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
read more
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.



Image Credit: <a href=””>Background vector created by creative32965 –</a>

Phil DrouetCloudBees & Electric Cloud: the holy grail for CI/CD software?
read more
Closing the gap between business and technology

Closing the gap between business and technology

27% of final decisions regarding IT planning, spending and management are now made by someone other than the IT department. For a successful DevOps transformation, you need to have implementation come from both the top and the bottom. Here’s how…

For a successful DevOps transformation, you need to have implementation come from both the top and the bottom.

A recent survey by IT industry association CompTIA found that 27% of final decisions are now made by someone other than the IT department (i.e., the heads of other business functions such as finance, marketing, sales and logistics).

Within a bottom-up, grassroots approach, whereby engineering alone is trying to build a better continuous development pipeline, without the support from senior stakeholders, DevOps will only stay siloed in one area. DevOps can and does scale across whole organisations, the problem is that there will be disconnect between the business and development teams. Changes to the organisation and culture are needed to close the gap.

But how should you go about ‘bridging the gap’?

It sounds cliché, but it’s all about communication. Ensuring goals of both the organisation and the teams within it all have overarching and very strategic goals they can work towards collaboratively. Making sure every product is geared towards achieving that goal. Whether it’s to increase sales or click-throughs to a specific page of a website, it must be specific, clear and concise.

Organisations must bring the business and development teams together so they can build products that help achieve strategic goals, and there are a number of effective ways that can help achieve this.

  1. Impact Mapping

Impact mapping is a strategic planning technique that prevents organisations from getting lost while building products and delivering projects. It does this by clearly communicating assumptions, helping teams align their activities with overall business objectives and make better roadmap decisions.

2. Customer Dashboards

Another way to ensure your team is guaranteeing business and IT function buy-in is through custom dashboards. These show you a representation of where you are as well as the business value of the digital transformation. The best countermeasures to inaccurate communications are the mutually reinforcing pillars of automation and measurement.

Automated systems, like custom dashboards, enable better reporting of business metrics. Rather than relying on information that’s filtered upwards to executives, you have an objective measurement system to share across the business, helping everyone get onto the same page.

Meeting the strategic goals of the organisation is imperative. Dashboards are one of the ways we ensure that we are as transparent as possible when communicating our progress, inspection and adaption from the other two core pillars of Scrum Theory and should be adopted not just at the engineering and team level, but also the program and portfolio level. Mapping things at the start does not mean that the job is done, we must update the plan to take into consideration the competitive landscape outside the organisation.

3. Organisational Culture

Finally, organisational culture is extremely important when planning a Digital Transformation project. It often comes down to how your team communicates with one another that makes the biggest difference. Ensuring that your team plans workshops with business/IT functions to get the most value from the projects, and all stakeholders are kept up to date with new developments on the project will also help.

What have we learned?

With the two examples outlined, it’s clear that if you don’t get your business involved, the product team can easily go-off on a tangent. The business will be frustrated as the product won’t be servicing a business need, and objectives will not be fulfilled.

Communicating is key, without it both parties will become disengaged.

Cultural change has to come from the top, leadership must be bought into the transformation and motivated to make it a success. Those at the coal face, the development teams rarely need convincing, they understand the benefits of a DevOps culture and in most cases will always be your path to least resistance. The key to developing applications that release true business value is bridging the gap between the two, the development teams should be seen as part of the business, rather than a service set up to support it.

ECS Digital can help you close your business’ gap on your digital transformation journey, get in contact today to find out how. We held a webinar in November which explained how to get past the DevOps Deadlock within your company – watch now.

Sarndeep NijjarClosing the gap between business and technology
read more
Is your master branch production ready?

Is your master branch production ready?

Delivering software in a continuous delivery capacity is something that nearly every project strives for. Problem is, not many projects are able to achieve continuous delivery because they don’t have the confidence in their applications quality, their build pipelines, their branching strategy or worst case, all of them.

A good indicator as to whether you fall into one of the above is to ask yourself: `can I confidently release master branch right now`.

If your answer is no, then how do we start to break down and resolve these problems.

Building confidence in quality

A recent project I have been working on fell into a few of the above categories. Nearly all their testing was done on a deployment to a long living environment, after a merge commit to master. Along with a lot of duplicated work throughout their pipeline.

The test strategy shown above was for a simple front-end application that reads data from an external API.

