DevOps Toolchain - What Is It and How Does It Work?

A DevOps toolchain is a vital set of tools that help develop, deliver and maintain the software that your business relies on. So, do you need one?

Do You Need a DevOps Toolchain?

Picture yourself trying to resolve a code error when you notice an additional issue outside your realm of expertise that’s making matters worse. Your instinct is to get in touch with the right contact as quickly as possible to resolve the issue so that there’s no further impact on the system’s uptime. But what if you can’t get in touch with them immediately, or don’t know who to contact? Instead of trying to solve the problem without support, a DevOps toolchain could have mitigated this chain reaction from the start. 

Relying on outdated communication methods can put businesses in a lurch, and allow for small errors to grow exponentially into significant issues. DevOps toolchains stop this from happening as they combine best-in-class tools to develop, help automate tasks, and deliver and maintain solutions allowing teams to focus on more valuable tasks. 

In the following article, we discuss all you need to know about DevOps toolchains including their use cases, why they’re important and how they can ensure your business is future proof. 

In this illustration, a DevOps toolchain helps with workflow orchestration.

In this illustration, a DevOps toolchain helps with workflow orchestration.

Defining the DevOps Toolchain

A DevOps toolchain connects the most effective tools into a singular system that allows for the development, delivery and maintenance of software that DevOps practitioners and SRES rely on. A toolchain can come pre-configured or can be custom-built. 

No matter the creator, a DevOps toolchain relinquishes the need for manual inputs and ensures that the continuous delivery of services is possible regardless of how complex the solution may be. 

A DevOps Toolchain Use Case

Now that you know what a DevOps toolchain is, it’s time to understand how it can make an impact once implemented. 

Imagine that tomorrow afternoon you receive a notification on the xMatters mobile app that New Relic has identified a potential major incident. Directly from that notification, you’re able to start your DevOps toolchain and seamlessly begin the automated remediation steps. The process may look something like this:

In this illustration, a DevOps toolchain automatically works through remediation steps.

In this illustration, a DevOps toolchain automatically works through remediation steps.

  1. By responding to the notification, you can open a ServiceNow ticket and create a new Slack channel automatically, and integrations add critical information to the Slack channel without manual input.
  2. From there, you can easily invite the most appropriate and available team members to the Slack channel through an integration with your on-call scheduling tool.
  3. The incident commander can then use slash commands within Slack to open a Jira issue and publish a Statuspage notice for customers.

With a DevOps toolchain in place, you’re able to open a service ticket, communicate vital information with the right team members, open an issue in your project management tool, and create a platform to communicate the incident with your customers. 

Instead of spending time actioning those individual tasks, the toolchain took care of them for you, and you were able to prioritize resolving the incident. 

A DevOps toolchain can also be used for a variety of other scenarios, including:

  • Efficient Deployments: Many software companies aim to deploy updates multiple times a day, but this creates burdensome workloads for technical teams. With a DevOps toolchain, more effective enhancements can be brought to market with the toolchain overseeing the monitoring, testing and rapid response required for successful releases.
  • Eliminating Inefficiencies: In a 2019 study of more than 300 DevOps organizations, nearly half of development team leads admitted their developers spend more than 50% of their time manually addressing incidents. A DevOps toolchain can significantly cut down on this time sink and give developers back their time to focus on innovative projects. We see a lot of companies deploying software multiple times a day. Frequent, smaller deployments ensure quality deployments by making it easier to include monitoring, testing, and rapid response. Companies find they innovate more and because they spend less time firefighting.

Is a DevOps Toolchain Important?

If your organization requires more than one person to manage an incident, from initial alert to final resolution, a DevOps toolchain is an important addition to your business. This tool can benefit a variety of teams in distinctly unique ways. Consider the following examples.

Security

The security of digital services is at the forefront of priorities for organizations, but how that happens and who’s responsible for that security can be miscommunicated from the top down.

In a 2018 Puppet State of DevOps Report, the C-suite and team level employees had significantly different understandings of how teams are involved in technology design and policy. 64% of the C-suite respondents surveyed reported that incident responses were automated, compared to 39% at the team level. Similarly, 64% of the C-suite respondents believe teams have post-incident reviews and share results, compared to 38% at the team level. Misunderstandings about the responsibility of security can lead to data breaches and a lack of adherence to privacy regulations.

With a DevOps toolchain, teams can ensure security matters are handled efficiently without potential oversights. All security considerations can be built into the toolchain from its inception, be it continuous monitoring for potential issues and issue warning signs, regulatory compliance requirements like tokenizing or encrypting data, and any post-incident review requirements. This keeps digital services secure, providing every level of an organization with peace of mind and confidence that they’re protected from potential threats.

Incident Management

Responding to and resolving incidents is vital to ensuring smooth operations and maintaining an excellent customer experience. This typically involves both manual and automated processes, and a DevOps toolchain is the tool to handle those automated requirements.

In the 2018 Puppet State of DevOps Report, 57% of the C-suite respondents reported that incident responses were automated, compared to 29% at the team level. And, 64% of the C-suite believe teams have post-incident reviews and share results, compared to 48% at the team level. This difference is jarring. If more than half of the C-level executives believe responses are automated but only 29% of the team does it begs the question, who is taking care of incident responses? And where is this data being stored, if it is at all?

A DevOps toolchain is exactly what’s required in incident management events, jump-starting the resolution process by automating much of the initial process, and significantly shortening the time to resolution.

Toolchains also help to create effective incident post-mortems by preserving data from all impacting systems, and automating the sharing process where required. This helps to prevent your organization from experiencing the same issue again, saving thousands of dollars in potential sunk costs due to application downtime, and keeping your reputation strong.

Workflow Automation

In the 2019 DevOps and the Cloud survey series, produced by Evans Data Corp, IT managers stated the greatest benefit of workflow management tools is capturing end-to-end business data. Developers thought differently and stated that it’s building dashboards that visualize operational data. 

Wherever on that spectrum your beliefs fall, a DevOps toolchain can benefit you. With a toolchain in place, organizations can automate the data capture process in real-time, and seamlessly provide teams with the data they need exactly when they need it. 

So, Do You Need a DevOps Toolchain? 

A DevOps toolchain is a vital toolset that helps automate, deliver, maintain, and optimize the software and processes that your organization relies on. By connecting infrastructure tools and their cloud environments, teams can achieve new levels of productivity. And they’re not just for one specific industry or internal team: all levels of an organization can benefit from having DevOps toolchains working in the background to protect their data, customers, and employees.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits and use cases of a DevOps toolchain, make sure to read about the xMatters integration platform that helps people, data, and tools work together seamlessly. For an even more in-depth understanding, get started in a free instance and test it out for yourself today!

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