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Introduction

Most software organizations run CI/CD pipelines to deploy updates from development to production. This CI/CD process is a complex set of interconnected steps that deploy software to the target platforms. Each application typically generates a large amount of performance data through log entries during testing. On a human level, this data is complex, unstructured, and impossible to analyze. But a business can gain a tremendous advantage if teams can exploit  CI/CD data.

AppDynamics is one data collection tool that can plug into different parts of a CI/CD pipeline. It enables SREs to collect essential metrics, further enabling them to analyze the deployment pipeline’s health. 

Is Appdynamics enough?

Software deployment risk is manageable when running a small number of pipelines. There may be only a small number of monthly updates, and a competent team of SREs can tackle the risk assessment with the data collected on AppDynamics.

However, for many organizations , the scale is far different. There may be hundreds or thousands of updates daily, and the pipelines may throw hundreds of exceptions daily, requiring manual analysis and judgment of whether to proceed. Even with scripting help, manual analysis and assessment are tedious, time-consuming, and prone to errors. SREs are costly resources, and we don’t want them to be occupied doing risk assessments all the time. At the same time, deploying an update containing errors can be very costly. 

What can be done?

The need for faster and more resilient CI/CD pipelines is a top priority in software organizations, and this need allows them to stay ahead of the competition. AppDynamics has helped a great deal to accelerate software delivery, but teams need to go still faster. OpsMx Intelligent Automation extends AppDynamics in crucial ways and is designed specifically for the CD process. 

OpsMx Intelligent Automation is a powerful add-on to any CI/CD process on any platform. The Intelligent Automation Modules enable OpsMx ISD Platform users to automate and accelerate typical use cases such as workflow approvals, security and compliance, and deployment verifications.

OpsMx Intelligent Automation, which comes with Natural Language Processing and ML algorithms, is designed to speed the CD process. OpsMx Intelligent Automation understands application and system logs, performs a risk assessment, and can control the CI/CD pipeline through an approval or rejection decision. 

How does OpsMx help ship fast?

OpsMx Intelligent Automation integrates with AppDynamics to automate risk assessment, saving time and improving the accuracy of promotion decisions. OpsMx Intelligent Automation can automatically approve or reject deployments in your CI/CD Pipeline when the decision is clear – and you set the level of clarity needed. OpsMx Intelligent Automation simplifies and improves time-consuming and error-prone processes. 

OpsMx Intelligent Automation uses machine learning (ML) and natural language processing to analyze the data for you automatically so you can quickly and accurately decide whether any update should be moved forward in the pipeline. This blog will cover how OpsMx Intelligent Automation can extend the value of AppDynamics in your continuous delivery initiatives.

Where does OpsMx Intelligent Automation fit in your existing process
Where does OpsMx Intelligent Automation fit in your existing process ?

Do I need AppDynamics to Run OpsMx Intelligent Automation?

OpsMx Intelligent Automation seamlessly integrates with AppDynamics – the process is available in GUI and can be completed in minutes.

Seamless integration between AppDynamics and OpsMx Intelligent Automation
Seamless integration between AppDynamics and OpsMx Intelligent Automation

Once the integration is configured, AppDynamics performs a series of preliminary steps crucial to OpsMx Intelligent Automation and the release verification and approval process, including collecting, collating, and filtering the log entries to just those related to this update. 

Actionable Insights with Full Stack Observability

Organizations can configure OpsMx Intelligent Automation to fetch the logs of applications from AppDynamics and apply domain-specific ML models on the logs. OpsMx Intelligent Automation’s intelligent analysis is central to automated canary deployment in production. Based on the analysis results, i.e., comparing risk scores of a new release against a baseline run, OpsMx Intelligent Automation determines if to promote a new update fully to production. The log analysis and risk- assessment are processed in a matter of seconds and provide automated decisioning to a pipeline run.

The AI/ML-enabled intelligence layer in OpsMx Intelligent Automation uses supervised learning to improve its judgment abilities over time. SREs, as they evaluate the confidence score of any given release, can modify OpsMx Intelligent Automation’s assessment of the impact of errors and warnings. These inputs are like OpsMx Intelligent Automation feedback that helps it develop a contextual understanding of specific applications and pipelines.

Risk Assessment with OpsMx

OpsMx Intelligent automation can analyze logs from the deployment updates for their risk. SREs can define a risk score as a threshold the platform will allow auto triggers the pipeline to move forward with deployment.

screenshot of OpsMx AI-Driven Intelligent Automation's Risk Assessment Dashboard
Screenshot of OpsMx AI-Driven Intelligent Automation's Risk Assessment Dashboard

In case of a critical error when the risk assessment fails, OpsMx Intelligent Automation will automatically block the deployment pipeline from executing and inform the SRE to resolve the issue proactively. All these happen in real-time with the OpsMx Intelligent Automation.

Risk Assessment Dashboard
Risk Assessment Dashboard

In the exceptional cases where OpsMx Intelligent Automation experiences a new metric score or log never encountered before, the SRE can perform due diligence on the case and assign the relevant action item back to the OpsMx Intelligent Automation so that it is taken care of in the future.

Continuous Risk Verification with OpsMx Intelligent Automation

OpsMx Intelligent Automation features “Approval Gates,” which place control over your CI/CD pipeline at critical points. OpsMx Intelligent Automation collects and presents all data relevant to the approval decision, including the assessments of the confidence level. They can evaluate the information and make a decision. Alternatively, the SRE can automate this approval decision if the confidence score exceeds a configurable threshold. This will free them from the repetitive task of analyzing updates that are either failures or successes.

Risk Verification
Promote or Reject updates with informed decisions through a single consolidated view of release data

Observability of enterprise-wide software verification

OpsMx Intelligent Automation provides an enterprise-wide historical analysis of risk scores for past deployments. For example, it includes an application-centric time-series view of various risk scores and their respective canary ids. Additionally, it also provides a service-centric deep-down analysis of each risk. It provides several critical errors, warnings, and exceptions in logs across the chosen time period.

Visibility Dashboard

Real-time approvals with policy automation

With the increasing scale and speed of deployment, all the updates that move in a CICD pipeline must go through policy checks in your organization. E.g., we have gathered logs of a new release from AppDynamics after deploying into the staging environment. However, before moving into production, the CD pipeline can be configured to perform a runtime policy check like the Blackout window or if the release has proper approvals from the right stakeholders. OpsMx Intelligent Automation can empower policy managers to define such policies and enforce them into the deployment pipeline through policy gates. 

Learn more about the compliance and audit video here.

Policy Management

Risk Verification and Audit Trail

Improved Audit Trail and Policy Management
Improved Audit Trail and Policy Management

In addition to release verification, OpsMx Intelligent Automation provides detailed audit capabilities. These allow SREs and SecOps teams to view all related Deployment activities. This reduces the time and cost required for audits and speeds up troubleshooting any deployment-related issue by showing the deployment steps’ who, what, where, and when.

The Conclusion

With OpsMx Intelligent Automation, your organization can analyze the risk of a deployment based on the logs and metrics of data generated in the pre-production stages. This helps you proactively avert promoting risky updates into the production environment, saving the organization time, effort, and cost. The CI/CD pipeline is accelerated without compromising quality with the help of OpsMx Intelligent Automation.

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Jyoti Sahoo

Jyoti is a product marketer and an educator. What sets him apart as a PM is that he can create delightful, rich and engaging content for business leaders and technology experts. Previously he has delivered projects in Artificial Intelligence for Governments in the EU and clients in ANZ regions. On the sidelines he is a 3D printing enthusiast and a solar energy advocate.

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