DevOps World | Jenkins World: what to expect

DevOps World | Jenkins World: what to expect

Summer time, July lazily rolls into August and suddenly everyone becomes excited. And
just as the weather heats up. CloudBees very own DevOps World | Jenkins World is one
event which you should definitely circle on your calendar. And it’s just around the corner!

Here are the things we’re really looking forward to at DevOps World | Jenkins World 2019.

Jenkins Contributor Summit

We’re excited to see the return of the Jenkins Contributor Summit in San Francisco – a place where current and future contributors gather to discuss, learn and collaborate on the latest and greatest efforts within the Jenkins project. This year’s contributor summit will also form part of a joint Continuous Delivery Foundation [CDF] contributor summit.

The value from these sessions comes from hearing from the CloudBees themselves as it helps to understand what they feel is important for their product and their customers. It also gives us an insight into their proposed roadmap so we can begin to see where the product is going as a whole. With Kohsuke Kawaguchi, CloudBees Chief Scientist, Tracy Miranda, Director of Open Source Community and James Strachan looking to lead the project updates and BoF/Unconference ,this looks to be a real good kick0-start to the week.

Let’s Get Talking

Keynotes are probably one of the highlights of the week as you get to hear from some of the movers and shakers within the industry as they give their thoughts on where the industry is moving. With talks from Sacha Labourey, the CEO and Founder of CloudBees to Ben Williams, VP Product Management, we’re already anticipating an opportunity to see what’s next on the horizon for CloudBees and Jenkins during the show.

Not only that, but we will also be celebrating 15 years of Jenkins and the future of CI/CD, with talks from Tara Hernandez from Google, Chris Aniszczyk the CTO/COO of Cloud Native Computing Foundation and Andrew Glover a Director and engineer at Netflix to book end the celebrations!

DevSecOps Workshop: Security at a DevOps Speed

It’s 30 times cheaper to fix a security defect in Development vs. Production, yet Security is often treated as an afterthought and a bottleneck. It doesn’t have to be that way.

DJ Schleen’s hands-on workshop looks to address this misunderstanding head on, with promises to share tips and best practices for building better software, faster. Attendees can learn how to easily set up a Jenkins pipeline to automatically scan, detect, understand, and remediate known-vulnerable open source components. Attendees will also be given a chance to execute an attack against the same CVE that affected Equifax; then use Sonatype’s intelligence to understand and remediate the vulnerable libraries and verify the attack no longer works.

What’s more, DJ Schleen is a DevSecOps advocate at Sonatype making him best placed to run the workshop. Sonatype are one of the leaders in application security and are big advocates of shift-left security. As partners with Sonatype, we know what struggles some customer have with making sure the libraries and binaries they use to make up their mission critical application are and how they must guarantee their integrity. This is a talk which is guaranteed to give you some valuable takeaways to take back to your business.

Training

We love training. Especially when it comes from industry experts and with a CloudBees event like this – it’s an opportunity for attendees to get some hand-on training on their favourite products during the conference. Our very own Tom Chapman will be delivering training on Jenkins Pipeline and Fundamentals at this year’s event which is a real treat – be sure to sign up to his session! All training will be conducted on Monday 12th August in the morning. Other courses running include:

  • CloudBees Core Fundamentals
  • Continuous Delivery with Jenkins presented by Victor Farcic
  • Jenkins Admin 1 & 2 — Fundamentals presented by Bill Garret
  • DevSecOps Engineering fundamentals
  • DevOps Leader Certification Course
  • Jenkins Pipeline Fundamentals presented by Tom Chapman from ECS Digital

The Awards

The 2019 DevOps World | Jenkins World and CloudBees Innovation Awards look to honour the outstanding achievement of Jenkins Contributors and CloudBees customers around the globe – which is a great way of celebrating the open source nature of the tool.

In 2018, ECS Digital were proud to have won CloudBees’ Partner of the year award. It was a massive achievement for the business, with CloudBees recognising the hard work which had been put in by the team, on both sides throughout the year. 2019 marks a continued focus on moving the partnership between ECS Digital and CloudBees forward, providing world class consultancy and exercise to their customers.

