Businesses work hard to navigate the unknown by wisely managing their finances during uncertain times. Around 50% of organizations are taking steps to make their IT budgets more efficient.
In this context, the question arises: how can businesses optimize IT infrastructure costs and gain a competitive edge? This is where DevOps practices come into play.
By promoting collaboration and automation between development and operations teams, DevOps reduces manual effort, minimizes downtime, and maximizes resource usage. Ultimately leading to cost savings and improved IT infrastructure management.
So, we’ve used our extensive software development experience and DevOps expertise to share everything about it in this article. It focuses on DevOps best practices and tools, providing a detailed guide to reduce IT infrastructure costs effectively.
What is DevOps for IT Infrastructure Optimization?
DevOps is a way of working that brings together the team who develops software (dev) and the team who makes sure that software runs smoothly (ops). It’s a combination of culture (how people think and work together) and technology.
The primary focus of DevOps is to achieve faster and more efficient delivery of business software and services. This gives companies a competitive edge over competitors who still lean on traditional methods of software development and IT infrastructure management. As proof, DevOps practices reduce development time by 41% and support service request processing time by 60%.
The DevOps lifecycle characterizes its approach as continuous integration and delivery, symbolized by the infinity loop. This stands for the ongoing collaboration of development and operations teams throughout the entire software development process.
To ensure effective coordination, the teams rely on eight phases within the DevOps lifecycle. On the left side of the loop, you’ll find the components essential for development. While on the right side, all components are related to operations.
Usually, we associate DevOps with software development but it’s also a great tool for IT infrastructure management. It allows you to automate essential configuration processes with minimal human intervention. DevOps also helps reduce support costs and eliminates the potential for error.
When is DevOps needed for IT infrastructure optimization?
- You have a complex IT infrastructure with multiple components and frequent code changes.
- If your infrastructure needs to handle variable workloads or experiences peaks in demand.
- You need to monitor infrastructure performance and generate alerts for potential issues constantly.
- Your IT infrastructure is large-scale, and there’s a need to maintain consistent configurations across different environments.
It’s possible to overcome the challenges mentioned above by embracing DevOp’s best practices. Namely, automation, Continuous Integration & Deployment (CI/CD), Infrastructure as Code (IaC), and collaboration. Supporting this notion, a McKinsey study suggests that DevOps reduces server and IT environment update time tenfold.
4 DevOps Best Practices for IT Cost Savings
Despite widely adopting DevOps, over 85% of companies still face implementation challenges. That’s why we’ve compiled DevOps best practices we use in our company so that you avoid common difficulties and failures.
#1. Implementing an Effective CI/CD Pipeline
CI and CD’s main role is to automate the core aspect of IT infrastructure management and ensure reliable software delivery.
In Continuous Integration (CI) software engineers regularly share their code changes and updates with each other through a shared repository. This way they make sure everything fits well together.
The key aspects of continuous integration include:
- using a version control system for codebase management and version tracking,
- setting up automated build systems,
- employing automated unit tests.
Continuous delivery (CD) is the process that goes after Continuous Integration (CI). In this stage, software engineers automate the deployment process that provides swift software updates.
Continuous delivery involves:
- using deployment tools (Kubernetes or Docker) to automate the process,
- conducting automated tests before deployment,
- rolling out updates and features incrementally.
To demonstrate the functionality of CI/CD pipelines, let’s consider our experience implementing them while working on an educational metaverse solution. We employed Jenkins pipelines for both our frontend and backend applications, enabling an automated build, test, and deployment process.
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This approach allowed our software engineers to deliver code to the infrastructure without any additional manual actions. The development team could swiftly verify their changes in real environments. Our pipelines consistently delivered code within minutes. Thus reducing the chances of human errors or overlooking certain changes, such as deploying a new database schema.
#2. Embracing Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC)
Similar to giving instructions to ChatGPT to get the desired results, you use Infrastructure as Code for your IT infrastructure management.
Instead of manually setting up each component, you write down instructions and configurations in code. Then the tools (Terraform or AWS Cloud Formation) handle this code to automatically provision and manage your cloud infrastructure. This way you save time, ensure consistency, and get easy replication and modification of your infrastructure setup.
To make sure you implement IaC successfully consider:
- Codifying all infrastructure specifications (components, configurations, dependencies, scaling requirements, etc.)
