Getting Hands-On with Jenkins X

Getting Hands-On with Jenkins X

July 25th was a big day for the DevOps Playground. Not only was it an opportunity for ECS Digital to work closely with its partner CloudBees, the Playground and its members had the privilege of welcoming Gareth Evans, who showcased CloudBees’ new tool Jenkins X.

Through the session, Gareth uncovered what Jenkins X is and the challenges it can solve. We’ve summarised his talk below:

Jenkins X is an open source platform offering software developers automated testing, continuous integration (CI), and continuous delivery (CD) specifically in Kubernetes. By managing projects within Jenkins X, users get a complete CI/CD process with a Jenkins pipeline that builds and packages project code for deployment to Kubernetes containers. Users also gain access to pipelines for promoting projects to staging and production environments.

Running the “classic” open source Jenkins and CloudBees’ version of Jenkins on Kubernetes already has it benefits, thanks in part to the Jenkins Kubernetes plugin. This plugin allows users to dynamically spin-up Kubernetes pods to run Jenkins build agents. Not only does it help streamline the process of working with containers, Jenkins X adds what’s missing from Jenkins: comprehensive support for CD and the management of promoting projects to preview, staging, and production environments.

As many of you can attest to, Kubernetes is hard! Jenkins X aims to simplify this by getting you up and running at pace, and keeping you going quickly using some of the industry’s best practices.

In the Playground we learnt how to get up and running with Jenkins X in no time at all, using the CLI to create new applications and promote them to staging and production environments. Gareth also demonstrated CloudBees’ use of GitOps and ChatOps to interact with Jenkins X and how to utilise Preview Environments to get faster feedback to the developer.

The key takeaways from the Playground were:

  • 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

If you’re interested in learning more about how Jenkins X works, you can explore more in this blog.

The Team

 

 

This is a community event for the people, run by the people, and we had some pretty amazing ECS Digital team members to help out during the London DevOps Playground. Which was a good thing, considering the Playground was just shy of hitting full numbers again!

 

 

This was definitely one of the most success nights we had at the DevOps Playground London, with over 70% of the attendees being first timers. This influx of newbies is amazing, as we not only love to welcome new people into our community, but we also opened up the world of Jenkins to a new audience – which was pretty cool!

Take Some Home

If you were there on the night, or didn’t quite catch something from the Playground, please find all the details below (including a link to the recording from the day):

🐼 Hands-On with Jenkins X Playground – official recording:

Github repo – DevOpsPlayground/Hands-On-With-Jenkins-X

Gareth Evans – Lead speaker and a keen technologist, developer, open-source contributor and cloud advocate engineer at CloudBees. Currently working on the Jenkins X project

Jenkins X is a CI / CD platform for Kubernetes

🐼 DevOps Playground website

🐼 DevOps Playground London Meetup Page

 

Benjamin ShonubiGetting Hands-On with Jenkins X
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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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A Week after HashiConf EU 2019

A Week after HashiConf EU 2019

This was my second HashiConf. The first was last year’s San Francisco show, and this year I got to head to Amsterdam for the EU edition. I’ve never been to the Netherlands, so it was understandably exciting to wait for my cue to order my Uber to the airport on Monday, very early in the morning.

This year ECS Digital had a team of three and a stand in an area called The Hub. It’s here where we spent the majority of our time, talking to people about training in all things HashiCorp, technical challenges they’re facing, and also proudly advertising our beloved hands-on Meetup series, the DevOps Playground to the fellow Londoners who made the exhausting 40 minutes long flight to Amsterdam for the show. Thanks to everyone who came over and chatted with us.

When we got to the venue Tuesday morning, something became clear very quickly. The vibe was very different than what I remember from San Francisco last year. Not better or worse, just a different atmosphere. The bare-brick walls, the stage setup, the lighting, the background music (playlist for Spotify – thanks for sharing it HC). These things immediately gave me the impression that I’m going to have a wonderful time here. (Also super excited to hear that HashiConf 2020 will be taking place in the same venue, with hopefully the same music!)

Bit of breakfast, and a good cup of coffee (I mean two coffees), and it was time for the big bangs – the Opening Keynote.