In fact, we hosted a combined DevOps Playground just last week on Jenkins X – delivering a free hands-on session to attendees to enable others in the community to learn the basics of Jenkins X with CloudBees Jenkins X Distribution. Whilst Playgrounds only last 90mins, we managed to squeeze in the following:

  • Create a GKE cluster and install Jenkins X
  • Use Kubernetes™ GKE to deploy your application
  • Create a Quickstart Project from a build pack
  • Leverage Preview Environments for Pull Requests
  • Promote your changes into Production

If you missed the Playground, don’t fret. We will be releasing the event recording soon!

I guess the last thing to say is that we can’t wait to see everything that DevOps World | Jenkins World has to offer. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic four days (agenda can be found here) and we feel privileged to be part of it again – this year as sponsors and exhibitors. Whilst we sadly can’t send the whole team to sunny San Francisco, there will be a few friendly faces on our stand to answer all your DevOps, Digital transformation and/or training enquiries.

We look forward to hopefully seeing you there!

Benjamin ShonubiDevOps World | Jenkins World: what to expect
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The business case for using Jenkins X

The business case for using Jenkins X

Far from being a replacement to the widely loved Jenkins, Jenkins X builds on the classic with best of breed open source tools.

But it’s a little more exciting than that.

In the words of James Strachan, Distinguished Engineer at CloudBees, Jenkins X is a big deal because “as a developer, you can type one command jx create or jx import and get your source code, git repository and application created, automatically built and deployed to Kubernetes on each Pull Request or git push with full CI/CD complete with Environments and Promotion via GitOps!”

And breath…

Essentially, it makes smart decisions for you, its cloud native and its geared specifically for Kubernetes. Handy features when businesses are looking for ways to adopt cloud technologies, reduce manual tasks, and focus on driving value to compete at pace. But it hasn’t always been so plain sailing.

It’s fair to say that Jenkins X addressed some of the challenges its predecessor Jenkins has traditionally faced. A continuous integration tool long before Kubernetes entered the DevOps scene and distributed systems running on cloud native platforms, the current shift to cloud native and containers began to pose Jenkins management-specific challenges for enterprises. Users were also finding the use of Jenkins as a stand-along open source tool difficult at times.

The changing landscape meant that when Jenkins X was released back in early 2018, it found a way to both improve and automate continuous delivery pipelines to Kubernetes and cloud-native environments – something that hadn’t been possible with Jenkins.

But the dream doesn’t stop there. Ultimately, CloudBees is evolving its tools in keeping with the evolution of the modern DevOps pipeline. And it seems that the hope is that Jenkins X will eventually blend with the classic Jenkins to create one experience that facilitates serverless and automated pipelines, on-premise deployments and modern cloud applications. CloudBees would also like to see Jenkins X help Jenkins to become more cloud native in the hope it benefits the wider Jenkins community in addition to Jenkins X.

The question is, with such a shift still taking place, why would an enterprise go to the trouble of using Jenkins X? We think we’ve found a few answers…

It’s popular, and it works.

Ultimately, Jenkins X is a CI/CD solution for modern cloud application on Kubernetes – but with a few bells and whistles up his finely ironed suit jacket. Not only does the tool provide pipeline automation, it has built-in GitOps and preview environments to enable greater collaboration between teams and the acceleration of software delivery at scale.

Feedback on commits, issues and pull requests are also automated, with feedback delivered as code that is ready to be previewed and promoted to environments – or if pull requests are generated automatically, to upgrade versions. By spinning up preview environments ahead of merges to the master, Jenkins X has answered the much-requested ability to gain faster feedback.

In fact, it’s been so well received, CloudBees | Jenkins X has been described as “evil in the best possible way”…

It’s user focused

Devout compliments asides, Jenkins X has been carefully considered to put the developer’s best interests front and centre.

Best described in the words of James Strachan, Jenkins X is “a project which rethinks how developers should interact with CI/CD in the cloud with a focus on making development teams productive through automation, tooling and DevOps best practices”.

Defaulting your favourite pipelines and having them fully implemented with CI and CD for projects is an equally nifty addition for the time conscious and meticulous developer.

It addresses the CI/CD challenges in a cloud native landscape

As noted by Craig Barber, Software Engineer, Google:

“Jenkins X is an industry-wide leap forward to provide developers with a cloud native CI/CD experience. As the next evolution in the Jenkins space, Jenkins X redefines how CI/CD workloads run.”

And it was a much-needed leap too! Traditional CI/CD systems such as Jenkins weren’t designed for cloud-native environments, and as such, these tools have either had to evolve or introduce new family members to the tool stack.