- Reducing documentation in infrastructure as code to avoid outdated information and rely on the code as the accurate documentation source.
- Applying microservice architecture to have modular infrastructure components that are easier to manage and update.
- Defining secure configurations, such as access controls, firewall rules, encryption settings, and adherence to compliance standards.
- Executing automated tests to validate your infrastructure code.
- Setting up monitoring and logging for your infrastructure resources.
We used IaC while working on a client’s project, the eLearning solution for international exam training. For this, we leveraged Terraform modules, which are abstractions of resources organized into groups. That helped us to enhance infrastructure deployment time, reduce maintenance efforts, and offer better support.
#3. Adopting Container Orchestration
Container orchestration is the process of managing a large number of software containers that are running on multiple machines or servers.
Putting it simply, there’s a central control system with self-contained units (containers). They have everything to run the application, including the code, libraries, and dependencies.
Now, if you have just a few containers, you can manually start/stop them, and make sure they are running properly. But when you have a large number of containers, things can quickly become complicated.
And container orchestration handles this problem. It provides a set of tools and techniques to automate the management of containers. This lets you decide how to deploy, communicate, and scale containers according to your needs.
Currently, Kubernetes is a popular tool used to manage and organize containers. That’s why we have incorporated it into several of our projects, including a social networking solution. Our DevOps team leveraged Kubernetes to ensure the backend applications and services run smoothly and can handle lots of users.
This system also helped us to streamline various routine processes, such as:
- Creation and updates of DNS records;
- Injection and rotation of secrets;
- Deployments with auto-scaling capabilities.
To make the deployment and management of applications on Kubernetes even easier, we used a tool called Helm. It’s a package manager that helped us install, update, and manage applications on Kubernetes. With Helm, our software engineers could easily adjust the application’s settings on their own. And there wasn’t any need for DevOps team assistance each time.
#4. Using Cloud-Based Infrastructure
While it’s not a necessity for DevOps, migrating to the cloud is definitely a smart move. Cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and GCP offer a range of benefits in terms of flexibility and scalability.
For example, during peak traffic periods on a metaverse platform for remote collaboration. With cloud IT infrastructure you can quickly provision additional servers to handle the increased user traffic and scale back down during off-peak periods. Thus optimizing performance.
You can also reduce your IT infrastructure costs when using cloud computing. At Visartech, we had such a case while working on a client’s project, Metaverse for Enterprise-Level Businesses.
Here’s what we did: we picked the right type of Amazon EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud) instance to save on server costs. We ran tests to figure out the minimum requirements for the instances to handle the necessary load. As a result, we cut down the expenses for the production environment by 80%. We also developed a solution to start or stop environments based on admin user requests from the admin console. This way, we avoided spending money on the environment when it wasn’t being used, like at night or on weekends.
Benefits of Optimized IT Infrastructure
IT infrastructure goes beyond mere operational efficiency. According to an IBM study, organizations consider keeping IT infrastructure stable essential for a couple of reasons. It drives current and future business strategies, boosts revenue and profit, gives a competitive advantage, and helps save costs.
Now, let’s explore the other advantages of an optimized cloud infrastructure using DevOps.
Increasing Customer Acquisition and Retention
From the users’ standpoint, performance disruptions and delays are major turn-offs. Waiting for a service to become available because of disruptions can be frustrating. Proper cloud infrastructure management based on the DevOps approach ensures improved operation and eliminates delays.
This, in turn, makes it easier to attract and keep customers. When users learn they can always count on your service’s stable performance, they will deem it reliable and predictable. This increases the chances of them coming back for more and recommending your company to other users.
Efficient Maintenance Schedule
Once in a while, your IT infrastructure will need to undergo the necessary maintenance and upgrade procedures. Although maintenance routines are inevitable, DevOps infrastructure optimization enables you to schedule them when they have the least impact on business.
Every business has hours, weeks, and even months without peak workloads. During these periods, you can upgrade some cloud infrastructure capacities while leaving the rest of the resources to tackle critical tasks.
Stable Operating Environments
Equipment failure and the resulting downtime take a heavy toll on business. The loss of critical data, revenue, and, often, reputational risks are some of the unwanted consequences that unexpected downtime may bring. On top of that, organizations have to get into unplanned expenses to drop disruptions.
