Using feature flags and observability for service migrations


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Change is inevitable, and that’s a good thing, especially with regard to software development, where it means delivering new and innovative features that improve user experience and quality of life. In addition, change in the case of service migration can lead to better performance and lower costs. But it is not an easy task to reliably drive change, especially when it comes to evolving architectures that are part of today’s modern cloud environments, which are highly complex and unpredictable.

If your platform goes down, your business suffers and your trustworthiness is compromised, potentially tarnishing your reputation. Therefore, when approaching major architectural changes, devops teams should always ask themselves: How much work is required to implement this change? Is it worth it?

Enterprise technology companies are tasked with maintaining both speed and reliability, requiring high-quality engineering practices. To improve application quality and performance for customers, the platforms and services these companies provide should never experience performance degradation. All software suppliers must face the challenge of continuous optimization, otherwise they run the risk of being left behind for other, more performant services.

Each year, major cloud service providers release dozens, if not hundreds, of product updates and improvements, leaving engineering teams tasked with deciphering which configuration optimizes cloud and application performance. But if there is even one problem with the migration to the new architecture, the chance of disruption increases enormously.

Given the high stakes of these service migrations, engineering teams must carefully plan their moves. In addition to the high stakes of these migrations, the annual cadence of cloud feature releases is a cause for concern, with more than 90% of IT professionals and executives say they are concerned about the innovation speed of the top cloud providers and their ability to keep pace.

To keep up, organizations have been implementing innovative approaches to service migrations – with one devops practice, feature management, which has gained significant traction. Facing similar challenges to continuously improve our platform and interfaces, software developers have turned to feature management to continuously submit and release code, while maintaining strict controls that allow for real-time experimentation, canary releases, and instant code rollbacks. create if a bug causes problems .

We have been using the feature management platform for years LaunchDarkly to experiment, manage and optimize software delivery; enabling a faster pace of innovation without compromising application reliability. Serverless functions make service migrations a breeze, since changing which version of a function is called is simply a configuration change.

Experiment with the barriers of perceptibility and feature flags

By leveraging feature management, enterprise technology companies will be equipped to deliver the same capabilities to their cloud optimization initiatives. The functionality of feature flags enables capabilities that can accelerate the pace of experimentation and testing, and enable enterprise technology companies to scale cloud architecture at the touch of a button.

Experimentation allows teams to fix issues, such as unoptimized code, that can lead to delayed execution times. With feature flags, these releases can be quickly rolled back to restore normal user behavior. With this amount of precision and control, teams can limit the duration and exposure of experiments, mitigate adverse effects, and help roll out more cautiously. Teams can then run follow-up experiments to ensure reliability and performance, while also using continuous profiling to troubleshoot the problem in their code.

The control, speed and scale of these tests are only possible with feature management and observability. Feature flags give teams more control to route traffic to test environments, analyze performance, and quickly restore the original environment without interruptions or downtime. In high-stakes situations like this one, engineering teams need solutions that can take the nerve off their jobs and give them the capabilities they need to support continuous improvement initiatives and optimize their infrastructure.

More confidence to innovate

Feature flags and observability are for organizations large and small, traditional and cloud native. Today, doing things the old-fashioned way often means doing things the hard way, and ultimately it slows down innovation. By embracing devops techniques in software development and cloud engineering teams, organizations can take risks with the confidence needed to truly innovate.

Pushing platforms to new heights often requires a concerted effort that would otherwise be impossible without the guarantees that flags and visibility provide. By applying feature management to cloud optimization and migration initiatives, teams can be both fast and reliable, while also enabling a culture of constant experimentation and innovation.

Embracing new technologies and techniques to accelerate the pace at which organizations can experiment, test and deploy new code or architectures is proving invaluable across all industries. It’s time for high-stakes processes, such as deploying code into production and optimizing cloud infrastructure, to become faster and easier – not just for our engineers, but also for customers who deserve the ultimate in performance and reliability .

Liz Fong-Jones is Principal Developer Advocate at Honeycomb

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