In the case of CloudBees, Jenkins X was created to meet the demands Kubernetes placed on engineers wanting to deploy and test easily during deployment workflows. Born as a cloud-native tool, Jenkins X has simplified the integration of tools in the Kubernetes ecosystem for an opinionated open source solution fit for the modern enterprise.

CloudBees | Jenkins recently bagged HSBC’s vote, and a rather sizeable cheque…

It’s certainly not risk-free, but when an established enterprise such as HSBC is prepared to make a capital investment of $10million into an open-source software company, it’s difficult not to take notice.

HSBC’s CTO of Shared Services Dinesh Keswani says the investment was motivated by a desire to better serve their customers. They are also one of the enterprises driving change:

“The DevOps market is growing fast, as organisations like us drive automation, intelligence and security into the way we deliver software. CloudBees is already a strategic business partner of HSBC; we are excited by our investment and by the opportunity to be part of the story of continuous delivery.”

But HSBC aren’t alone. An estimated 15+ million software developers currently use Jenkins to automate their software delivery pipelines. Of this 15+ million, 46 belong to the Fortune 100 and three sit within the Fortune 10 – all using various tools within the CloudBees Suite to transform their businesses for the unremitting economy. And this number is likely to grow as CloudBees continue to conquer the CI/CD landscape.

Sacha Labourey, CEO and co-founder of CloudBees says that the funding will be used to continue introducing new innovation to the DevOps market through modernising its software delivery suite, growing its strategic partnerships and driving growth in its global business – as we’ve already seen through its recent acquisition of Electric Cloud and Rollout. Whilst not devoted solely to the evolution of Jenkins X, a few things suggest that Jenkins X will undoubtably gain its fair share of the pie:

Described in its infancy early last year, we look forward to seeing the progress Jenkins X has made at this years’ DevOps World | Jenkins World. Not only will some of the team be heading out to sunny San Francisco, we are proud to be heading out as CloudBees | Jenkins training partner of the year and training sponsors for the show.

DevOps World | Jenkins World

Hands-on with Jenkins X Jenkins X Panda

If you’ve been inspired to give Jenkins X a try for yourself, join us on July 24th for this month’s DevOps Playground, led by CloudBees’ very own Gareth Evans. If you’ve missed tickets on Meetup/Eventbrite, look out for the video recording post-Playground!

This Playground we’ll be learning how to be up and running with Jenkins X in no time, using the CLI to create new applications and promote them to staging and production environments. We will also be demonstrating our use of GitOps and ChatOps to interact with Jenkins X and will show how to utilise Preview Environments to get faster feedback to the developer.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use the JX cli to create a Jenkins X cluster on GKE
  • Create an application based on a set of templates
  • Push the application to a staging environment using GitOps
  • Change the application, interact with the PR using ChatOps
  • Learn how Preview Environments can speed up developer feedback
  • As much pizza as you fancy

As you can see, this is a Playground not to be missed! Join the waiting list here.

 

Eloisa ToveeThe business case for using Jenkins X
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IBM and Red Hat – betting the farm on hybrid cloud

IBM and Red Hat – betting the farm on hybrid cloud

In the largest software acquisition of all time, IBM has completed the purchase of Red Hat for a staggering
$34B.

The drive behind this join up was to create a hybrid cloud company that would support the much slower march of enterprise businesses into the computing modern era, bringing the cloud to the Data Centre instead of the All-In approach traditionally favoured by the likes of Amazon. Having a singular IT environment that spans not only an organisation’s on-premise data centres but multiple public cloud providers too is growing in popularity.

The recent “Enterprise Cloud Index” report by Nutanix shows that 91% of companies believe that hybrid cloud is the ideal IT model with 41% of organisations adopting hybrid cloud within 2 years (up from 18% today). This 23% shift dwarfs the plans to adopt just public cloud offerings.

Indeed, since IBM announced their plans for Red Hat, both AWS (AWS Outposts) and Google Cloud Platform (GKE On-Prem) have release on-premise offerings. Together, with the forward thinking Microsoft Azure Stack, it’s clear where the new battle ground has shifted to.

So what does a combined IBM and Red Hat have in their kitbag to differentiate themselves? How can they grab their share of this $1T dollar hybrid market while they have been flagging at the bottom end of the public cloud market?

