster into the market and innovate at a pace their business demands, it becomes challenging to identify where to start while implementing the right DevOps tools for version control, CI/CD, test automation, code validation, etc. Coupled with the massive information and array of tools available in the market, organizations struggle to discern where they need to implement DevOps across their SDLC and what objectives they’re willing to achieve with it. 

As per a research from Google’s DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment), organizations can be categorized as high, medium, low, and elite based on their software delivery performance metric benchmarks of deployment frequency, lead time for changes, time to restore service, and change failure rate. Here is what these benchmarks mean:

  • Deployment frequency: This defines the frequency at which your organization deploys code to production or releases it for the end-users. An elite performer deploys multiple times a day while a low performer does so once in six months. 
  • Lead time for changes: This defines the duration an organization takes to go from code committed to code successfully running in production. An elite performer takes less than one hour while a low performer takes over six months to achieve it. 
  • Time to restore service: This defines the time it takes to restore service when a service outage, defect, or incident occurs, severely impacting user experience. An elite performer takes less than one hour while a low performer takes more than six months to restore services. 
  • Change failure rate: This defines the percentage of changes deployed to production or end users that results in degraded services thus requiring immediate remediation. An elite performer change failure rate is between 0-15% while a low performer’s is between 16-30%. 

While the first two metrics determine your DevOps throughout, the remaining two benchmarks define the stability of your DevOps implementation. 

While we discuss these metrics, a pressing question that arises is, why the need to know these and how does it align with my DevOps implementation or strategy? 

Across industrial verticals ranging from BFSI to retail & eCommerce, logistics & transportation, and so on, DevOps implementation plays a crucial role to differentiate their operations from the competition and rapidly deliver agile and user-driven solutions with fewer errors. The matter of fact is that disruption and innovation is a constant  in today’s landscape. There will always be competitors trying to best you, or consumers looking for more engaging and easy solutions, and technologies changing the game. The focus for enterprises should now be implementing the right tools and technologies to speed up application development and enhance business value at reduced costs and time-to-market. 

And this is where DevOps implementation and best practices can help you master agile development with iterative design. 

What challenges do enterprises face throughout SDLC & how does OutSystems DevOps implementation help?

In today’s competitive ecosystem, building an enterprise-grade software application is a complex undertaking. What’s more complex is developing a software solution that is of high-quality, delivers superior experiences, and allows innovation at scale. 

As enterprises commence their DevOps implementation, they might face challenges such as loosely coupled architecture, a complex combination of several tools and products for effective DevOps implementation, and so on, which eventually impacts their software delivery performance metrics and maturity level. As businesses try to navigate through these dynamic requirements, OutSystems high-performance low-code platform presents opportunities and solutions to all the bottlenecks and challenges faced by organizations during DevOps implementation. 

#1: Complex and monolithic applications solved by a loosely coupled architecture 

Challenge: Most legacy architectures are formed by large and complex components tightly integrated with each other, making it challenging to test, deploy, or scale individual modules independently. This slows down the release of new features or updates, as the entire architecture needs to be deployed. Moreover, a failure in any one component results in a cascading ripple effect across all components, resulting in service outage or disruption. Overall, tightly coupled architectures result in higher friction between development and operation teams due to conflicting priorities and objectives. 

Solution: With software architecture being an imperative predictor for achieving continuous delivery, loosely coupled architecture where components and modules are developed and deployed independently offer more room for innovation, scalability, and competitiveness. It allows organizations to build, test, deploy, and scale entire applications or parts of it fast, thus promoting software agility and resilience. With OutSystems DevOps practices, enterprises can focus on iterative development, launching different modules at different times, ensuring continuous software delivery. 

#2: Long release cycles and integration challenges solved by trunk-based development

Challenge: When integrating systems, enterprises often face challenges in merging back the feature/component branch to the main codebase or trunk of the repository, especially for large or legacy modules. This also extends the release cycles as components first need to be accumulated at the branches before integrating with the version control repository. 

Solution: Trunk-based development helps enterprises to counter challenges around complex integration, long release cycles, risky deployments, delayed feedback and inefficient release management. It empowers enterprises to run smaller and manageable code merges without impacting any ongoing development, reducing release cycles duration and time-to-market. OutSystems’ DevOps capabilities provides the same codebase for multiple touchpoints, pre-built APIs, UI’s versioning, and feature toggle library, making the implementation and deployment of modules easier and at scale. With OutSystems trunk-based development, organizations can successfully implement DevOps and build a culture of collaboration, agility, and rapid delivery of high-quality applications. 