To start, we identified areas of our application that we knew were unloved, or treacherous to develop. Once identified, we put in place appropriate test automation. When writing test automation it is so important that your tests are robust, fast and deterministic.

We pushed as much of our UI automation down into the application. Ideally you want your application adhering to the testing pyramid principles. Testing elements that have particular classes with tools such as selenium are both time costly and of no value. There are better, more appropriate tools to do this.

Once our test scaffolding was in place, we started to feel more comfortable refactoring problem areas and reducing complexity.

We isolated our application by stubbing out external services or dependencies where necessary –  we didn’t want to be testing services outside our scope. Where possible, we recommend agreeing a contract with your external dependencies and using this to develop against.

We also recommend containerizing your app. Being able to deploy and run the same image of an application locally and on production is incredibly powerful. Long gone are the days of having long living application servers and the phrase of ‘well it works on my machine’.

Start failing fast 

Once we had confidence that when our tests all passed then the application could be deployed, we then looked to address where our tests were running.

Having tests run after a merge commit to master is too late in the process. Leaving it this long introduces a risk that someone pushes the release to production button before tests have been run.

We need to run tests earlier in the process.

In the past, to solve this problem you may have adopted complicated branching strategies dev, test, master which on paper seem reasonable, but in practice introduce horrendously slow unnecessary feedback loops and messy merges between multiple branches.

We decided to harness the power of pull request environments instead, to allow our tests to run on short living infrastructure before we merge to Master. With DevOps paradigms such as immutable infrastructure, infrastructure as code and containerisation, deploying a new environment becomes trivial.

This becomes even more powerful if you deploy your pull request environments in the same way as your production site, since you effectively test the deployment itself.

Having pull request environments spun up also caters for any testing requirements, such as exploratory testing or demos, and massively speeds up developer feedback loops.

The end result is a much higher confidence in your applications quality in master branch, which to any project is invaluable.


This a two-part series, with the next article focusing on how we can start to deliver master branch to production. Watch this space.

Matt LowryIs your master branch production ready?
read more
“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?

“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?

For those that haven’t noticed, we recently re-branded. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Following our acquisition by ECS Group, Forest Technologies has become ECS Digital. And with that re-brand, comes a new tagline. You’ve probably seen it: it’s splashed across our homepage, our business cards and our conference swag: Continuous Innovation.

We think it sums up everything we do here at ECS Digital – and why – but what exactly does it mean?

Put simply, continuous innovation is what it says on the tin: It’s a methodology that allows companies to continuously improve in line with customer demand and market expectations, as well as new and existing competitors.

But, why is Continuous Innovation so important?

Nearly 100 years ago, Albert Einstein, himself, said:

“we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.

This has never been as true as it is today.  Customer expectations have dramatically increased in recent years with the consumerisation of IT. Since the emergence of disruptive industry challengers, web 2.0 companies have begun to establish not only new markets, but new ways of consuming existing or traditional services.

As we head deeper into the digital age, new products, services and features are surfacing all the time, and customers have come to expect these to be delivered to them quickly.  This speed at which the consumer market is moving is forcing companies to innovate at an ever increasing rate.  With the breadth of choice and ease of switching providers eroding customer loyalty, this innovation has to be delivered to the highest standards.

Increasingly, companies are finding that in order to survive – let alone grow – they need to change the way they work.  At the same time, they’re being pushed to do more with less (or at least the same) making it imperative that organisations work smarter, not harder. It is no longer an option to do what’s always been done.


Industry disruption is so real nowadays that all businesses face the threat of disruptor companies.

In fact, compared to 1995, only 12% of Fortune 500 firms remain, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity, and the average time companies now spend on the Fortune 500 will shrink to 12 years by 2020 from 60 years back in 1960.

The more agile and able to innovate you are, the easier it is to keep up with changes in consumer trends, and avoid going out of business.

Let’s rewind a few years…

…and remember Blockbuster:  In 2004, the leader in home movies and video game rentals was valued at over $6 billion.   By 2010, Netflix had become a household name for online video streaming services, rendering Blockbuster stores bankrupt.


Despite Blockbuster’s efforts to send rentals-by-mail and offer streaming services, they were unable to do so soon enough. Blockbuster were beaten to the post by a company that could innovate both continuously and rapidly, and left by fickle consumers demanding convenience at speed and value. Those of us that remember can only reminisce on the Friday nights going to Blockbusters, grabbing some popcorn and renting the latest releases.