Experience turning open source into commercial success

The whole Red Hat business model was built on adding premium value to open source projects and making them worth paying for, all without losing the open source community involvement. The majority of Red Hat’s cloud solutions were open source projects, with Red Hat being one of the largest contributors. All the products were field tested by the community at large, gaining share and traction, before being commercialised by Red Hat.

Synergy between cloud platforms

IBM Cloud is built upon Softlayer (which IBM purchased in 2013) while Red Hat brings OpenStack to the party. IBM has already demonstrated these can interoperate in the public cloud while Red Hat has success in deploying OpenStack inside corporate data centres. Together, IBM has a proven hybrid model with extensive management capability.

Enterprise trust

Both IBM and Red Hat dominate server distributions within enterprise organisations, z/OS, AIX, and Red Hat. Both companies also have a track record with management and integration solutions such as WebSphere and JBOSS, so enterprises are used to dealing and integrating IBM and Red Hat products into the estate.

Only time will tell if IBM made the right choice betting the farm on hybrid cloud but this deal will shake up what was becoming a two horse race within cloud.

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You can read the official IBM and Red Hat press release here.

Des TrundleIBM and Red Hat – betting the farm on hybrid cloud
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DevOps Playground – Hands On with CloudBuild

DevOps Playground – Hands On with CloudBuild

Led by our very own Michel Lebeau, this Playground explores the fundamentals of a CI/CD pipeline using CloudBuild.

Over the session, we walk guests through how to create a basic build config file that defines the steps and parameters needed for CloudBuild to perform your tasks.

We also look at how to build and test a golang application, and then finish off the Playground by deploying the application using Google Cloud App Engine. And then we prepared this video so you can give it a go from the comfort of your home!

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Interested in attending our next DevOps Playground in London? Follow us on Meetup to receive a notification about the next event.

Check out the Meetups we have at our other global locations:

You can also find all the information and resources you need about DevOps Playground sessions, upcoming events and past events on our website: https://devopsplayground.co.uk

Michel LebeauDevOps Playground – Hands On with CloudBuild
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CloudBees & Electric Cloud: the holy grail for CI/CD software?

CloudBees & Electric Cloud: the holy grail for CI/CD software?

As a specialist DevOps consultancy, ECS Digital often finds itself at the forefront of new and emerging technologies. We work with clients that aim to solve ever more complex problems and have established a history of working with industry-leading software vendors in response to the tools required to tackle these problems head-on. This has enabled ECS Digital to become intrinsically linked to the ever-evolving nature of the business software world.

What we’ve come to realise is that there is a natural lifecycle to the software vendors we work with. Some will grow quickly, establishing themselves as leaders in their market, and will eventually go public in an IPO. Some will fail, falling away as victims of the marketplace. And some will be acquired by another software vendor to be included in a wider portfolio of products. This is a common trend, as we have seen with GitHub joining Microsoft and Red Hat becoming part of IBM, both in multi-billion-dollar deals.

And this trend continues, with CloudBees and their recent acquisition of Electric Cloud.

Electric Cloud is the second business to be acquired by CloudBees – Codeship, a continuous integration and continuous delivery firm, being the first in 2018. These deals pair nicely with two of the end-of-life cycles outlined earlier. They also affirm CloudBees’ overall strategy of acquiring smaller, specialist software companies as a way of bringing onboard expertise missing from their current offerings.

In the words of Andy Cureton, Managing Director and Founder of ECS Digital:

“Combining CloudBees and Electric Cloud gives the combined entity the capability breadth to compete against the AWS CI/CD stack and the Microsoft CI/CD stack prevalent on Azure. Combining the feature depth of multiple tools in a seamless capability that is platform agnostic also gives a powerful alternative to those with a brown field site, as well as addressing concerns around vendor lock in (particularly on Cloud)”.

Phil Drouet, Head of Channel at ECS Digital, agreed with Andy, adding that today’s software landscape enables users to “build their own pipeline and pick their own tools. Whilst it may seem that choosing one ‘continuous delivery powerhouse’ limits your choice, this is offset by integrated systems and better experience. At the end of the day, you don’t want every development team to have their own tools. I have no doubt that enterprises will see this as a good thing, a credible alternative to having to buy everything from different places”.

Is CloudBees the holy grail for CI/CD software?

