Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Maria C. Horton

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

Private Clouds for Dev-Test: Solving the Struggle Between IT and Dev

The familiar struggle

It's an age-old struggle. IT works hard to provide top-of-the-line infrastructure, while developers juggle the build-test-deploy cycle. Somewhere in the middle things get lost in translation and the two find themselves at odds. Developers vie for control of resources and access to tools, while IT struggles to provide resources that are standardized and can be managed in a secure and consistent way.

Sound familiar? We see it all the time in the enterprises we work with. It really boils down to seemingly disparate goals. Even though they're working for the same organization, IT and developers are trying to achieve different things. IT strives for efficient use of resources to get a better return on infrastructure investment. Software developers, on the other hand, are concerned mainly with efficient development. They demand ready access to infrastructure and need a wide range of tools at their fingertips. The constantly fluctuating demands and hodgepodge of tools make it difficult for IT to keep up with their resource needs, and maintain security and consistency within the organization. It's no wonder they always seem to be butting heads.

A New Approach
With the advent of cloud computing, there's new hope of bridging the gap between IT and development. The processes that benefit most from moving to the cloud are those that are resource-intensive or "bursty" in compute demand - exactly the kinds of processes that abound in the build-test-deploy cycle. Great examples include compiling and building source code, testing on several different operating systems, and load testing.

But is a basic cloud implementation enough to address the Dev - IT divide?

Most cloud implementations leverage virtualization and user self-service as their two cornerstone technologies. Virtualization dramatically improves the utilization of the underlying resource; now your underutilized physical servers can be loaded up with many virtual machines (VM), improving your asset utilization. Virtualization also allows IT to provide standardized resources as templates s servers, applications, databases, etc., to users, which enables fast setup and consistent management of the resources. Self-service gives users IT resources on demand: they can request a new server and voila - a new virtual machine is provided instantaneously. Because they don't have to wait for hours or days to get the compute services they need, productivity and time-to-market can be improved.

While cloud provides a lot of value, it still doesn't address the way development wants to interact with IT. Most development teams today have a software production process, a workflow that starts with developers writing software code, building and testing the software, and culminates with the release/deployment of the customer-ready software. This process, complex to begin with, is becoming even more complex with the adoption of Agile development methodologies that encourage faster and more iterative development of software applications. To improve the productivity and efficiency of development in this fast-evolving landscape, cloud infrastructure and services need to be tightly integrated to the process. The necessary ingredients of this integration include:

  • Automated, but seamless, self-service: Developers want self-service, but not in the typical Web interface sense that limits them to setting up one resource at a time. In today's fast-paced and Agile software production process, developers need the ability to set up resources instantaneously and in-context of the software production process. For example, developers want build systems to be automatically provisioned upon start of a build process, and torn down upon successful completion of the process. It is imperative that this process is seamless so it can be iterated multiple times a day; it's also important to automate the process so IT doesn't have to deal with VM sprawl or orphaned VM issues.
  • Customized resource and environment: While the cloud provides standard IT compute resources, developers typically want to customize the resources to the requirements of the software production process. This may involve configuring the standard IT-instantiated resources deploying new dev/test-specific applications. Just as important, developers want these changes to be done automatically without manual interventions
  • Automatic resource management: Developers want the cloud solution to automatically manage the cloud resource, whether it means creation, deletion or active management of the cloud workload and resources. This lets them focus on what they do best and, more important, it enables the IT organization to manage cloud resources in an optimal and efficient manner and achieve shared service economies.
  • Visibility: Developers want their solution to provide them with end-to-end visibility into the software production process and the resources that these processes run on. Whether the process is running on physical, virtual or cloud resources, developers are looking for good analytics to quickly triage software production process errors (which build was broken, what software version passed the tests, etc.).
  • Flexibility: Finally, while developers want to leverage the cloud, they don't want to be locked in to any one resource choice. The development team wants to retain the option of using physical, virtual or cloud services (private or public) to best fit their production process.

Today's cloud solutions do a great job of managing the cloud resources from an infrastructure perspective:

  • Lab management solutions, such as VMWare's Lab Manager or Citrix VMlogix, manage the VMs and standardized templates that are used by development teams
  • Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions such as Eucalyptus provision and manage the infrastructure that's used by the development team
  • Amazon EC2 and Rightscale provide capabilities to use the public cloud to build and test software applications.

