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DevOps 2.0: Evidence-based evolution of serverless architecture through automatic evaluation of “infrastructure as code” deployments

YOW! Data 2018

The scientific approach teaches us to formulate hypotheses and test them experimentally in order to advance systematically. DevOps and software architecture in particular, do not traditionally follow this approach. Here decisions like “scaling up to more machines or simply employing a batch queue” or “using Apache Spark or sticking to a job scheduler across multiple machines” are worked out theoretically rather than implemented and tested objectively. Furthermore, the paucity of knowledge in unestablished systems like serverless cloud architecture hampers the theoretical approach.

We therefore partnered with James Lewis and Kief Morris to establish a fundamentally different approach for serverless architecture design that is based on scientific principles. For this, the serverless architecture stack needs to firstly be fully defined through code/text, e.g. AWS CloudFormation, so that it can easily and consistently be deployed. This “architecture as text”-base can then be modified and re-deployed to systematically test hypotheses, e.g. is an algorithm faster or a particular autoscaling group more efficient. The second key element to this novel way of evolving architecture is the automatic evaluation of any newly deployed architecture without manually recording runtime or defining interactions between services, e.g. Epsagon’s monitoring solution.

Here we describe the two key aspects in detail and showcase the benefits by describing how we improved runtime by 80% for the bioinformatics software framework GT-Scan, which is used by Australia’s premier research organization to conduct medical research.

Aidan O'Brien

PhD student



Aidan O’Brien graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Biotechnology (1st class honours) in 2013. With Dr. Timothy Bailey as his honours supervisor, he developed GT-Scan, a CRISPR target predictor. Aidan then started at CSIRO with the transformational bioinformatics team, where he developed VariantSpark, which applies BigData machine learning algorithms to genomic data. Aidan has since commenced his PhD in the field of genome editing at the Australian National University.