Electric Cloud is a known brand in its own right, with Gartner positioning them as a leader in its Magic Quadrant for Application Release Orchestration just last year. By acquiring Electric Cloud, CloudBees have strategically strengthened their position in the CI and CD space, as well as allowing them to enter the end-to-end solution market. This will help protect them in a marketplace that is increasingly offering these solutions when migrating to the Cloud.

Not only are they home to the enterprise version of Jenkins, they now have a compelling brand story within the CI/CD and release automation arena. What’s more, these products can now be combined into a single suite, offering the holy grail of product portfolios, without the complexity. In the words of Sacha Labourey, the CEO and co-founder of CloudBees:

“As of today, we provide customers with best-of-breed CI/CD software from a single vendor, establishing CloudBees as a continuous delivery powerhouse. By combining the strength of CloudBees, Electric Cloud, Jenkins and Jenkins X, CloudBees offers the best CI/CD solution for any application, from classic to Kubernetes, on-premise to Cloud, self-managed to self-service.”

The joining of CloudBees and Electric Cloud will unquestionably result in a stronger product set, and thus a stronger brand for those looking for a CI, CD and release platform partner. Electric Cloud evidently feel the same, as being a previously well-funded vendor meant that this acquisition did not come about as a result of them struggling in the marketplace. Much the opposite; “it will strengthen the market for them as a unit and give CloudBees (and now Electric Cloud) another revenue stream” (Phil Drouet).

And it benefits users too, as noted by Christina Noren, Chief Product Officer, CloudBees:

“Having the Electric Cloud offerings under the CloudBees umbrella gives companies a greater ability to manage the delivery of value to customers.

Having CI and CD solutions under one banner may mean customers come to rely on CloudBees. But where monopolistic powerhouses have spelt doom for innovation in other markets, in this case, Andy Cureton sees this as “giving back control” to the customer. It’s a holistic offer that means customers lessen the risk presented by multiple vendors and unintegrated systems.

What this acquisition means for partners

Being the Service Delivery Partner of the year for CloudBees, and with a partnership stretching back many years, we will inevitably see a shift in what we will need to provide following the integration of Electric Cloud.

Part of this shift will involve witnessing new challenges emerge, especially during the ‘settling in’ period where the merging vendors decide upon strategies, personnel and technical directions. We’ll also be keeping an eye out for any innovative products born from this acquisition and look forward to introducing these offerings in future projects. Whilst nothing has been confirmed, we imagine CloudBees will begin to release more information regarding their new direction towards the end of the year, timing it nicely with their annual DevOps World | Jenkins World | CloudBees conference – this year taking place in sunny San Francisco and Lisbon, Portugal.

Despite the turbulence that may occur, working closely with partners in the DevOps software world, and having a legacy of trust and reliable support, we are best placed to deliver the same high-quality service support to software vendors at times of change. And thanks to our existing relationship with CloudBees, we are able to upskill our team at pace. We can get ready to hit the ground running as new tools and technology emerge as a result of this deal.

Not only has their recent acquisition piqued industry interest, CloudBees have reaffirmed themselves as a technology vendor to watch. Not only are they bulking up their market presence, they are also providing customers with an extensive offer in the CI/CD and Release Automation space. And since this new option will be simpler and more robust, more customers will no doubt be drawn to this valued convenience. After all, complexity is the killer of progress.

If you’re yet to reap the benefits of CloudBees and Electric Cloud for your business, talk to a member of the ECS Digital team today.

 

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Image Credit: <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by creative32965 – www.freepik.com</a>

Phil DrouetCloudBees & Electric Cloud: the holy grail for CI/CD software?
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Take your testing to the Cloud

Take your testing to the Cloud

There are lots of reasons why companies choose to make the transition to the Cloud, but it’s safe to say that improving the speed and accuracy of your testing is rarely one of them. In fact, the benefits to your testing after moving to the Cloud often go unrealised. This is not because getting to those benefits is hard (it isn’t), or because there are clear reasons for keeping testing on-premise (we would argue that in most circumstances there really aren’t any), but simply because the focus tends to be elsewhere.

In this piece we are going to play out some of the key benefits and also address some of the misconceptions there are around potential barriers.

The benefits:

  1. It’s easy to set up and provision testing environments

Traditionally, getting an environment up and running is a process that takes days, potentially weeks. This means it’s intensive, both in terms of time and resource (which equals money). It also means that in some instances, test environments may not be set up because the cost is seen as too high. Take for example testing your code changes once you have raised a pull request. Creating a test environment for your pull request can have significant benefits when it comes to speeding up delivery and feedback. On-premise it would be highly unlikely to spend the time setting up test environments for pull requests. Testing would be done locally, with issues often missed creating further problems down the line.

