Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA

Cloud Expo: 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
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile ...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
Companies today struggle to manage the types and volume of data their customers and employees generate and use every day. With billions of requests daily, operational consistency can be elusive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Dave McCrory, CTO at Basho Technologies, will explore how a distributed systems solution, such as NoSQL, can give organizations the consistency and availability necessary to succeed with on-demand data, offering high availability at massive scale.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what th...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness,...
Security can create serious friction for DevOps processes. We've come up with an approach to alleviate the friction and provide security value to DevOps teams. In her session at DevOps Summit, Shannon Lietz, Senior Manager of DevSecOps at Intuit, will discuss how DevSecOps got started and how it has evolved. Shannon Lietz has over two decades of experience pursuing next generation security solutions. She is currently the DevSecOps Leader for Intuit where she is responsible for setting and driv...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science f...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. ...
Vormetric on Wednesday announced the results of its 2015 Insider Threat Report (ITR), conducted online on their behalf by Harris Poll and in conjunction with analyst firm Ovum in fall 2014 among 818 IT decision makers in various countries, including 408 in the United States. The report details striking findings around how U.S. and international enterprises perceive security threats, the types of employees considered most dangerous, environments at the greatest risk for data loss and the steps or...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP ...
Storage administrators find themselves walking a line between meeting employees’ demands to use public cloud storage services, and their organizations’ need to store information on-premises for security, performance, cost and compliance reasons. However, as file sharing protocols like CIFS and NFS continue to lose their relevance, simply relying only on a NAS-based environment creates inefficiencies that hurt productivity and the bottom line. IT wants to implement cloud storage it can purchase a...
Cloud Technology Partners on Wednesday announced it has been recognized by the Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards as one of the Best Amazon Web Services (AWS) Consulting Partners. Selected by the editors of TechTarget's SearchDataCenter.com, and by votes from customers and strategic channel partners, the companies acknowledged by the Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards represent the top providers of cloud consulting services for AWS including application migration, application development, inf...
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Blue Box has been around for 10-11 years, and last year we launched Blue Box Cloud. We like the term 'Private Cloud as a Service' because we think that embodies what we are launching as a product - it's a managed hosted private cloud," explained Giles Frith, Vice President of Customer Operations at Blue Box, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Software AG and Wipro Ltd. have announced a joint solution platform for streaming analytics that provides real-time actionable intelligence for the Internet of Things (IoT) market. “The key to successfully addressing the IoT market is the ability to rapidly build and evolve apps that tap into, analyze and make smart decisions on fast, big data”, said John Bates, Global Head of Industry Solutions and CMO, Software AG. To address the huge market potential created by streaming analytics in conj...
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your onlin...
Hardware will never be more valuable than on the day it hits your loading dock. Each day new servers are not deployed to production the business is losing money. While Moore's Law is typically cited to explain the exponential density growth of chips, a critical consequence of this is rapid depreciation of servers. The hardware for clustered systems (e.g., Hadoop, OpenStack) tends to be significant capital expenses. In his session at Big Data Expo, Mason Katz, CTO and co-founder of StackIQ, disc...
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by minin...