Tips to Overcome Challenges in DevOps for Mobile Apps

Dec 12, 2017 6:31:12 PM

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42% of the organizations who have implemented DevOps confirm that it supports their mobile app development cycle.” - Gartner

DevOps have become an integral part of application development and delivery. However, embracing the benefits of DevOps for mobile app development is not possible without addressing to the challenges of confronted while development, testing, and release of the app. This segment discusses the major challenges of mobile DevOps with some reliable practices to overcome them. Let’s get started.

1. Use a Mix of Tools to Ensure Continuous Integration 

It’s not just the variety of Operating Systems that make mobile app development complex. Differences in characteristics of devices like screen resolution, graphic capabilities, hardware etc. are also the contributing factors in complicating the development cycle. Consequently, an app may have different variants, even if it targets the same Operating System.

In addition to this, the app development models vary as well. It may be built using an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), cross-platform mobile app development (MADPs), cross platform frameworks, or simply a no-code development model (like RMAD).

  • With so many tools, development models and device variances, implementing an efficient DevOps strategy requires a lot of work. Typically, app developers run builds by using IDEs. Instead of following this, developers should collaborate with DevOps team for automated builds using scripts. With this, DevOps team can ensure fast and reliable CI.
  • The DevOps team should set up an internal build servers that enables them to manage multiple OS builds. In scenarios when mobile app is developed for multiple platforms, there will be multiple builds as well. The operations team can therefore generate scripts to manage multiple builds and maintain versions.

2. Implement Continuous Monitoring and Analysis of App

An app’s success rate can never be determined with its performance in development stage. It can only be analyzed after the app is released to the masses. Once an app is submitted on the app stores, it is downloaded on a variety of devices, running different versions of Operating System, having varying memory, network connections, or power conditions. Therefore, estimating behaviour of an app is absolutely impossible for any developer, unless mobile app analytics tools are embedded at the backend.

  • For DevOps team, it is imperative to have access to business-relevant, behavioural and performance specific analytics of an app for continuous monitoring and improvement. However, while collecting data from mobile application performance monitoring tools, keep the fact in mind that performance of an app may get hampered due to back-end services from where the app is fetching data. Deploy an analytics tools that can record server-side components as well (example: Piwik).

3. Automate Mobile App Testing for Continuous Delivery (CI)

In mobile app development, DevOps follow a different approach to automate testing. Usually, app developers utilize emulators or simulators instead of real devices. But, considering the plethora of devices for which devices are to be tested, it is impractical to test all the devices manually. That is why, DevOps must implement automated testing processes so as to meet the deployment deadlines and ascertain quality standards.

  • As compared to web, releasing a mobile app is a whole new ball game. Once submitted to the app marketplace and downloaded by a user, an app cannot be rolled back, if there are any serious performance issues. That is why, it is recommended to go for canary testing/deployment, wherein a new version of the app is distributed amongst a small section of production users, so as to evaluate any major performance issues in the app before it is released to the masses.
  • Mobile apps are distributed to the users through app stores that accepts a submission after thorough review. The review process may take up few days or week (especially in case of App Store) and therefore, releasing an update is not in control of DevOps. To work around the scenario, the option is to enable dynamic updates for mobile apps (for elements like UI, minor bug fixes etc.) using third party SDKs or Javascript.

Switching to Mobile DevOps? We can Help

For those who have been adopting Agile for mobile app development till date, might confront some challenges when switching to DevOps. We, at Daffodil not only offer mobile application development with DevOps but also render DevOps as a service. For any assistance or consultation to get started, we offer our 30 minutes free consultation with our DevOps expert. To connect, visit: DevOps consultation service.

Topics: Devops

Kunwar Jolly

Written by Kunwar Jolly

Digital Consultant at Daffodil Software, Kunwar is an avid reader, tech enthusiast and generally keeps abreast on latest developments in the technology space and their future outlay.