In the Cloud, Infrastructure as Code tools like CloudFormation or Terraform can go up in a matter of minutes. You can create a new test environment as you need it and then simply take it down when you are done.

  1. Consistency

By using tools like Docker, you can get a far greater level of consistency between environments. This means you can be more confident you are testing like for like. On-premise there will almost always be small, but potentially important, discrepancies between environments.

  1. Data creation and manipulation

Poor quality data is always an issue when it comes to testing. The worse the data, the fewer issues you will be able to uncover. It is also hard to know whether the test data you have is any good until the testing is underway – and by then it’s too late. Tools like Docker can again be very useful, because the quality of data will be far more consistent.

  1. Scaling

In the on-premise environment, running tests in parallel rather than sequentially would be almost impossible. This is where Cloud comes in.

Because creating and provisioning environments is so much easier in the Cloud, parallel testing is much more doable. You can run the same test across multiple scenarios or run multiple test cases at the same time. Running tests in parallel not only saves a considerable amount of time, it is also far easier to validate different permutations such as browser types and versions.

  1. Faster time to market with reduced risk

Not only does the Cloud enable you to move through test cycles faster, it also enables you to do it with less risk. Tools like Docker and Heroku enable you to release in much smaller chunks which means it is far easier, and faster, to deal with points of failure and then move forward. The fully automated release process also means less manual interference, which in itself reduces risk further.

The barriers:

While the benefits of testing in the Cloud are clear, there are still some concerns / perceived barriers that might hold people back:

  1. Cost

The cost of Cloud is something that is at the top of a lot of people’s minds. Some of those that have already made the transition are finding the cost is substantially higher than they imagined. A lot of this is down to how it is managed, and the same applies to the testing piece. Because environments can be spun up so quickly, there is a danger that they will just proliferate, and numbers will get out of hand. It is important that there is clear governance and process in place to ensure environments are taken down when they are no longer needed.

  1. Security

A few years ago, security was considered the biggest barrier to moving to the Cloud full stop. These days, most will admit that security is often better in the Cloud than on-premise, but that is not to say that security problems don’t exist. In essence, the same rules apply in both environments. Do a good job and follow the right processes and security shouldn’t be an issue. One clear benefit, however, is that in the Cloud environment, it is much easier to test just how good the security is.

  1. Disaster recovery

There have been a number of high-profile instances of Google and Amazon outages affecting customers. The most high-profile causing data to be rerouted to China – which is tricky as Google doesn’t do business there!

The fact is, although these are high profile, they are usually pretty low impact and actually far less likely than on-premise. However, in the case of security, one major benefit of the Cloud testing environment is that it gives you the ability to test your disaster recovery far more effectively.

It is pretty clear that for almost everyone, moving their testing into the Cloud will deliver significant benefits. Although it might not be the thing that is driving Cloud adoption, it is certainly a substantial value add.

To find out about how you can successfully move your testing to the Cloud, talk a member of the ECS Digital team to discuss how you can start reaping the benefits mentioned above.

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Image credit

Kouros AliabadiTake your testing to the Cloud
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Out Scaling Peak Load

Out Scaling Peak Load

Not building your website for scale can be extremely detrimental to your service / product line and reputation – and can become an expensive mistake in the long term! Surges in genuine traffic are a rare opportunity, which makes it terrible timing for your website to be crashing.

In this short 25 minute talk, Morgan Atkins, DevOps and Continuous Delivery Consultant at ECS Digital, covers:

  • Why you want to engineer for scale
  • How you can build your services to scale
  • What the common success factors are
  • Where this technology is moving to next, and how this evolution will support scale beyond the Cloud

 

 

You can also watch the video for free on our YouTube channel here and learn how you can get yourself in the best position to react to unforeseen, performance-critical traffic spikes to your website.

If you want to talk to the team about any specific parts of the lecture, please reach out to hello@ecs-digital.co.uk and one of our consultants will be in touch to help answer your questions.

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Banner Photo credit: Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash

Morgan AtkinsOut Scaling Peak Load
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ECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe

ECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe

This week saw thousands of IT professionals head to the Europe’s largest Cloud exhibition – including ECS Digital and our village of partners!