Last year’s Big Bang at HashiConf EU was Consul Connect, then Vault 1.0 and Terraform 0.12 beta in San Francisco. So it was kinda predictable that we were going to have Consul at the centre of the opening keynote. And it was.

 

 

Armon Dadgar took to the stage first, followed by Mitchell Hashimoto – Co-Founders and Co-CTOs of HashiCorp. The new buzzword to come out of their opening keynote was “Mesh Gateways and Layer7 routing” capabilities. See a detailed blog post about it here.

Essentially, Consul (and Envoy working together) are the new {load balancer, edge reverse proxy, service mesh, api gateway, vpn}. This will undoubtably prove to be a very complex undertaking for Consul, and whilst I’m sure they will handle it just fine, I do have a slight concern that it will start to become too heavy. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen…namely because Consul is my favourite HashiCorp tool.

When Mitchell finished talking about Consul, the stage (and the whole auditorium) changed from magenta to green, and it was time for the updates on Nomad.

Although it was much shorter than the Consul update, the session covered a lot of new updates for the next version of Nomad, including: Network Namespaces and Native Consul Connect integration, which will be very useful for those deploying hybrid workloads onto Nomad. I personally also like the upcoming support for Host Volumes, which is a long-awaited feature. The community will be very happy once it’s out, for sure! Check out the announcement video here.

The Nomad update concluded the keynote for Day 1, and the program continued with other presentations, food and coffee breaks. Oh, god I must mention, the food was amazing. And there was a lot of it. And I mean, a lot. If you knew me personally, you’d know I don’t take these words lightly, but if we’re being honest, there was barely an hour or two each day when there was no food or snacks or ice cream immediately available to someone who desired it. Food and tech, what’s not to love!

 

 

Day 2 started with another keynote, this time presented by Paul Hinze on Terraform. Now I must admit that I’m still on required_version = "< 0.12", and for the first part of the presentation, it felt like this is somewhat of a trend amongst users. Knowing that many people are yet to upgrade, Paul reiterated the HCL 2.0 features and other v0.12 upgrades that were announced in the beta release in San Francisco last October and made generally available in May 2019. He also went on to announce that Terraform Cloud is now officially live, providing free remote state management for individuals and small teams. The big booms for Terraform Enterprise are VCS backed Policy Sets and First-class integration with ServiceNow. See the video on this link for the full update.

The last update was for Vault, and although it was in a smaller auditorium, the updates were not small at all. New auth methods, like Kerberos and Pivotal Cloud Foundry were announced, Built-In Highly Available storage and consensus system (which will be released later this year), Dynamic UI elements for better integration for custom plugins, a new Database plugin for Elasticsearch and so on. Please see Jeff’s video here.

Although it’s not always easy to schedule these trips to conferences between engagements, I definitely did not regret making the effort to do so. Great venue, beautiful city, good crowd, professional (but not white gloves) hospitality and of course, lots of inspiring content about my favourite tools in the DevOps toolchain.

Which, come to think of it, I could probably write an entirely separate post on…maybe I will.

*****

If you’re looking for an easy way to learn how to manage your Consul Cluster with Terraform, head this way

Daniel MeszarosA Week after HashiConf EU 2019
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Plotting a Container-Centric Future. Part Two

Plotting a Container-Centric Future. Part Two

What to look for in a partner

Containers offer huge advantages over traditional architecture and application development models. Getting the best from this new way of working however, requires detailed knowledge of how to deploy them and the benefits of doing so. To avoid making bad decisions – which could impact the ability to move to containers quickly and effectively – organisations should seek out guidance from experienced experts before jumping in. 

A little assistance during the early phases of a cloud migration, or application refactoring, will pay huge dividends when moving to containers. If you are able to find and work with an experienced partner the benefits will be realised faster, with less risk. Here are some of the essential things to look for in a partner:

Sourcing the Right Expertise

Once you’ve selected your container distribution (e.g. Rancher, Docker, OpenShift…), the adoption of new technology can be disruptive. Not just to your technology ecosystem, but to your teams and culture too. 

Another stumbling block is that the on-premise IT services methodologies, traditionally supporting COTS applications, struggle to translate to the new model of containers, microservices and cloud environments. Care should be taken to ensure that any service provider is suitably skilled and experienced in Rancher, Kubernetes and Docker to enable you on your journey.