If Blockbuster had been capable of innovating and delivering new services to customers faster, could they have competed against Netflix? 

It’s possible: more than simply allowing companies to stay ahead of trends, innovation has become one of the keys to dominating a market. Evolution is no longer enough to win, let alone retain customers:“The light bulb wasn’t invented by continuously improving the candle…it was about understanding what the job to be done was and then stepping back to look for solutions to solve this.”

Picture1-4.pngWho would have thought the adoption of agile principles would allow the world’s biggest online book seller, Amazon, to not only kill the traditional bookstore, the traditional bookstore, but become the world’s biggest cloud provider?

What if Amazon launched a bank…?

How does ECS Digital help companies achieve Continuous Innovation?

Here at ECS Digital, we believe that everything is done with the aim of helping our customer achieve continuous innovation.  As a DevOps and Continuous Delivery consultancy, we help companies of all sizes to adopt the working practices, processes and tools that enable them to deliver the continuous innovation that customers and users demand.

DevOps itself is an enabler of innovation.  As well as improving the speed, failure rates and efficiency of organisations, it encourages businesses to:

  • Collaborate more effectively, making for not only more satisfied and productive employees, but a more rounded view and wider pool of internal ideas. As Adam Jacob, CTO of Chef once said, Happy people make happy products.”

Achieving the above allows companies to continually innovate. At ECS Digital, we transform enterprises through the adoption of DevOps and Continuous Delivery, allowing them to stay ahead of competition and giving them the opportunity to disrupt their markets.


To learn more about how DevOps helps organisations to innovate, why not read my article, placed in Horizon Business Innovation: DevOps enables CIOs to create Innovation.”

Andy Cureton“Continuous Innovation” WTF is that about?
read more
Eating our own Dog Food – DevOps Style!

Eating our own Dog Food – DevOps Style!

2016 has started off with a bang for us. We recently announced the addition of three DevOpsenthusiasts to our team and wanted to share in their own words some of their experiences thus far.

From the very first moment I stepped into the office, everyone has been very welcoming and made me feel at home. This was a huge help as joining a new company can be quite daunting. I have to hand it to the management team for creating a fun and creative environment in which talented people can thrive. In terms of the learning curve, ECS Digital have gotten this just right. Not too much work that I’ve been completely swamped but just enough to make it a challenge.” – Padraig Murphy

I arrived at ECS Digital a month ago, and have lost track of time since. Since then I’ve been trained, worked on a use case and worked on a small project. The people here are all very open minded, and there is a real team spirit –  people come together to work, but also to have fun with some nights out, which helps getting to know the people you are working with during the day. This has been a good start for what I can only hope will be a very challenging and interesting experience.” – Michel Lebeau

Starting almost from scratch with the DevOps mentality, here I have run into very passionate and professional people, willing to help at any time even if the workload is high! In my view, it’s crucial to be constantly evolving and here I can feel this continuous improvement that keeps me motivated. Apart from that, we also have some spare time to grab a drink together every week or so. During the first weeks I have worked on the DevOps practice, expanding my knowledge of Puppet for Configuration/Provisioning Automation. We went from the very fundamentals of the tool to the Advanced Practitioner course. Apart from that, we’ve had a presentation skills course, an introduction to CI and many interesting tasks and use cases.” – Javier Velasquez

We are very proud of our culture at ECS Digital, with a real team ethic evident throughout our company – from the newest members to those who’ve been with us the longest. We are sharing this not just out of pride, but because we know that how we work internally mirrors how we work with our customers. Our culture and team ethic are no accident: we make sure that every member of the team goes out of their way to support one another and deliver the best outcomes for our customers. Whether it’s through continually adding to our knowledge base, internal knowledge sharing sessions or supporting colleagues who are on site where issues arise, everything we do is underpinned by our core principles and values: complete focus and alignment in delivering our business objectives, ensuring customer success.

When working with customers, our first priority is establishing a culture and environment where people can thrive and excel. We identify the target business outcomes and ensure all teams are aligned towards those goals. This does not necessarily mean changes in organisational structure, but it certainly means enhancing collaboration across teams and the alignment of their goals. The right culture makes the organisational structure less relevant, and in many cases irrelevant. Once this is in place, effective processes and tooling can be implemented to deliver the business outcomes in the shortest possible time and at optimal cost and quality.