From blockchain and IoT vendors, to datacentre climate control systems manufacturers and cable suppliers, the crowds enticed anybody interested in Cloud-first, scaling up, refining, or just getting started with the tools and technology.

As has been echoed in previous events, Cloud Expo Europe is an unrivalled opportunity to meet with leading technology innovators and service providers, and network with your peers. Attendees also gain access to a wealth of knowledge and advice including emerging trends, tech deep dives, lessons learned and market forecasts.

ECS Digital once again have donned their conference apparel and deployed Europe’s only DevOps Partner Village, bringing together vendors from across the DevOps tool chain. This included Sonatype, New Relic and Storage OS – experts in application performance monitoring and artifact lifecycle management to dynamic container storage, all under one red, white and blue banner.

As you’ll probably know by now, ECS Digital is an agnostic DevOps and continuous delivery consultancy that provides professional and DevOps expertise to thousands of customers, and this year they have been showcasing the newest feather in their cap; Enablement Pods™.

Enablement PodsTM introduce a new way of working, processes and tooling. By remaining flexible in their resource profiling, our fixed priced outcome-based engagement model enables you to transform at scale by embedding – for short periods – in existing engineering teams to enable them to implement true change. What’s more, you decide the outcomes and objectives for each sprint, and we put our fees at risk to ensure we deliver.

It really is that simple.

During their talk on day one, Young DevOps Consultant of the Year 2018 Michel Lebeau and Pod Delivery Lead Tom Chapman described Enablement Pods™ as ECS Digital new weapon for making long-lasting and impactful changes in the Enterprise space. They also walked guests through how they are using Enablement Pods™, some of the challenge case studies and what Enablement Pods™ has achieved. If you missed the talk, you can learn more here.

ECS Digital also introduced a second, equally exciting initiative at Cloud Expo Europe. The DevOps Playground is supporting the tech community by giving enthusiasts a platform to explore new technology and tools. We’re also super chuffed that the Playground reached 4,000 members worldwide during the show – we’re giving credit to the talk our team delivered on day two!

I was fortunate enough to deliver the DevOps Playground story, describing how ECS Digital have used the DevOps Playground to build a tech community that encourages tech enthusiasts to not only learn about tools, but to gain hands-on experience under the supervision of engineers.

Each month, the DevOps Playground welcomes large numbers of tech-enthusiasts to one of our four worldwide locations – London, Singapore, Pune and Edinburgh. Each Playground lasts for around 2.5 hours, with a chunk of that time set aside for individuals to run and use the chosen tech / tools on their own laptop.

Attendees can expect to follow along with a structured and comprehensive exercise, designed to jumpstart new users with unfamiliar technologies and to highlight the best ways to use the technology. If this is the first you’ve heard of it, head over to the DevOps Playground website to find out more.

Other key takeaways from the show include:

  • Containers are driving the Cloud adoption of software development for 90% of the customers we spoke to
  • DevOps is the new standard for Cloud and agile working and is driving the need to modernise the more traditional methods
  • Cloud Expo is the one-stop-shop for all things Cloud – it was an eye opener seeing how much physical infrastructure goes into the ‘Cloud’

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. We will be revealing a mini-video series about Cloud Expo over the next couple of weeks to recapture some of the best moments from the show – watch this space!

Morgan AtkinsECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe
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5 Common AWS EC2 Challenges – and How to Tackle Them!

5 Common AWS EC2 Challenges – and How to Tackle Them!

The Cloud revolution is well and truly underway, as demonstrated by the 44,000 attendees at the recent Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:invent conference. Many businesses have adopted a Cloud provider like AWS in some form or another.

AWS’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) has been a service offering since 2006. It allows users to launch virtual computing environments on demand. EC2 is one of over 100 services from AWS, and each provides incredible value in your business’ journey to the Cloud.

Many businesses will be in the early stages of their Cloud adoption journey. We have seen some really successful transitions and some…not so great transitions. This post will explore some of the challenges with AWS EC2, and how they can be solved.

Challenges with AWS EC2

Resource Utilisation

Challenge: AWS EC2 makes it easy for businesses to scale. EC2 gives you complete control over your instances, with a range of instance types at your disposal. The challenge in these cases is how you manage the number of instances you have, so that costs aren’t impacted by large, long-running instances.