Take the time to ask how long they have been working with the technologies, how extensive their training is, and what certifications they hold. Key decisions about application architecture and environment design will be made early in the life of your modern applications – it’s crucial to make the right ones. Seek advice from those with the scars and medals of previous battles in this arena if you want to get ahead of your competition.

Finding the Right Support

You will gain the most from a partner if you are able to engage with engineers who will work in close partnership with you. You want a partner that will collaborate to design and build robust, flexible and cost-efficient cloud provisioning, orchestration and deployment solutions for your modern applications. Take the time to identify a partner who can place automation at the heart of what they do, leveraging the latest industry tooling and techniques including system immutability, infrastructure-as-code and container orchestrators.

What’s more, you will want to work with a qualified professional services team who can provide the architecture design, pre-staging, deployment, integration, training and support requirements for each project they undertake – you could  avoid costly mistakes common in the absence of this help.

An Agnostic Approach

You should ideally find a partner who is technology-agnostic and able to give honest advice, tailored for you – rather than making recommendations on one particular technology stack. You are going to be working with them on strategic elements of your business, so leverage their experience to avoid common design and implementation pitfalls – it will save you a lot of time, and a lot of money.

Lastly, find a partner who is invested in your success. Sounds simple, but finding a partner that looks beyond the surface requirements is a rare feat, but a rewarding one. Look beyond the sticker on the tin and instead focus on how your partner can help you make changes with longevity. Our own partners – such as Rancher – achieve this by upskilling our consultants in their latest technologies and tools so we can better serve our clients. We then pay this forward to our clients by upskilling their teams as part of our Pods offering. Technology isn’t about squeezing lemons, it’s about creating a sustainable innovation that benefits all, and we pride ourselves on enabling teams to make the most of the new technologies that will need to be mastered as they start their DevOps journey. 

Lead by Example

ECS Digital are experts in the deployment of containerised applications, and we provide exactly this type of assistance to organisations of all kinds. We are service delivery and training providers for many of the leaders in the DevOps toolchain, such as Rancher, Docker, HashiCorp, Puppet, Sonatype, New Relic, CloudBees and GitHub. Click here to find out more and get in touch.

If you missed Part One of the series, you can find it here.

——–

About the author

Morgan Atkins is the container technology lead at ECS Digital, and spends his time working with the leading container tools and related technology. You will find him on site with customers from many industries, explaining how to adopt products such as Rancher, Docker and Kubernetes. Morgan is a certified Docker trainer and consultant, and is one of the leading consultants for containerised applications in the UK.

About ECS Digital

ECS Digital is a leading DevOps and Digital Transformation consultancy based in London, Singapore and Edinburgh. Being deeply embedded in the world of DevOps and the tooling that this movement is driving, ECS Digital is proud to partner with the leading software vendors in this space, including Rancher, Docker, CloudBees, Aqua, Sonatype, HashiCorp, New Relic and ServiceNow.

Morgan AtkinsPlotting a Container-Centric Future. Part Two
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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.

 

****

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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Plotting a Container-Centric Future. Part One

Plotting a Container-Centric Future. Part One

Containers are unlocking new and innovative ways of developing and running software. With containerisation, the potential of hybrid cloud computing is finally becoming a reality. The evolution of containers is much akin to that of Virtual Machines (VMs) 15-years ago – eyed with suspicion in the early days but are now a de facto part of every IT infrastructure. Likewise, containers are becoming the default plan for organisations in all sectors and of all shapes and sizes.

Why? For those not yet familiar, containers are lightweight, portable, virtualised, software-defined environments. Their growing popularity is due to the fact they facilitate modularity, portability and simplicity when provisioning virtual infrastructure. They represent, in many ways, a step-change in how IT functions deliver applications; reduced boot times, improved resource utilisation and a lack of infrastructure dependencies facilitating swift deployment and iterative development and test cycles.

ECS Digital’s approach to containers is simple; it’s all about choice. Tooling agnostic – everything from cloud solutions to automation and edge – we’re led by the needs of our customers. Whilst there are many commercial container distributions available today, we choose to work with two main partners; Docker and Kubernetes (specifically, Rancher). Naturally, many organisations have a few requirements when selecting a platform to host their applications. By far the most common one is the desire to attain and retain agility by not being locked into a particular offering that prevents easy migration to other cloud platforms. In reality, this means selecting a platform based on Kubernetes, as this has been proven to be the standard by which other orchestrators are judged.