We have a number of vacancies waiting to be filed with exciting projects in a variety of sectors and countries for those who fill them. If you are interested in joining the ECS Digital family, drop us a line at

ECS Digital has been implementing DevOps solutions for companies around the world for over 12 years. If you’re interested in finding out more about our approach and the unique insights we can offer into how to transform your business with DevOps, contact us today.

Image credit:

Andy CuretonEating our own Dog Food – DevOps Style!
read more
Mastering Continuous Delivery with ECS Digital CloudBees Jenkins Platform courses

Mastering Continuous Delivery with ECS Digital CloudBees Jenkins Platform courses

CloudBees, and specifically Jenkins, have become all but synonymous with the DevOps movement. As one of the world’s most-used platforms for Continuous Delivery, it’s difficult to imagine a true DevOps toolchain that doesn’t involve Jenkins to some degree. As one of our partners, CloudBees and Jenkins form a central part of ECS Digital’s take on DevOps, and we’ve had the opportunity to work with Jenkins for many years in many different situations. But with DevOps becoming an increasingly mainstream practice, and the always-improving features included in both open source Jenkins and the CloudBees Jenkins Platform, CloudBees have re-envisioned their training courses to provide a better understanding of the tools – both for users and administrators.

In this article, we’ll briefly talk about the value of Continuous Delivery, and go over some of the differences between the previous Mastering Continuous Integration with Jenkins course and the new courses, as well as how they affect users and administrators.

The value of Continuous Delivery in the modern enterprise

Continuous Delivery (CD)is one of the cornerstones of DevOps. It is the ability to deploy a change to production at any time and ensuring that changes get to that point as fast as possible.Continuous Delivery is an extension of Continuous Integration (CI). In a CI pipeline, developers commit code changes to a central repository, and automated tests are then run on the code submitted, before the build is sent to QA and operations, or back to development should the test fail. Continuous Delivery extends the concept through the various stages required to ensure changes are production ready. Automation is a key enabler of CD with previously manual tasks such as infrastructure provisioning and application deployment and testing being automated. The result: shorter development windows, higher quality changes, and less employee time wasted on menial tasks. Ultimately, Continuous Delivery enables you to make better use of your resources – technology, budget and staff.

The new Jenkins courses: Users

The CloudBees Jenkins Platform User course aims to give attendees a solid understanding of how to implement a Continuous Integration (CI) environment, and includes both theoretical and practical components in equal measure. The course is very interactive and full of hands-on examples, making it the ideal springboard for those who might be unfamiliar with the Jenkins platform or CI environments.

Course objectives include:

  • Setting up a production-grade instance of a Jenkins server, complete with automated builds, tests, code quality audits and reports.
  • Integrating Jenkins with other tools in the development environment, such as issue tracking systems and source code browsers.
  • Learning the additional features available in the CloudBees Jenkins Platform.

The Jenkins User course is similar in many ways to ECS Digital’s older Jenkins course, minus any administrative function training, which has been replaced with a module on the new workflow plugin, which was previously part of the advanced Jenkins course.

The new Jenkins courses: Administrators

The CloudBees Jenkins Platform Administrator course caters to build managers and engineers, sysadmins, development engineers and DevOps engineers, and aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of Jenkins administration. Like the user course, content is provided in a modular fashion, and is both highly flexible and interactive.

The course focusses on maintaining both single and multi-master environment. Some of the objectives include:

  • Learning administration of Jenkins instances, such as scripted maintenance, security and slave administration.
  • Understanding how to schedule regular maintenance tasks such as plugin updates and backups in both a single master and multi-master environment.
  • Learning how to monitor Jenkins instances.
  • Understanding how to manage plugin sprawl.

We’re confident that the restructuring of our Jenkins courses will add much more value to both system administrators and users alike. If you’d like to find out more about the courses and book a place, visit our courses page. We’re also offering a discount on both courses when you book a bundle of both the administration and user course in one, so make sure to check out both before you book!

