Integrate DevOps and Micro Frontends only if you can tackle these three challenges

A new age application demands a combination of Continuous Delivery and Scalability. Though, there are a few challenges to be taken care of.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) don’t work well with Monolithic frontends. Consider a situation for your DevOps automation pipeline. A frontend developer writes the code for the application as fast as possible. They then run tests like linting, unit tests, integration tests, and other important checks. Finally, the code is deployed on the server and the overall application is updated. Assuming that all this work is done for Monolithic frontends, here are a few challenges that might arise:

  • Monolithic architecture discourages independent development. Frontend developers need to understand the whole architecture. This makes the development less suitable for automation.
  • The complexity of the highly coupled architecture further complicates the testing processes. This is not recommended for DevOps practices like Continuous Testing.
  • It doesn’t make sense to use a CI/CD pipeline for monolithic architecture. A continuous upgrade of the application’s frontend is difficult with the monolithic frontend. It can be complex and time-consuming

Therefore, the micro frontend architecture goes best with the DevOps pipeline. In this article, we will discuss why the combination of the two is highly recommended. We will also try to understand the challenges that an organization might face with this combo.

Micro frontends and DevOps: A recommended combo

DevOps practices are well capable of enabling automation for business agility. They integrate the principles defined in the agile manifesto, with the automation pipeline. However, the technology architectures employed by the organization also play an important role. Micro frontends are decoupled and domain-driven. Therefore, they work well with the CI/CD processes. Here are a few important benefits of including the micro frontend architecture (MFA) in the DevOps pipeline.

  • Scalable Development: The decoupled nature of micro frontend units helps them scale independently. In fact, one can also plan to scale the units that attract more end-user traffic than others. This makes the automation pipeline more flexible and customer-oriented.
  • Easy Deployment: DevOps is meant to promote agility. This requires necessary provisions to roll out newer versions regularly. With independent frontend units, this becomes easier. There is no need for the whole application frontend to be immediately affected by every upgrade.
  • Failure Resilience: Any issue or failure in a micro frontend unit only affects the end-user specifically consuming it. Even then, there are replicas present for these domains that can help to a great extent. This gives space for the CI/CD pipeline to deal with the failures and deploy patches.
  • Team Distribution: Team autonomy plays a crucial role in the automation of delivery processes. More interdependent the teams would be, more difficult it can be to define standard procedures for automation. With MFA, teams can be distributed with respect to the knowledge context they excel in. This makes development more technology agnostic.

Thus, CI/CD and independent frontend is a productive combination for the business. However, technology leaders need to be aware of a few challenges that they might face in the process.

Understanding the Challenges

Micro frontends are a fairly new concept. Hence, a little skepticism for them is understandable. Though, a little awareness of the actual challenges may be more helpful. This will allow the DevOps-MFA combo to flourish more. So, here’s the list.

  • Decision Making.  The micro frontend influencers have been sharing knowledge about the decision making process. However, a certain level of first-hand experience is always recommended. Organizations need to collaborate with consultants studying and working with this architecture. More knowledge, smoother will be the integration for CI/CD and MFA.
  • Updated with Automation. Although DevOps practices have been around for a while, yet their understanding might need a regular brush-up. Teams aware of updates about the cloud, virtualization, etc. can avoid unnecessary failures. Also, MFA can benefit more from newer automation practices and tools.
  • Valuable Integration. It is true, DevOps and Micro frontends are both here to stay for the long term. That said, rushing to incorporate them both might bring more damage than benefits. The current pressure to find new ways for customer-oriented deliveries can be exhausting. Therefore, this integration needs to be approached steadily and purposefully.

Conclusion

The combination of DevOps and Micro frontend architecture is the next logical step. The sooner the organizations are ready to adopt it, the better. That said, one cannot ignore the challenges that they might find in the way. Thoughtful planning can help organizations bring wholesome agility to their business.

Shift Left Testing for Faster and Failure Resilient DevOps Deliveries

DevOps Continuous Delivery can get faster and more failure resilient than it already is. Shift Left Testing is the key.

When done right, automation can save time and improve product quality. To do it right, of course, requires consistent monitoring and analysis. DevOps automation strategies are also meant to speed up delivery. But, the testing discipline might need to change. Avoiding product vulnerabilities throughout the DevOps pipeline would help a lot with speed. It will also make the deliveries failure resilient. There exists a discipline that holds such attributes. It is fast, fail-safe, and can amend the defamed developer-tester relations. So, it will be helpful to discuss this discipline called Shift Left Testing. 

Bringing Dev and Test Together

Continuous Delivery is the ultimate automation goal that the companies employ DevOps for. Automating redundant tasks offers space for delivery teams to explore new learning opportunities. The current testing approach is undoubtedly automated. But the testing is not practically frequent enough to ensure uninterrupted deliveries. This is also where the developer-tester conflict arises. Automation would only be effective if developing and testing are collaborative activities.  Right now, they are consecutive steps. The Shift Left Testing is powered by continuous testing and deployment. It makes testing more transparent and persistent. This regulates the development to realize the business vision for the end product.

Shift Left Testing

To put it simply, shift left suggests prevention rather than detection. It pulls up testing from being “after” the development to “during it”. The test cycles shorten because test and dev are working together, and there are no funny surprises. Shift left channels the focus on reducing the failure rate instead of amending the failures. If done right, shift left can increase the delivery speed while ensuring fail-safe end products at the same time. Here, are some points that should be kept in mind for ensuring successful shift left:

  • Clearly define the testing scopes beforehand. This will ensure a smoother integration of continuous testing tools and practices.
  • Create awareness about shift left. The delivery teams, management etc. should be able to adapt its practices. The companies, as a whole, should be thoughtful about what works for them
  • Tools that fit well with the current business infrastructure, would make the evolution easier. DevOps itself is a discipline attained by gradual acceptance. Shift left too, should navigate through the same path. Some practices and tools cannot shift left immediately. Amendments will have to be made for them.

Benefits of Shift Left

Dignified testing helps the developers to understand and respect the testing process and work along with them. Shift left can bring transparency among delivery teams and speed up the continuous delivery pipelines. Here are some of its prime benefits:

  • Faster Deliveries. A consistent testing approach reduces the chances of later reworks. Development and testing proceed together, and the overall delivery time decreases.
  • Failure Resilience. Shift left keeps the development in lines with the business vision for the product. Any future changes too, are developed and tested there and then. Therefore, the product is more fail-safe.
  • Inter-team Collaboration. Shift Left testing requires the teams to work together. The developers and testers share combined knowledge to identify the redundant work in the SDLC map. This helps them set up  the tasks for automation. Thus, automation is deemed not as a replacement for current work culture, but a facilitator to it.
  • Incremental Development and Testing. Continuous testing minimizes the time between development and testing. The development is done in small increments so that the immediate testing can reveal and tend to any point of concern.
  • Quantifiable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Defining KPIs helps in analyzing the results and reports better. Shift left helps companies to set Quantifiable criteria for the developed increments and test results. This helps in extracting meaningful information for future projects as well. 

Conclusion
Testing is an essential part of the SDLC. Right testing practices can help companies to realize the full potential of DevOps Automation. Shift left is an accelerator to Continuous Delivery. Undoubtedly, speed and resilience are major necessities of current times.