Over the past decade, organizations have been adopting agile development methodologies and have preferred frequent minor software releases unlike the traditional practice of major releases over significant intervals of time. On this journey, organizations’ IT landscape has evolved to quite an extent, to cater to business demands. They have realized that infrastructure assurance is vital for IT environments to function seamlessly. This paper establishes the importance of infrastructure assurance in providing better environment availability and less production issues.
Traditional view versus current need
In the traditional IT world, an organization’s test life cycle concentrated on functional parameters; there was a lack of focus on non-functional testing and infrastructure. The common myth associated with infrastructure assurance is: whether you are setting up a new environment or migrating an existing data center, the associated hardware and software will continue to function the way they are intended to; testing their infrastructure functionality in an integrated environment is not necessary. This myth leads to disastrous environment failures or incorrectly built infrastructure platforms.
To avoid these environment failures, and to provide a seamlessly functioning infrastructure platform, an organization should keep the following in mind regarding its infrastructure stack:
- Has it been modeled as per the recommended design architecture and environment blueprint?
- Have the necessary integrations been made with the right configuration settings?
- Is the integrated environment viable regarding scalability, resiliency, and responsiveness?
Considering the higher rate at which new IT environments are being setup coupled with the growth of data center or cloud migrations, Infrastructure assurance is of the utmost importance. Infrastructure assurance strategy validates environments and eliminates the following pitfalls:
- Abrupt environment failures and performance issues
- Incorrect integrations and configurations
- Faulty end-user service functionality and computing
- Organizational level compliance breaches
Formulate infrastructure and cloud migration assurance
As enterprises move towards agile, the associated infrastructure workloads are moving towards virtualization and cloud. This infrastructure change or migration is the process of moving IT infrastructure, data, applications or other business elements from an organization's existing setup to a new on-premise or cloud data center, or moving them from one cloud environment to another. All service providers like AWS, microsoft azure provide infrastructure building blocks under IaaS, PaaS or SaaS models and all these ready-to-use blocks are technically equipped and accessible across the globe. These blocks offer storage, compute, databases and applications, depending on the nature of the service model among IaaS, PaaS or SaaS.
To enhance the quality of these infrastructure workloads the organization must strategize, automate the infrastructure validations and change the culture of infrastructure testing at various stages of the test life cycle. The essential elements of the building blocks are availability, compatibility, scalability, security, and responsiveness of the application. Infrastructure and cloud migration assurance strategy should certify that:
- All infrastructure blocks are installed, configured and managed as per the requirements and business demands
- All applications and services are mapped/configured under a monitoring controller for continuous monitoring
- All applications are accessible to the end users, and all components are communicating as per requirements
- All database components are placed in right place, and the data flow is meeting all requirements
- All enterprise applications and data are properly secured
- The environment is scalable and responsive as per the defined benchmarks and industry standards
Cloud migration assurance strategy may also need to provide a direction to validate an unexpected or unknown scenario and plan the effort accordingly. Post-migration testing is a critical phase of the whole migration activity, and a separate testing strategy helps the migration team to plan and execute smoothly. Automation plays a vital role in infrastructure testing and necessary sanity testing of the migrated environments thereby resulting in significant improvement of lead time to provision the environment. Parallel manual validations also play a critical role in identifying security breaches or any other technical flaws in the environment. Unlike functional testing parameters, infrastructure testing does not require multiple phases and iterations of testing.
Infrastructure assurance is essential only at following points of time:
- Setting up of a new environment
- Creation of a new data center
- Migration from an existing data center
- Implementation of significant enhancement to current environments
- While cleaning, refreshing and during baselining activities for an environment
Rectilinear approach – for infrastructure & Cloud assurance
More and more organizations are adopting agile and building tool is driven delivery approach by creating action-oriented SME teams and using DevOps models to reduce cycle times. However, the challenges continue, especially in infrastructure components provisioning, integrations, and testing.
Rectilinear approach to IT infrastructure assurance, covering sub-element validation and standardization of deployment activities can validate the infrastructure provisioning and integration, to provide better assurance of infrastructure quality and availability. The sub-element validation of infrastructure platform includes validation of database, storage, LAN/WAN, switch, router and other infrastructure components using standard templates and checklists.