#3: Security, compliance and regulatory challenges solved by shift-left on security 

Challenge: Security, undoubtedly, is an integral part of the software development process, however, traditional SDLC follows a reactive (than a proactive) approach to it. As vulnerabilities are detected after the application is deployed to production, it results in slower release cycles, costly bug fixes, and delayed time-to-market of new features. Enterprises need to adopt a security-first mindset and proactively address related issues and concerns in the early stages of development. 

Solution: Shift-left on security in DevOps empowers organizations to follow a proactive approach to security, compliance and regulatory challenges. Right from architecture design to development, deployment, and maintenance, shift-left approach is implemented to the entire software development lifecycle. By detecting and identifying potential security issues early on during development, development and operations teams can accelerate release cycles, reduce the likelihood of security breaches, and build robust and compliant software products. Shift-left on security also allows enterprises to continuously assess and improve security protocols to fulfill required compliance and regulatory requirements. And with a high-performance low-code platform like OutSystems, you can automate the security and vulnerability testing procedures across the SDLC and even while integrating with external third-party systems.

#4: Traceability and auditing solved by built-in version control 

Challenge: As several developers together work on the same codebase, it often results in conflicts during code merging or when deploying different versions to different environments. Without version control, rollback to a previous version is impossible in events of critical issues. It is why enterprises must maintain a clear history of code changes and configuration for effective code management and control throughout the SDLC. 

Solution: Built-in version control empowers enterprises to consistently maintain code quality, traceability, reusability and stability. OutSystems-led version management empowers organizations to store code and modules automatically in a centralized repository with clear details around code changes, merging only approved changes to the main codebase, and maintaining libraries and frameworks for effective code reusability. Its modular architecture and team collaboration module allows developers to easily navigate through different versions, rollback to an earlier one when critical incidents occur, track publication dates and authors for each version, and ensure the reliability of software deployment. 

#5: High deployment overheads solved by deployment automation

Challenge: Manual deployments are time-consuming, heavily relies on individual-specific knowledge, and error-prone, often resulting in increased downtime and time-to-market, inconsistencies between environments with varying configurations, and introduce security issues. This becomes a bigger hurdle when enterprises frequently scale their software applications up and down due to varying loads. 

Solution: Deployment automation is a critical aspect of successful DevOps implementation as it solves challenges around scalability, high overheads, resource availability, and limited visibility into the process. With OutSystems DevOps approach, you can leverage the convenient one-click feature to deploy user interfaces, workflows, integration components, and databases. Even better, OutSystems simplifies and accelerates deployment and application lifecycle management with AI-powered automation, runtime configurations such as batch scheduling, web service endpoints, along with built in governance. The high-performance low-code platform is highly scalable, and adapts to all your business requirements. To boost the performance and scalability of your software application, OutSystems allows you to integrate with different systems via APIs, SOAP and REST web services, and Forge components.

#6: Development and operations streamlined by CI/CD processes

Challenge: As mentioned before, CI/CD processes are the cornerstone for a successful DevOps implementation. During traditional development, integrating code changes is a complex and time-consuming process. Combined with slow and inconsistent testing procedures, it leads to bottlenecks in the development process and long release cycles. As developers do not have visibility into the development and deployment pipeline, manual processes can result in costly bug fixes especially at the production stage. 

Solution: Implementing CI/CD processes helps enterprises tackle all the challenges associated with traditional development and testing, resulting in reliable and higher-quality software delivery. DevOps teams can break down code changes for automated testing and near real-time feedback. Whether your enterprise is in the early stage of implementing DevOps or are already on their CI/CD journey and wish to explore more opportunities for automation, OutSystems and its built-in capabilities can help you solve all your use cases. 

  • OutSystems eliminates the need for multiple tests as is the case with traditional software development. Service Studio visual development environment in OutSystems prevents the introduction of faulty logic and broken dependencies to code. 
  • Lifetime, the infrastructure environment console in OutSystems checks code integrity and validates the overall quality of the software before releasing it to the next target environment, thus making deployment easy and error-free. 
  • With OutSystems you can build platform-agnostic applications that can be integrated with any type of system irrespective of its underlying framework or architecture. This means you can integrate any testing framework, automation platform, from any vendor with your OutSystems’ CI/CD pipeline via APIs, SOAP and REST web services, Forge components, or accelerators. 
  • With OutSystems, you can troubleshoot issues and bugs in your apps via its visually-driven and easy-to-use analytical dashboards and auditing tools, thus solving bottlenecks in real-time.

DevSecOps: The future of DevOps 

Traditional software development often treats security as a separate concern, addressed only towards the end of the development cycle or during deployment. This approach can lead to vulnerabilities and security gaps, as security issues might go unnoticed until late stages of development. DevSecOps depicts development, security and operations to represent a collective approach of automating the integration of security at every stage of the application development. The framework works as a “Shift-left” approach where developers take responsibility for requirements gathering and analysis all the way to architecture design implementation, coding, management, deployment, testing and software development. 