Solution(s):

  • Limit the number of acceptable instances, using Infrastructure as Code tools such as AWS’ CloudFormation or Hashicorp’s Terraform as a provisioning strategy. This will help display resource graphs to gain a further insight into your infrastructure.
  • Understand the type of instances you require. AWS has four payment options for instances: on-demand, reserved, spot and dedicated. These will significantly reduce cost and help a business understand if EC2 is being used in the right way. For example, if all your instances are dedicated, you are most likely not leveraging the true benefits of the Cloud.
  • Use AWS CloudWatch to detect and shut down idle instances. This will remove any long running instances that are not used, and ensure the environment is not cluttered.

Security: 

Challenge: Whilst EC2 places importance on security, many organisations still face challenges when ensuring that instances are running securely. What happens when you have an instance that is public-facing? Who has access, and how is this monitored?

Solution(s):

  • Use AWS CloudTrail. This will track all user and API usage. This, as a minimum, will help toward auditing and begin to satisfy compliance controls.
  • Create rules that restrict misconfigured instances, such as allowing for Public IPs. These could be integrated into your CloudFormation or Terraform
  • Use Amazon GuardDuty to monitor your AWS accounts and workloads. This uses intelligent threat detection to determine any malicious activity, and can take action with automated remediation.

Deploying at Scale

Challenge: Running hundreds (or even thousands) of instances can result in unmanageable and cluttered environments. This can make it difficult to determine who owns which instance, which regions are using it and what it’s being used for.

Solution(s):

  • As your business scales, separate it into different AWS accounts, to maintain control. AWS Organisations will enable policy-based management for these separate accounts.
  • Use CloudFormation or Terraform to enforce a tagging strategy for the separation of environments, applications, business units and more.

Configuration Management

Challenge: Businesses will use some of the default Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) provided by AWS. However, as adoption matures, many find that custom configurations need – such as additional users and patching – need to be made.

Solution(s):

  • Create a process to manage the lifecycle of your AMI, using the default AMIs. Then, use Hashicorp’s Packer, to make further changes to the image.
  • Use Cloud Init to handle the early initialisation of an instance. This, along with other config management tools such as Puppet and Ansible, can be used to make custom changes.

Serverless

Challenge: Managing EC2 instances! What if we could deploy code without worrying about the instances it has to get deployed to?

Solution: Use AWS Lambda. AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. With Lambda, you can run code for virtually any type of application or back-end service. Just upload your code, and Lambda will take care of everything required to run and scale your code with high availability. You can set up your code to automatically trigger from other AWS services, or call it directly from any web or mobile app. The learning curve for Lambda can be steep, but once you have passed that barrier, you will never look at code deployment in the same way again.

How to best adopt AWS Cloud

Many of the solutions we’ve mentioned in this post are tools available within AWS. When starting your Cloud journey, it’s important to understand these resources (and the many more) that are available in AWS, to ensure successful implementation.

Some additional general practices that should be considered when adopting any Cloud, include:

Cost Management

Using tools like AWS Cost explorer will enable you to see patterns and trends in your spend over time, that can help you understand Cloud costs. This data can then be used to forecast Cloud costs over the next quarter, which can be used to set budgets for your Cloud spend. Tools like AWS budgets can alert businesses when costs or usage are forecasted to exceed, and provide oversight over where overspend is occurring.

Build with fault tolerance in mind

Nowadays, companies who don’t achieve 99.99% uptime are in risk of grave loss of both business and client trust, simply because they’re not available (usually in a high-traffic periods). Tools such as AWS S3 guarantee 99.99% uptime for your static assets, while services like RDS and CloudFront are designed with failover in mind, to provide HA and data availability at any given time. AWS also publishes regular whitepapers that illustrate how to architect and build resilient applications, helping businesses to decrease infrastructure and ownership costs.

There will always be challenges and learnings involved in the adoption of new technology. To make sure your Cloud migration is as effective, efficient and valuable as possible, it’s important to consider potential challenges and solutions of Cloud configuration, migration and management, before you adopt. Being aware of the challenges your business might experience using AWS or any other Cloud platform will enable you to tackle any issues and recover much more quickly.

If you’re experiencing issues with your AWS implementation, or Cloud infrastructure in general, please get in touch. ECS Digital offers a Cloud Health Assessment to help businesses realise the potential of Cloud and ensure their applications are truly native in the Cloud.

Thivan Visvanathan5 Common AWS EC2 Challenges – and How to Tackle Them!
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