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Fast-tracking Product Development at Knowledge Crystals

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Knowledge Crystals Private Limited is a start-up based out of Hyderabad, India. The company is part of the tech ecosystem connecting academic institutions with their large student and prospect communities across the country. It builds web and mobile applications using the technology stack of Java and Angular JS, and deploys them on AWS infrastructure for ease of scalability.

Challenge

Our client deals with all the typical start-up challenges of resources and bandwidth. Many of their software developers were occupied with manual administrative processes for their software development. These manual processes included code push, code merge, building & testing, as well as code deployment. Because these tasks were being done manually, build and compile errors were not being tracked, and there were several instances of uncontrolled commits and merges across different developer teams on different branches such as development, QA, UAT, and live branches. With wrong code being merged into code repositories, the day-to-day manual deployment issues caused major mess-ups, and in some cases wrong code deployments, requiring huge efforts and interventions to resolve. These challenges put a large strain on the software developers and they were unable to devote focused attention to their primary tasks of writing great code and developing great products. The in-house team was not aware of the DevOps competency nor familiar with the industry best practices. Hence, the company approached us to help them shorten their product development lifecycle, through the philosophy of continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD).

The Devops Solution Approach

Untangled code deployments

Under the new process the code repository is hosted on AWS CodeCommit which help with easy collaboration among developers. The Jenkins plugin for AWS Code-Commit automatically merges the code created by several developers across the company, and it can be triggered only by the development team leader. This process prevents unauthorized or multiple code merges. Code pulls and checkouts are also automated further preventing any errors. Moreover, all compilation errors are now automatically logged and notifications are mailed to the relevant developers and their team leaders in case of failures. The icing on the cake of the new process is that in case of a build failure, the new build can be easily rolled back, as all previously successful software builds are archived.

Easy infrastructure administration

On the infrastructure front, the developed code is deployed using AWS Beanstalk which automatically handles capacity provisioning, load balancing, and scaling requirements. Further, the CloudBees plugin for AWS Elastic Beanstalk prevents any code from being deployed onto wrong AWS environments. This has freed developers from their earlier manual, time-consuming, infrastructure administration tasks.

Automated frontend UI development

The web application front-end UI was designed on Angular 2 and built using Angular CLI using Jenkins. The post-build static html content is now hosted on a AWS S3 bucket that is enabled by static web site hosting. This takes care of the earlier headaches relating to durability and scalability, and has significantly reduced the costs as well. The Minfy designed CI / CD framework has completely automated the entire build, trigger, and deployment cycle for Knowledge Crystals' frontend UI.

Simplified database management

The user database is also hosted on the cloud and managed using AWS RDS which frees the team from repetitive tasks relating to data backup, replication, availability, and snapshots.

Robust security and monitoring

Lastly, Knowledge Crystals security and monitoring systems for their data and infrastructure are now far more robust. AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) is used to manage developer access to cloud resources. Security audits are performed using AWS CloudTrail which enables easy logging of all activities across the AWS stack. Lastly, AWS Trusted Advisor provides real time scanning of all the cloud infrastructure for cost optimization, performance, security, tolerance, and service limits

Benefits

The DevOps methodology leveraging the AWS stack has freed developers of infrastructure administration and scaling tasks, while also freeing the development process from costly, time-consuming version control errors. Along with significant savings in time to build and deploy, the effort, cost, and time for infrastructure planning and maintenance has also reduced. The several trainings that we conducted in Knowledge Crystals on the new framework for build, deployments, and testing has significantly improved their resource efficiency. The new email approval plugin has enabled a streamlined release management process, and the implementation of code is now practically seamless. Also, the new build notifications have greatly contributed towards the overall stability of the build process.

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