Automating Application Traffic Management for Blue-Green Deployments

Challenges of the modern applications:

Nowadays, the applications are mostly cloud-based and in distributed form, with greater scalability to meet the fluctuating demands. The highly-available infrastructure offers greater failure-resilience and fully managed services like Lamda Coding and Elastic Container Services take care of some operational responsibilities.

In the era we live in, the biggest change witnessed in the software development sphere is the frequency of deployments. Months-long release cycle, which used to be a norm earlier, is now nowhere to be seen, and the product teams are now fixing the flaws and deploying the updates as soon as they are discovered or needed, in real-time without any interruption in services.

This shift poses several challenges for the development and operations team as with frequent deployments, the site reliability and end-user-experience are likely to be impacted negatively.

What are Blue Green Deployments?

One of the most effective processes reducing the load and lead time of application deployments, but strikingly the most underused one as well is the Blue-Green deployment methodology. Blue-Green deployment is a special kind of application release model gradually transferring the traffic from the previous version of applications to its ‘clone’ to make the necessary updates without any interruption in the service.

Automate Your F5 ADCs to Get Rid of Service Delivery Delays and TCO Surge

The core concept of blue-green deployment is to create two identical production environments, working in parallel. The first one is a running production environment, which receives all-user traffic that is depicted as blue. The second one is a clone of it but is idle, and depicted as green. Both of the environments use the same database, back-end, and application configuration. At any instant in time, only one of these production environments is functioning. For example, the blue environment receives all user traffic, while its clone (the green one) remains idle. When a new version of an application is ready for release, it is deployed to the green environment for testing.

Blue Green Deployment

Once the updated release is tested, the application traffic is routed from blue to green. The idle clone then becomes the new production environment, and the blue one goes idle. Now, this can become the “new green” (idle) environment for the next release.

Traffic Management in Blue Green Deployments

If there is an issue after the ‘green’ becomes live, traffic can be routed back to blue.

Such deployment helps organizations easily achieve their automation and continuous delivery while avoiding the associated risks and downtime. It also makes the changes and updated versions to be released quickly and reliably.

Traffic Management in Blue Green Deployments:

Though DevOps team strive hard to speed up the CI/CD cycles for making the application available to the end-users without any interruption, still the traffic management remains an important and challenging issue.

When the active environment is completely shut down and brought back up after updating and extensive examinations, in that period the traffic is routed to the standby environment. Traffic in that environment is cautiously monitored for the availability of servers and the ADCs. Application Upgradation is a frequent task and in blue-green deployments, the process of shutting down the blue environment and getting it live back again may take several weeks.

Redirecting traffic needs configuration changes in firewalls and load balancers. For monitoring and optimizing the loads, the network team has to be very careful but the potentiality of human-error cannot be neglected.

Optimized Solution:

The most effective solution is automating the ADC functioning with a self-serviceable management platform. This will allow app teams to provision and automate their ADC services and easily enable/disable objects while effectively managing the traffic.

ADC+, the most effective ADC automation tool, empowers organizations with a zero-touch orchestration through built-in integrations with ITSM and IPAM solutions and helps in blue-green deployments with a single click from RBAC-powered dashboards and persona-based service catalogues.

The easy to use application delivery solution – ADC+, with few simple clicks, disables the traffic in the ‘Blue’ environment and routes all that to the ‘Green’ one. All this happens in the background without much human intervention. A centralized dashboard offers the real-time visibility of all operations and keeps on testing the success of completion against the pre- and post-network configuration.

Based on the ‘context-aware’ closed loop workflows, the event-driven remediation measures are auto-executed by ADC+. If any flaw is found in the configuration, then the network team is immediately notified for it.

Competitive Edges of ADC+

Role-Based Access Control Dashboard:

A centralized dashboard enables one to access the statistics and detailed insights regarding the traffic routing, service performance, and the parameters as per their role assigned.

Centralized Device Management:

Real-time visibility into the status and performance, and automate all ADCs configurations through a single GUI-based pane.

Customized Widgets:

The tool owners can add or disable an object, control the traffic between data-centers, add or remove the virtual servers, and perform automated failovers, from the custom-built application widgets in a few clicks.

Real-Time Insights:

The health state, status, and performance of each application instance and be monitored in real-time and the resources can be allocated accordingly with the detailed insights offered.

Winding Up

For any IT organization, blue-green deployment is nothing less than a necessity now. Amazing benefits like risk mitigation, no or lesser downtime, and easier rolling back to the previous state makes one adopt the methodology.
The only concern is to manage the traffic.

But the good news is with specialized advanced tools like ADC+, the traffic management can not only be executed with utmost efficiency but is also automated to save lots of effort and time. This empowers the IT team to focus more and better on the core areas.

In the Blue-Green Deployments, ensuring the continuous integration and continuous delivery, it is of utmost importance to manage the traffic during the transition phases. If the organization is successful in managing the traffic during the shift, then the services get interruption-free and the client-experience – the fate-deciding factor of any business, is greatly enhanced.

About the Author

Devanshu Dawn

Product Marketing Manager

A product enthusiast, who strategizes and communicates product's value to prospects and customers through narratives based on solid research, simplifying their purchase decisions.

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