Many of these solutions, however, don't understand the development process /tasks that are run on cloud resources, and it is precisely the lack of these types of integrations that is preventing development teams from widespread adoption of cloud technology. One piece that fills the self-service gap to enable development on the private cloud is a software workflow automation system like Electric Cloud ElectricCommander.

The Outcome
Let's talk about how this looks in practice. Say I need to do some system testing. I'm going to need a bunch of machines. If my IT organization supports virtualization technologies, such as VMware Vsphere or Microsoft HyperV, I can get a number of virtual machines with a specific software configuration on them. This is a big improvement over the old days when I would need to secure physical machines, but it's still the virtual equivalent of a blank rack of servers. I've provisioned the resources, but I haven't provisioned the actual test applications. At this point, I have self-service compute resources, but I don't have a system in place that determines what needs to happen, what workflows it needs to go through, how I'm going to load the software or how I'm going to integrate the tools.

By implementing a software production automation system that is optimized for use on the cloud, I now have a platform that lets me define the steps, the workflow between them, tool integration and resource management.

This solution would provide workflow automation (automating, parallelizing and distributing steps within the workflow), seamless services (automatically setting up and tearing down resources as tasks demand), dev tool integration and end-to-end visibility and reporting (aggregating data from multiple apps to quickly identify software errors).

How It Plays It Out in the "Real World"
One of our customers, a large financial institution, has a development team of more than 5,000 developers spread around the world. They've long employed Agile practices, including continuous integration and test processes, but as the development team grew, its demands overwhelmed the script- and open source-based software build and test system they had relied on. Because individual teams were allowed the discretion to choose development methods and tools that worked best for them, the organization was dealing with a wide variety of tools that had become difficult to manage.

A private development cloud turned out to be an essential part of the solution for this organization. It allowed them to offer software build and test as a service to developers, while staying behind their firewall to maintain the tight security the financial industry demands. They now have a common pool of resources to support build, test and deploy procedures that are always accessible on-demand. Teams are still using the tools they prefer, but the organization can now easily allocate resources as they are needed, while supporting parallel builds across multiple computers with varied operating systems and languages.

This customer implemented the private development cloud as an opt-in service, letting teams choose whether to use it or continue to run builds and tests locally. But as teams began to see the benefits, they were eager to move to the cloud. IT is happier too: managing resources while accommodating development's varied tools is now easier, and they have much better visibility into the development process, which is invaluable for a financial company that has to be ready for audits.

At a macro level, implementing a private development cloud has allowed this organization to increase their productivity and save money. The developers, though, aren't thinking of it as an ROI - they're just glad to have a system that helps them do their jobs as efficiently and easily as possible.

Moving development to the cloud and enabling self-service allows developers and IT to work together more easily, with the end result they're all ultimately looking for: better software that's built, tested and deployed cheaper and faster. It seems the cloud holds the key to ending that age-old struggle once and for all.

More Stories By Mike Maciag

Mike Maciag is CEO of Electric Cloud, Inc., the private development cloud company. Prior to joining Electric Cloud, Mike was vice president of marketing and business development at MS2 (acquired by Agile Software (AGIL)), an enterprise software company he founded in 1998 where he established a new application category Product Lifecycle Automation (PLA).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
"This week we're really focusing on scalability, asset preservation and how do you back up to the cloud and in the cloud with object storage, which is really a new way of attacking dealing with your file, your blocked data, where you put it and how you access it," stated Jeff Greenwald, Senior Director of Market Development at HGST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"Venafi has a platform that allows you to manage, centralize and automate the complete life cycle of keys and certificates within the organization," explained Gina Osmond, Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Venafi, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discussed how a new approach is neces...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"Software-defined storage is a big problem in this industry because so many people have different definitions as they see fit to use it," stated Peter McCallum, VP of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"Our strategy is to focus on the hyperscale providers - AWS, Azure, and Google. Over the last year we saw that a lot of developers need to learn how to do their job in the cloud and we see this DevOps movement that we are catering to with our content," stated Alessandro Fasan, Head of Global Sales at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
It is ironic, but perhaps not unexpected, that many organizations who want the benefits of using an Agile approach to deliver software use a waterfall approach to adopting Agile practices: they form plans, they set milestones, and they measure progress by how many teams they have engaged. Old habits die hard, but like most waterfall software projects, most waterfall-style Agile adoption efforts fail to produce the results desired. The problem is that to get the results they want, they have to ch...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.