Andy CuretonMastering Continuous Delivery with ECS Digital CloudBees Jenkins Platform courses
read more
How ECS Digital makes implementing DevOps easy

How ECS Digital makes implementing DevOps easy

DevOps is a fast-growing term in the IT world, driven by the industry’s never-ending need to deliver faster, more efficiently and at a higher quality. But adopting DevOps can be intimidating from both an operational and financial perspective as it’s at odds with traditional organisational structures. Implementing the necessary changes can be a complex task, as can ensuring that the changes you’ve made are beneficial to your organisational structure and processes. As a provider of Continuous Delivery and DevOps solutions for over ten years, ECS Digital provides strategy, consulting and training services that provide real value to our clients. Where we have helped deliver DevOps transformations, our clients have experienced results that include up to 90% reduction in errors, 1000% faster deployment times, greater visibility and transparency. So what makesECS Digital’s way of doing things different?

ECS Digital provides consultation and training services for a holistically valuable service.

The consumerisation of IT means businesses today are expected to operate faster, smarter and more efficiently than ever before. DevOps and Continuous Delivery make it possible to reduce the time to market for new and improved services dramatically.  Benefits include a reduction in the man-hours required for everyday tasks, improved consistency and significantly reduced test cycle errors. But with so many processes at play in the modern business, deciding how to go about implementing automated systems can be daunting, to say the least.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in our line of work, and we do our best to tailor our solutions to what works best for each individual client. We have a growing list of technology partnerships and tools such as DockerVagrantAnsibleAutomic ARAAppDynamicsAWSCloudBees Enterprise Jenkins, Puppet and Chef are commonly used in our implementations alongside the leading Open Source tools. We run workshops with each of our clients to understand their current state, identify the challenges they face, their desired state (if known) after implementation, and any constraints whether organisational or regulatory, etc. The output of the workshops shapes the solutions we recommend, with our software-agnostic approach ensuring that we only use the tools that are best for you. As part of our consultancy service, we help our clients get to grips with potentially huge and complex process-chains and build a strategy that is effective from initial rollout through to adoption on an enterprise-wide scale.

What does partnering with ECS Digital mean for your business?

For ECS Digital, DevOps is an overarching principle that encompasses the journey from individual islands of automation through linking those islands together to create continuous delivery and deployment pipelines, to the pinnacle of maturity where architectures are designed to support a unified Development and Operations culture of shared objectives and accountability. Our delivery methodology is tried and tested, and enables our customers to achieve their desired results within time and budget. By its nature, DevOps is a diverse discipline that touches many other areas. As such, it necessitates a wide spectrum of knowledge across multiple subjects and industries. At ECS Digital, our team is made up of professionals with many years’ experience across several industries and a wide range of technical expertise. Our DevOps consultants help transform your culture and implement practices including Continuous IntegrationContinuous Delivery and Deployment, and Infrastructure Automation.

Some of our success stories include:

  • Self-service and on-demand business service provisioning with VSphere and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager for Denmark’s largest bank.
  • Continuous Delivery pipeline for a leading AirBnB rival.
  • Orchestrating software releases from build to production using Jira for one of the largest Online Gaming companies in the Europe.
  • Automated provisioning of virtual classrooms for students at a leading US University.
  • Automating back-end business processes such as swapping sim formats for new iPhones for a UK Mobile operator.
  • Dynamic instantiation of development environments using Docker and Vagrant with automated testing for a leading Connected Device Management company.

What happens after I’ve implemented DevOps in my organisation with ECS Digital?

When we work with a client, we see our partnership as a two-way relationship that thrives on mutual learning and advice, and we are committed to keeping in touch with our clients long after the initial implementation is complete. Continuous improvement activities are a key component of DevOps. When implemented properly, DevOps solutions are self-improving, and we only think of a job as complete when the organisation we’ve partnered with is able to maintain and enhance their implementation independently. We understand that successful DevOps transformations are dependent on organisation-wide buy-in, and with our wealth of industry experience we aim to make that process as easy as possible. We also understand that, at the end of the day, the people that make up your organisation are your most important assets – what makes ECS Digital different is that we commit as much to the development of your human resources as we do to your technological and organisational ones.

If you’d like to know more about how DevOps can bring new levels of productivity and efficiency to your workplace, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Andy CuretonHow ECS Digital makes implementing DevOps easy
read more
Backporting DevOps: Bringing Agile and CI/CD to Enterprise Legacy systems

Backporting DevOps: Bringing Agile and CI/CD to Enterprise Legacy systems

A recent survey sponsored by Rackspace found that 79% of enterprises that have not already embraced DevOps plan to start the journey by the end of 2015. The Enterprise customers we are working with that have started the journey are finding that despite DevOps, Agile and Contiuous Delivery increasing their pace of innovation internally, the pace of innovation to their customers is constrained by core legacy systems. Like the iceberg it is not what you can see that is the problem.

