Running SaaS at scale means major technical operations work. Fast-growing companies have thousands of customers, countless cloud servers (and serverless infra), and tons of data. It’s a lot to manage.
Behind the scenes, a rising force is enabling developers to ship high-quality products and features faster: DevOps processes and tooling.
DevOps has been at the center of SaaS engineering for a while now, driving innovation and quality-first culture. Let’s see how it’s all come together.
What is DevOps?
DevOps looks to learn from and bring together the traditional fields of “Development” (Dev) and “Operations” (Ops). It is an approach that requires a cultural change in an organization to speed up the development, testing, and deployment while simplifying maintenance too. It helps companies continuously ship their products and services and improve their software development lifecycle (SDLC).
DevOps aims to eliminate information silos and existing gaps between traditional development and operations teams to achieve faster time to market, reduce operational costs, and deliver high-quality products. And, of course, that fits with the goals of any SaaS company at scale.
How DevOps is accelerating SaaS engineering
DevOps tries to eliminate silos and encourages collaboration between development, operations, QA teams, and more. This is, of course, no easy task—it’s a cultural change but also requires tooling improvements.
The success of SaaS businesses is predicated on frequently shipping new features to customers. SaaS customers expect continuous improvements and the release of new features at par with competitors. DevOps helps streamline release processes to improve velocity and quality while ensuring stability, quality, and a good user experience for every release. This is the ultimate dream of our next topic: CI/CD.
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Development (CD) are at the heart of DevOps. Making the CI/CD pipeline more robust and automated can help SaaS companies scale well and minimize downtime. CI visibility, metrics, and collaboration also help.
CI focuses on merging code changes as needed and uses automated tools to eliminate errors and bugs. CI enables developers to identify bugs earlier in the release cycle and a lesser codebase.
CD starts right after CI and is responsible for moving your code to production. With the right automation tools, CD makes the release of new SaaS features and enhancements easier, quicker, and less risky.
SaaS applications at scale often adopt microservices architectures rather than monolithic architecture, and it fits nicely into DevOps practices. An application is developed as a collection of small services in a microservices architecture. These small services typically focus on a single task. Ideally, although not always, this means that enhancements, testing, deployment, and maintenance can be more easily accomplished with DevOps best practices.
Infrastructure as a Code
Be it single-tenant architecture or multi-tenant architecture, DevOps allows you to automate resource provisioning for customers on-demand without manual intervention. On top of that, SaaS infrastructure management and proactive remediation get a significant boost with multiple automated DevOps strategies. It improves the developer experience and lets them focus on building new things and improving customer experience.
SaaS products, at scale, aim to achieve extremely high customer uptime and performance. Central to that is the continuous monitoring of system metrics. DevOps automation makes it easier to proactively identify performance gaps, generate reports, and prepare a list of prioritized actions using correct performance metrics. Maintenance teams also benefit from DevOps to quickly resolve issues anywhere in the DevOps cycle.
How To Enhance SaaS Engineering With DevOps
Identify a highly-available and reliable cloud service that fits your DevOps strategy, SaaS engineering, and business objectives.
Modern software architecture strategies, like containerization, benefit greatly from DevOps practices, so start implementing them early on. With improved tooling, it’s easier than you might think to, at least, start off in the right direction.
DevOps best practices don't require a particular toolset, but they do require tools. Choose your DevOps automation tools wisely in enabling your specific practices and engineering culture.
Security and Compliance
The security space is continously learning from DevOps practice with the emerging world of DevSecOps. At the same time, companies at all stages are paying far more attention to compliance than ever before— both to enhance internal security and to close larger Enterprise deals.
Production is where all the magic happens—and that’s where Cased really shines. Ensure that your production runbooks empower engineering, operations, and support teams to automate complex processes and reduce risks.
For example, Cased allows DevOps teams to securely open a production shell from the browser and collaborate in a shared session. Participants can also record, share, and monitor live sessions to help with troubleshooting.
DevOps is now at the forefront of the software development lifecycle. SaaS companies can benefit significantly from adopting DevOps to achieve speed, stability, and scalability. While there are many DevOps tools available in the market, selecting ones that fit your company culture, enable collaboration, and solve your operational problems are important. DevOps is a mindset that needs to evolve, and if SaaS companies make great use of it, they can ace the game of SaaS engineering.