In this three-part series, we will take a look at the features of Rancher, highlight those that other container orchestration management tools don’t offer out of the box, and help you find the perfect deployment partner. Let’s start with Rancher’s pivotal features…

Rancher – Extra rBACtteries Included

Rancher is widely regarded as the #1 choice for running enterprise-scale containers and Kubernetes in production. It’s the only distro that can manage all Kubernetes clusters on all Clouds. It also accelerates the adoption of open source Kubernetes while complying with corporate security and availability standards.

100% Open Source

All Rancher products are 100% open source and free to use. Rancher deploys upstream, open-source Kubernetes, so the latest features in each Kubernetes release are always available for users. Rancher has also successfully shaped Kubernetes into an enterprise offering by putting security first and making it easy for businesses to control and interact with all of their clusters from a single interface.

No Vendor Lock-In

Rancher remains agnostic about which provider to use. It gives you, the user, the freedom to quickly deploy Kubernetes anywhere, with the configuration that you want. It also abstracts vendor differences so that users can interact with each cluster in the same way. Rancher makes it possible to run multiple clusters whilst enabling you to manage each cluster independently. And if you ever decide to stop using Rancher, you can quickly and cleanly uninstall the platform as if it was never there.

Multi-Cluster Management

Rancher was built to manage Kubernetes everywhere it runs. It can easily deploy new clusters from scratch, launch EKS, GKE and AKS clusters, or even import existing Kubernetes clusters. This month, Rancher went as far as to launch RIO, a MicroPaaS that can be layered on any standard Kubernetes cluster. And the best part? It’s free! Try it out for yourself today.

In short, Rancher is a complete container management platform, with a few added bells and whistles to make using the tool both practical and able to integrate with other applications. This ease of use makes Rancher an ideal partner for businesses scaling change initiatives using containerisation technology. And we should know. After a 14-month engagement with an industry-leading asset tracking client, ECS Digital has been instrumental in delivering and operating globally deployed container applications on Rancher that will revolutionise the industry.

In part two of the series, we’ll explore what you should look for in a partner, and how choosing the right partner can help drive a successful transformation for you and your business.

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About the Author:

Morgan Atkins is the container technology lead at ECS Digital and is one of the leading consultants for containerised applications in the UK. Not only is Morgan a certified Docker trainer and consultant, but he also takes great pride working alongside and upskilling customers in the adoption of container products such as Rancher, Docker and Kubernetes.

About ECS Digital

ECS Digital is a leading DevOps and Digital Transformation consultancy based in London, Singapore and Edinburgh. Being deeply embedded in the world of DevOps and the tooling that this movement is driving, ECS Digital is proud to partner with the leading software vendors in this space, including Rancher, Docker, CloudBees, Aqua, Sonatype, HashiCorp, New Relic and ServiceNow.

Want to adopt Rancher in your business? Talk to the team today about how you can get started.

Morgan AtkinsPlotting a Container-Centric Future. Part One
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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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Can a new hire benefit from Terraform?

Can a new hire benefit from Terraform?

The short answer? Yes. For that matter, any programmer, new or old, can benefit from Terraform. I’m only a few months into my journey with Terraform and its already proving itself as extremely beneficial.

Before describing how Terraform can benefit you, it would probably be best to explain what Terraform is and get everyone on the same page. Terraform is software created by our partner Hashicorp, responsible for helping us to implement infrastructure as code. With the industry’s bid to turn everything into code, it seemed only natural for Hashicorp to provide a solution to spinning up service providers, whilst enabling easy versioning and replication. In a single sentence: Terraform allows us to turn the entire process of setting up cloud providers into code that can be automated and version controlled.

The main benefits of using Terraform are how replicable everything becomes and how easy it is to make changes and track said changes. Like any good code, all these resources that Terraform creates are easily transferrable.

Problem Scenario

Imagine, for some internal testing you set up a group of resources to test a Continuous Pipeline on AWS. The plan is to use an orchestration tool like Jenkins, test software like SonarQube and a binary repository like Nexus. You set up the resources, the security groups, subnet, etc. You configure the ports the software is expected to run on, along with various other requirements they need, like Java versions.

