Page 41 - FCW, September/October 2021
P. 41

Harness Feature Flag tool allows developer teams to quickly release new features with minimal risk, test with
a specified subset of users, or roll out
to all customers. The government can utilize this tool for continuous Authority to Operate (ATO) on anything from changing warfighter features to updates in civilian public facing websites.
Harness Feature Flag tool is designed into our platform and can be added into developer workflows or used separately as an individual module in a customer’s existing CI/CD solution.
The company also offers a Cloud Cost Management (CCM) tool that integrates with the CI/CD platform and uses intelligence and automation to reduce cloud costs. It provides granular visibility into cloud resource inventory, including compute, storage, network, and database.
Gaining control over cloud costs is especially important with the move toward hybrid and multi-cloud environments at so many government organizations.
Benefits to Government
There are plenty of CI/CD tools in the market—Jenkins, CircleCI, Bamboo, GitLab, to name a few. Not a lot of companies have invested heavily in creating innovative features, however. That has created a big gap in the market, and this has contributed to the struggles many federal agencies are experiencing.
Taking a new approach to DevOps and software delivery can result in a number of benefits for government agencies. Here are some of the most significant:
• Achieve digital modernization through an end-to-end CI/CD platform that leverages AI and ML to enhance processes.
• Create and deliver critical applications and services to users quickly and with the ability to scale.
• Use AI/ML in existing application monitoring tools to mitigate
performance anomalies.
• Apply governance via enterprise-
grade security into pipelines with role- based access controls and audit trails.
• Deploy cloud and DevOps technology stack that works for on and off premises implementation.
• Standardize agency software delivery processes with modern application deployment methods.
With capabilities such as test intelligence, government agencies can more efficiently write code and deploy it, resulting in both cost reductions and potential revenue gains. “You’re able to recapture wasted costs,” Miller said.
Many agencies have “technical debt,” technology costs that might otherwise have been better spent on solutions that were perhaps a little more expensive but a lot more efficient than alternatives, he said. They can work toward eliminating some of this technical debt by deploying more efficient software testing methods.
Another key aspect of the new DevOps, made possible by AI, are the smart rollbacks that can save agencies a lot of time. When the platform senses a decline in performance or quality, it can roll an application back to the previous working version within in seconds.
For example, Jenkins, an open source server-based system that helps automate the parts of software development related to building, testing, and deploying and facilitating CI and CD, is an aging technology. The latest products leverage automation to deliver self-service CI and CD that can greatly enhance the process of bringing software to production.
Automation has to be built into the platform from the beginning to be effective, however. Some products on the market use limited automation capability that “still requires a DevOps engineer to spend countless hours writing playbooks to pull all of these things together,”
Miller said. If automation is native to the platform, “you don’t have to think about it anymore; it just becomes part of what you’re doing in the pipeline creation process,” he said.
Agencies should look for specific features and functionality in these products. For example, a CD platform should deliver self-service CD that is deployable on-demand via the cloud without scripts, plugins, version dependencies, or downtime.
Some newer tools leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to auto-detect performance and quality regression for canary phases, and if necessary, automatically roll back to the last working version within seconds.
A key benefit of the CCM offering for government include better management
of cloud costs, by automatically shutting down idle virtual machines and containers, and dynamically running them on spot instances with no interruptions.
CCM also provides deep Kubernetes cost visibility and root cost analysis for agencies, and recommends ways they can optimize idle or unallocated cloud spending.
As government continues to move toward more digital services, agencies will rely more than ever on DevOps and CI/CD to deliver software to production in efficient and secure ways. They will need to do this while also keeping cloud costs under control.
While agencies have been using DevOps for years, now is the time to bring it to a higher level, to enter the age of intelligent software deliver.
To learn more about the products Harness offers, or to request a demo, visit

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