DevOps vs DevSecOps: A step forward for stringent security 

While we talk about DevOps, DevSecOps also becomes an important point of discussion. So what is the difference between DevOps and DevSecOps? While both operate on the same methodology, here are some differences between the two.

Point of DifferenceDevSecOps OutSystems DevOps
SecurityDevSecOps involves continuous security processes and stringent testing throughout application development. Security forms a critical aspect of OutSystems DevOps and, therefore, complies with the procedures of DevSecOps.
Team collaborationWith a higher transparency between development teams and visibility into the processes, DevSecOps foster a collaborative culture that results in superior, reliable, and cost-effective software development.OutSystems DevOps allows for modular development that support multi-developer teams and multi-team enterprises. If required, developers can even collaborate on the same module and deploy code to the front-end servers in a single click. 
AgilityDevSecOps balances security and speed together to deliver secure applications with compliant codebase and seamless integrations at rapid time-to-market.With version control, one-click deployment, build validation, impact analysis capabilities, and built-in comprehensive auditing and monitoring tools, OutSystems DevOps ensures agility, resilience, and continuous innovation.

DevOps implementation with OutSystems low-code: The steps

As enterprises look to build a faster and more efficient pipeline for software development, DevOps implementation, by translation, becomes imperative. 

However, please note that there is no ideal model that can help you with DevOps implementation. As all enterprises adopt different procedures and steps, they can design a workflow that suits their business needs. These steps are based on the broad consensus of what teams mostly practice when looking to implement DevOps. And if enterprises employ a modern development platform that comes with built-in DevOps capabilities and support integration with major external systems, then the process becomes much easier and approachable. 

With OutSystems, enterprises can leverage its strength, extensibility, and flexibility to reimagine their entire software development into a more streamlined and simpler approach. 

Step #1: Plan

Planning involves the translating of business requirements and workflows into a model to create high-quality mockups that provide a clear overview of a software’s capabilities, visual design, and user experience. Once the prototype is approved, then DevOps can move ahead to develop them. 

Step #2: Develop & Test

Traditional development involves time-consuming coding and building of a software application. Regardless of where you are in your DevOps implementation journey, with traditional development user expectations aren’t met and the market dynamics aren’t considered as they should. It is why enterprises prefer a more streamlined and easier approach to software development that involves adopting low-code rapid application development platforms like OutSystems. Its visual development environment, pre-built components, one-click deployment, drag-and-drop interface, reusable modules, and automation, AI, and analytics capabilities to successfully implement DevOps to your enterprise apps. 

  • The visual development environment of OutSystems, Service Studio and its AI capabilities empowers developers with the predicted logic or workflow tailored to their application and suggestions on attributes that must be a part of the app. With such intelligence, citizen developers can easily develop simple modules to full-grade enterprise applications with minimal code writing. Its extensibility allows experienced and novice developers to build tailored features with coding or via its built-in capabilities and drag-and-drop functionalities. 
  • The TrueChange engine comes built in with OutSystems platform and performs the quality analysis of your code and its impact on the underlying application. When implementing any changes to the architecture, the TrueChange engine checks those changes, assesses the overall feasibility of the model after implementing the changes, and also notes for performance issues. It provides developers with arguments and warnings to rectify before proceeding ahead with the development. The best part, developers can continue building the module until the issues have been resolved. 
  • One-click deployment in OutSystems allows you to break free from the tedious cycle of compiling code, integrating systems, troubleshooting errors, bug fixes and resolution and instead deploy the entire user interface of databases, workflows, and integration components in a single click. OutSystems comes with a dependency analysis engine to ensure the smooth performance, speed, and overall health of the application. 
  • Oftentimes, several developers simultaneously work on the same module, thus requiring to merge the code at the end of the process. Compare and Merge in OutSystems initially tries to merge the code via automatic integration. If not feasible, developers can review the merge status on the Compare and Merge window along with all the possible conflicts. Once reconciled, merge requests are approved and executed. 
  • Workflow Builder in OutSystems allows you to design the step-by-step workflow of an application and even deploys it to the development environment. In case you outgrow your current workflow, you can convert it to Service Studio and continue your development efforts there. 
  • Experience Builder in OutSystems allows you to create visually-appealing prototypes of your B2C mobile apps and even generates production-ready code in minutes. 

Step #3: Test

No greater emphasis can be placed on the importance of testing in the software development lifecycle. However, testing is usually perceived as a time-driven task and even after proper testing, there is no guarantee that a user might not encounter a bug in the final version. It is why there is a pronounced need for fast, efficient, and automated testing procedures that make testing streamlined and simpler. 

