Hackernoon logoDevOps at Scale through Efficient Software Distribution by@PavanBelagatti

DevOps at Scale through Efficient Software Distribution

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@PavanBelagattiPavan Belagatti

DevOps Influencer

Deployment frequency is considered one of the finest DevOps metrics, and the elite performers in DevOps space deploy multiple times per day with confidence. The deployment process requires systems that promote trust between teams (Dev or Ops) throughout the pipelines- so they can ensure they’re using the latest builds for testing, approved binaries for deploying, etc. This involves managing artifacts between the developers, so they get the latest of everything to deploy and make the software ready, no matter if the team is in the same room or is working remotely.

The ability to continuously integrate and release application updates to any deployment target has become crucial to any business's success. Distributing software at a large scale has become a pain for many enterprises in the modern software industry.

Today, we will talk about what is software distribution, how to do it at scale, and how to ensure fast, performant, and trusted software releases.

What is Software Distribution?

When it comes to software delivery, software distribution is a critical, necessary component. Once the developers develop the application, the subsequent and recurring step is to ensure security and reliable distribution of artifacts/binaries, metadata, and related Bill of Materials (BOM) to the next stage in the SDLC.

The next stage could be your testing stage, integration stage, deployment, or production stage in the SDLC pipeline. And it could be across complex and vastly distributes environments or edges. 

Distribution Use Cases

1. Internal distribution to your geo-distributed development sites:
Your teams might be distributed across different geo regions and time zones, and syncing between these teams and sites is important. 

2. Distribution to your production infrastructure:
Software delivery to your runtime environments could be across hybrid environments, spanning on-prem, cloud, multi-cloud, as well as hybrid remote Edges - including retail stores, oil rigs, cruises, POS devices, and even IoT devices. The applications deployed to this diverse infrastructure are also diverse themselves- spanning traditional or cloud-native applications such as Kubernetes, IoT OTA, and more

3. External distribution use case:
When you need to transfer and share your software binaries across your external customers’ sites,  including partners, 3rd party vendors that are part of your delivery supply chain, and even the general developer ecosystem- such as when distributing SDKs, OSS, base images, drivers, plugins, and more. So here, too, you need traceability on what was distributes to each of these customers, partners, and ecosystem libraries. 

Challenges Faced in the Software Distribution

1. Overcoming physics and network issues to accelerate distribution

Everything is distributed, your infrastructure, your teams, access, security, etc., so how do you get your binaries where they need to be? For example, your development team is in US West, your testing team may be in China, and your r runtime production infrastructure spans the globe. How do you handle limited bandwidth issues, flaky networks, latency, network utilization issues- to ensure you get your binaries as quickly as possible and in a secure way, to where they need to be?  

2. Security

How do you ensure your binaries are secure and safe to use, and are compliant. How do you ensure the data integrity of your binaries?

3. Scale

Your Docker images can go from a few GBs to 100's of GBs, so how do you manage the scale of your distribution and ensure these weighty packages make their way through the network to their final destination in a fast, verified way?

4. Traceability

How do you know which data center has which update and who is accessing them? So how do you get your visibility and insights for security, compliance, transactions, and auditability?

All these challenges aim to slow down your software distribution, increase development time, and overall slow down your software delivery process. In short: Software distribution bottlenecks create software delivery bottlenecks.

5 Traits of a Trusted Distribution Mechanism 

  1. Fast: Developers should be able to distribute your binaries/artifacts as fast as possible to ensure rapid development. 
  2. Secure: You should be able to scan the binaries to make sure no security breaches are happening along the way and keep security left. End of the day, it is essential to trust your binaries. 
  3. Global: The company should be able to handle the distribution easily with its different teams located over different regions of the world and manage it with ease.
  4. Scalable: Ability to manage and maintain your delivery performance. 
  5. Simple: Yet simple, so it is effortless to automate everything. 

Recently, IDC has released an infographic depicting a trusted software distribution mechanism.

Check it out below for their guidance for enterprises to future-proof their distribution platform for the needs of large-scale modern application delivery.

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Image credits: IDC

Overcoming the software distribution challenges and matching all the traits that we just described above, we have JFrog Distribution that solves the real software distribution problem. 

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Image credits: JFrog

JFrog Distribution is a centralized solution that lets an automated, fast, reliable, secure distribution of software releases to any deployment edge. It facilitates you to distribute applications in an immutable, secures, compliant, scalable, and efficient way – where it can even be possible to overcome limited bandwidth and network lag issues.

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