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
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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
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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
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