Replacing or rewriting legacy and often back office applications that form part of critical processes is rarely achievable in an acceptable time frame or cost. This presentation given at DevOps London discusses the challenge in more detail and how Automation offers a real alternative. The case study presented discusses Siebel and the @Automic ARA for Siebel solution.

We would love to hear from you and discuss the challenges you are facing in your environment. Click here to give us a little information and we will get in touch asap.

Andy CuretonBackporting DevOps: Bringing Agile and CI/CD to Enterprise Legacy systems
read more
Continuous Delivery NOT Continuous Deployment is key to successful DevOps

Continuous Delivery NOT Continuous Deployment is key to successful DevOps

In this consumer driven era businesses are turning to DevOps to help them keep up with the demand for new software, features and functions, and to enable them to respond quickly to shifts in their markets. Most companies interpret this as needing to move to being “Continuous” but are unsure as to whether they should be implementing Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment.

What’s the difference?

Continuous Delivery (CD): Having the ability to deploy a change to production at any time. However, this does not mean that you deploy each change to prod.

Continuous Deployment (CDep): Deploying every tested change to production automatically.

Continuous Deployment is an evolution of Continuous Delivery where the decision process is typically automated and binary. For example test(s) passed = deploy / test(s) failed = don’t deploy. The diagram below by Carl Caum from Puppet Labs shows this small but significant difference clearly:

Continuous Deployment typically encounters resistance in companies under significant compliance or regulatory scrutiny. Production environments are ring fenced and segregated in what is ultimately a simple way of meeting perceived regulatory requirements. A CD pipeline requires an automated deployment solution spanning the lifecycle of an application from development through to Production. This brings DevOps into conflict with this traditional status quo. What we find most interesting as a DevOps solution provider and the key to this blog post is that once our customers understand the difference between CD and CDep the majority choose Continuous Delivery. They are telling us they’re looking for “the ability to deploy change on demand” with the confidence that the deployment will be accurate, tested, reproducible and traceable and not adversely impact the target environment or service. By definition this is Continuous Delivery and not CDep as it is the ability to deploy, not the act of deploying. The resistance to continual production deployments is not due to fear but instead concern about the associated overhead.

Continuous Deployment effectively means a larger number of smaller deployments. Whilst the “small batch” concept is a key component of the “lean” methodology there is a point at which greater deployment frequency can lead to diminished benefits. When something is deployed to production the full scope of the change must be deployed. You would not for example deploy a front-end change adding a field on a form without the corresponding database change adding that column to the database. Similarly if you are deploying 50 times a day and faults are reported with your systems there is an overhead in identifying exactly what was deployed at the time of the issue. What we’re experiencing is that many companies are satisfied with their tools and processes for managing development activity and scoping of releases. There are many well established methodologies and tools at this end of the lifecycle and there is limited appetite to change what is in place for the little or no perceived benefit that Continuous Deployment provides. When introducing change to organisations the adoption of that change is critical. Focusing on areas where maximum value will be derived gives a far greater chance of success.

One such company we worked with is an online Payroll & Benefits provider. During peak hours have 10,000+ customers logged into their web portal. Optimising Deployment duration and downtime were key requirements for their new CD/CDep pipeline. There starting assumption was CDep would clearly be more beneficial and that is where the project was focused. Once the differences between CD and CDep were clear the dramatic increase in the frequency of deployment to Production was positively rejected. Their reasoning was very simple. “If we get the same quality of deployment with CD as we do with CDep but we would require changes in our development process for CDep why would we adopt it?” The project was refocused on delivering a CD pipeline with a more aggressive goal of zero downtime rolling deployments and with the addition of on demand infrastructure provisioning (including application components and data). They achieved an improvement in deployment time from 6 elapsed hours of 6-8 skilled resources time to 45 minutes with zero downtime with a significant reduction in quality issues. Deployments are now executed as necessary including in the middle of the business day.

Time will tell if the practice of Continuous Improvement will once again shine the spotlight on the Deployment step of the delivery pipeline as all others are optimised. For now however our recommendation driven by customer feedback is that Continuous Delivery is the key to succesful DevOps.

Andy CuretonContinuous Delivery NOT Continuous Deployment is key to successful DevOps
read more