  • Owing to its visual development approach of designing and managing workflows and application logic and continuous integration validation protocols built into the platform, OutSystems-developed applications result in fewer bug fixes and testing cycles than other technologies. This significantly reduces application development time and accelerates time-to-market. 
  • OutSystems self-healing capabilities checks for issues, automatically rectifies them, and even notifies developers on identified bugs that must be addressed. 
  • The built-in continuous integration validation capabilities in OutSystems monitors interdependencies, vigilantly assesses software applications for bugs, redundant logic, or broken dependencies to ensure optimum performance, and automates database updates. 
  • An OutSystems deployment plan allows you to move app changes, version tag details, deployment notes, and settings from one environment to the other. This checks for the overall health of the application, the integrity of its packages, functionalities, etc. to ensure consistent performance and speed. 
  • OutSystems allows developers to undertake component, unit, API, integration, functional, end-to-end testing, and other best practices for enhanced security, stability, and performance. 

Step #4: Deploy

Deployment refers to the process of deploying a tagged version of the application from one environment (for example, development) to another (for example production). Deployment occurs throughout the development lifecycle and OutSystems comes with a unified console called Lifetime to enable the seamless deployment of all application changes, database updates, and functions. It provides some of the following state-of-the-art deployment capabilities:

  • Developers can tag application deployment with a version number to identify all the changes made and even roll back to a previous version in case of critical bugs detection. 
  • DevOps teams can move the tagged application version from its current environment to the target environment. 
  • Release also forms an integral part of the deploy process, which involves deploying a release version to the pre-production environment, assessing the application’s feasibility with a small pool of target users, performing additional testing procedures, and then, after it passess all tests, releasing it to the final users. 

Step #5: Secure

OutSystems’ secure runtime environment and built-in app lifecycle management capabilities, accelerates the development and deployment of secure applications throughout. By default, OutSystems applications come with an extra level of security. 

  • As the leading low-code development platform leverages a visual development environment that has to be converted to standard .NET code, OutSystems employs secure code patterns to do so, which automatically protects the app from common web and mobile vulnerabilities. Therefore, all OutSystems apps are protected from top 10 most-critical security threats by OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project). 
  • OutSystems Sentry, offers extra security, risk management and monitoring for cloud users. 
  • OutSystems AppShield acts as an additional layer of security that automatically adds during DevOps processes to make apps more resistant to intrusion and tampering. 
  • OutSystems comes with a built-in logic for identity management concerning end-user authentication methods such as the following:
  1. OutSystems stores end user information in its database but not along with the credentials. Instead, it computes a cryptographic hash using the credentials, storing only the results. 
  2. It employs Active Directory, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), SAML 2.0, Azure AD, Okta, IdP Connector, SSO and IdP Mobile for enhanced identity management. 
  • OutSystems Forge provides third-party connectors to integrate applications with external authentication services. 
  • Access controls ensure that only authorized personnel review the visual building blocks. 
  • AI Mentor Studio analyzes application codebase, checks its runtime performance, and also implements stringent security scans. 

Step #7: Monitor & Respond

Once the application is released to end users, the monitoring and responding stage commences that involves resolving all the errors arising during every user’s experience. DevOps teams can go through these access and error logs, resolve them all effortlessly without investing too much time in writing the code. 

  • OutSystems Service Center collects and logs all details and user activities for several indicators.
  • Service Center Analytics allows developers to filter all the pre-aggregated reports by date and type. 
  • With OutSystems Lifetime, developers can identify, troubleshoot, and resolve all performance issues encountered by end-users. 
  • OutSystems Forge comes with several monitoring tools such as analytics APIs, business activity monitoring, MonitorProbe, and infrastructure monitoring to ensure the performance and stability of your applications. 

Embrace the DevOps vision with trusted OutSystems Partner

Undoubtedly, to maintain pace with the current market needs and user expectations, DevOps will continue to play an instrumental role. However, successful DevOps implementation is more than just a checklist, it is about choosing the right toolscape that accomplishes all your goals. OutSystems DevOps comes with a built-in toolscape that can help you with DevOps implementation and developing enterprise-grade apps that are scalable, agile, and innovative. 

As an OutSystems Partner, we have assisted several enterprises in building modern mobile, web and intranet applications while strictly following all DevOps best practices and we can fulfill your business cases too. Connect with our certified experts to know how OutSystems low-code capabilities helps you build a successful and growing DevOps culture.

Narendra Maheshwari

Solution Architect

Narendra is a Solution Architect at Ranosys. Working on the OutSystems platform since 2014. He has 11 years of IT experience as a Software Developer, Tech lead and Solution Architect with much enthusiasm and experience in developing software systems. He has been successful in bending abstract system requirements into real software solutions having high security and performance. Experience to set up cloud and on-premises OutSystems server. 

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