Through the Lens of Xebia: How to Develop New Landing Zones to Assist Clients
Through the Lens of Xebia is a new series in which we will dive into the technical steps and processes that Xebians take when working with clients. This article uses a recent client case to display the process of creating a new landing zone and migrating an application to it. In order to optimize the platform and increase automation and reliability, Xebia assisted the client by creating a new landing zone from scratch to then migrate the chosen application onto it. The 5 steps approach taken by Xebia cloud engineer Joris Conijn will be described and explained.
Improvements in the Deployment Process of Landing Zones
Xebia worked with a Dutch client that was using Amazon Web Services for one of their service platforms. To build landing zones, the engineering team used the Amazon Deployment Framework (ADF). After a couple of years of development, the client realized there was potential to optimize their process and the set-up. For example, the original landing zone had not been updated to the most recent version of this framework. At the same time, its engineering team had made some customizations to the environment itself. This led to a situation where the latest version of ADF could not be deployed to the landing zones without losing the client-specific adaptations.
Xebia created a newly updated landing zone, with new features. This implementation would further decrease security risks and give them a more structured process. It is also a best practice to continuously update the system in order to decrease the risks of technical difficulties.
Improving Testing and Validating by Updating ADF and Maintaining Customizations
Xebia consultant Joris Conijn was tasked to assess the situation and present a plan to implement the ADF. He took a five-step approach. With these changes, Joris Conijn introduced a solid way of testing the landing zone deployment in an isolated environment.
1) Building test organization
Conijn built a test organization, a smaller replica environment of the landing zone which allows you to test new deployments on this testing environment first. All the code needed to become organization agnostic.
2) Testing and Validating
The second step was the testing and validation of the test organization. Conijn triggered the pipelines to check whether they ran successfully. In addition, he carried out an integration test, by validating whether the resources were deployed correctly.
3) Upgrading the ADF
After successfully validating the test organization, it was time to upgrade the test organization to the latest version of ADF. Since the client was using a customized version of the ADF, it was important to deploy the customizations in the new environment as well. After identifying all specific customizations, Conijn refactored each of them to the new test organization, and eventually documented the customizations and created pull requests for the ADF framework project. This would make the customizations part of the core of the ADF Framework.
4) Testing the updated ADF
Conijn tested the newly updated test organization to check its readiness to go live.
5) Moving changes to production
Once all validation and tests passed, the Xebia consultant moved the changes to the production environment.
As a result of this five-step approach, each future fix and/or improvement can now be tested and validated on the test organization first before it is deployed in production. This significantly reduced the impact on the workload of teams using the landing zone. The platform team is now capable of testing the implementation before releasing it in the production environment.
Additionally, Xebia also took the initiative of setting up knowledge-sharing sessions regarding relevant topics to the project, from testing to using the ADF.
“Organizations should never underestimate the importance of building up knowledge. For each client, we make an effort to make them self-reliant, so they can thrive in a cloud environment,” said the Xebia consultant Joris Conijn. “It was a pleasure to work with the client and its team, as they were so enthusiastic to learn more about AWS.”
Founded in 2001, Xebia was the first Dutch organization to embrace the Agile way of working. Since then, we have grown from a Java company into a full-service digital consulting company with 5,000 professionals working on a worldwide ambition. Xebia believes in the expertise and authority of its consultants to successfully assist and make the client self-sufficient. Through the authority mission and knowledge sharing, Xebia aims to elevate and support clients, using an agile way of working to optimize the performance and reliability of platforms.