With DevOps best practices you can detect changes in the enterprise network and predict possible failures before they even occur. The capability to detect and cut problems before they result in disruptions guarantees stable performance and zero downtime.
Assess your IT infrastructure performance and define its improvements
Agile & Scalable Infrastructure Network
Using collaborative development practices you continuously improve your software delivery process. This way your IT infrastructure remains always advanced, which makes it easier to implement any upgrades.
Additionally, a cloud-based infrastructure is easier and more beneficial to expand than an on-premises one. Namely, you scale the cloud based on your current needs and avoid paying for expensive hardware.
Better Information Security
Relying on DevOps automated testing, you can address cloud IT infrastructure weaknesses before they become exploitable. This involves using security testing tools and techniques. For instance, static code analysis, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing.
You can also identify issues when incorporating security teams during the initial phases of the software development lifecycle. Thus preventing security flaws from reaching production environments.
Lower IT Spending
Optimized cloud infrastructure with DevOps ensures effective allocation of its resources. The team regularly monitors and analyzes resource consumption to achieve this.
“DevOps promotes the idea of continuous improvement and fast software delivery. That helps businesses always keep their IT infrastructure up-to-date, taking into account all the rising trends, needed updates, and new features.” noted Slava Podmurnyi on Forbes
For example, they use specialized monitoring software that collects real-time data on metrics. These are CPU (Central Processing Unit) usage, network traffic, and storage capacity. Then the team analyzes logs and metrics generated by systems and applications to identify patterns and potential bottlenecks. They also set up automated alerts so as to know when resource usage exceeds or falls below predefined thresholds.
DevOps Team Roles and Responsibilities
DevOps is very flexible and customizable. That’s why you can create a development and operations team different from those found in other companies. Yet perfectly aligned with the specific needs of your company.
Considering collaborative development roles in detail, it’s important to point out the essential team members you can’t miss – DevOps Engineers. They bring together technical expertise, process knowledge, and a collaborative mindset to drive the successful implementation of DevOps practices within organizations.
Within a common DevOps team, you have:
- Software Engineers who write code,
- QA Engineers who test software solutions using automation tools,
- Automation Architects who develop solutions that automate repetitive tasks,
- Code Release Managers who manage all steps involved in deploying software.
Each of these roles focuses on a specific aspect of the IT infrastructure project. However, DevOps Engineers act as a bridge between all these experts. They understand the development process and can work closely with software engineers to ensure efficient and high-quality code. At the same time, they have knowledge of sysadmin, enabling them to manage infrastructure, deploy software, and handle system-related tasks.
The main responsibilities of DevOps Engineers include:
- Creating cloud infrastructures,
- Building CI/CD pipelines,
- Implementing automation tools & strategies,
- Observing technical operations,
- Delivering on-call IT assistance.
The competence of a DevOps Engineer is quite diverse. They know the processes and job responsibilities of their fellow team members really well. This helps them make better decisions about further software improvements. DevOps Engineers also understand the business needs and try to implement all of them in the development.
As such, the expertise of a DevOps Engineer relies on the following:
- Automation Skills
Automating software development processes, including building, testing, and deploying applications.
- DevOps Tools & Technologies
Using tools and technologies such as Git, Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, and Ansible for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD).
- Cloud Architecture Knowledge
Designing and implementing scalable cloud infrastructure based on platforms (AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.)
- Container Orchestration Proficiency
Leveraging containerization and orchestration technologies to optimize resource utilization and scalability.
- Scripting Language Skills
- Software Security Expertise
Executing security controls during the software development process so that the code is secure before the deployment.
- Interpersonal Communication Competence
Effective collaboration with cross-functional teams, including software engineers, system administrators, and operations staff.
Ultimately, DevOps Engineers play a critical role in establishing effective IT infrastructure workflows. They help set up good ways of working and make sure everything runs smoothly. At Visartech, our experienced DevOps Engineers can help with all of this. We can also provide a dedicated team of development and operations experts to help with important tasks. Namely, setting up and testing the environment, automating cloud infrastructure, and supporting ongoing development and operations.
Top 3 Companies Using DevOps
So how do the industry giants approach infrastructure optimization? The below examples will show you the DevOps & cloud practices big companies use to reduce their IT spending.