Four months later after the testing is complete, you need to set up the same solution for a client. Maybe with a different binary repository like JFrog. Only, the resources are gone. No reason to keep resources you weren’t using for four months (or if you did, that was four months of subscription for resources that weren’t being used- a loss either way). Now you have to go through the entire process of setting up everything again. In the best-case scenario with perfect documentation, you’d still have to manually go through each and every step, provisioning each resource and configuring each software package. More than likely, you’ll find a knowledge gap somewhere and you have to fumble around trying to get it all working again.

In addition to this, there are minor changes and updates. For example, a new port needs to be opened and perhaps the keys need changing for security reasons. Perhaps a value was misnamed and needs correction. How can you ensure that the changes won’t impact the setup of the service? Then for every change and update the documentation would also need updating as well to record this.

Terraform to the Rescue

With Terraform, most, if not all of the hassle, can be removed from that messy situation. Code can be reused infinitely, with perhaps some minor changes and updates to suit the new scenario.

Want to pre-install software like Jenkins and Nexus without having to manually download them and their dependencies? Turn it into a script and automate it.

Need to configure ports and environmental variables for said software? Put those in the script too.

A year has passed, maybe the original programmer for the solution has been moved to another project.  Don’t worry, the terraform script remains.

Made a change to security groups and unsure if it works? Copy the code, make the change and run the code to verify its functionality. With some refactoring, it even becomes possible to only copy parts relevant to you. As with the scenario above, simply remove the script and associated config files, if any, for installing Nexus and prepare one for JFrog. Now you have a terraform code for installing a CI pipeline that supports either Nexus or JFrog, which can also be easily modified to work on other OSes and even install other tools.

Not For Everyone

Now that being said, an absolute newcomer, should not start using Terraform immediately. Terraform knowledge in no way supersedes the knowledge of the actual provider. Knowing that a security group exists and is needed for Terraform to create an AWS resource instance is not a suitable replacement for understanding WHY the security group is necessary or WHAT the security group does. Some hands on with what goes on “under the hood” still goes a long way.

My Short Terraform Journey So Far…

As infrastructure as code, Terraform provides an easily mutable code that is version controlled when integrated with other services like Git… And being code, it is easily repurposed for other projects and uses. As a new hire at ECS Digital with only a few months of using Terraform, I’ve already benefited tremendously from this incredible tool. Ranging from repurposing the code and scripts of others in my own setup, to easily providing fresh instances for me to test without all the manual work that goes into setting them up.

Just as excitingly, Hashicorp is far from done with Terraform. As of this article, Terraform is still at version 0.11. This means that there is still vast room for iteration and improvement on Terraform, such as better importing of pre-existing resources into Terraform’s set of managed resources.

Having already benefited so much from Terraform in its early life cycle, I am certainly keen to see what more can be done with it. If you’re interested in starting your Terraform journey with us, feel free to contact us or check out our Hashicorp training we provided as official Hashicorp partners.

Matthew SongCan a new hire benefit from Terraform?
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DevOps Playground Meetup #6: Hands on with HashiCorp’s Terraform

DevOps Playground Meetup #6: Hands on with HashiCorp’s Terraform

A successful sixth meetup!

This Tuesday, we hosted our sixth monthly #DevOpsPlayground meetup. It was a successful evening, attended by many.

These meetups allow us to explore and present DevOps tools – as well as providing others with the opportunity to give them a try.

This month, Mourad Trabelsi talked about HashiCorp’s Terraform.

Terraform

1.pngHashicorp’s Terraform allows you to write your infrastructure as code.

Writing configuration files and the running Terraform apply allows you to easily spin up new infrastructure. You can do this using multiple providers, including AWSDigitalOceanDocker and many more.

You can then provision them if needed.

Hands on!

During this meetup, Mourad guided us through creating a configuration file to create two webservers using one security group, then a load balancer in front of these two webservers, using its own security group, all of that in AWS.

Schema of the final infrastructure:

2.png

You can find a walkthrough of the technical steps on our GitHub page, here.

 

A big thank you to everyone who participated in this meetup.

We hope to see you all again in the next one!

Michel LebeauDevOps Playground Meetup #6: Hands on with HashiCorp’s Terraform
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