Amazon is the most renowned brand in the e-commerce sector. Back in 2001, its entire IT infrastructure had been running on on-premise servers. To architecture websites, Amazon used traditional ways. This way the company was struggling with managing, upgrading, and scaling its IT infrastructure in line with its growing business needs.
In a bid to maximize efficiency, the company transitioned from physical servers to Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud. It uses a microservice architecture to effectively distribute workloads now.
The AWS cloud also grants Amazon access to DevOps services such as AWS Code Deploy. As the name suggests, this service automates and manages the new code updates to the Amazon software. It allows engineers to work on continuous application improvements.
Amazon also uses Infrastructure-as-a-code for one-click deployments of software across many servers and systems. They also use it for testing, monitoring, and introducing changes before the problems manifest. As such, the cloud migration and DevOps practices enable the company to save millions of dollars on IT management.
HP’s Laserjet Firmware is a division of a renowned brand that has been building printers and scanners for decades. Back in 2006, it had also been struggling with many issues stemming from the legacy infrastructure provisioning. Their software teams were spending 5% of their time writing code. At the same time, almost all their working hours were consumed by testing, integration, and planning.
Needless to say, the testing process was slow, manual, and required a lot of effort. Still, the quality of the products was not enough, and neither was the deployment speed. The company’s extensive development teams managed to come up with only two software releases per year. Something had to change, and this is when the company implemented DevOps.
The adoption of continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) and trunk-based development enables the HP team to:
- integrate testing into the development process,
- speed up the development,
- detect bugs on time when they are easy to drop.
The company now performs up to 1 million code changes per day and has achieved a significant productivity boost due to the use of DevOps.
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Adobe offers CRM and e-commerce tools that allow businesses to build web and mobile services. That in turn brings customers better experiences based on the AI-driven analysis of their data. Adobe Experience Manager platform runs on AWS and Microsoft Azure.
To manage this platform, the company has introduced an in-built Cloud Manager, a self-service portal. It uses CI/CD pipeline enabling companies to quickly implement changes and updates while preserving excellent performance and security characteristics.
Cloud Manager operates through a convenient self-service interface. It lets you easily configure infrastructure settings for each application by defining its performance indicators and parameters.
The industry-leading companies are approaching infrastructure optimization using the core DevOps principles: automation, continuous testing, and audit. They also leverage a software-defined approach to infrastructure. Namely, abstracting the settings from the hardware level, creating easily executable scripts, and standardizing them to create consistency throughout all of your business environments.
How Can Visartech Help Minimize IT Infrastructure Costs?
At Visartech, we practice a tried and true approach to IT cost reduction. Our team specializes in creating smart cloud solutions and helps small and medium-sized enterprises cut costs and build optimal IT infrastructures for their business needs. We offer cloud integration, cloud migration, and data engineering services.
Our cost optimization strategy for infrastructures includes three main steps:
First, we want to make sure you are not overprovisioning or paying too much for certain services without even knowing it. An audit of your current infrastructure will help you optimize it and tailor it to your real needs. Our team will carry out an analysis and provide suggestions on how you can optimize your infrastructure to cut extra spending.
Full or partial cloud migration is a major step for many companies since it requires careful preparation and planning. It is necessary, though, if you plan to benefit from using the latest technology, reduce the cost of infrastructure provisioning, and quickly build apps and services. At Visartech we work with the most reputable cloud service providers: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Our experts will help pick the right service package and billing type for your organization.
The final step is to use DevOps automation. By auditing your infrastructure processes, we can identify which key processes will benefit from automation, improving performance and cost efficiency. This will prevent human errors, and allow your team to focus on creative tasks instead of routine infrastructure tasks.
At Visartech we believe in an individual approach. We offer cloud consulting services to help you get the most out of your IT infrastructure capacities and improve application performance. We look at the unique needs and specifics of your business and help tailor tech solutions to your business goals.
Ultimately, your IT infrastructure’s state has a direct impact on the quality of your platforms and services. While traditional infrastructure management consumes more time & effort, DevOps for its optimization is the solution.
As per the Atlassian survey, 99% of companies report that the implementation of DevOps has benefited their organizations. And 61% say it has positively impacted their product quality. Companies also report spending less time handling support requests, eliminating disruptions and communication.